Think of the child who is caught at the scene of a crime: standing, in shock, before a broken (and very expensive) vase. Or in the spirit of the recent conclusion of the Harry Potter series, the scene where Harry is found standing, all alone, before a petrified Mrs Norris.
The classic response follows: It wasn’t me! Really!
Why might the child add in the word, “really”? Does the term “really” make a difference to this statement? How so?
The word “really” changes the meaning subtly – it suggests that the child is trying extra hard to convince because he knows that the parent or adult who caught him is doubtful of his innocence.
Similarly, compare these two questions:
Are you going to study for Monday’s General Paper examination?
Are you really going to study for Monday’s General Paper examination?
The first has neutral connotations; the second shows an attitude of scepticism.
The fact that the word “really” makes a difference to one’s meaning tells us one thing: The term “really” cannot be ignored. If an essay question includes this key term, it must be dealt with.
Consider this question:
Will technology really save humankind?
While planning and writing this essay (or any essay with the key term “really”), ask yourself, how is my essay different from one that reads, “Will technology save humankind?” If you can answer this question, and you can identify differences between what you’re saying and what you would say if the word “really” were omitted, you’re probably on the right track. If you can’t see any difference, there’s a good chance you’re not engaging the term “really”.
- Write an argument to show how technology will save humankind.
- Now write an argument to show how technology will really save humankind.
- Write an argument to show how technology will not save humankind.
- Now write an argument to show how technology will not really save humankind.