Have you made any assignments in this space?

Date:August 5, 2005 / year-entry #215
Orig Link:https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20050805-19/?p=34683
Comments:    35
Summary:Riffing on Larry's profound distaste for the use of the word 'ask' as a noun (a distaste I share)... It's been three years since I heard the question "Have you made any assignments in this space?" during a meeting and I still don't know what the person was trying to say.

Riffing on Larry's profound distaste for the use of the word 'ask' as a noun (a distaste I share)...

It's been three years since I heard the question "Have you made any assignments in this space?" during a meeting and I still don't know what the person was trying to say.

Comments (35)
  1. Matt says:

    Oooh! A rant thread! How fun!

    My pet peeve is the use of the word ‘partner’ as a verb. Since when is ‘partner’ a verb? For some reason, that just gets under my skin. My mind rebels at the use of this word in this manner.

    As Calvin said, verbing weirds language.

  2. Drew says:

    Never heard that one before. By which I mean I’ve never "leveraged" that one before.

    WHat was the context? Or would that make the question even more confusing?

  3. Dave says:

    "Partner" can be a transitive verb according to my dictionary…

    1 : to join or associate with another as partner

    2 : to provide with a partner

  4. Rupert Giles says:

    Why do Americans continue to ruin the English language with such gems as "did you do it yet"?

  5. My father has a particular distaste for the use of the word ‘key’ without its article.

    As in:

    "This is key to understanding the product’s feature."

    I find a lot of people seem confused as to which words are adjectives, and which words are adverbs or perhaps even nouns. In particular, ‘good’ vs. ‘well’ truly confuses many American speakers of English. As in:

    "I did that real good."

    Or, most commonly:

    "How are you?" "I am good."

    This doesn’t stop at good vs. well, either. One may see sentences like the following:

    "That ball rolled down the hill quick."

    as opposed to the more correct:

    "That ball rolled down the hill quickly."

  6. Firas says:

    Sounds like, "did you delegate any responsiblities in this area"..

    And what on earth is wrong with "did you do it yet?" Sounds like something that will be declared correct usage soon enough, alongside "have you done it by now", etc.

  7. cshowe says:

    "I am good" is perfectly acceptable. Am is a linking verb connecting the noun "I" with the adjective describing it "good" It’s just like saying "the sky is blue"

    Saying "I am well" implies that you are performing some action "aming" in a particularly good fashion, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. More common is "I feel badly" which implies that you are doing a bad job of feeling something (ie pick up a soccer ball and say "I think I’m touching a walrus")

  8. kbiel says:


    Yes, of course, it’s only the Americans who speak incorrectly, guv. Cockney and other lower class British dialects are perfectly fine.

  9. kbiel says:


    "I am good" while gramatically correct is a little ambiguous, though it is not any more ambiguous than "How are you?". It would be better to say "How are you doing?" and reply "I am doing well."

  10. hey says:

    Waiters often say: "and for youself?"

    How about: "and for you?"

  11. rwa says:

    Someone here started using "disclude".

    "Can we disclude this from the report?"

    It hurts…

  12. Daniel Garlans says:

    Ahh, linguistic rants… My current pet peeves are related to certain blog environs which are a little less professional and rather more colloquial than this one, but here they are:

    1: Obsession with the idea of "memes". The whole meme thing is a meme itself, and it’s gotten way too popular.

    2: Overuse of the word "asshat" as a substitute for more standard and meaningful insults.

    3: Overuse of the phrase "kthxbye" by illiterate "asshats" who want put on an air of dismissiveness and superiority.

    Luckily I have not run into Larry and Raymond’s peeves of "asks" as a noun. It’s only a matter of time though, I’m sure!

  13. John says:

    While everyone is at it, return the word ‘factoid’ to its original use:


  14. Xavier says:

    I have one grammatical pet peeve, and I am inclined to let others slide until it is repaired: the common use of apostrophes to form plurals. As far as I am aware, there are NO cases in the English language in which to so use them is correct.

  15. avidgator says:

    As a displaced Southerner living in New England, the list of grammatical abuses that I encounter on a daily basis is staggering — not that the Southern dialect doen’t have its own "nuances." Probably the most heinous one that I hear regularly is "So don’t I" to mean "So do I."

    I guess I should counter that with "I am fixin’ to lose my mind if y’all don’t stop sayin’ that."

  16. Derek says:

    The "apostrphe-s" for pluralizing numbers and single letters is definitely common use. Whether it’s grammatically correct is probably debatable, but I don’t think there’s a better was to do it.

    "I got all A’s."

    "She had big hair in the 80’s."

    You can actually write pluralized numbers without the "s", though. e.g. "80s" Both ways are fairly common.

  17. Tierce says:

    Speaking of "ask", I wonder if I’m the only one who, when I hear it pronounced "axe" (as in, "I’ve got to ‘axe’ you a question"), feel like taking one to the speaker?

    I think Chris Rock had a joke about this.

  18. microbe says:

    I "for one" am quite tired of hearing "touch base". Normally it’s from a marketing guy who then says "with customers".

  19. James Schend says:

    My biggest gripe right now is "I, for one."

    The *only* time "I, for one" is acceptable is if you’re part of a group and you, personally, disagree with the general opinion of the group. For instance, "everybody on this project likes C++ but I, for one, prefer Java." But now you’re seeing it used *everywhere* for every purpose, and sometimes just to replace "I."

    On Slashdot, "I, for one" is being used so often that people are starting to leave out the comma, making it just "I for one think that you all suck."

  20. Brooks Moses says:

    Going back to the original post, which asked: "Since when is ‘partner’ a verb?"

