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.