22 Jun 2013

Really, truly, literally

Submitted by Karl Hagen
If you complain about the hyperbolic use of literally to mean figuratively, let me ask you this: do you complain (or even notice) similar metaphorical extensions of really or truly?

The question arose when I ran across the following remark by Tim Robbins about Susan Sarandon:

So when you work with someone you trust it's easier. I've directed Susan three times and each time it gets easier and easier. And you know one of the things I love about her? She really has balls. She has the courage to be unsympathetic—and there are so few people who do that.

Clearly, really here does not mean actually, and yet I don't hear any prescriptivists complaining about this usage.


Quick question. I know that for quotations in sentences you write ["I'm fine," he said.] The comma comes before the quotation mark. What if the quotations were used to signal a non-formal phrase? For example, [In "SoCal," we have nice beaches.] Does the comma go before or after the quotation mark?

I'm not sure you'd quote SoCal, but In American usage, the comma goes inside the quotes regardless of the reason you're using the quote.