by Jon Hogan

Blame it on the state of the education system, preservatives in our food, pollution, not being breast-fed as a baby, whatever. There appears to be a trend in usage of the English language which is not only grammatically incorrect, it also means we, as communicators, are imparting an inaccurate message.

It is, the use of “IS,” and less seldom “ARE” in the abbreviated form, when referring to businesses and advertisers (the noun). How often have you heard, “There’s racks and racks of specials!” “ShoreSide Plaza are having a Sale!” or similar?

Take a closer look at the noun, the name of the business or advertiser. Is it a business, or are there several of them? If there is just the ONE, use “is,” even if there are two or more names in the name of the business. Say a shopping center like ShoreSide Plaza contains several shops. It is still a single entity (as a business). It is when there are more than ONE that it becomes “are.” If you are unsure, break it down from its abbreviated form when reading your script aloud.

“There’re racks and racks of specials!” “ShoreSide is having a Sale!”

Simple stuff, but listen and you’ll hear examples of incorrect use daily on  TV, radio, in conversation. I’ve done it myself a number of times, or should I say, I’m trying not to do it anymore. Call it a personal challenge. We all like to be better at what we do. Breaking bad habits and getting the basics right is a good start.

(Scene1: Battlefield, although all has been quiet for a while)
Soldier: (running into bunker, panting) "Sir, the enemy IS coming!"
General: "Good. A surrender. Bring me a pen."

(Scene2: Battlefield, although all has been quiet for a while)
Soldier: (running into bunker, panting) "Sir, the enemy ARE coming!"
General: "Gads. An attack. Bring me a gun!"

On the Soundstage

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July 01, 2004 7683
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