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

By Londonist Staff Last edited 26 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

Juno

Comma after "profit", please. I won't bore the world with the details, but it does slightly change the meaning.

Tube Geek

I think the 'because' should be replaced by a semi-colon. I flows better then, I think!

Clunking Fist

An accountant can tell you that it's nonsense, too: "investment" is what we call CAPITAL expenditure. "Income" is OPERATING revenue. One can (must) deduct operating expenditure (wages, rent, power) from operating revenue, but one can't deduct capital expenditure from operating revenue.

Andrew Buxton

This seems to be more a matter of economics or accountancy than grammar. What annoys me more are the constant tannoy requests to "use all available doors". I can only use one at once!

marcopolo

If they didn't make a profit then they would have nothing to re-invest, so they would either break even or make a loss or simply plough it all into their pensions which is the most likely

Pussycontrol1234

Bunch of ways to do this; most are about efficiency and very little to do with grammar (grammar being a fluid concept when you're main aim is putting your point across).

The 'because' is redundant which makes the first section removable.

To the point:
"We reinvest all our income to run and improve your services"

Less severe:
"TFL doesn't make a profit. We reinvest all our income to run and improve your services"

Actual meaning:
"HELP US! BEFORE THE TORY VULTURES BREAK US UP AND SELL US TO SOULLESS CORPORATIONS WITH NO EXPERIENCE IN RUNNING AND EXPANDING A CITY METRO SERVICE FOR IDEOLOGICAL REASONS WHICH ARE NOT JUST LIMITED TO LINING THE POCKETS OF THEMSELVES AND THEIR PAY MASTERS"

Kaizer Chief

"TfL doesn't make a profit because of the selfish, lazy twats who keep going on strike."

Fluffy

Not as infuriating as hearing "Southern Rail are sorry...." 15 times an hour - it's a singular company ffs, what's so difficult to grasp about that?

Tyler

Who honestly cares?

Юрий Ураков