    The 1920s UK dictionary that I keep beside my computer has it; checking in the OED indicates that that usage probably started in the 1850s or so.

    Interestingly, according to the OED, there are at least occasional uses of "ask" as a noun going back to the 1200s.

    (Larry, meanwhile, can perhaps take perverse comfort in the fact that the noun is also used to refer to a Scottish newt.)

  21. Cheong says:


    "How are you?" "I am good."


    I’ve heard a joke(I don’t know it’s real or not) that someone replys this one with "I’m fined." where the whole meaning is changed. XD

  22. Peter Cooper Jr. says:

    re: Xavier

    I *think* that it might be correct in English to use an apostrophe to pluralize a single letter, such as "This sentence has two i’s." It might also be appropriate for a number in a similar context, although I’m not as sure about it.

    But yes, an aprostrophe does not mean that "an s is about to come", despite its increasingly prevalent usage that way.

  23. Ryan says:

    This is something that has bothered me for awhile. What the hell does "go it alone" mean? I understand "go in alone" and even "do it alone" makes sense. But "go it alone"? That makes no sense whatsoever, and yet I see it constantly. Am I missing something obvious?

  24. TC says:

    I have taken all of the above mentioned best practice paradigms on board. I will embed them in our mission statement such that myself and others can reference them in the long term as best practice statements for leverage across the enterprise and achieve a "win win" outcome.


  25. Jon says:

    the "I, for one" that you see on slashdot is actually a meme based on a Simpson’s quote. The quote is made from the news reporter "Kent Brockman" in reference to an apparent invasion of giant ants. where is is quoted as saying:

    "Ladies and gentlemen, uh, we’ve just lost the picture, but what we’ve seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has apparently been taken over- ‘conquered’ if you will- by a master race of giant space ants. It’s difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earthman or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And <b>I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.</b> I’d like to remind them as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves." — Kent Brockman

    It’s comedy *GOLD*

  26. Mat Hall says:

    While we’re at it, those signs in supermarkets that say "10 items or less" really wind me up. It’s FEWER, dammit! (Thus far I’ve not seen one saying "10 item’s or less", but it’s only a matter of time…)

  27. Moz says:

    I love the common use of "quantum leap", because it’s so often accidental truth. The salescretins mean "a huge increase", but what they’re actually saying is "the smallest possible change". And generally they’re correct to do so.

    I assume you’ve all read "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"?

  28. Mike Edwards says:

    I have a number of grammatical peeves, for example when co-workers inform me that their printer is "broke". Explaining that this means it has no money, not uncommon in printers, seems not to help.

    As for signs, I particularly appreciate shops which show "Everything must go" in the window. Well, duh, surely that’s the point of a shop? Why would you have a shop where you don’t want to sell everything?

  29. Mr. Dictionary says:

    Here is a great site to refer to for grammatical pet peeves: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/

  30. Stewart Tootill says:

    This is more of a spelling mistake than a grammatical error, but I saw a sign outside a pub once which changed its grammar in an interesting and possibly insightful manner.

    It announced

    "We have a wide range of premium largers."

    I can only assume it was referring to the women.

  31. Lance Fisher says:

    I was once in a local sporting goods store, and someone had made a sign for the "Sweet Water" water filters, only they misspelled it as "Sweat Water." That changed the meaning a little bit.

  32. Zonk says:

    Today’s German seems to borrow many words from (US) English. This is not nearly as bad as some people here in Germany claim (somebody even calls it "cultural imperialism"), because most of the English words in general use are very useful and fill a hole in the language; something that couldn’t be easily expressed without it ("Notebook", "shoppen", "Comedy"). What’s funny is that German managers, being in love with buzz words just like the managers everywhere else in the world, seem to have an interesting presence for *English* buzz words.

    The one I’ve revently heard is "Leverage-Effekt". The first part is, of course, English and translates to "Hebel". But saying "Hebeleffekt" sounds like physics and will thus scare people away, whereas saying "Leverage-Effekt" will earns you a "knowing" nod by the audience and a promotion. I, for one detest weasel words in any language.

  33. Oh man.. The local one that really hurts is the removal of "to be."

    "That feature needs checked."

    instead of:

    "That feature needs to be checked."


    "That feature needs checking."

  34. My English grammar is probably not the best there is but I cannot help that my eyes hurt whenever I see the word then in the meaning than, e.g. "I earn more then you!" Ouch!

    What disturbs me is that I see it crop up everywhere, even in papers written by professionals. I almost fear that it soon will be accepted as correct English and I will go blind!

    Another English pet peeve is using u instead of you, which hurts my eyes equally much but luckily it’s easier to steer clear of it: just don’t visit web sites with an adolescent audience!

  35. Howard Jones says:

    I have a couple of customers who have a new and interesting way of using exclamation and question marks. The basic idea is to use a question mark on anything you don’t understand, and an exclamation mark on anything that is alarming. For more intense alarm/confusion, increase the number: It asks me to login but I don’t know the password? Isn’t this wrong!!!

    Also, ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ as a way to make ‘you’ and ‘me’ sound more important. Mostly sales people.

    ‘Then’ interchanged with ‘than. I don’t understand this one, but it seems to be common with young Americans (Livejournal’s Brad, and Slashdot’s CmdrTaco are two common culprits).

    Once at a trade show, I saw a presentation by a laptop vendor, describing his company’s product as the ‘most dependent laptop around’. I guess it was always bumming rides and borrowing money from you.

    And finally, the Best Sign Ever: XMA’S TREE’S NEXT LEFT

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