How to Way Less and Not Way So Much
by Owen Fourie
It seems that turkey, being rich in protein, is good for a weight-loss diet, so eating it might help some to weigh less.
The subtitle is not referring to weight; therefore, the word way is correct. The problem is the way this word is being used in common expressions such as
- This iPod cost way less than I thought it would.
- There was way too much noise at that party.
- My car is parked way over there.
In each of these sentences the word way is used as an intensifying adverb. Used in this way, it means “to a great extent” or “to a great degree.”
This is common usage, but it sounds informal, and that is where it should remain—in an informal setting. It should not creep into formal speech. Formal writing certainly has no place for it.
Expressions such as the following are regarded as slang:
- way expensive;
- way angry;
- way sleepy.
Replacing way with extremely or very would remove the slang.
To say, “he is a long ways from completing his project” is also heard and accepted in some informal situations. Simply dropping the s would be far better, though, and correct: “He is a long way from completing his project.”
There are other words that have the same sound as way. These are homophones.
Way, weigh, and whey: homophones without confusion
These three words are not easy to confuse.
Whey is a noun. It is the watery part of milk that is separated from the curd, the thick part, particularly in cheese making.
The nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet speaks of curds and whey:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away
With such widespread weight consciousness today, it is unlikely that this word will be used for any of the other homophones.
Weigh is a verb referring to the process of finding out the weight of something. It has other uses as a verb, such as
- to weigh, mentally, the choice of alternatives;
- to give the nautical command to weigh anchor (to heave up the anchor) when a ship is preparing to sail.
Way is a noun that can refer to many things:
- A road or a path from one place to another: this is the way to the factory;
- The manner of living in a certain culture: the Mexican way of life;
- A personal preference for doing things in a certain way: your way;
- A plan to solve a difficult situation: their talks opened the way for a solution.
As we have noted, it is better to steer clear of the informal and slang uses of way in formal speech and writing. There are correct ways of using way. It is better to “way” less and not “way” so much.
Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. Are you unsure about the acceptability of some expressions in formal speech and writing? Ask here for clarification.
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