“For me…” & “Let me be honest with you…”

Now that I’m an English teacher, I have to pay a bit more attention to grammar and phrases than normal. Not that this has ever got in the way of me stating my opinion, but just letting you know, I’m a professional now when it comes to…”ahem,” grammar and figures of speech. Given that, here are two of my pet peeves (having pet peeves is an occupational hazard of being an English teacher) when it comes to those speaking publicly. The first is when someone uses the phrase “for me,” as in, “For me, I think that liberals are the dregs of society.” This phrase is most used where opinions are put forth and one person asks the other for their opinion. The respondent then says, “Well for me…” It is a useless phrase since the person was being asked their opinion in the first place. Of course we want your opinion. You don’t need to tell us that it’s your opinion. You were the one who was asked.

This happens in the sports interview all the time. The athlete or sports talk-show host feels it necessary to preface every statement of opinion with “for me.” Is there a time when you are not talking “for you?” I think that some might say it because by doing so, they believe that it is some sort of announcement that this is “just my opinion, and it’s only good for me.” But if that is the case, then say that. Otherwise, all you have done is replaced the phrase “you know” with “for me.” In view of that, allow me to say that “for me, this is really a waste of words, you know?”


The other figure of speech that bothers me, and I really hear this a lot in educational circles, but it’s found in the sports world as well,  is the phrase, “let me be honest with you.” Really? You mean you were not being honest with me before this point? Does this mean that I need to discard all that you said before? Are you going to continue to be honest with me after you finish making the statement “let me be honest with you,” or do I need to put on my bull-dropping filter again?

I think a better phrase might be, “let me be blunt with you” because the former phrase seems to be used in that fashion. What the speaker really intends is to inform us that he is about to say something no one wants to talk about. By using “blunt” instead of “honest” there is no question of the integrity of the speaker. So let me be blunt with you, quit using the phrase “let me be honest with you.” It makes me think you are lying to me the rest of the time.

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6 thoughts on ““For me…” & “Let me be honest with you…”

  1. I view “for me” as a relatively harmless redundancy. I much prefer “to be candid” over “to be honest,” as it is more accurate.

    I think The Simpsons had a line where a guy gives bad news to Lisa about her fingers being too short to play saxophone (or, as Homer would say, “saxamaphone.” It was something like, “Let me be honest, and by honest I mean devastating.”

    Now I need to go watch that episode.

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  2. I have been called a “grammar nazi”. My mother just calls me a “wordsmith” (play on words, since my last name it … Smith.) So I have a lot of such peeves, pet or otherwise. Oddly enough, those two aren’t in them.

    I believe that “for me” is intended as a social softener. That is, “I know you were asking my opinion, but I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m giving you my opinion and nothing more. You’re absolutely free to disagree.” All packed in a “for me”.

    The other is less offensive for me … because JESUS used it. He was, after all, the Word of God. He spoke nothing but truth. So when He started a sentence with “Truly I say unto you …”, it was redundant, and when He started with “Truly, truly I say unto you …” it was redundant and repetitious. Actually, it was making a point. “This is important.” So when someone says to me, “Let me be honest with you”, it is often with the intent that “This is going to hurt, but I need to tell you anyway.” And I’m fine with that shorthand as well.

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  3. Jeanette

    I, too, don’t like the phrase “to be honest with you,” for the same reason as you. Your other pet peeve isn’t a problem for me. There is something else you wrote that troubles me. I always thought I was good at grammar, but I saw something I thought for years was incorrect, and I’m starting to wonder if the grammar rules changed and nobody told me. In your first paragraph above, about two-thirds of the way through you wrote “one person asks the other for ‘their’ opinion.” If one person asks another, isn’t “another” singular. If it’s singular, why would the adjective “their” be plural? I see this all the time. I thought the sentence would read “one person asks the other for “his” opinion. Or “her” opinion. If you are an English teacher, perhaps you can help me with this. I have been out of school for decades. Have the rules changed?

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    1. LOL. First, I’m trained as a journalist, so that should explain a lot. Secondly, let’s use the term “English teacher” loosely. I’m sure many of those who were in my congregations would “amen” to that. But let’s hope I do improve on the grammar. 🙂

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      1. Jeanette

        Just yesterday I spoke to my sister, and she started a sentence with “To be honest.” It reminded me of your post.

        I hope you took no offense to my previous comment about grammar. My question was serious. I found your blog through Hatchcreek and started reading. It sounds like your beliefs align with mine, and I like your writing style so I subscribed – in spite of the grammar. (smile) I expect you’ll be watching mine from now on.

        Have a great week.

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