« The Republic trembles, but there's laundry to do | Main | Joke of the week: "Dogs in a Bar" »

Are you trying too hard?

You’ve earned a doctorate, and you style yourself Dr. Firstname Lastname Ph.D. Either would suffice; neither would be better.

You let it be known how many Facebook friends/Twitter followers/LinkedIn connections you have, or how big your vocabulary is.

Your personalized license plate hints at your prowess.

You say “an historic.”

You have a Chesapeake Bay license plate on your Chevy Suburban.

For that matter, you have a Chevy Suburban.

Or even worse, you live on a suburban cul-de-sac and drive a Land Rover.

Your children’s first names are last names.

Your pets’ names are last names.

Your potato chips are from Whole Foods.

You want to cut federal spending, lower taxes, and amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. Right now.

I myself would be trying too hard if I tried to make this list exhaustive. Your suggestions?



Posted by John McIntyre at 4:28 PM | | Comments (10)


Yes to all, but give me a break on "an historic"...I watch British TV and listen to the BBC.

Potential addition?:
The personal information, contact information, and favorite quotes provided in your sig file takes up more space than most email messages.

You use "whom".

Here in Pennsylvania, I've been thinking of getting one of those Presque Isle vanity license plates. They fade to white after a few months and would be excellent on a getaway car after robbing a bank.

Why all the hate (everywhere not just here) for people whose dialect includes "an" before unstressed initial h-syllables? Surely you could target it at those who say "an hotel"? Seriously, why is that on the same list as the others? (What? Why yes I do say it.)

Don't look at me, Ridger. I tried to justify the usage, but no on wants to listen:

Oh Lord, John, now you'll start Patricia the Terse going -- again!

Your socks match.

Adequate job. Apples and oranges included in the cart demonstrating your propensity for leaving no fruit to rot on the ground.

You never write a sentence such as "You let it be known how many Facebook friends/Twitter followers/LinkedIn connections you have." Instead, you write "One lets it be known how many Facebook friends/Twitter followers/LinkedIn connection one has."

With appropriate cultural translation this post and its comments could have been written by an Englishman, I'm afraid. Isn't the "trying too hard" line the very height of snobbery?

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected