Unique

Unique

#1 in the series: Things I Worked Hard to Learn that Don’t Matter Anymore


Our Grade 13 English Composition text stated that “unique” was an absolute term. It should never under any circumstances have a modifier attached to it. A thing was either unique or it wasn’t.


Such phrases as “rather unique” and “somewhat unique” were deemed abominable. “Very unique” shared this condemnation.


But I hear and read “unique” modified as above in many contexts. Even the well-respected writer and journalist, Carol Off, used a modified “unique” on As it Happens on the CBC. I heard it.


In my own writing, I have religiously steered away from any qualification of uniqueness. In fact, I’ve been afraid to call anything unique in case it really wasn’t. “Unique” is a hot potato, best avoided altogether.


Still, I don’t really see anything wrong with “almost unique.”


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