Useless Little Sayings

Have you ever noticed some of the oddball little connector phrases we use in the English lexicon to preface, qualify, or begin a response?  Well I have.  Below, the Top Ten Useless Little Sayings you hear all the time. 

10) “Needless to Say.”  First off, if it’s truly needless to say what you’re about to, then why do you intend to do so?  Second, it truly is needless to say “needless to say” before saying the very thing that’s supposedly needless to say.

9) “Let’s face it.”  How about you face it, and I’ll decide for myself.

8 ) “I was just going to say…”  A timeless classroom classic.  Picture a young impressionable student with a hand up.  Upon being called, she says “I was just going to say…” Honey, you can skip the intro, you’re in the midst of saying it!

7) “I’m not racist, but…”  This intro virtually guarantees you’re about to make, at minimum, a borderline racist statement.  There are a host of variants for this one, such as  “I’m not homophobic, but…” or “I don’t mean to argue, but…” or “I’m not into saying needless to say, but needless to say…”

6) “I think we can all agree…” Also see #9: “Let’s Face It.”  Something tells me you’re about to tell me how you think it is, setting the stage where only the boldest of challengers will dare risk defying the group to disagree. 

5) “Something tells me…” What’s with the mystery, chief? It’s called your “brain thinking.”

4) “I was literally…” Good lord, do we live in such a place of useless little sayings we have to clarify when we’re not speaking in metaphors?

3) “I was just thinking…” Proud of ya, but get to the point. 

2) “I respectfully disagree” or “I have to disagree.”  The first is unlikely, at least in regard to anything meaningful in life, and the second implies an almost out-of-my-own-control certainty.  Unless you mean “I literally have no choice whatsoever but to disagree” you are always welcome back on my side where the waters are calm (trust me, it’s easier this way). 

1) “It is what it is.”  This little gem is hurled about with great vigor and conviction, a testament to pocketbook philosophy.  Taken literally, though, this is only as meaningful as stating A=A.  That may be comforting for some, but of course it is what it is—there is nothing possible in the universe that isn’t what it is.  We can of course talk about what “seems” or “what is probably,” but left to its own devices this is little more than a silly circular statement.  

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