Still murdering  the king’s English

I’ve been teaching English far too long, and I know it because what professionals do to the English language grates on my nerves like nails on a chalk board. Notice, I said professionals. I do not go about town with my red pen to mark up the speech of people on the street. People on their own time can talk however they want to. However, professionals on national television, bankers, lawyers, and teachers of any subject should have the ability and enough pride to use good grammar.

Nights when I settle in to watch the news, invariably an advertisement for Lipitor or some other legal and expensive drug comes on, recommending it for every person in the whole world except for “women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.” Please think about that expression for a minute. Does it make any sense? Certainly, we understand what it means, but my hackles stand up every time I hear it. The sentence is not parallel. It’s poorly worded. If these drug companies have enough money to squander on national television commercials, surely they have enough to hire a grammarian to edit the copy. My better high school seniors could do it. A real professional would require about two seconds to reword this copy so as to avoid hurting American ears sensitive to grammar. For example, “women who are nursing, pregnant, or who may become pregnant” should not take Lipitor.” That isn’t so hard. One little three letter word fixes the problem.