Do you make this mistake in English?


A quick piece of writing advice:


Be careful about using the word "most" cavalierly.




Well, when you find yourself writing "most people do X," do you really know that most do X for a fact?


Can you prove it?


A safer alternative is to say "many" instead of "most."




"Many" is usually both accurate and believable--the reader finds it credible and therefore is less likely to challenge it.


“Everybody” is similarly problematic.


In a Dilbert cartoon, the Pointy-Haired Boss tells Dilbert: “Everybody hates the code you wrote for this project.”


“Really?” Dilbert replies sarcastically. “Everybody? Even Monks in Tibet?”


So, do not write "everybody" does this or that.


Because no, everybody doesn't do it.


Again, just say “many.”


Not everybody. Not most.


Both of which are difficult to prove (and often not even true).


Another example of making a statement that’s difficult to prove is from a recent TV commercial that says the GMC Sierra is "the most advanced and most luxurious pickup in its class."


Difficult to prove and vulnerable to challenge.


How to fix it:


#1—Cite third-party proof—road tests, data, endorsements; e.g. “Car and Driver magazine calls the GMC Sierra ‘the most advanced and luxurious pickup in its class.’”


#2—Rephrase in a way that is easier to defend and therefore less like to be challenged or be met with skepticism; e.g., “The GMC Sierra’s performance and luxury are unmatched by any other pickup in its class.”


About the author:


Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 100 published books; McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter.” You can email Bob at