Is This The Worst 1-Word Text Message You Can Possibly Send? (2024)

Is This The Worst 1-Word Text Message You Can Possibly Send? (1)

Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty

About a year ago, Isabel Steckel texted her 30-year-old older brother about hanging out the following afternoon. She received a one-word reply: “Sure.”

“If you’re bringing ‘sure’ attitude, then let’s not do it,” Steckel countered. “And he said, ‘lol,’ and I said, ‘I’m not kidding, lol.’”

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This May, the New York City-based comedian shared a screenshot of this conversation on X, formerly Twitter, and received more than 11,000 likes. The “sure” haters rose up to share how answering “sure” sounds passive and dispiriting. A “sure” texter apologized in a reply for the violence he had “inflicted while trying to appear easy and breezy.”

This is only the latest entry in a perennial and continuously divisive debate over what “sure” really means. One Reddit user in the subreddit for “unpopular opinions” declared that the word “sure” is “synonymous with ‘yes’ and shouldn’t be associated with sarcasm and attitude,” while a commentator for the Outline wrote in 2018 that the word is “the most passive-aggressive affirmative phrase” that is “a thumbs up to your face, and a jerkoff motion behind your back.”

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Clearly, we are not sure about what “sure” should mean.

Although the dictionary meaning of “sure” is affirmation and certainty, its meaning can be anything but certain but in a text conversation.

Why “sure” sounds so passive and indecisive in texts, according to a sociolinguist

Steckel said the word’s meaning is context dependent. She noted that replying “sure” for an errand or task is fine, but it sounds more devastating to hear when you are inviting someone to spend time with you.

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“Asking someone to hang out for me is like a very vulnerable move. So when I’m getting that ‘sure,’ I’m like, ‘Alright, f*ck it. I’m not doing it,’” she said.

Steckel said a “sure” reply sounds like the other person would rather “die than hang out” and “forcing someone to hang out with you is the worst feeling in the world.”

The problem with “sure” is that it sounds more tentative and less enthusiastic than an outright “yes!” or “absolutely,” especially when you do not have body language or vocal cues to reassure you.

“Sure is sort of indecisive, or has kind of a hesitant quality to it. Like, ‘Do want to go to the movies?’ ‘Sure.’ Do you really want to go?” explained Georgetown University sociolinguist Cynthia Gordon.

Gordon said the different meanings of “sure” might also be generational. “The younger generation expects more enthusiasm in texting in general than older folks do,” she said. She also noted that “women tend to expect more of those explicit markers of enthusiasm.”

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In a text, the length of a message can also take on outsized importance in the absence of in-person cues. Similar to why a one-word “OK” or “k” reply sounds so alarming and curt to receive, shorter answers imply lesser effort.

Meanwhile, Gordon said that the effort to write a full sentence or to write some extra exclamation points suggests, “Yeah, I really am enthusiastic about this.”

It’s why a one-word “sure” stirs doubt, but “sure thing” ― my own standard reply ― can sound slightly more genuine, if you are truly down to follow through on a request.

One helpful tip if you do get a bland “sure” is to take a step back and remember that it’s not automatically a sign of disinterest. Gordon said every person thinks their own way of communication is the natural way and “we all need to be more generous in our interpretations.”

Gordon cited the “Key & Peele” sketch between comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as a classic example of this. In the video, “there’s a whole miscommunication just because one person misinterprets the other’s kind of short, casual messages as being like, ‘I don’t care, I don’t care.’ But that’s not what’s going on,” Gordon explained.

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In the sketch, it’s not until the anxious friend character sees his smiling buddy’s face at the bar that he realizes that his friend actually wanted to hang out with him. It’s a reminder that in-person intonation can provide more valuable information about the state of your relationship than just a one-word “sure” text.

But until you meet up in-person, it does not hurt to give your conversation partner a little more reassurance.

“I would be less happy if I invited someone somewhere and they said, ‘Sure.’ I think I’d want more enthusiasm for some social kind of engagement,” Gordon said. “If you’re making the effort to connect with somebody, and kind of put it out there that you do something together and the other person says, ‘sure,’ it wouldn’t meet my expectations for suggesting it was going to be a good time.“

Padding your “sure” with a cheerful exclamation or even an extra word or two can make it clearer that you are truly agreeable to what the other person is saying. “I do think a ‘sure’ with an exclamation point is worlds different than just a normal ‘sure,’” Steckel said.

All to say: You can be “sure,” or you can be “sure!” Do you want to possibly send your friend or family member into an anxious spiral or do you want to spend one additional second adding that bubbly exclamation point or extra word?

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The choice is yours.

Is This The Worst 1-Word Text Message You Can Possibly Send? (2024)

FAQs

Are one word texts bad? ›

Sometimes, one-word texts can be a red flag.

