Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fighting Gerunds of the South Pacific

I've said this before, people: Stop using gerunds as though they were verbs.

If there's anything that makes my teeth itch (besides chewing poison ivy) it's a headline that begins like this:


In the first place, it's not a complete sentence. There's no predicate. "Introducing" (or any "" word) is not a verb; in this case it's part of a noun-phrase which would serve in the office of subject in the subsequent sentence, which would want an actual verb to make it whole; e.g. "Introducing the all new iPhone makes us excited."

In the second place, it's as passive as a cow. Any gerund is passive. It betrays a lack of commitment to what you're saying, like the verbal equivalent of looking down at the ground when you speak, like it's not really you saying it, and, anyway, you could take it back if they don't seem interested...oh, never mind, I'll just walk away; pretend I was never here.

In the third place, since you're being so passive and disinterested, why would anyone else care? Show a little enthusiasm for your own product. And don't think you can just fix it by sticking a bang on the end, either! Put that exclamation mark down right now and step away from it.

In the fourth place, nobody talking like that in actual conversation. Not unless they're trying to mimic a bad Russian accent. Are you a bad Russian? Then no talking like that.

In the fifth place, copywriters who write headlines starting with gerunds are lazy hacks. They give actual, hardworking, creative copywriters a bad name. They make it seem as if anybody could type out a headline if that's all there is to it. So why should they pay us?

Ahh, getting that off my chest.

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