Making the World More Understandable

Category Archives: Words

My thoughts and comments on the building blocks of the English language.

The “Should” of Expectations

The “Should” of Expectations

Ages ago, I wrote about “should” and what I define as the right and wrong way to use that word. Recently, while speaking with one of my various coaches, I mentioned that something was expected. Her response was that an expectation is just as bad as a should. And I realized that it was time to dust of the “Should” blog and expand on it.

While I didn’t actually say it explicitly in the last blog, “should” is how others put their opinions on you. Opinions you may not care for or agree with. Even when you say it about yourself, if you dig into that “should” I bet you’ll find it is based on someone else’s need, desire, or opinion. You don’t need to “should” yourself for your own needs, desires, or opinions, you just take care of them.

And that brings us to expectations. To quote my favorite definition source,, to expect something is to:

  1. to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of:

I expect to read it. I expect him later. She expects that they will come.

  1. to look for with reason or justification:

We expect obedience.

Or, as Merriam-Webster says:

to consider reasonable, due, or necessary

to consider bound in duty or obligated

  1. to suppose or surmise; guess:

I expect that you are tired from the trip.

  1. to anticipate the birth of (one’s child):

Paul and Sylvia expect their second very soon.

(We’ll skip 3 and 4, those are cultural uses.)

The first one is when I generally agree with the use of the word. If you are expecting someone to arrive, it is probably because they told you they were coming. You have reason to expect them to show up. If they did not tell you they were coming, then you have an unreasonable expectation.

It’s the second definition I have an issue with. Well, I found’s definition awkward, that’s why I added Merriam-Webster’s. The example, however, is perfect – just because you expect obedience, does not mean I will be obedient. Especially when you put it to me that way.

Just because you consider something reasonable, due, necessary; or bound in duty or obligation, does not mean that I agree. For you to put those things on me, for you to have those expectations of me, has nothing to do with my reality. You can have all the expectations you like; however, if I do not subscribe to the same set of beliefs that created those expectations, you’ll be disappointed. (And by the way, your disappointment is just that – yours. I will not take that on either.)

So, I have two points here.

  1. You are you, not anyone else. Do what works for you.
  2. When you are presenting ideas (ah, the writing point), be cautious of the words you use. I find that my ideas, my opinions, find more acceptance when they are provided neutrally. Appling force to them – such as a should or expectation – is likely to turn off your audience.

Words do have power. Use yours wisely.


-Lorrie Nicoles

What is Journalism?

What is Journalism?

As you may have heard, I’m writing a book. One of the writers that agreed to contribute said that his specialty was journalism – the problem is that he didn’t answer my questions with information I would think of as being from a journalist. So, I thought maybe I wasn’t defining the word properly. So,… Continue Reading

Provocative Words

Provocative Words

Welcome to my “Ode to the Thesaurus.” One of my favorite Facebook pages is The Writer’s Circle. I always seem to glom onto their lists of Other Words For <fill in the blank>. I’ve several of them clipped into my Blog Ideas notebook in Evernote. One I’ve been looking at a lot lately is for… Continue Reading

Words That Don’t Work: Nonplus

Words That Don’t Work: Nonplus

I believe that a person with a basic understanding of the language ought to be able to understand content published for the general population – even if they encounter a word they haven’t seen before. Obviously, text books, scientific articles, philosophical debates, and the such are likely to contain words that will send the reader… Continue Reading

Properly Pronounce!

Properly Pronounce!

In a blog that I don’t think I’ll publish, I discussed the importance of proper pronunciation. That rant focused on how commonly people drop Rs from words such as “library” and “February.” And while I do find that tendency annoying, the blog itself was just a little too pissy – even for me. That said,… Continue Reading

Going Too Far with Gender Neutrality

When being specific could be wrong, when referring to a person of unknown gender, it is better to be general than specific. And, job positions ought to be neutral. Male or female, someone is a server or a flight attendant. However, I believe people are taking gender neutrality too far. The idea for this blog… Continue Reading

Writing, Editing & Word Smithing

I recently let my sister rant about the term Value Proposition and why it annoys her. And a very good rant it was. I try to allow my sister her opinions (like I have a choice) and yet, I must defend the term “wordsmith.” Jen defined “word-smithing” as editing. There’s actually more to it.… Continue Reading