Don't let 'do' take over your vocabulary

Don't let 'do' take over your vocabulary

I keep seeing a worrisome trend, and hearing it, too. People are doing too much! I don’t necessarily mean they’re too active, but any action is being described by the word “do.”

I suppose it started with “let’s do lunch” among executives. But now I’m hearing people saying “I did the onions” or “Just do the beans” in a recipe, or reading a note saying “let’s do (name of restaurant).”

When I saw that note from a friend who will remain anonymous (and thus remain a friend), I had to write back and ask how you “did” this place — eat, play, or what? That came from not knowing it was a restaurant.

And the conversation went well, too, when I had to stop and say “What did you do to the onions? What should I do to the beans?”

Now that I’m conscious of it, I’m hearing and reading “do” all over the place, like gulls at Lake Michigan beaches in summer. (It was snowing as I wrote this, and the artwork warmed me up. I hope it helps.)

Fall not into the trap of saying “do” when you could use another verb — cook, boil, play, eat, whatever you really need. (And if you wonder about me for writing “fall not” at the beginning of this paragraph, think a moment: I wanted to caution you, but I could not use “do not,” could I?)

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.






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  • I wish you hadn't brought that up. I was not tempted to do "do" until you mentioned it!

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Not tempted to use it, you mean? Sigh.

  • So what do we do about the marriage vows?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I don't think she was disqualifying all usage of do. What they are supposed to do is what the rest of the vow says (and see my next comment).

  • In reply to jack:

    You're right, Jack, I did (past tense of you-know-what) not mean to disqualify all use of "do." Just limit it and give some other words an airing now and then. That example of "do" in a recipe really got me -- do WHAT?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Well, I'm so single that hadn't occurred to me. But I have heard them as "Will you" and "I will."

  • Almost, but not quite as egregious as "went" for "said."

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I wish I had an extra copy of one of my favorite books, so I could give it to you for that. It's called "I Always Look up the Word Egregious: A Vocabulary Book for People Who Don't Need One."
    (I think the last time I mentioned it was under "Books I like having around for their titles.")

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