Monthly Archives: June 2015

Let me qualify that photo by Jette Carr

Let Me Qualify That! (Qualifying Statements)

Several months ago, I was working with a student and after I made a statement, I said, “Let me qualify that…” at which point I added more information to make the statement true.

Two ways to qualify a statement: Add information, Narrow its focus

Let’s say* that I had said, “Boys tend to be less verbal than girls.”  After saying this, I realize that I have overstated the truth.  I can qualify my statement, making it more accurate, by adding additional information.  For example,

“Boys tend to be less verbal than girls.  Let me qualify that, boys are often perceived to be less verbal than girls.”

NOTE: Just as in this example, the first statement is typically repeated and then qualified.

In this context qualify means to modify a statement by restating it  and including the specific conditions which make it true.

Additionally, we can qualify a statement by narrowing its focus.  As in: “I’d like to qualify my statement.  I’m not just pleased. I’m pleased with your ability to persevere and see this thing through.”

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary,  gives the following example “I want to qualify what I said earlier—I didn’t mean he couldn’t do the job, only that he would need supervision.”  It is being used here as a transitive verb meaning,  “to add something to a previous statement to make the meaning less strong or less general.”  Or, as I said above, narrowing its focus.

Q. Shouldn’t we use strong statements to communicate more confidence and authority?

A. No.  The opposite is true.  If you overstate the truth, you lose credibility and it weakens your argument.

Qualifying a statement with other phrases

There are other ways to qualify a sentence without having to use the phrase “let me qualify that.”  For example:

Almost   Almost all giraffes can walk within an hour of being born.  (The strong statement “All giraffes can walk within an hour of being born,” was qualified).

Let me qualify that Giraffe photo by  Anna Langova
Giraffe photo by Anna Langova

But   Giraffes eat tree leaves.  But their diet also includes twigs and fruit.  (The strong statement “Giraffes eat tree leaves,” was qualified).

Except   All the animals in the zoo slept through the noise, except the koala. (We qualified the strong statement “All the animals in the zoo slept through the noise.” )

For all intents and purposes*  The sequel, for all intents and purposes was just a rewrite of the first movie.  (The strong statement “The sequel was just a rewrite of the first movie,” was qualified).

 In a way*  In a way, he reminds me of my brother. (We qualified the  strong statement, “He reminds me of my brother.”)

♦ More or less  The  conference went more or less as planned. (The strong statement, “The conference went as planned,” was qualified).

Practically  The performer was practically naked.  (We qualified, “The performer was naked,” which would be taken as a fact.)

To some extent  To some extent my internship caused me to rethink my career plans. (We qualified the strong statement “My internship caused me to rethink my career plans.”)

♦ Up to a point  I enjoy strenuous exercise up to a point. (The strong statement, “I enjoy strenuous exercise,” has been qualified).

Even so, the most common use for qualify is to be entitled, Click To Tweet In other words, qualify is usually used to mean selected or recognized as competent or fit for a special purpose or skill.

Do you qualify?!

Can you use and identify both uses of qualify?  Take the quiz below and find out if you qualify as a master English speaker.  Let me qualify that, find out if you qualify as master user of the word qualify.

Here are some examples using qualify (from some of my followers).  Can you identify which use is 1. qualifying a statement, and which use means 2. to be recognized as able? (Answers below the My Take On It section at the bottom of this article).

  • Lori:  You must earn less than $30,000 per year to qualify for assistance.
  • Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG Michele Snider: You qualified! Let me qualify that, “You qualify as a qualifier* in the next round!”
  • Sharon:  Your bad behavior qualifies you to be put on Santa’s naughty list! Your good behavior qualifies you to be put on his good list, and on mom’s good list! Lol!*

My Take On It  Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG

Two things come to mind as I consider my Christian perspective on this subject.  First the Bible tells us,  in Matthew 5: 37

“But let your word ‘yes be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.”

I believe this is telling us to tell it like it is,* meaning say what you mean, tell the truth, and speak accurately.

The second thing, but actually the first thing that came to mind as I was writing this article, is the fact that even though we don’t feel qualified (meaning worthy, or competent) to have a relationship with God Almighty, or to represent Him or even serve Him.  He has promised to equip us and work in and through us.  So, it is God in us that qualifies us for whatever lies ahead.  (Now that is a STRONG statement that DOESN’T need to be qualified!)  The Bible supports this idea in several places:

Hebrews 13:20,21

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Let me qualify that Colorado sunrise by, MW Snider
Colorado Sunrise by, Michele W. Snider

1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

and Timothy 3:16,17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Each of us is uniquely qualified for a special purpose. When we partner with God, there is no task too great, no detail too small for us to manage.

