Windy Pang, PhD student, Department of English │ ISSUE 70 August 2017 MyUM
‘How was your summer holiday?’ Now that the new semester has begun, I bet you can’t wait to share with your classmates all the exciting things that you’ve done during the summer holiday: showing them travel photos on your phone, handing out souvenirs, and sharing your feelings about the trip you took. ‘Good!’ ‘Great!’ ‘Cool!’ – these may be the usual responses from your classmates. But as you hear these words again and again, you couldn’t help but feel they begin to sound less ‘good’ and less ‘cool’. It’s like the cheese cake you’re crazy about. It gets less delicious with each bite.
So how do you avoid repeating the same words when you give compliments? The answer lies in synonyms. Below are a few words you can use when ‘good’ is simply not good enough:
A handy word to describe something wonderful and to show your admiration when you hear something great. ‘That’s incredible news!’ This word is related to ‘credibility’. ‘Credible’ means ‘believable’, and so ‘incredible’ means something that is so good that you can’t believe it is true.
A close synonym for ‘wonderful’, meaning something so amazing that it surprises you. Its root is ‘marvel’, meaning ‘miracle’, ‘wonder’, referring to something so amazing that it appears supernatural. For example: ‘Did you see the meteor shower last night? It was marvelous!’
When you say the word ‘awesome’, you first say ‘awe’ with your mouth round, as if you’re saying ‘oh! Something good is happening.’ The word is used to describe something that makes you feel ‘full of awe’, such as mother nature or human history. Now you also hear it in many TV shows when a character jokes – ‘I’m awesome!’ – to show how good one feels about oneself.
When you talk about a book or a film you like, or how well your classmate did in an exam, you can use ‘brilliant’. Commonly used to describe ‘strong light’, this word is usually linked with intelligence, as we often compare wisdom to light. For example: ‘I have a brilliant idea’; ‘she’s a brilliant thinker.’
The list goes on: amazing, fabulous, fantastic, terrific, wonderful, excellent, superb….
Just remember, no matter which word you use, when you give ‘like’ to others, do it sincerely. After all, other than the words you use, your tone, facial expression and gesture also tell others how you actually feel.
Contributions to this column are from the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities