A few words that are nouns and not verbs


Just a take-note-of thing. Not that it’s getting on my nerves or anything…

In this one day, I have been subjected, via various media, to the following nouns being used as verbs:

  • Impact — the granddaddy of them all, which you’ve heard me gripe about before. I actually heard this come from the mouth of a professional announcer, on PRI’s “To The Point,” I think it was.
  • Advantage — Interview subject on NPR this morning.
  • Disadvantage — Same young woman this morning. She kept going back and forth between saying something “advantages” one person and “disadvantages” someone else. Torture.
  • Partner — A press release from a local nonprofit, which I will not name, out of kindness.
  • Gift — A subscription promotion from Boston Review, which I received via email (see above — note that they did it twice!). Look, folks, this is simple: A gift is a thing that you give. You don’t “gift” a gift; you give it. Got it? (It’s like “lend” and “loan,” only more so.)

Sorry. After the fifth one in one day, I had to say something. I wasn’t trying to find them; they found me.

Oh, and spare me the citations proving that these usages are OK. They’re not. Authorities who say otherwise are wrong. I speak ex cathedra as the ultimate authority within the universe that is this blog.

17 thoughts on “A few words that are nouns and not verbs

    1. Michael Bramson

      As someone who grew up in New York, I think the bigger mark of a Yankee is that when we say we’re having a BBQ, we really just mean that we’re going to grill some burgers and hot dogs.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Agreed. That’s a surefire way to spot a non-Southerner. The only appropriate response to that person that I can think of is: “Bless your heart; you think this is BBQ.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          When I was a kid living in Ecuador, my Cub Scout troop (made up of American expatriate kids) had a cookout once, and I got excited because someone mentioned barbecue.

          Imagine my disappointment when I figured out that where that adult was from, “barbecue” meant “cook out.” Hamburgers and hot dogs, I ask you…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And I had lived in the North before that (New Jersey), so I should have known better…

            I thought that at least there would be barbecue sauce, if only on grilled chicken or such…

  1. Karen Pearson

    Ms. Language Person agrees with both of you. A yankee using “fix’in” or “mash” is merely trying to copy his betters. The use of “BBQ” as a verb simply denotes his failure.

  2. Ms. Persnickety

    Yeah, summa this stuff can get pretty annoying โ€“ like the (mainly younger) folks who now start sentences with โ€soโ€œ instead of โ€œwell.โ€œ But language has always evolved. Take the word โ€œsmoke,โ€ for instance. It was also once only a noun (or its Old English antecedent was). But at some point it got turned into a verb. And yet western civilization did not crumble. In fact, maybe the world (of words) was slightly enriched by the change.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      You mean there was a point in time where there was not a verb form of “smoke”?

      As in: I smoked my pipe in the drawing room while listening to my companions tell me of Nelson’s exploits at the Battle of the Nile.


      In order to achieve perfect Texas brisket, you must smoke the meat for a period of no less than 8 hours at low temperature.

      or something as simple as:

      I am smoking.

      Old English didn’t have a present participle as part of a continuous form of a verb (in general)? No wonder I can’t understand it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Doug Ross

    Your not helping. Their are more better things to focus on than these ones. Like, you know, important stuff that effects you and we. Every one of us are different in the way we grammar our words. Consider this me gifting you with some usefull advise.

    Now excuse me while I go BBQ me some meat. K?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Looking back at that post I linked to above, when Massey stood and spoke forcefully against the election of Hugh Leatherman as president pro tem, reminds me that I really must try to get to the State House more often.

      My favorite part came after Massey’s impassioned speech, and after the Senate ignored him and elected Leatherman anyway, and I tweeted during Leatherman’s acceptance speech, “Leatherman promises to treat all senators with respect, and fairness…”

      Massey Tweeted back:

      Watch for sparks to fly with him in this position, and Leatherman still in his…

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