Literally the Best Writing Advice Ever

If the title of this post sounds familiar, then you must also be reading Paul Yeager’s new book, Literally the Best Language Book Ever. A man after our own hearts (especially Dan’s, who prides himself on his grammatical prowess) Yeager identifies hundreds of illogical expressions and language miscues he wishes we’d all quit saying.

My favorite is Chapter 3: Verbifications

This is when you use nouns as verbs and it’s particularly common in the business world. Want an example? I’m going to challenge myself to write four in one sentence. Ready … go!

“Oh honey, normally you know I’d love nothing more than antiquing with your chain-smoking, freak-show sister, but I have to architect a new business plan for the Tuesday meeting I chair-oh, I almost forgot, you DVRed Dancing with the Stars, right?”

Okay, I’ve never said these exact words (I don’t even have a sister) but I do catch myself verbifying all the time. And if we don’t break this habit someday soon we might find ourselves asking the counter girl to “Cup me some coffee.” But can we stop? I don’t know, but I task you to try …

So what drives you crazy?

Share your own pet peeves here-or write your own verbified sentence!

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13 replies
  1. Robert Padgett says:

    I need to library this book… I have a few of my own grammatical pet peeves, including:

    — improper use of the verb lie (e.g., lie down, lay my head down to sleep, etc.)
    — saying you ‘could care less,’ when it should be ‘couldn’t care less.’ if you could care less, it means you care quite a bit.
    — nonplussed, which doesn’t mean unexcited, but rather perplexed.

    Another good book, which sits on my coffee table, is ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves — the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.’

  2. Ruth Bristol says:

    Totally unrelated, but a recent pet-peeve my husband and I throw around for fun: the useless addition of “at all” to the end of a sentence.

    Have you talked to your parents this week, at all?
    Are you going to eat lunch, at all?

  3. Jane says:

    It drives me nuts when people say “flush out” when they actually mean “flesh out.” (As in, “We need to flush out this concept a little more.”) I actually sent an angry, pedantic email to all my coworkers about this once.

    The use of the word “impact” as a verb (when not associated with molars) also bothers me, and the frequent confusion of “every day” and “everyday” drives me bonkers.

    I could go on. And on.

  4. Chris Wnek says:

    You referred to inappropriate verbification. What about inappropriate nounification? I suspect that I am guilty when referring to “RSVPs”.

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