The 5 Most Powerful Words in the English Language


If you think about it, writing is just like building a house. You need the right tools, the right equipment, the right set of skills.

You need to first have a design, to follow a blueprint. Then you build your house. Brick by brick. Word by word.

And there are certain words that hold more sway over us than others. You might be surprised to find that these “power words” don’t seem … well, all that powerful.

This speaks to just how efficient they are. Simple language is an often overlooked aspect of writing words that matter.

I also believe that it’s important to know WHY these words are powerful, and how they influence the person who is reading them, so as to best use them.

1. You

This is by far the most powerful word you can use. It’s the most personal.

We love seeing our own names in print or on the screen. Our names are tied to our self-perception and make up a massive part of our identity. No surprise then, that we become more engaged and even more trusting of a message in which our name appears.

While this is not possible when writing for a large audience, you can replace someone’s name with the pronoun “you.” Makes it feel as if you are addressing them directly.

Try it. You’ll notice how powerful your writing becomes when you do.

2. Free

Everybody loves free.

We tend to get addicted to it.


Well, mostly because, as mammals, we’re designed to be pretty lazy. We want the easiest available option. We have a natural instinct for growing for the “low hanging fruit” so to speak.

But, like I said, people tend to get addicted to free.

Whenever you offer something for free, you diminish its value, so you need to counter-balance this in some way. Offer something for free as a limited time deal, or as part of signing up for a newsletter. It’s a bonus, it’s not synonymous with worthless.

Still, a very powerful word to use.

3. Because

Because is such a powerful word, mostly because we become resistant if not explain why we must do something.

It’s so influential that you can use it while offering reasons that won’t make much sense, yet still convince people to do what you want them to do.

In writing, it’s always best to explain your opinions. Why? Because you want your readers to act on what you are explaining them.

4. Instantly

Even though delayed gratification has been proven time and time again to be an integral part of becoming successful, the truth is that patience is not our strong suit.

Human nature dictates that we want everything. And we want it now.

Our brain gets fired up when we begin to envision instant rewards (one of the many reasons lotteries are so popular). As a matter of fact, our most human part, the prefontal cortex is the one who is responsible for delaying gratification. It’s the part that allows you to act in what you’d call a rational way.

The issue with it is that words like “instant,” “immediately,” or even”fast” will shut that part off. Just like that.

That’s why when you are tired or stressed you tend to betray yourself. Strong emotions shut off the prefontal cortex, which is why whenever you are tired, you revert back to bad behaviors.

The faster you can deliver something to someone, the better. This explains shipping rates, and the rising popularity of digital goods, on-demand video, and such.

No reason to wait. Waiting sucks.

5. New

This one almost seems paradoxical.

We are what scientists refer to as risk-averse. We fear change. We often times form emotional bonds with the brands we use, the music and movies we listen to, the authors we read.

On the other hand, though, novelty plays an important part in activating our brain’s reward center.

We want to buy new stuff all the time, not just replace what we own when it stops working, but also because it’s new…

A very powerful word, used by companies all the time.

In absence of non-verbal cues, we rely on words to derive a lot of things.

Words are powerful. How, why, and when you use them matters. A lot.

And knowing what works triggers what kinds of responses is an important tool to have as a writer or blogger.


27 thoughts on “The 5 Most Powerful Words in the English Language

  1. I think ‘improved’ might be another powerful word, at least in the consumer-centric advertising world. Look how often products are cited as ‘New and Improved!’ It always makes me bitter about using the old and unimproved items that they used to sell to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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