There Everywhere


I don’t remember the first time I learned it, but one rule of writing has been drilled into my head so deeply that I don’t believe I’ll ever get rid of it.

It’s the forbidden word.


There, I said it. It’s right there. There’s the word that good writers never use.

Don’t use there. You can’t use there. It isn’t descriptive. There should never be the subject. There is far too passive. It just sits there. Move those words around and make that sentence active.

So many English teachers, so many writing classes, and this is my biggest takeaway. Don’t ever use there. And I try not to do it. And when I read someone else’s writing, I rewrite their there-led sentences in my head.

But I can’t help myself sometimes. I use there.

So there.

Because in my decades of reading and writing, the thousands and thousands of books and the millions of words, I’ve learned another thing. And it clashes. Sometimes, good writers do use there. Sometimes it’s the right word. Sometimes it’s determined to insert itself into whatever I’m writing in spite of how much I try to stuff it down into some deep, dark, readerless hole.

Sometimes I can practically taste the cognitive dissonance.

But it’s a word, and there are so many words; I’ll never use them all (see what I did there?). There deserves to be read just as much as any other word.

But you know, you’re not supposed to use there.