Grammar Is Important, But…


Don’t let worrying about rules stop you from communicating

Was listening to radio from the U.S. the other day and an advertisement came on for some prescription drug and the warnings that they add about the side effects, very quickly, at the end of the commercial included this sentence:

(This drug) should not be taken by people with diabetes or children.

My first thought was: Wait, do they mean it shouldn’t be taken by people who have children?!? What does being a parent have to do with taking this drug?

My point is native speakers sometimes risk confusing each other. I suppose it is very reasonable to assume the average person wouldn’t get confused about the above, but always possible if the speaker doesn’t pause long enough between the words “diabetes” and “children”.

I reckon since it’s a commercial, time is an issue, but it would have been equally as fast, and much clearer if they had just switched diabetes and children:

(This drug) should not be taken by children or people with diabetes.

If time wasn’t an issue, we could stretch out a little bit and try:

(This drug) should not be taken by people with diabetes or by children.

It was the job of the people who wrote this commercial to communicate clearly and effectively. In my opinion, they could have done a better job putting their sentence together…but they got their point across.

Don’t worry about being perfect, concentrate on communicating.