Howdy, Pard

Last night at dinner, a 25-year-old friend of ours, freshly graduated from college and about to start work at an NGO, referred to her organization “partnering” with another.

“Really?” I said. “At my table, with a plate of my cooking set before you, you’re going to use “partner” as a verb?”

That set off a long debate about whether “partner” is, in fact, a verb as well as a noun. If it is, nobody has told Merriam-Webster. M-W, like me, seems to think using “partner” as a verb is the worst kind of corporate-speak. (Actually, it doesn’t seem to be as judgmental as I, though it does not list “partner” as a verb; only as a noun.)

The younger people around the table insisted that “partner” can be a verb. But they also insisted that “impact” can be used a verb. On this, they had Merriam-Webster on their side but not me. Today’s advice: avoid using nouns as verbs. It’s modern, it’s corporate, and it makes you sound like that dweeb from Human Resources who so irritates you. You can surely find more elegant ways to say what you want to say. Rise to the challenge.

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