Oy with the Um

Two comments today began with the word “Um,” which is one of my least favorite things. And so now we will have a poll, in which I get my readers’ opinions, so as to avoid having to think too hard about my own:

A. “Um” is such a rude way to begin a sentence. When I am king, they will be first against the wall, etc.

B. Um, do you have PMS?

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

15 thoughts on “Oy with the Um

  1. Just to get things straight, why do you hate the “um” as an intro? Is it because it is grammatically incorrect, or just because it’s rude and patronizing? ‘Cause I’m sure I’ve left some doozies on here, as far as incorrect grammar is concerned. In my opinion, your website is your kingdom, and therefore you can do anything you want. But please don’t put me against the wall. I love you so!

  2. The grammar aside, “um” sounds like such a bitchy way to start a comment. “Um, did you MEAN to wear that?” You get the picture. I’m with you — down with “um,” unless you are personally using it to prove a point. Then, you know, go to. This is your space, after all. Love the blog, btw.

  3. The introductory, as opposed to the verbal or thinking “um”:

    “Um, …” = peripatetic patronizing poseur

    “Ah, …” = another substitute for wit.

    Nether should be uttered without the props of a walking stick and spats.

    By the way, Ms. Smash, when you put those “…” after a comma, do you space after the comma or not? And what do you call those “…” is that an elipse?

  4. When I use “um” in a comment, it’s meant to portray my own stupidity, not an attempt to be rude. Having said that, I don’t commonly start comments with “um”.

    Even if I did think you had PMS I wouldn’t worry about you too much. I heard you can have Midol delivered.

  5. Heh! So true!

    OK, pals, you’re right, I should have been more specific. “Um” is totally acceptable when you’re pausing, etc. It’s only when it’s meant to be snottycakes that it’s offensive.

    “Erm” is always OK, because I’m not British, so I think it sounds cool.

    “…” is indeed an ellipses.

  6. You can just *see* the pinched look on the commenter’s face. And I love how s/he came back and threw down words like “chide” and “artifice,” which conjure up the same pinchy pinch face for me.

    PS, original Um-mer: Jennie wasn’t waxing nostalgic about the good old days. She was remarking on the speed of the changes. You still win the I’ve-lived-in-NY-longer-than-you contest.

  7. I generally give people one “um” per sentence, just to gather their thoughts. Two at most. They can use them whenever they like, beginning, end, whatever.

    Some people like to abuse this privledge.

  8. Using the word ‘um’ is suppose to be for uncertainty. It’s a fact of life that people use it to point out faults, but when you’re a snot to begin with, the usage of ‘um,’ or ‘erm,’ is as common coming out of your mouth as water from a leaky pipe. It’s a shit word to use for a beginning of a sentence, even for the effect of uncertainty, but at least it isn’t as bad as using the word ‘like’ five times in a sentence.

  9. Saying “um” mid-sentence would denote a pause, but starting a response with “Um” usually indicates a smug attempt at a correction is soon to follow.

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