Using words as words provides a good example. Tone inflection can distinguish words used as words in spoken English, but what about written English? This is why italics are employed.
What does it mean to use words as words? It means that the way you use words are not as they are intended to mean and function within the structure of the sentence. The use makes clear that it’s the word itself and not the meaning behind the word that is intended to be used.
I do this in my blog posts here and expect to continue it for the foreseeable future. Here’s a good example from just a couple of weeks ago. We discussed the use of maybe versus may be.
Now look at that sentence right there. Maybe is not being used to mean perhaps. It is the word itself as a word that is being used. Same with may be, a verb phrase that in this instance is being used as a noun. Words used as words appear in italics.
As I said in that previous blog post, attention to the little things can make all the difference. So learn the word on words used as words. More effective communication, if only in little ways, makes for better writing. And that can make all the difference.