Curmdgeon, Things I hate

Floreakeats “Classic:” May we have a word about verbs?

NOTE: I’m on vacation today. So I thought I would use that as today’s excuse for not writing something new. Plus a reader asked that I post her favorite piece as a”Floreakeats Classic.” Here it is. Apparently, I was cranky about verbs this particular day.

img-thingPardon me, Tall Gentleman who purchased a cheese danish at Kupel’s Bakery in Brookline yesterday morning. May I have a word with you about verbs? (Others of you might be interested too, because I notice that Tall Gentleman is not alone in this particular problem.)

I couldn’t help but notice that you surveyed Kupel’s many delightful pastries, breads and bagels carefully before deciding on the cheese danish. That was a good choice.

Have you considered giving as much thoughtful attention to your verb choice when it is time to order your food?

I couldn’t help but notice that when the young woman behind the counter asked “May I help you?” you responded “Yeah, I’ll do the cheese danish.”

Now, I don’t want to be one of those people who whips out the dictionary at the drop of a hat, but perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the precise definition of the somewhat abstract verb “do.” It’s not something we think about everyday, is it Tall Gentleman? I don’t at least.

But when used with an object (in this case “cheese danish”), the dictionary suggests that “do” has several possible meanings:

1. to perform (an act, duty, role, etc.).
2. to execute (a piece or amount of work)
3. to accomplish; finish; complete.
4. to put forth; exert.
5. to be the cause of (good, harm, credit, etc.); bring about;effect.

I suppose it goes without saying, but I’ll just say it anyhow. NONE OF THE ACCEPTED DEFINITIONS OF “DO” INCLUDES “TO PURCHASE OR INGEST.”

Perhaps I misread your intentions – it wouldn’t be a first for me, goodness knows – and when you said “I’ll do the cheese danish” you were cleverly suggesting that you would “perform” or “accomplish” the cheese danish. That would be a hoot. Or perhaps, when you said you wanted to “do” the cheese danish you had something vulgar mind. (For that definition I think we’d need to go to the Urban Dictionary. We’d all rather not “do” that.) Or maybe you’re from somewhere like California where people just talk a little funny. I suppose you could just be a douche bag.

I suspect, you simply weren’t thinking about verbs. Exposure to dizzying array of baked goods certainly has that effect on me, Tall Gentleman.

So, might I suggest that the next time you’re faced with the question: “May I help you?” you simply answer “I would like a cheese danish, please.”

That will do nicely.

9 thoughts on “Floreakeats “Classic:” May we have a word about verbs?

  1. just found your blog today – great post! but if you’re going to harangue somebody about grammar, you should spell ‘effect’ correctly 😛

  2. I am so, so happy to learn I’m not the only one that hates this. I cringe violently when my husband says he’ll ‘do’ whatever he’s ordering at a restaurant. He’s almost there. Now his order goes more like, “I’ll d… have the burger.” It’s progress.

  3. Oh, Sweet Jesus, a write, food knowledge and a linguist. I am swept away, but as for verbs..would you mind taking that bat to the adjectives. They are beginning to grate.

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