Word Confusion: In Actual Fact

Posted September 19, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

It’s more of an emphasis that modifies or contradicts a previous statement…

“People talk as if he were a monster — in actual fact he was a very kind guy.”

It is funny how we fall into that trap of repeating the things we read, even when they’re wrong. And it always feels as if it is so much worse than it really is once we find out how wrong we’ve — I’ve — been. It was some years ago when I was caught up short for using phrases such as I think, personally, and in actual fact

And once I was, ahem, informed, I realized how right they were. It’s obvious that I’m the one who’s thinking since I’m the one who’s writing this. The same goes for personally. If “I’m thinking”, then it must be personal. Why add superfluous words when it’s already obvious? Ahem, personally I think that we should… *chuckling*

Redundant or…?

And, in actual fact, adding actual into this phrase is redundant. AND it is frequently used as an intensifier to emphasize the fact.

In a formal paper, don’t even go there. If writing dialogue, and it would suit your character’s personality, then use it.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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In Actual Fact
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com
Part of Grammar:
Modifying Phrase: Preposition + Adjective + Noun
Used to emphasize a comment, typically one that modifies or contradicts a previous statement

Used for saying what is really true, when this is surprising or different from what people think

Examples:
Managers worry about employees leaving for other companies, but in actual fact they are more likely to stay.

Contrary to what Millan claims, the dog, in actual fact, is having a complete breakdown.

He was paid money for a job that did not, in actual fact, exist.

In actual fact, she was quite right.

Derivatives:
in point of fact
Actual Fact

A living statue in Annecy, France

“Homme Statue”, © William Crochot 2015 is under the CC-BY 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons, is an actual “living statue in Annecy, France”.

The actual photo was chosen as a Wikimedia Commons Photo of the Day on 23 August 2016.


Logo of the CIA's The World Factbook.

“Logo of The World Factbook” by Hoshie is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

We’ll assume that the CIA has their facts straight…

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Noun
Plural: facts
Existing in fact

  • Typically as contrasted with what was intended, expected, or believed
  • Used to emphasize the important aspect of something

Existing now

  • Current

[Informal; facetious; British; intensifier; usually preceded by your] The real, genuine, or important thing specified

A thing that is indisputably the case

  • [The fact that] Used in discussing the significance of something that is the case
  • [Usually facts] A piece of information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article
  • [Chiefly Law] The truth about events as opposed to interpretation
Examples:
The estimate was much less than the actual cost.

Those were his actual words.

The book could be condensed into half the space, but what of the actual content?

One should use actual income to measure expected income.

That music’s by your actual Mozart, inn’t it?

Is this a drop of your actual feminine intuition?

She lacks political experience — a fact that becomes clear when she appears in public.

It was a body of fact, which no one could disprove.

The real problem facing them is the fact that their funds are being cut.

Are your facts straight?

There was a question of fact as to whether they had received the letter.

In fact, it was a wonder he’d survived this long.

Well, yeah, it’s obvious after the fact!

Huh, is that a fact?

Derivatives:
Adjective: nonactual
Noun: actualness, nonactualness
Adjective: factful, factual
History of the Word:
Middle English from Old French actuel meaning active, practical is from late Latin actualis, which is from actus. Late 15th century from the Latin factum, a neuter past participle of facere meaning do. The original sense was an act or feat, later it meant bad deed, a crime, surviving in the phrase before (or after) the fact. The earliest of the current senses — truth, reality — dates from the late 16th century.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

The “Moldovita Murals” were photographed by Man vyi and are in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. “The Siege of Constantinople (626) by the Avars” on a mural at the Moldoviţa Monastery, Romania. The siege depicted in actual fact is the “Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans (1453)”, as illustrated by the presence of artillery and the dress of the besieging forces. The church is one of the painted churches of northern Moldavia listed in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.


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