In my jobs as a teacher and a fitness trainer, I have stressed the importance of a strong mind and a strong body. The following encourages using words correctly to help create that healthy you.
The Associated Press changed its policy in the spring and no longer uses the term illegal immigrant. The AP stated that illegal should only be used to describe an action, not a person. (This all but assures the profligacy of the term in a future Tarantino period-piece movie.)
Words are powerful, and many journalists are happy to see this change. They think that it reflects a more educated and precise approach to reporting. It’s too bad that many more journalists are still struggling to realize the error of their ways with other words and their significance.
On her MSNBC show after the AP’s announcement in April, Melissa Harris-Perry applauded the change. She further stated that words and language matter and had various guests in her studio to explain their importance.
But then, ironically, one of Harris-Perry’s colleagues, Touré, also expounded on the importance of words and then used subject-verb disagreement while proving his point. Indeed, he did prove his point … words do matter.
Subject-verb agreement means that if a singular subject is used, then a singular verb must be used. If a plural subject is used, then a plural verb must be used. That sounds fairly basic…right?
But plenty of newscasters and others make this mistake. During my days as a teacher, subject-verb disagreement was one of those areas that kept my red pen busy. Students’ choice of words can make a difference on college applications. Now as a business owner, I see these disagreeable errors on job applications and in interviews with prospective employees. My hiring decisions are based not only on skill set, but also on the effective use of words.
Some days it seems it is OK that we all surrender to the haphazard sentence structures that have become so prevalent on our airwaves. But the Associated Press and I believe that our tired, our poor, and our huddled masses should be allowed to yearn to breathe free from the restraints of inappropriate language. I hope we all press forward with the correctness of the words we use.
Choose your words wisely and stay classy (and healthy), Kansas City!
This article of word-wielding wellness is brought to you by that guy with a sexy mind and a smart body. That guy of complete health is Ron Blake, and he can be found diagramming sentences and doing pushups at myblakefitness.com.