Business Language

The Grammar Police Strikes Again! (And yes, the misteak in the headline is intentionally!)

January 13, 2010: 10:09 AM ET

I must be out of my mind to care about this spelling, punctuation, and grammar nonsense. Nobody else seems to. People go around, in meetings, in casual conversation, in e-mails, "Your right," an otherwise quite brilliant colleague will message me. Or, "Its something I want to do." "Their you go," another will reply. And I look at it and think, "Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider."

In conversation, I have peeves. I mourn the disappearance of "You're welcome." I had a business junket last week, for instance, at the Langham Hotel in San Marino, California, which is a little corner of Pasadena noted for its (not it's!) elegance, style, wealth, and general panache.  It used to be a Ritz Carlton, but changed ownership a few years ago, and the new operators are terrific. The place shines. Everybody is very nice. Everything went very smoothly at the front desk. "Thank you," I said to the nice woman there. "No problem," she replied. "Thank you," I said to the guy who brought me my first martini. "No problem," he replied. "Thank you," I said to the bellhop who fetched my car from the garage when I left.  "No problem," he replied.

I'm not sure why that one bothers me so much, but it doesn't really matter. That ship has sailed. "You're welcome" is kaput.

For anybody who does care about this kind of idiocy, I have a terrific website to recommend to you.  It's from a person who calls himself The Oatmeal. In this post, he goes through the top mistakes people make, including the There, They're, Their situation, Its and It's, and many others. The guy (non-gender usage applies) also illustrates his own stuff, and it's very entertaining. You can go there and enjoy all the distinctions that only fussy fuddy duddies and out-of-the-demo geezers seem to notice these days. Fortunately, we're still in power for a while.

Until then, you're welcome.

  • Shakespeare weighs in on e-mail

    Macbeth said it. Act 5, Scene 5, I think. "It is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Most people think he was talking about Life. We know better. He was obviously talking about e-mail.

    Take today, for instance. It's only 8 AM and here's what I have:

    Some vendor I don't know is asking me to upgrade a program I don't own. An industry trade is MORE

    - Oct 28, 2008 11:34 AM ET
    Posted in:
  • Euphemism of the day

    A few years ago, I noticed that people, particularly very important people, had stopped going to the bathroom. Instead, they had "stepped away." This concept of "stepping away" grew in a very short time to include bagging the second half of the day entirely.

    - Aug 22, 2008 10:18 AM ET
  • 'Headwinds' jumps the shark

    The Wall Street Journal starts our week with one of its classic observational front page stories. This one notes the prevalence of a new metaphor that is now running like grain through a goose through the CEO community. It seems impossible to describe the current business environment without using the word "headwinds". 

    For instance, the paper quotes Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, telling auto analysts on January 17: "As we MORE

    - Feb 11, 2008 11:28 AM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.