Why Are Grammar Pedants Getting Their Knickers In A Twist Over This TfL Ad?

By Londonist Staff Last edited 29 months ago
Why Are Grammar Pedants Getting Their Knickers In A Twist Over This TfL Ad?
TfL ad via Tom Edwards on Twitter.

Perhaps you've stood in front of this TfL ad at a station, stumbled over reading it, shrugged and gone back to looking at your phone.

Maybe you've secured a seat opposite the notice on the tube, and found your eyes drawn to the words and frowned, thinking 'something isn't quite right', before giving up and trying to read a story in your neighbour's newspaper before they turn the page.

Count yourself lucky. There are grammar pedants in some corners of the internet who are less easily placated.

Earlier this week, an image of the poster was posted on Facebook with the simple incitement: 'Any thoughts?'

Pedants were quick to plough in: 'because replaced with a full stop?'

'Tfl can't decide whether to be singular or plural?'

Or another: 'Or whether to talk in the first or third person.'

'That's my concern' came the reply. 'The switch from third person singular to first person plural...'

And so on, and on...

As with many grammar conundrums, there was no simple answer, which is just the way we pedants like it.

'Arguably it's "the organisation" (singular) doesn't make a profit while "we" (the people who run TfL, plural) do the investing, so the switch is fine,' offered another commenter.

...which is certainly one way of looking at it.

Happily, alternatives were offered, which is nice: 'This is in English, if they'd like it for their poster: At TfL, we don’t make a profit because we reinvest all our income to run and improve our services for you. (21 words, so it's longer by 4. I suppose that would be the bummer.)'

Or 'TfL doesn't make a profit because all income is reinvested to run and improve your services. Which is one word shorter. I think they were just desperate to get the friendly 'we' in there.'

Ahh, yes. Here at Londonist, we know all about the power of the friendly 'we'.

So, dear Londonist readers: any thoughts?

Last Updated 26 April 2016