Week 3

3.01 - Grammar/Adjectives

One of the challenges in correct grammar and communication is the appropriate use of adjectives and adverbs, such as good vs. well and bad vs. badly. When writing an email or greeting someone, what sounds more common or widely-used may not always be the correct choice.

Take this quiz. Which should you say?

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If you say “you look well” that means you see well possibly due to eyeglasses. When you are referring to appearance or emotional state, you must use an adjective (good). However, here is a caveat: when referring to physical health, we use the adjective “well”. Check out Data.Grammar book.com/blog/adjectives-adverbs/good-v-well.

The same holds true for “bad” and “badly.” Do you feel badly or do you feel bad? If you feel badly, you are referring to how you feel with your fingertips. You may feel badly if you have calluses or band aids on your fingertips. Otherwise you feel bad.

Do you look badly or look bad? Unless you are referring to scratched or dirty eyeglasses, you look bad. (Although, I’d rather just say, “I can’t see through these dirty lenses!”)

Do you smell good or bad or do you smell well or badly? You smell good if you are wearing cologne or took a shower and you smell bad if you have body odor. However, you smell badly if you have a cold.

With verbs that refer to senses, you either look good or bad, you either feel good, well, or bad, and you can even smell good or bad. The meaning is quite different if you use the adverbs, well or badly.

Now, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know this before. Don’t you feel good about this clarification?

3.02 - Word Fillers and Verbal Tics

Word fillers or verbal tics are often the nemesis of many speakers. Unfortunately, they detract from our message and create unnecessary noise. When the audience begins to count the “ums,” “uhs,” “so’s,” “okays,” “likes,” “ya knows,” “basically,” “kinda’s,” or whatever redundant sound, word, or phrase is in the message, there is a problem. Why do we use word fillers? It can be any of these reasons:

  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of confidence
  • Inability to find the correct word
  • Nervousness
  • A signal that you have not yet finished your thought
  • A transition to the next idea

The real question is, “What can we do about it?”

Don’t panic! An occasional “um” will not destroy your message. However, as the frequency increases, the clarity of the message will become obscured and the audience will become distracted. This is probably the most common concern I hear from my clients.

Steps to Tackle Your Fillers:

  1. Increase your awareness – Audio or video record yourself and listen back to see how often you use these words. You can even count the occurrences (ouch!). Just by increasing your awareness, you will see some changes.
  2. Ask a colleague or friend to give you feedback – You may not even realize that you are using certain words or phrases.
  3. Prepare and practice your presentation – This will eliminate the need to search for words.
  4. Slow down – This will allow your brain to keep up with your thoughts.
  5. Embrace the pause – This is the best technique! We are more effective when we pause; it gains the audience’s attention, it allows us to think, and we can make a greater impact.
  6. Focus on fluency – When we think about what we don’t want to do, we often do exactly that. For example, did you ever say you don’t want to hit the golf ball into the water, you don’t want to double fault in tennis, you don’t want to miss the basket, or you don’t want to stutter over a word? What happens?

Practice talking about a topic and focus on speaking slowly and inserting pauses, rather than eliminating “um’s.” Now, see what happens!

For more information about how to achieve excellence in communication, contact Successfully Speaking.

3.03 - Pronouns

“Me and my teammates….,” “My teammates and me…,” or “My teammates and I.”

“Me and him,” “Him and I,” or “He and I?”

According to SHRM and AARP, a recent survey found that 45% of employers are providing training programs to enhance their employees’ grammar and other skills.

Just listen to the interviews with young athletes in the Olympics or during any sports interviews. Many of these stellar athletes make the grammar gaffes that you see above. What should we do with pronouns?

Sometimes, a simple grammatical error in your speech or writing can affect your credibility and image. Which of the phrases above is correct, why, and under what circumstances?

“Me and my teammates….” – Incorrect.
Never use “me” as a subject! It is an “object noun” and used as an object of a sentence (“Give me the answer”) or object of a preposition (“Give it to me“).

“My teammates and I…” – This is correct when used as the subject of the sentence, e.g., “My teammates and I trained for months.”

“My teammates and me..” – This would be correct when used as the object in a sentence, e.g., “They sent the uniforms to my teammates and me.”

Subject pronouns are “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “we,” and “they.”
Object pronouns are “me,” “him,” “her,” “us,” and “them.”

We always say the other person first, e.g, “He and I attended the ceremonies,” or “The torch was given to him and me.”

Here is a strategy:

If we take the other person away, which sounds better, “I” or “me?” You wouldn’t say, “Give it to I.” Hopefully, this will help you navigate the confusion of pronouns!

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