Weekend Wrinkle: One Word or Two?

At the urging of Mona the dog (head cheerleader), DC the cat (chief scheduler – mealtimes must not be ignored!), and several human friends, we have decided the weekend should start early. As a result, I am moving Weekend Wrinkle to Thursdays.


“I dunno,” Dis Connect scratched his head. “Should it be one word or two?”

“It depends on how you’re using it,” Grammar Smith noted.

The culprit was backyard.

“If you’re talking about the yard in the back of a house, it’s two words: back yard,” Grammar explained. “If you’re using it to describe something else, then it’s one word: backyard grill.

This is a problem many writers seem to have; when should a word actually be two words? This comes into play when we’re using a compound adjective to describe a noun. In that case, the two words should be one.

Everyday is being misused again,” the dispatcher notified Grammar.

She sighed. She was tired of tracking down such blatant mistakes. She couldn’t understand what motivated writers to get this wrong so often.

Writers strive to write something every day. In this instance, “every” is an adjective describing the noun “day.”

Intense tapping on the computer’s keyboard for hours is an everyday occurrence. In this instance, “everyday” is a compound adjective describing the noun “occurrence.”

Grabbing her trench coat and hat, Grammar walked out into the misty back yard to track down an everyday error.


Weekend Wrinkle: The Day the Noun Got Summoned to HR

Bill McGowan graciously allowed me to use this positively hilarious (at least for grammar mavens) post that originally appeared May 26, 2015 on LinkedIn

Noun in HR officeHR Director: Good morning Noun. I’m Peter Palaver. From a scheduling perspective, it’s a solid value add that you were able to restack your myriad of calendar commitments in such an expeditious way so that we could have some constructive face time.

Noun: You mean you’re glad I could swing by on such short notice? Of course. I got your email first thing this morning saying it was important. Is everything ok?

HR Director: From an employment standpoint, everything remains status quo given the current staffing structural landscape.

Noun: So you’re not firing me? Oh good. I was a little nervous on the way over here but I tried to remind myself how important I am to our communication. I mean, it would be pretty hard to form a sentence without me.

HR Director: The integral nature of your contributions is indisputable. Rather from an org-chart perspective, I want to engage you in a substantive and meaningful dialogue about your core competencies and regions of responsibility.

Noun: So you’re changing my job description?

HR Director: We’re commencing with a downsizing and a reorging simultaneously so we will be requiring a finite group of thought leaders to assume some incremental challenges. From time immemorial, management has had you covering three verticals: Persons, Places and Things.

Noun: Yeah. It sure does keep me busy. Being a part of every subject and just about every object has had me pulling double duty ever since I can remember.

HR Director: Yes, we have been thorough in leveraging and amortizing your talents in that manner Noun.  But the ELT has ideated on this matter and in our quest to bring innovation to our lexicon and reimagine from the ground up how we bring flawless execution to our articulation, we’re going to ask you to assume a fourth vertical in conjunction with your current responsibilities.

Noun: So the bosses want me to do more? Who’s not pulling their weight? Is it the Adjectives department? I had a feeling those guys were getting stale. I mean, how many more times are we going to describe something routine as “amazing” or “exciting”? Please!

HR Director: No. It’s not the Adjectives section.

Noun: Who then? Adverbs? I agree you could do away with them and every sentence would be better off.

HR Director: No. Basically, we wholeheartedly believe adverbs are essentially a key component to our ongoing campaign to fully and uniquely hyperbolize our communication efforts. No Noun, we need you to be a verb now too.

Noun: I don’t understand.

HR Director: We’re doubling down on our need to bring more action to each and every sentence.

Noun: But asking me to be a verb as well would be like asking an exclamation point to also be a question mark. Perhaps you can explain how you see this working.

HR Director: Here on this Excel spreadsheet I’ve outlined a number of suggestions. For instance, currently you’re responsible for the word “effort.” Now you would also assume the word “efforting.” Instead of saying we’re “doing our due diligence on this project,” we are suggesting merely “we have diligenced this project.” That’s a savings of two whole words.

Noun: Hey listen, I’m all for brevity, but not if it’s going to make people sound like corporate hacks.

HR Director: From an adoption standpoint, we see this being actualized into daily speech patterns with alacrity.

Noun: Yeah, I noticed you said “hyperbolize” and “reorging” back there. Sounds like you’ve already started.

HR Director: In addition to “liaison” please add “liaise,” and along with “synergy” you’ll also be responsible for “synergizing.” Apologies Noun. I acknowledge this represents a substantive paradigm shift for you. But everyone in the organization is being asked to do more.

Noun: It seems to me what you really need to do is establish a new Gerund division instead of dumping all this in my lap. Have you considered that?

HR Director: From a Cap Ex perspective, no one felt incentivized to do that.

Noun: Alright, well I guess I’ll do my best. But can we meet again, say in 6 months to see how it’s going?  Is that what you call tabling the discussion?

HR Director: Excellent Noun! See, you’re already acclimating nicely to this new way of thinking. Yes, an assessment review in six months. Let’s calendar that.

Bill McGowan is CEO of Clarity Media Group Inc. Communications Consulting and author of Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time.

via The Day the Noun Got Summoned to HR | Bill McGowan | LinkedIn.