Part of the Precipitate

It’s not “a savings”. There’s no such thing as “a savings”. “Savings” means more than one. Know why? Because it’s fucking plural. Fucking plural means “more than one”. In fact, just regular plural means “more than one” whether or not there is intercourse involved. This is not a difficult concept.

Grab yourself a handful of coins. Or rocks. Or a bunch of beer. Or some keys. Put *one* of those out of the group of whatever you have all by itself. That one thing, that one key/rock/coin/beer is *singular*. The rest of the keys/rocks/coins/beer are *plural*. If you didn’t learn this difference in grade school, consider yourself educated now.

In English, even though our verbs have lost their proclivity to declension (which means we don’t have to learn a different verb form for every possible kind of sentence you can imagine), our adjectives and nouns and verbs need to agree *in number* and in tense. Not intense. Although, it can be intense when you’re first learning it. So I’ll try to make it easy.

If you are talking about *one thing* in your sentence, you should use the SINGULAR form of the noun/adjective/verb. F’rinstance: “The dog was limping” (one dog -> ‘was’) versus “The dogs were limping” (more than one dog/many dogs -> ‘were’). Do you see how I did that? It isn’t magic.

EVEN YOU CAN CREATE VERB/NOUN AGREEMENT.

Now. Let’s move on to a tricky one. For this example, we are going to use the verb “to save”. First we are going to noun the verb ‘to save’. (In the immortal words of Calvin, “verbing nouns weirds language”, but it can be an awful lot of fun.) When we noun verbs, we basically treat what would normally be a verb (“to save”) as if it were a noun (“savings”). Personally, I think the word “savings” is stupid. What’s wrong with “discount”? Why muck up a perfectly good verb when there’s a perfectly good noun that you can use instead? But whatever. I don’t get paid ‘fuck-you’ money by advertising agencies to make sure their language makes sense.

BUT I SHOULD BE.

Now, I can “save money”, in which case, I am using the verb “to save” as a verb. This is a perfectly cromulent use of a perfectly good verb, and why we can’t just use that phrase I’ll never know. Or, if you want to sound REALLY fancy, you can offer me “savings”. What you REALLY mean is you can offer me “discounts”.

Now. You can say “Ten dollars off is a saving of fifty percent” or “Ten dollars off is a saving of ten whole dollars!” In this example, the adjectival phrase “ten dollars off” is acting like the noun subject of the sentence. It’s acting like a singular thing. This is a klunky sentence and if I came across it in something I was editing, I would suggest it be changed to “Ten dollars off is a fifty percent discount” or “Ten dollars off will save you ten dollars”.

Bascially, you’re trying to use “saving”/”savings” as synonymous with “discount”, and that’s just wrong. I realise that in a culture of consumerism, the people are pressured to spend, spend, spend. You can spend your way to happiness. You can spend your way out of debt. You can spend your say right in to wealth.

You know, and I know, that this is just the most ridiculous thing ever invented. But that’s how consumerism works. AND PEOPLE BUY THIS SHIT. Pardon the pun.

So when we start talking about spending money being the same as saving money, we start losing focus on what the actual contract is. The actual contract is that I will exchange this rather random representation of my wealth for your baubles, trinkets, and gewgaws, which I do not really need. And in this goblin’s market where we can convince one another that wants are needs, it’s not that big of a stretch to convince one another that spending = saving.

This subtle semantic shift is important. It’s more than just using a word form incorrectly (back to my original point, it’s *either* “a saving of ten dollars” or “ten dollar savings”, but you cannot have “a ten dollar savings”, because “a” is a singular article, and “savings” is a plural noun). It’s telling you that by spending money, you are saving money. AND THAT IS JUST A LIE.

You can spend LESS, or you can save and not spend at all. But you cannot do both. By definition, when you spend, you are not saving. If you pay less money for something than you normally would, then you are spending less than you would normally do. You can then turn around and SAVE the remainder. But that’s a two-step process.

Therefore, when you think you should use the word “savings” to mean “discount”, do me a favour and slap yourself across the knuckles with a wooden ruler.

Thanks. I appreciate that. You’re a pip.

 

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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