A lot of what we write in our family histories is supposition – we think this may have happened because …. So how can we make it clear that what we are saying is a ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’ moment, rather than a ‘definitely happened’ moment, while avoiding excessive repetition of the same words?
At the suggestion of one member, the GSQ Writing Group did an exercise to come up with 30 ways to say ‘perhaps’.
Here is the consolidated list of alternative words or phrases that you might like to consider in your own writing.
- assume, assumption, we can only assume
- on the balance of probability,
- the most likely possibility
- it is unlikely that …,
- speculate, speculation
- my best guess
- at present unconfirmed,
- yet to be verified
- it might be that …,
- further research might reveal,
- without proof, unproven
- we must consider the possibility,
- imply, implication,
- further investigation is needed to …,
- remain undecided whether,
- I don’t know whether or not,
- exploring possible scenarios,
- I gain the impression that,
- while I have no absolute evidence,
- I suspect that …, but …
- evidence suggests,
- … leads to the conclusion,
- on available evidence I cannot confirm that …,
- one likes to think/imagine/believe,
- I have seen no proof that … but wonder if …,
- do any other options exist than …
Can you think of any more words that you might overuse? If so, search your resources such as a dictionary – try using an Australian one such as Macquarie – or a thesaurus. You can find versions of both of these in print and online. Do be wary of overdoing it, though. Use words that come naturally to you, and avoid words or phrases that sound artificial or stilted. It sometimes helps to read things aloud to decide whether you would really use a certain word or phrase.
Happy writing – see you next month!