Posted in Blog, craft, New Adult, Young Adult

Do you swear?

Do you swear?

Most of us do although there may be different contexts. An accident, a flaring temper, fear, excitement, a few drinks – these things can make even the most mild mannered person drop a four letter word.

The company we find ourselves in can also influence our choice of language. I would never swear in front of my grandma or my children, I would only swear in front of my parents if no other word could convey the feeling I wanted to get across. I swear pretty freely with my friends and they with me. When I meet up with friends who are also mums, and without the children, we use language that could shock … well probably no one would be particularly shocked these days but still, it’s pretty bad. I suspect it’s a relief valve, we’re so careful around the terrors darlings that when they’re not around we can let fly.

And, of course, teenagers swear – probably for the same reason as the mothers of young children. I have yet to meet a teenager (and in a past life I was a high school teacher) that doesn’t swear amongst their peers, even if it’s only occasionally.

And so, here’s the question – should there be swearing in books aimed at young adults? When your seventeen year old protagonist is running from murderous thugs, is it acceptable for him to drop a few dirty words? Or is swearing in young adult fiction a no go? And if it is, what do you replace it with? I would love to hear what you think.




I'm an educator, mum and wife living in beautiful Victoria, Australia. I make learning resources for passionate, but time-poor, teachers in need of a better work-life balance. I'm a voracious reader, love a good curry, and believe life is always better with chocolate.

6 thoughts on “Do you swear?

  1. I’m a YA author and a young adult myself, and I’ve found that it really depends on the character. Personally, I do swear quite a bit, but only around people I’m extremely comfortable with. A character in one of my books swears all the time no matter who he’s with, while his best friend never swears at all – he only swears once in the whole book, and that’s when he finds that the first character has been kidnapped. So I think there’s definitely a way to manoeuvre the swearing debate to your own advantage, using it to shape your characters. 🙂

    1. Great points. After all, if the words don’t add to the character or story then they’re just taking up precious space. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I think swearing in young adult fiction would add to the relatibility (Is that a word?) of your target market. I am a young adult who swears a lot (I shouldn’t because it doesn’t reflect well on one’s character or something like that) and I would relate a lot more to a fictional character that swore, even if it was just a little, than one that didn’t. Unless of course the character isn’t supposed to swear because of some religion or being mute or something.

    1. I agree. Especially if the context calls for it. Someone running for there life is going to sound more realistic if they swear rather than say ‘oh darn.’ Thanks for your input.

  3. I find this really interesting since I don’t actually swear in real life, and I write YA, but I’m also aware that most of the target audience does, likely, swear. I pretty much stick by the Harry Potter rule – low-levelled swear words (like “bloody hell,” for example) but otherwise pretty clean language.

    1. That’s a good point Lynette – if you don’t swear in life it can feel unnatural having your characters swear. And it’s interesting that the only time I noticed the lack of swearing in Harry Potter was when the characters ‘cursed under their breath’ and so on. Thanks for giving your views.

Everyone has an opinion. What's yours?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.