Prepare yourselves for a rant.
It was all I could do…
If ever there is a phrase that makes me want to throw my book at the wall, or stamp on my poor Kindle in frustration, it’s the phrase ‘it was all I could do’.
It’s a stupid sentence. It’s meaningless. It sounds terrible. And worst of all, it’s extremely prolific.
It was all I could do.
What does that even mean anyway? Don’t answer that. I know what it’s supposed to mean, but it actually means nothing. Yet I see it everywhere.
Of course, that’s the beauty (or not so beauty, in this case) of idioms. They don’t make sense in a literal term, and they’re not supposed to. They’re phrases that can’t be understood from the meanings of the individual words, but instead the phrase as a whole and from regular usage.
Still, it’s an annoying idiom. I have been known, occassionally, to actually put a book down because I’ve been so frustrated with its overuse. It was all I could do.
What, people? What was all you could do? And why?
If the author said “all I could do was laugh,” or “all I could do was cry myself into a puddle of abandon” then I could get it. But just saying “it was all I could do” is just not good enough.
And it you really, really must use “it was all I could do,” please, please use an antecedent – “I had to do a Google a search to find the answer. It was all I could do to stop myself dying of curiosity.” In all honesty though, it’s probably best to just… ya know… not!
Sorry, not sorry.