A friend of mine has, for some time, been peppering his text messages and emails with “as it were”.
The other day, I received a text message that had at least three “as it were”s in it. So many, in fact, that I was compelled to reply: “Thanks, as it were.”
Now, I’m not sure what his own ideas are. I feel as though, by constantly saying “as it were” he’s frightened of owning any of his own expressions in case they seem prosaic to others. If so, poor him. If they’re understood, so much the better.
In any case, ‘as it were’ could just easily be ‘as it might be’, or ‘as it could/should be’, or even ‘as it ought to be’. Let alone ‘as it might not be’.
Either way, I no longer believe anything he has to say.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. That’s my motto.
It’s a shame other people don’t live by the same code of clarity.