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Word Wednesday: Dear FedEx

2 April 2008

Dear FedEx,

I was tracking a package online the other day, and as I was glancing down the Detailed Results list (and, as an aside, can I just say that I don’t understand how a package can be picked up 25 minutes before its details are transmitted to FedEx?) my eyes caught the following advertisement,

and my eyes reacted with the visual equivalent of the auditory cringing that usually follows the sound of nails scraping down a blackboard.

That is, they melted into a pool of burning acid.

Now, I realize that the skill set necessary for advertising executive types is not the same skill set necessary for novel writers. But, “Find locations even easier”? What the heck does that mean?

See, there are words called adjectives. An adjective is the part of speech that modifies (or, describes) a noun. And, as all of us from our generation know, [we] find it quite in-ter-es-ting, a noun’s a person, place, or thing.

Then, there is another set of words which we call adverbs. An adverb is the part of speech that modifies a verb, adjective, or, even, another adverb (how incestuous, I know!).

Yeah, it can be tough, what with both of them starting with “ad”. I understand. But here’s a clue: adverb ends in VERB.

So, back to your ad:

Easier, my friend, is an adjective. Go on, look it up. So, are you saying that we will find locations that are even easier? What is an easier location? We could spend lots of time discussing what exactly makes an easier location, but it would be a waste of our time, because you know and I know that what you were trying to say was that using your Web interface simplifies the act of searching for a location.

Here’s another clue: If you get your thing in action, you’re a VERB.

Put those two clues together, and do you know what?

How we find a location necessitates an ADVERB.

How will we find a FedEx location?

More easily.

More easily.

Even more easily.

I understand that sometimes, when done adeptly (adv.), a grammatical “twinge” is just the thing for a successful (adj.) ad campaign.

But this isn’t one of those ads. This one is just lazy (adj.).

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