Time-Saving Talk

Years ago a teacher stood before our class and made two grammar rule declarations: 1)“Never end a sentence with a preposition.”2)“Never begin a sentence with a conjunction.”

All these years since, I rarely follow the second rule. But I digress. As for the preposition thing, it is apparently not a rule at all. So do it if you want to. It does not matter why you do it for.

However, sometimes there is a practical and important reason to ditch a sentence-ending preposition. It saves time. And in this hurried world, we can use every extra moment possible.

For example, you could ask somebody, “Where are you going to?” But it’ s quicker to drop the ‘ to’ and just ask, “Where are you going?” You have conveyed the same meaning—and saved time. Granted, not much, but it adds up.

Rather than say, “I literally blew milk out my nose,” why not just say “I blew milk out my nose?” For that matter, maybe “I blew milk” is enough. Unless you are doing it figuratively.

An acquaintance of mine often says, “I was thinking in my brain.” It would seem fair to ask, “Where else would you be thinking? In your foot? Your elbow? Or perhaps in the previously-mentioned nose—while simultaneously blowing out milk?” It seems that just “I was thinking” is saying enough. And the elimination of “in my brain” shaves off time galore.

Same for the expression, “it brought a tear to my eye.” Last time I checked, eyes were the number one location for tears. I personally have never had a tear roll out either of my ears—although they do get pretty waxy when I’ m watching a sad movie.

For that matter “It’ s music to my ears,” is another colossal time waster—especially since it is unlikely you’ll ever encounter the expression “It’ s music to my navel.” Are you beginning to see how much time streamlined sentences can save?

Another common remark that falls into this category is “…it brought a smile to my face.” Where else on the human body could a smile appear? The face seems best. After all, that’ s where the mouth and lips are generally located.

In fact, if you see a smile anywhere except on a face—it is probably not a smile at all—and a doctor needs to be consulted immediately. Here’ s a short tidy sentence: “You have to see it.” But some of us are not content to leave it at that. We have to add words and time by saying, “You have to see it—with your own two eyes.” Never mind the mention of the “two eyes” (which are indeed useful to our sight)—but “your own two eyes?” Apparently the clarification is to ensure people are not routinely going around borrowing someone else’ s peepers. Especially if they’ re the type that forget to give things back.

(I wonder if one fly has ever said to another fly: “You have to see it with your own thousand eyes”?) Another way to save time in everyday conversation is to jettison extraneous remarks. See if you can spot the two unnecessary sentences among the following three: 1)“I’ m just sayin’…”2)“It is what it is…”3)“Traffic in Seattle really sucks.”It’ s a trick. All three sentences are unnecessary statements. A neighbor likes to say, “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.” Then he goes on to say it for the 1,00lst time.

(On a side note, he also likes to use the old expression, “I’ d give my right arm to (fill in the blank.) To his credit, he has never said, “I’ d give someone else’s right arm…” Nor have I ever heard him use the expression in an awkward way like: “I’ d give my right arm to own at least one good pair of gloves.”

That same neighbor always compliments others he considers intelligent by saying, “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders.” I know he means well, but he’ s wasting precious seconds every time he makes the statement.

Not to mention the fact that most heads are attached to necks, not shoulders.

Except for my cousin Tony.