I’m dividing what is essentially the same idea into two entries—this week and next.
The words/phrases you should never say again (ever) are:
Him and I, or
Her and I.
I’ll keep this simple! If some folks are DOING something—walking, going, planning, giving—anything that involves them doing the action, you must say (at the risk of sounding dumb)…
He and I, or
She and I.
(Sad confession: If I hear “Her and I went to the mall” or any close relative of that sentence one more time, I may just lose it.)
So just keep saying “He and I” and “She and I” until you just can’t begin a sentence or describe those doing an action with any other phrase.
One phrase that should rarely if ever escape our lips is the ubiquitous “no problem.” I know that I am not the only one driven crazy by that. It’s somehow become synonymous with “You’re welcome.” It doesn’t mean that, and yes, that’s a problem.
Chick-fil-A employees have this down. They say, “My pleasure” or some version of that. That’s a kind and gracious way of saying, “You’re welcome.” Saying “no problem” is just the opposite.
Saying “No problem” implies that your serving someone is indeed an imposition, but that you have overcome this difficulty and appear to be gracious enough to dismiss the incredible hard work you did to provide the service. When someone says “No problem,” it implies that you have asked someone to do something out of the ordinary, and one that poses “a problem.” If you’re providing a normal service in a normal service situation, you should say, “You’re welcome” or something equally as gracious.
If you have been presented with a challenging task that is unanticipated, and you have gone WAY out of your way to do something that wasn’t expected of you, then you could say, “No problem” to an expression of gratitude and be seen as gracious. But when you give me my coffee and I say, “Thank you,” I’m assuming that it wasn’t a major issue or challenge to give it to me. Answering “No problem” implies that.
So don’t say it. Strike it from your vocabulary.
Can I get an Amen, somebody?!
This week we’re aiming our guns at the word like. (You knew this was coming.) If you care about precision in language, or just sounding more professional, read on.
If you use like as in enjoying something, or having affection toward someone, or using a direct comparison (“like a bat out of hell”), then keep it up. That’s the proper usage of the word.
But this last decade or so has seen the word explode as a kind of all-purpose verb/adjective:
“He was, like, (facial expression), and I like, (arms and hands indicating removal from the scene).” In Olde English, this might have meant, “He was upset and I quickly walked in the opposite direction.”
“That item is, like, over there in that aisle.” So is it actually over there in that aisle, or does it only seem as if it might be over there?
I know of more than one talented young person whose every 10th word is like. They need to stop, perform a like-ectomy on their vocabulary, and carry on making more sense. Research indicates that this will help in job interviews. Seriously.
Try using “it was as if…” if that will help, and if it applies. But you may find, as with kinda and sorta, that taking the expression out of your mouth completely will simply have the effect of strengthening your speech. Be brave. You can do it!