The tentative, provisional, and presumptive

A common error in thinking is to believe that a request, an invitation, or an offer is structured according to a Yes or a  No. Either I accept or I reject. Either I assent or else dissent. However, in many cases a binary operator may not be accurate or appropriate. Thus, one needs to consider, specify, supply the appropriate qualifiers.

In an unsettled age during which more things are contingent and more complexity is readily acknowledged, one does well to get in stride with the tentative (perhaps–under certain circumstances), the provisional (this so far–but to be revised in light of…), and the presumptive (yes, with the following notable exclusions or exemptions…). Unqualified Yes’s are beautiful yet rare.

These utterances, for instance, are suitable for a wide range of cases:

Not yet but in time.

Not now but perhaps later on.

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