1). To Better Serve You
This one has had English professors seething with anger for the past fifty-odd years. Inserting an adjective like “better” between the preposition, “to” and its accompanying verb constitutes a split infinitive. This is a grammatical No-No! Sure, for effect, we advertisers break all sorts of grammar and punctuation rules; we overuse/misuse ellipses, we capitalize the seasons (you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?), and we end sentences with prepositions. However, the split infinitive is especially noxious (for some reason) and has gone on long enough! We have Gene Roddenberry to blame for this with his famous Star Trek line: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Whenever and wherever possible, we try to correct this for our clients—swapping it out for: “To serve you better.”
2). Combined Experience
Companies love to boast about their employees’ combined years of experience—saying things like: “Our firm has over 150 years combined experience in our field.” This idea was clearly borrowed from the world of professional wrestling. Back in the day, in an effort to wow audiences with incredibly high weight figures, wrestling announcers started to include tag team members’ combined weights in their ring introductions. This was especially impressive for teams like Big John Studd/King Kong Bundy since their combined weight was 822 lbs! But, what about a business’s combined years of experience? The higher the number, the better. Right? Not necessarily. Realistically, the impressiveness of a firm’s combined years of experience is relative to its total number of employees. For instance, 45 years of combined experience is quite impressive if the business has only two employees, while 150 years of combined experience is somewhat less impressive when you find out the business employs 82.
3). From Soup to Nuts
Do people really say this anymore? The phrase dates back to a time when it was customary to serve nuts to one’s dinner guests after the dessert course. In fact, you may indeed encounter this at your next full course dinner—just before adjourning to the veranda for cigars and brandy with Jay Gatsby 😉 OK, maybe the phrase isn’t THAT archaic and it does still resonates with the older generations. But, for today’s younger audience, the phrase may come off sounding a little strange—possibly conjuring up images of honey-roasted peanuts floating in a bowl of hot broth. Mmmm … anyone for Thai? So, if you want to sound a bit more hip when describing the comprehensive nature of your company’s range of services, you may want to use the more current phrase: “from A to Z.” After all, it seems to work for Amazon.
4). Someone will be with You Momentarily
Here’s one you’re likely to hear the next time you call a business and get stuck listening to their on-hold messaging. The problem with this phrase is that “momentarily” doesn’t actually mean what most people seem to think it means (newscasters and politicians included). You see, “Momentarily” means: “for a moment,” not: “in a moment.” So, if you tell someone that you will be with them momentarily, what you are really telling them is that you can only be with them briefly. And what if they need you for more than a moment? What then? When in doubt, just use the long form and say: “I’ll be with you in a moment.” After all, who likes to be rushed?
5). Can I Have You do Something for Me?
This phrasing is most often used by managers when issuing commands to subordinate staff. They’ll ask: “Can I have you do something for me?” This is rather peculiar phrasing coming from someone in need of a favor. Is it not? Why not simply ask: “Can you do something for me?” From a psychological standpoint, injecting the “I have” almost makes it sound like the asker is also the doer—in effect, removing the staff member from the equation. It’s a subtle and unnecessary power play heard throughout the day-to-day, intra-office communications across our business community. By contrast, it’s quite alright to use this phrasing in reference to a third party: “Thank you Ma’am, can I have one of our team members follow up with you to answer your questions?”