I’ve been learning the ropes about blogging, and as a result, this blog has been a little light in the information area. I don’t know all the ropes yet, just enough to not hang myself. Now we’ll move on to language, writing, memoirs, and all the other communication topics you’d expect. The blog is designed to be a more personal venue than the newsletter, so I’m getting personal with a couple of words.
Take the word “vanish.” It’s an intransitive verb, meaning it does not take an object. You’ve heard such sentences as “The magician vanished an entire elephant.” That’s wrong. You can feed the elephant, you can pet the elephant, you can wash the elephant … All of those verbs take objects. The magician can make the elephant vanish, but s/he can’t vanish it.
My friend Laura C sent me a newsletter she received in which the lead article was titled “Can Blogging Grow Your Business?” The information in the article was spot on, containing good advice. But the title contains a problem: the verb.
“Grow” can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on how it’s used. Used in this sense, the verb doesn’t work. You can grow a daisy from a seed, but that daisy wasn’t there before. Adding plant food might make the flower grow to be bigger, but you can’t say that you’re adding plant food to grow the daisy because the daisy is already there.
The business is already there, too, so you’d have to say something like “Can Blogging Make Your Business Grow?” Here “grow” is used in the sense of “get bigger.” That title is more effective anyway, because it ends with the word that provides the key idea in the article. And it has only one syllable, and one syllable at the end of a sentence adds punch because it serves as an oral period. So there.
Successful communication depends on the way the words hit your ear, both the inner ear and the outer. I ask you, Gentle Reader, to please send along your comment as to how those two verbs hit your ear.
Until next time…
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