Is This “Pretty” Interesting?

When something is pretty interesting, is it more than interesting? Or is it less than interesting?

By a show of hands at a recent workshop I conducted, 90% of the participants felt the word “pretty” lessened the adjective that it modified.

For example, how do you feel about these two sentences?

  • That meal was pretty satisfying.
  • That project was pretty effective.

Now, what’s your feeling about these sentences?

  • This is interesting.
  • The meal is satisfying.
  • That project is effective.

The adjectives interesting, satisfying and effective don’t need help. Their meanings are all-encompassing and they don’t need to lessoned, which is what these words do. They don’t need qualifiers: words such as pretty, quite, rather and kind of. And they don’t need to be artificially bolstered, which is what the words really, very, really, really and very, very do.

My advice: start increasing your arsenal of vocabulary words so you immediately think of the precise words. For example, for “sort of interesting,” say appealing, pleasing. Instead of “very interesting,” say fascinating, intriguing, captivating, enthralling. When we use qualifiers, we are usually not motivated to think harder for the precise word.

Who loses? We do and so do our listeners do. Imagine how much richer our thoughts and communication would be if we bothered to think of the correct word!

My challenge to you: expunge really and very from your vocabulary. That will force you to research and collect additional words. If you need to, write those words in a notebook and glance at them occasionally.

I’m taking my own challenge.

Let me know how you do.


Communication Skills Consultant and Coach Elizabeth MacDonald specializes in public speaking instruction as well as teaching positive, professional, clear and engaging communicating. Her company, The Verbal Edge, is located in Tampa Bay and in Fort Wayne, Indiana where she offers individual coaching and workshops.