“He was of a certain old-fashioned type — lanky, large-nosed, with an out-sized Adam’s apple.”
When asked to point out the most important word in this sentence, many will say: old-fashioned, large-nosed, Adam’s apple.
“A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music.”
Compromise, legislation, sentence, music.
“A fool too late bewares when all the peril is past.”
Fool, late, bewares, peril, past.
“And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
Odds, ever, favor.
But what about all the other stuff in between? Of, a, with, an, like, too, when, all, your, may, in — what happened to them?
According to James Pennebaker, a psychologist, these in-between words are practically invisible to us. Even though we might not forget where the “a” or the “that” went when memorizing and repeating a sentence, we only recall them in order to create relationships between the important words.
Yet there are distinct ways in which we use these function words (articles, prepositions, pronouns). And, according to Pennebaker, these patterns might even help you find your next date.
Click to read about how function words can act as a human mating call.