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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Who is That?

Comments (3)

I have a handful of chronic grammar problems.  I received the following email yesterday:

You seem like an intelligent guy.  But you insist on referring to your friends as, "that."  If you’re not just trying to fit in by using bad grammar (as everyone else seems to do), show everyone how smart you really are.

"To all my friends that are . . . ."
"Since they are the ones that . . . ." 
"(Name) that is . . . ."

How about using the word, "who" instead of "that" when you refer to people?  "My friend who will be . . . ."  "To all my friends who are . . . ."  "Since they are the ones who . . . ."

To which I responded:

I have 12 grammar problems.  Then / than, who / whom, accept / except, …., and that / who!  Thanks for calling me out on it – I’ll try harder but given that I’m 42 and can’t seem to get my brain wired for these few things, I’m probably screwed for life.

Thanks oh vigilant grammarians for keeping me on my toes.

  • http://www.rowdy.com Nascar

    Lol, those that have a problem with that shouldn't be reading this blog for all that is being address or written about. Thanks for taking a stand for “that”.

  • http://learntoduck.com micah

    Brad, shouldnt that last sentence read, “Thanks, oh vigilant grammarians, for keeping me on my toes?” And technically, probably capitalized “Oh Vigilant Grammarians” as well…

    (Man, I hope I am right…or else I will look like a total ass…well more ass than normal…well, given my weight, not sure if I have more ass…lets say, I would look silly…of course, have you seen my hair lately? Jeez…nevermind.)

    Its easy to poke fun as others grammar and minor mistakes, and when I first started using email in 1987-8, I was very particular about how I wrote. That continued to instant messaging, which I try to be grammatically correct, and even to SMS, which I prefer to do on a full keyboard because spelling full words on T9 suuuuuucks!

    But, as I have gotten older, I have realized that the written or spoken word, which are used specifically for communication, are always correct when the message sent is received and understood by the receipient.

    I got your message and understood it, regardless of the broken rules of grammar. And, therefore the communication was correct.

    After all, what else matters that being heard AND understood?

  • http://blog.grumet.net/ Andrew Grumet

    I used to get harangued by a certain colleague about my misuses of that and which. This not so gentle encouragement did nothing to motivate me. Around this time I found myself using MS Word regularly. My copy of the program happened to have grammar checking turned on. The result? The persistent little green squiggly lines fixed my bad habits in a matter of a few weeks.

  • Andrew Grumet

    I used to get harangued by a certain colleague about my misuses of that and which. This not so gentle encouragement did nothing to motivate me. Around this time I found myself using MS Word regularly. My copy of the program happened to have grammar checking turned on. The result? The persistent little green squiggly lines fixed my bad habits in a matter of a few weeks.

  • Nascar

    Lol, those that have a problem with that shouldn't be reading this blog for all that is being address or written about. Thanks for taking a stand for "that".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/micah105 micah105

    Brad, shouldnt that last sentence read, "Thanks, oh vigilant grammarians, for keeping me on my toes?" And technically, probably capitalized "Oh Vigilant Grammarians" as well…

    (Man, I hope I am right…or else I will look like a total ass…well more ass than normal…well, given my weight, not sure if I have more ass…lets say, I would look silly…of course, have you seen my hair lately? Jeez…nevermind.)

    Its easy to poke fun as others grammar and minor mistakes, and when I first started using email in 1987-8, I was very particular about how I wrote. That continued to instant messaging, which I try to be grammatically correct, and even to SMS, which I prefer to do on a full keyboard because spelling full words on T9 suuuuuucks!

    But, as I have gotten older, I have realized that the written or spoken word, which are used specifically for communication, are always correct when the message sent is received and understood by the receipient.

    I got your message and understood it, regardless of the broken rules of grammar. And, therefore the communication was correct.

    After all, what else matters that being heard AND understood?

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