If you just can't seem to get a conversation going, and if you're not connecting in other ways (like over the phone or in person), then it might be time to let him go.

How to respond to one word text? ›

Replying with Funny Texts
  1. "Wow, my message was so interesting and profound... I've actually left her speechless. Amazing."
  2. "If I had a little more pride I might not reply to a one-word response, but lucky for you, I've got super low self-esteem!"
  3. “The votes are in! You've won the Most Boring Text Response Ever award.

What is an example of a one word response? ›

The most common one-word responses are “yes,” “no,” “o*kay,” and “maybe.” However, they can also be phrases like “sure,” “yeah,” or “I don't know.” One word responses can be beneficial in some contexts because they are brief and can save time when people are communicating.

Can a scammer get your info if you reply to a text? ›

In some cases, yes. Replying to a smishing message can allow malware into your phone or land you some unwanted charges.

What is dry texting? ›

As a phrase, “dry texting” is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things. It refers to people who reply with one word, or don't carry the conversation and just say things like “lmao” and “wyd” until the receiver wants to tear their hair out in frustration or boredom.

What is considered bad texting? ›

Bad texters write long, rambling messages. They annoy you with too many emojis or too much punctuation. Or, they're completely toneless, leaving you wondering if they're mad. They blow up your phone.

What is replying in one word called? ›

Some common synonyms of response are answer, rejoinder, reply, and retort. While all these words mean "something spoken, written, or done in return," response may imply a quick or spontaneous reaction to a person or thing that serves as a stimulus.

How to reply OK in polite way? ›

  1. Understood. “Understood” is a professional and polite alternative to “o*kay” that conveys you have completely grasped the content of the message. ...
  2. Agreed. Using “Agreed” is another polite and professional way to express concurrence with a proposal or plan. ...
  3. Will do. ...
  4. Certainly. ...
  5. Acknowledged. ...
  6. Sounds good. ...
  7. Noted. ...
  8. Yes.
Apr 9, 2024

When a guy responds with short texts? ›

Quick responses generally mean he likes you.

Longer messages, compliments, personal stories, and lots of questions mean he's looking to continue the conversation while shorter messages might mean he's not interested.

What is the meaning of response in one word? ›

A response is a reaction to a question, experience, or some other type of stimulus. If you cry at sad movies, you're having an emotional response to the drama that's taking place on the screen. A response can come in many forms, including an answer to a question, an emotional reaction, or a reply.

What do short text responses mean? ›

One of the most obvious signs the person you're texting isn't interested, according to online dating expert Julie Spira, is as simple as the length of their messages. “When someone isn't that into you, their responses to your text messages will be short, as in one to three words,” Spira tells Elite Daily.

Is a one word response a sentence? ›

A sentence word (also called a one-word sentence) is a single word that forms a full sentence. Henry Sweet described sentence words as 'an area under one's control' and gave words such as "Come!", "John!", "Alas!", "Yes." and "No." as examples of sentence words.

Can someone steal your info by answering a text? ›

You can't get hacked by simply replying to a text. However, engaging with a hacker in any way will make it more likely that you get hacked. They'll find a way to fool you and make you click a link, which is what leads to you getting hacked.

How to tell if a scammer is texting you? ›

Before responding, look out for these seven signs.
  1. The message isn't relevant to you. ...
  2. The message requires you to take immediate action. ...
  3. The message contains grammatical and spelling errors. ...
  4. The number is unidentified. ...
  5. The text contains suspicious links. ...
  6. The message uses incorrect branding.
Oct 12, 2023

Can someone hack my bank account with my phone number? ›

Once they gain control of the phone number, they can intercept SMS messages containing one-time passwords (OTPs) used for bank account verification. This can potentially enable unauthorized access to accounts if the bank relies solely on SMS-based 2FA (two-factor authentication).

Is constant texting toxic? ›

Excessive Texting

For instance, texting non-stop could indicate that one partner is clingy and needy or that they are feeling insecure in the relationship. While this is harmful to the person doing the excessive texting, it can also be smothering to the person on the receiving end.

What to do when a girl gives one word replies? ›

One word replies generally tend to the fact that the stuff is getting boring. What you can do is have some sensible topics to talk on which she may be interested in. Don't be afraid ask her what are her favourite things. Try to make them laugh and feel relaxed with a good sense of humour.

Should you never double text? ›

Most experts agree: double texting usually isn't a good idea. When someone doesn't text you back, it's super disappointing and even anxiety-inducing. But experts warn that double texting usually isn't the solution. First of all, they point out that it can come across as clingy (despite your intentions).

Is it cringe to double text? ›

The double text is when you send two or more text messages to someone before they respond to the first, and it's often considered “cringe” as it can come across as a little needy or desperate if you just started seeing someone.

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