Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sort of, adv.

sort of, adv. "Sort of" as an adverb is a casualism that hedges what would otherwise be a direct statement. It should be avoided in polished writing. Both of the following sentences would be improved by dropping it: o "It used to be easy to think of McElwee as a sort of [delete 'sort of'] literary novelist, but one with no chance of getting a movie option." Abby McGanney Nolan, "Ross McElwee: Man with a Movie Camera," Village Voice, 27 Jan. 1998, at 72. o "Watch who talks, who changes the course of the discussion, who sort of [delete 'sort of'] drops in and out of the conversation." Sarah McGinty, "How You Speak Shows Where You Rank,Fortune, 2 Feb. 1998, at 156. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "More than in anything else the richness of the English language manifests itself in its great number of synonyms . . . . 'Juvenile' does not signify the same thing as 'youthful,' 'ponderous' as 'weighty,' 'portion' as 'share,' 'miserable' as 'wretched.'" Otto Jespersen, Growth and Structure of the English Language 139 (9th ed. 1938).
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