Today’s Writing Tip: From Worse to Worse

sig2010I’m surprised at how often I see the phrase “from worse to worse” in print. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a lot like the term “I could care less.” Neither one says what you want them to say.

Let’s reason this out. If I am number 10 in line in the grocery store and I move forward one spot, I become number nine. If I move back one spot, I become number 11. In either case, there is a sense of motion and movement. Something changes.

If I go from worse to worse, nothing much changes. I am still number 10 in line at the grocery store – or maybe I’m 10 1/2. I have to go from worse to worst in order to see a significant change.

An easy way to remember this one is to think of the opening line in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Thus, you want to go from worse to worst. Although of course, you don’t really. That is the outcome that most of us are hoping to avoid.

As a postscript, I will add that the correct way of saying I don’t give a damn is “I couldn’t care less,” because if you could care less it means that you already care. If you couldn’t care less, you care so little that your interest in the matter is currently negligible. Thus, it couldn’t become any more unimportant to you; hence, you couldn’t care less.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: