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Bonfire of the Inanities, part I

In this, the first in an ongoing series devoted to shining the clear light of reason on bad English (that is to say, unpleasant writing and speaking, not the lame 1980s band), I draw your attention to one of the most heinous of practices: using nouns as verbs.

An example that really sets my teeth on edge is “reference”—you know, “Excuse me while I reference my notes,” or “We’ll need to reference our expertise in this proposal.” AAAUUUGGGHHH!!! Whatever happened to “refer to”?

Here’s why you should care: When you deliberately flout the quite reasonable rules of English syntax, you come across not as a refined and sophisticated raconteur, but as someone who simply doesn’t know any better.



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