I was about to write an hilarious tweet, that goes

I change my mind as often as I change underwear, not very

Am I correct in thiking that the word often is implied at the end? or do I have to spell it out, like

I change my mind as often as I change underwear, not very often

In the latter I get the feeling that the often is forced, so, when is a word implied?

  • That's an acceptable conversational deletion. often would be understood to be intended, as that adverb is the only word in the sentence that very could modify in the present context. The comparative as often as is carried forward. There are a number so-called "deletion" rules.
    – TimR
    Jul 14, 2016 at 10:59
  • 1
    But I wouldn't say that often would be "forced", if stated explicitly in a non-joking context. What is "forced" is the delayed hilarity. The punch line of this kind of joke is typically punctuated by a drum roll and cymbal crash supplied by the drummer of the late night house band.
    – TimR
    Jul 14, 2016 at 11:11
  • @TRomano I see, too bad my band isn't on twitter
    – sch
    Jul 14, 2016 at 11:21
  • Maybe some sound-emojis. For this joke we'd need drums, cymbals, and groans.
    – TimR
    Jul 14, 2016 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


Punctuation is your friend here:

I change my mind as often as I change my underwear: not very.

Think of the colon as the punctuational equivalent of a drum roll: it builds suspense, and announces that the wowzer is coming.

The word "often" isn't really "implied" here. Because the words that follow a colon describe or clarify what came before it, the reader will realize that the adverb of degree "very" can only logically apply to the adverb "often" in the independent clause.


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