Answers to the quiz:  All the quiz examples used the word qualify in the most common sense (use #2: to be entitled, competent, or chosen by virtue of skill or lottery), except for the second sentence!  Obviously, “Let me qualify that….” qualifies as use #1.  If you still have questions about the different uses of qualify, click on the hyperlink to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary above.  

Blessings,   Michele



Shoot! is an exclamation meaning “dang it!” or for people who swear, “damn it.”  I  said, “shoot!” because I have neglected my blog for awhile. I have been busy teaching and developing a course for SkimaTalk called Misused and Misunderstood Words.

But today, I saw a Facebook post of my son-in-law working a cattle chute (pronounced like shoot).  The men put the cattle in the chute, which is a type of pen or cage that prevents the animal from moving, so they could be given their shots.

Chris shoot

It occurred to me that there are a gazillion* uses for the words shoot and shot.  And I thought it might be fun to share them with you.  I’ve included an example for each meaning.

A big shot  Someone important, “You don’t have to be a big shot to be treated like one at our store.”

A cheap shot This expression uses the fourth meaning of shot (below).  It means an insult that is highly personal, or that is given at a time or manner where the person being attacked can’t respond.   “That comment about her age was a cheap shot.”

A shot  • 1. An attempt or try, “I’ve never done that sort of thing before, but I’ll give it a shot.”

• 2. The sound a gun makes, “I heard three shots then the sound of tires peeling out.” 

• 3. A serving of strong alcohol, often served in a shot glass, ranging from 1.25-1.5 ounces (40-44 mL),  “A shot of whiskey is said to aid digestion.” (See more about this in My Take On It below)

4.  An insult or criticism, “The politician took a shot at her opponents, calling their ideas primitive.”

•5. An injection, “The nurse gave us our shots today.” 

A Shot of a Deer
Shot of a Deer, by M. W. Snider

•6. A photograph, “I got a great shot of the deer.”

7. An unobstructed view (especially through the scope of a gun), “I’ve got a shot (of the deer)!

•8. Someone who shoots a gun, “I’m not a very good shot.”

•9. In sports: a hit or kick of a ball, The shot ricocheted off the sideboard and into the goal.

•10. A pellet in a BB gun, or shotgun, The shotgun shells are loaded with lead shot.

Buckshot. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co., Inc.
  • A shot in the arm  This expression uses the fifth meaning of shot (above). It means a boost, or something that makes you feel better. “That extra funding was a real shot in arm for our project.”

    Army Medicine photo posted on Flickr, Sept 7, 2012
    Army Medicine, Flickr, Sept 7, 2012

A shot in the dark  This expression uses the first meaning of “a shot.” It means a blind attempt*, an attempt which is likely to fail, or a wild guess. “I asked the neighbors to let us know if they spot* our runaway lizard.  I figured it was a shot in the dark.”

 A shoot A photography session (this includes video, motion picture, and still photography), “The models arrived at the shoot.”

Call the shots To give orders/to be in charge, “While the boss is on vacation, Mr. Howard will be calling the shots.”

Shot  To move quickly (like something being shot out of a gun), “The pain shot through my hand.”

Shoot!  In addition to the exclamation of frustration described at the top of this post, Shoot! also means go ahead, Q.* Can I ask you a question?, A. Shoot!

Shoot something off  To quickly send something somewhere (see the related “shoot something to someone” below), “I need to shoot an email off before we leave.”

Shoot the breeze Casual conversation about a variety of topics, “We sat on the bench and shot the breeze for about an hour.”

Shoot your mouth off  To talk about something that you shouldn’t share (especially about someone else), “I would tell the kids more about our plans if I weren’t afraid they would shoot their mouths off.”

To shoot something to someone This means to send someone something quickly, “I shot them a text letting them know we would meet them at seven.”

Straight-shooter  An honest person who “tells it like it is”,* “I’m looking for a politician who is a straight shooter.” 

My Take On It

Because this blog is committed to presenting a Christian perspective, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my thoughts about drinking.   There are Christian churches that forbid the consumption of alcohol, while others are silent, or even serve wine at Communion.*

Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Corinth, chapter six

12 “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.

He expands on this idea throughout his letter, explaining that God has blessed us with many things including, food, wine and sex.  In and of themselves* these things are neither right or wrong. It is how we use what has been given to us that matters. Click To Tweet

As Paul advises, we must be considerate of the needs and concerns of those around us.  Every good thing has been given by God and was intended to bless us.  We can misuse and abuse these good things however and the result is no longer good.

Generations of my family have struggled with alcoholism, which is a terribly misunderstood disease.  My personal solution is to avoid alcohol since I have a genetic risk but have not yet developed the disease.  And on the occasions when I do have a drink, I limit myself to one.

Blessings,    Michele