1 Tip of a Preposition

October 29th, 2010

It’s at the top of my browser window again: the line drawing of a pudgy woman in a bikini promising, “1 Tip of a Flat Belly.” It’s annoying to be subjected to the same ad over and over again, and particularly an ad nagging me about losing pounds, but that’s not the worst part. What I can’t stand is that bizarrely constructed phrase. What is up with the preposition? “Tip of?” Who says that? They mean a tip for achieving or a tip about. Or maybe they really mean this is just the tip of the iceberg.

People whose native language is not English frequently confuse English prepositions, which is understandable because they are so quirkily unpredictable: we look up advice and track down the facts. We’re scared of belly fat and irritated by advertisements for telling us what we should care about.

I’m not going bemoan our collective descent into grammar anarchy, or even that it now seems socially acceptable to end a sentence in a preposition, as I did in the previous sentence. (Did you catch it?) I’ll leave aside the questions of dangling prepositions as well as “free” internet resources which come at the expense of being exposed to such nonsense. Instead, I just have one piece of advice for the flat-belly ad-men: if you want to use a single-phrase pitch and mercilessly subject us all to it, try my new preposition diet! Learn how to sound literate simply by choosing the proper prepositions! It’s easy! Click here for the complete free presentation!

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