One word, so many meanings

When a teacher grades a paper, specifically a composition, there are many items the grader looks for to determine the grade for that specific paper. I am not going to go into all of the items, but I do want to talk about the words we use and how those words help us define the message we want to present.

Let’s take the word “fast”. If I were to play a word game and had to define fast with the first word that pops into my head it would be correlated with “speed.”   For instance, “I got a speeding ticket when I went too fast on the highway.” That’s an easy one.

But, what about when I talk about a “fast” friend. Actually, if I were to simply say I have a fast friend, it could mean two polarized meanings for my friend. My “fast” friend could be one who is loyal, or s/he could be one who is promiscuous. Quite a difference there!  

That brings me to grading that paper. Whether you remember this comment or are in school now, at sometime you probably saw “incomplete” written somewhere on a paper. What it means is that the thought is incomplete because the reader does not know exactly what you, the writer, refers to. If the words surrounding the word are complete, we can sense what the writer means (This is the same as when we speak and know what the speaker is saying because of the conversation’s subject.) and the thought is complete. Make that thought at the end of a sentence or a paragraph and you have simply made that thought dangle, made me wonder what you mean to say. This is a HUGE mistake in writing the composition and is very common because people assume we the reader know what the writer is thinking. Believe me, I do not know what you are thinking, so spell it out for me.

Let’s go back to the word “fast”. We now know it can mean speedy, quick; loyal; and promiscuous. And it can mean more.

We all know that time goes by “fast”, but then we could have a watch or a clock that runs “fast” (ahead of its time), and last, but not least, is what most of us in America want, we want to be “fast” (firmly) asleep. 

So, the next time you hear the word “fast” do not take it for granted. Time may go in a hurry, my friend may be loyal or promiscuous, the clock may run ahead of the real time, and I can only dream of a sound sleep, but for all, I can simply write “I live a fast life with a fast friend who is not fast morally, and though my clock runs fast, I always sleep fast in a fast slumber.” 

Have fun with words!


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