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Changing Happy to Glad

At work today, a man mentioned that he was done writing his book and that he might as well publish it to Amazon Kindle–that he had gotten it to a point where his changes were akin to changing “happy” to “glad.” My initial reaction was that if he was changing words from “happy” to “glad” that he must be at the point where he was far from being done with his manuscript. Even though there is a bigger point here about not being done with a manuscript until one has chosen the exact right words to convey his or her meaning. I thought it might be fun to blog about some things I consider when deciding on whether to use “happy” or “glad.”

happy to glad

First thing I think of is exactly what I am trying to say. The two words have similar denotations, but slightly different connotations. This means that their dictionary definitions are similar, but the moods, situations, and other words they evoke are different. “Happy” describes a state of being or an emotion. I can be “happy” that someone has given me a present. BUT, I can also just be happy, as a current state of my general mood. “Glad” also describes a state of being or an emotion. But “glad” to me always brings up thoughts of an emotional “reaction” to an event or happening. I can still be “glad” that someone has given me a present. But, I can’t really be just “glad” as a continued state of being or existence. “Glad” is a state of happiness that is in response to something. I make my choice on which word to use depending on exactly which meaning I am trying to convey.

I also tend to think of “happy” as being a more jubilant word than “glad.” In some sensitive situations, someone might be glad that another person was there to console him or her if someone close them died. However, that same person probably wouldn’t say that they were “happy” about a person being there to console him or her.

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Then there’s an obvious difference between the two words. They have different numbers of syllables. Sometimes a two-syllable word just ”

fits” better into a sentence than a one-syllable word. And sometimes a one-syllable word might end a sentence better than a two-syllable word would.

And lastly, if used in character dialogue, one word might be more in keeping than the other with the vocab of a given character.

Of course, as I said at the beginning of this post, if an author is at the stage where he or she is just now worrying about changing “happys” to “glads,” I would consider he or she still has a decent amount of writing to do (see previous post on rewrites) before being ready to publish online to someplace like the Amazon Kindle store.

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