My grandsons can be drama queens. When told they are not allowed to do X at any given time (even if maybe it's not a banned thing, and they can do it later) they can be heard to emote "I'm never, ever, ever going to be able to....." (with the back of the hand to the brow, sorta deal). Words like "never" are often tossed around by small children, for whom an hour's wait is an awfully long time.
But when you grow up you learn the real meanings of words, and the reality of life's events and possibilities, so that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore.
I was explaining to Tom yesterday the meaning of hyperbole. He loves to collects long words, and has an awesome vocabulary for a young man yet to have any tertiary education, but that one hadn't arisen before. He loves it. He says it also explains a lot. He has had to work hard at understanding this sort of thing.
But the whole value of hyperbole lies in the fact that everyone knows it's hyperbole. It's not supposed to be taken literally. If I say I could eat a horse, I don't expect anyone to stand and watch me carve one up. Only the very youngest Aspie would get that one wrong.
So why is it, please tell me, that normal, intelligent adults can be constantly heard to use words like "impossible", and "never" when it's absolute rubbish?
It's not even in throwaway speech. It's in writing. There are others:
"I can guarantee..." (No, you can't)
"There will always be..." (Really? Even after the Sun swallows up the solar system?)
"It was the last time..." (Another one you can't guarantee)
OR EVEN BETTER
"It was the very last time" (What is the last time if it's not the very last time?)
Then there's words that do not mean what you think they mean. Used for effect but wrongly like decimate and apocalypse. But the one that's currently doing the rounds is:
"They literally took the roof off with the volume". No. They didn't. You mean figuratively.
And if I hear the word "finite" used wrongly one more time I'm going to eat my hat (q.v. hyperbole).
Now, I am not suggesting that we pick apart all written statements in the way a lawyer would. Apart from anything else it would make things terribly dull. English is rich with metaphor and simile, and that's why it's so much fun. But I think a little caution could be applied.
Instead of never, consider "rarely", "unlikely", or "not on my watch", possibly.
Instead of impossible, try "extremely difficult", or "cost prohibitive".
TELL THE TRUTH.