Is ‘community’ a lousy word or what?

architecture*A Super Quick Primer on Content Words and Function Words*

Content words give meaning to the contents of what we’re saying. They make it possible for us to create a mental image.

Function words make our sentences grammatically correct. They give us structure. Examples include riveting words like: a, an, and the.

We need both. Our brains don’t notice function words. Their job is to be like language ninjas–to get the job done without being noticed. So, from the perspective of using language to stand out from the crowd, content words are where it’s at.

Now back to the question at hand: is ‘community’ a lousy word?

Our research revealed that nonprofits use the word ‘community’ more than any other content word.

When you clack it into the Wordifier, you’re going to get a big ol red light that tells you to stop using it because it is sooooooooooooooo overused viewers of your website won’t notice it. So, in that way, yes, it’s a lousy word.

What’s a community-focused organization like you to do? You’re going to have to use the darn word at some point.

Think like an architect.

If you’re building a house, you have to have a foundation, walls, supporting beams, a roof, windows, etc. But there’s wide latitude in how an architect puts these elements together.

Ditto for how you talk about your organization. If you’re writing a sentence, you’ll need nouns and verbs and function words. If you’re focused on your community, at some point you’re going to have to use that word. The question is: what can you surround the word with to make it stand out?

What do you really mean by community? Do you actually mean neighborhood? Or maybe you mean your school community?

Can you add an adjective to qualify it? Maybe spunk up the sentence with (gasp!) an adverb?

Don’t just write your sentences–architect them. Bring the elements together strategically for maximum effect.

FYI: We cover this in much greater depth in Claxon University’s course Words on a Mission. Go here and you can preview the course!

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