- 'With regards to'
- 'Services providers'
- ‘Part-time’ employee, but an employee who works part time.
1. Many times in speech and writing we hear and see with regards to. This is incorrect. We can say ‘as regards’, or ‘with regard to’, ‘concerning’, ‘in connection with’ or any other expression, but NOT 'with regards to'. It is just one of those expressions that is often used incorrectly.
2. I recently read an article from a newsletter to which I subscribe. The author used the expression services providers. Stop the press — chalk screeching on a blackboard — the word ‘service’ here is being used as an adjective, not a noun, so the correct expression is ‘service providers’. Why is this? The word ‘providers’ is the noun being described. What type of provider? A provider of services, or a ‘service provider’. The thing is, in this very article both ‘service providers’ and ‘services providers’ appeared, so it was not even used consistently throughout. Even though reference is being made to multiple services, it is not always necessary to pluralise the noun when the word is being used as an adjective.
Unfortunately this is not always the rule, so plural nouns can sometimes act as adjectives, e.g. sports medicine. English is not the easiest language! Sometimes we just need to do a quick search to see how many hits we get, do some checks of usage in context and use the expression that appears more frequently.
More and more I have been noticing the appearance of adjectives and verbs that are pluralised — this just seems so clumsy and often it is just wrong. In English, it is incorrect to pluralise adjectives. If we are talking about Spanish or French, for example, then that’s another story.
To determine whether a descriptive word should be pluralised, stop and ask yourself, ‘Is this word acting as a verb, an adjective or a noun?’ Then check it twice before hitting publish.
Here is an example of a phrase that has pluralised the word ‘services’ again. One possible explanation for this is it may have been translated by a non-native speaker of English who may have transferred the Spanish pluralisation of adjectives:
- ‘The Latin American Association of Services Exporters (ALES) convention’. The better expression would be ‘service exporters’.
- ‘Services sector’ — rather, use ‘service sector’. It is perfectly fine to use the latter as it is understood that the sector encompasses many services. ‘Service’ here is describing the sector and is an adjective.
- ‘Services exporters’ — rather, use ‘service exporters’.
- ‘Exporter regions’ is correct, where ‘exporter’ acts as an adjective describing the region.
3. How many trainings did you attend this year? Many of us have heard this word used incorrectly. ‘Training’ is the gerund or present participle of the verb ‘to train’. The gerund is the form of the verb ending in -ing. If you attended one, it would most like be a training session, workshop, meeting, programme and so on. It is incorrect to pluralise the gerund by adding an ‘s’ to the verb. You can however pluralise the noun that follows it, e.g. ‘training sessions’.
4. Compound adjectives. We have two ‘part-time’ employees, but they are employees who work part time (notice there is no hyphen in the latter case). The two words before employee are hyphenated because they are compound modifiers or adjectives. There are different types of compound modifiers, but here we will just discuss those that require a hyphen. Another example is ‘in-house proofreader’. Compound adjectives are usually hyphenated. There are some examples that are not, however. For example, if there is an adverb – ending in -ly e.g. for happily married couple, we would not hyphenate ‘happily’ and ‘married’. Those are just the rules. Hey! I did not make them!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know your thoughts in the comments about what other examples of frequently misused words you have observed.