Writing is full of words that indicate judgment. That might sound shocking, but it’s not necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes we want readers to believe certain things, and the words we use can lead them down a particular path. The entire industry of copywriting is based on that, but every writer does it. Being aware of it can make us more effective communicators. It can also make us better people.
Our writing often conveys opinions, judgments. This is true whether it’s in a character’s voice or the invisible narrator of copy, fiction or nonfiction. Some words give clues that a judgment of some kind is coming.
As I compiled this list, I found that I judge more often than I like. Thanks to my Reticular Activating System, I also became acutely aware of these kinds of words and phrases. For the rest of the day, it seemed like everything that came out of anyone’s mouth was a judgment. It was surreal. If you pay attention, you may find that you use opinion/judgment-indicating words more often than you realized, too.
Words that indicate judgment
I think . . .
I believe . . .
That is too ____.
It would be better/best if . . .
I’m the only one who . . .
I predict . . .
That is incorrect. They are wrong.
That is correct. They are right.
That’s a waste of ____.
He is horrible, bad, awful, terrible, ugly.
She is beautiful, good, lovely, nice, kind, great.
That is justice. He deserves it.
They wiggle their way out of consequences. They finagle, manipulate, twist, or control.
They should/shouldn’t, or can/can’t.
crazy, insane, unstable, unfit
idiot or any other name-calling words
dangerous, risky, shady
safe, secure, trustworthy
hard, difficult, complicated
easy, simple, straightforward
beneficial, better, improved
annoying, irritating, boring
stubborn, obstinate, passive
expensive/cheap, quality, value, desirable
needed, required, optional, unnecessary
meant to, intentional
clean/dirty, disorganized, messy
funny/not funny, serious
adversarial, against, enemy, opposed
have to, need, require
more than/less than
definitely, obviously, apparently
favorite, good, better, best
What other phrases or words that indicate judgment or opinions can you list?