Bet you thought that an expletive was just a profane word! Well, it became better-known as such a few decades ago, during the Watergate scandal. President Richard M. Nixon’s audiotape recordings included a lot of profanity, which had to be deleted before being used in court hearings. That is when the phrase “expletive deleted” entered our vocabulary as a definition of profanity.
There are two types of expletive.
Expletive as Passive Voice
The expletive is a word or phrase that is unnecessary to understanding the meaning of the sentence; it gives the sentence a passive voice. For example,
There is a student waiting in the principal’s office.
This could be restated as—A student is waiting in the principal’s office.
The word there at the beginning of the first sentence is an expletive.
Expletive as Intensifier
An expletive does not modify, it intensifies another part of speech. It indicates passion and emotion. It may be mildly profane. For example,
The cruise was a freaking nightmare.
The pie was di-freaking-licious!
The word freaking is an expletive in both examples.
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