Monday, July 25, 2011

End a Sentence with a Preposition?
What Would You Do That For?

If there's one thing I had too much of during my elementary school years, it was the rules of English grammar. (That may be a reason why I became a journalist, but probably a minor reason.) It seemed that - in every ... passing ... year - we had a lot of homework that consisted of diagramming sentences (boring!) and learning parts of speech.

That included learning a long list of prepositions to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" (bleccch!), which brings me to one of the rules that was hammered into our heads: Never end a sentence with a preposition. Examples:

* Who are you going to the store with?
* What are you going to write about?
* What country are you from?
* Change we can believe in! (from Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign)

So, yes, a few decades later, it's one of the grammar rules that's often broken. Would my teachers cringe or wail in anguish if they saw this today? Only if they failed to change with the times, which is a distinct possibility for a couple of them.

Writing, today, has become more conversational, due in no small part to the Internet and the quest for brevity in nearly all forms of writing as publishers fight to grab the oft-challenged attention spans of time-pressed readers. Also, writing conventions change with the times. I recently read two novels: one written 10 years ago, the other about 100 years ago. The first one was a much quicker read, the other harder because the writing isn't as succinct and to the point for today's audience.

My rule as an editor: If I see a sentence that ends with a preposition, and there isn't an easier way of expressing the writer's thought, it stays.

Now, if you want to review a comprehensive answer about ending a sentence with a preposition, here's a page I can refer you to. ;-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Job Perks Are Coming Back!

I know a guy who took a job about a year ago that was about 100 miles from home after he was out of work a few months. So, to make the change a bit more bearable, he rented an apartment close to the office and stayed there weeknights, heading home each weekend.

The lengths some will go to get a job in a challenging economy ...

Just recently, his boss told him he could work from home; not the apartment, the one for which he pays a mortgage. So, just like that, life got much simpler.

But it also got me thinking that things are getting better out there. Why? Because more employers are concerned that they'll lose valuable people to competitors with an improving job market. There are workers who will be more than happy to free themselves from a job or company they don't like but had to hang onto for financial security. Then there are others who, amid still-high gas prices, will look for something that's much less than a 100-mile commute.

Sure enough, two recent surveys underscored the growing concern among employers about losing top talent, as well as their willingness to restore perks - such as telecommuting - that were eliminated or reduced during the recession.

“Whether it’s something simple, like free bagels in the lunch room every morning, or something more substantial, such as tuition reimbursement or flexible scheduling, these perks can be an essential part of worker morale and job satisfaction,” noted John Challenger of the outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

According to a recent Challenger survey, 39% of respondents said their companies were forced to reduce or eliminate perks during the recession. But with the economy starting to spring back, about 18% said their companies have been able to restore all pre-recession perks, while another 41% have brought back some of them.

We all like to have jobs that help us keep our lives in balance. A recession can throw that out of whack for both employers and employees. It's about time we're heading back toward balance.

What's your favorite employee perk? Tell me what it is - and why - in a comment below.