The power of little words

When you come right down to it, there is no law that says you have to use big words when you write or talk.

There are lots of small words, and good ones, that can be made to say all the things you want to say, quite as well as the big ones. It may take a bit more time to find them at first, but it can be well worth it. For all of us know what they mean.

Some small words, more than you might think, are rich with the right feel, the right taste, as if made to help you say the thing the way it should be said.

Small words can be crisp, or sharp, or brief, or terse. They go straight to the point.

Small words can dance, or twist, or turn, or sing, with a charm all their own. They are the grace notes of prose. You know what they say the way you know a day is bright and fair – by first sight.

And you find, as you read or as you hear, that you like the way small words can catch large thoughts and hold them up for all to see and hear.

They are like rare stones in rings of gold, or joy in the eyes of a child. Small words can make you feel, as well as see, the cold deep dark of night, or the hot salt sting of tears.

Big words can bog you down and get in the way of what want to say. Small words move with ease to say what you mean.

For those who teach, and for those who learn, small words are links in the chain. There is not much, in all our work, that small words will not say – and say well.

a brilliant piece of writing from Training and Development in Australia, August 1974