Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Writing 101: How to Use the Word 'Best'

I know it seems silly. Best an easy word, with only four letters and a single syllable. But plenty of people end up using it the wrong way...a lot. It's irregular, and it can be easy to confuse with another word that's similar. Make sure you know how to use the word best properly, because using it the wrong way looks really, really bad.


Better Your Writing with Proper 'Bests' 

Good. Better. Best. We were all forced to write it during primary school years; I had to draw corresponding pictures to go with. Special attention is called to the word best because it's irregular; there is no bestest. People only say this colloquially, it's not actually proper English.

The word best simply means most excellent, something that stands above and beyond whatever else it is being compared with. For example: This is the best blog I have ever seen, or Jade is the best blogger! 

But like I said, it's irregular. Bested is actually a word, but it might not mean what you might think it means. To be bested is to be defeated. For example: "How'd the tournament go?" "We were bested by a superior team." It's just another way of saying that the best team won.

What best doesn't mean is favorite. When something is your favorite, it's the one you like the best. For example: "Party in the USA" is my favorite Miley Cyrus song. Yet often, you'll see it this way: "Party in the USA" is my best Miley Cyrus song. This is glaringly, offensively, incorrect. 

It's okay to say something more declarative, such as: Party in the USA is the best Miley Cyrus song. See the change? The best is correct; my best doesn't exist in this instance. You can say I gave it my best effort or even I gave it my best. You can't say This is my best TV show (unless you are a TV writer, director or producer, but let's not get into all that). 

 The point is, favorite and best are not interchangeable. Best can only be used to mean that something stands above the rest; it is superior. To say something is your favorite is to say you like it better than anything else. When in doubt, as always, use your synonyms. When writing the word best, if you feel a little confused, switch it with the word superior. If the sentence still makes sense, you're good!

Always put your best writing forward by using words in their proper place.

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