Observant readers will notice that we use “if you will,” every time we make up a word. We do this on purpose, but now that it’s been brought to your attention, you’ll start to notice the use of that phrase to cover and and all verbal gaffes or neologisms (real word, look it up). It’s the same idea when people use “as it were,” although people who say that are trying to sound ironic or profound.Several years ago, I went to an academic conference on American politics and the founding. It was one of the most enlightening weeks of my life. My only negative memory concerned the imitative proclivities, if you will, of the students in attendance. We listened to a lecturer who is one of the smartest people I’ve ever encountered. He peppered his talk with “as it were” so often that it became distracting. But what I found objectionable, others found admirable. So much so that in the discussion that followed, nearly every student who spoke threw out an “as it were” at some point in his or her remarks: “Even the Founders found questions of executive power confounding, as it were.” From that point forward the discussion took on a shitacious quality, if you will.
If You Will, Explained