Three Letter Word

OK. It’s official. I am in hell.

While playing with advanced find in MS Word 7 (yes, I do have better things to do but what can I say?)  I stumbled over an alarming trend in my latest chapter. The. That unassuming article – everywhere. So, of course, unable to leave well enough alone, I investigated my entire 45,078 first draft and was horrified by the vast amount of thes therein. Grand total of 2052 so far.5573590854_d7d2298ddb

I researched around and found a great resource in According to this post, the is a definite article. Like an adjective, it modifies nouns. In this case, specific or particular nouns. OK.  I checked a couple of my favorite fiction authors, calculated their use of the. They hardly use the three letter word at all.

Repeat words plague every writer, I’m sure, but this onslaught is horrible. My writing is suffering, that’s obvious. Am I trying too hard? Probably. But if I’m repeating a word why couldn’t it be a cool multi-syllable word like, say, minesweeper or necromancer? I mean, this is embarrassing.


So, what’s your repeat monster word and how do you control it?

Photo by Foter


29 thoughts on “Three Letter Word”

    1. That is a common one, right up there with the. I think some words just have us in their sights and, like literary dandelions, they require constant shots of Word B Gone.

    1. Seems like I opened a can of worms here. There are other interesting checking mechanisms on Word if anyone wants them. One of them is truly terrifying. Yikes!!! But – it’s kept my writing on a higher level, and I use it daily.

  1. I can see why you are bummed. Possible we should all keep a list of specific articles and modifiers posted on our wall, highlighting those which are least used.

  2. I never thought of checking my word frequency until now. So I ran my first draft through a checker and it turns out that I used “the” over 10,000 times. *sigh* Well it is a rough draft 😛

  3. I remember a band going by the name of The The so perhaps it is trendy to use the same word a lot? The is a key component, although I do believe there is a book out there that doesn’t have the word in at all and one that doesn’t have the letter ‘e’ in either.

      1. I Googled it and must have been mistaken….I feel so bad that I am going to be the first person to write a book not containing the word ‘the’…it may be a short offering.

  4. My bad habit words are ‘just’, ‘still’ and ‘really’, but don’t be too jealous of people who repeat big words! Those stand out even worse than the tiny offenses. If you’ve read Twilight, you might have noticed ‘incredulous’ pop up and incredible number of times. I know I did. 😦

    Try to remember that you’ve got a first draft on your hands! A diligent editor can vacuum those little dust bunnies right out of your story. 🙂

    1. Writers have so many ‘favorite’ words, don’t they? Sometimes I wonder, though, how many times are too many for those words? Guess it differs from editor to editor. Hell, I’d be thrilled if I got far enough to worry about an editor:)

  5. Fascinating blog and so appropriate a post! Stumbled upon you and feel very at home! And because I tend to drift into the passive voice, I repeatedly say “Had” and “Has.” Oh and “And.” I’ve said it six times in just this short comment. And Thank you! 😉

    1. Glad you stumbled by! My use of the has now given way to hyphenated words and the even worse problem…the ings! Oh well, the plight of writers never ends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: