“Guess what?” You sound like an idiot when you say “Guess what?”


No. Check that. Demand:

Remove the rhetorical “Guess what? from your lexicon immediately.


Not every “Guess what?” is bad. “Guess what?” is perfectly acceptable much of the time.

But the rhetorical “Guess what?” is never acceptable. 

“My boss wants us to do so-and-so? Well, guess what? It will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens.”

No. Stop it. Almost all rhetorical questions are annoying, but the “Guess what?” rhetorical question is especially so, since the people who use it seem to use it all the time.

Remove the “Guess what?” from the previous example and the only thing that changes is the perceived intelligence of the speaker.

“My boss wants us to do so-and-so? Well, it will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens.”

See what I mean? It’s a cleaner sentence. It’s more economic. But most important, it eliminates the cloying, under confident, needy sentiment that “Guess what?” brings to an argument. “Guess what?” implies that the listener needs to be more actively engaged than he or she already is. “Guess what?” suggests a false sense of audience participation. “Guess what?” hints at a speaker who is concerned with his or her ability to garner your attention.

“Guess what?” screams of desperation.

No more. Rid yourself of this verbal tick. This rhetorical blunder. This wasteful, purposeless, annoying turn of phrase.

My five year-old daughter has discovered the BEST COMEBACK EVER

My five year-old daughter is a rhetorical genius.

When I attempt to convince Clara that a two minute living room clean up is not a long time, or that the last piece of grilled cheese can be eaten in seconds, or that it’s always a good idea to try to use the bathroom before going on a long trip, her response is the same:

“Not to me.”

And it’s brilliant.


It’s true. Two minutes may seem like a long time to her.

It’s true. That last piece of grilled cheese might be incredibly difficult to eat.

And yes, just because I think something is a good idea does not mean that she will think the same.

“Not to me.”

Essentially, Clara is telling me that her reality and my reality are not the same, and that imposing my reality upon her will not work.

This is a reasonable and rationale position to take. Also rhetorically brilliant.

Annoyingly so.