Michael Gove, the new Lord Chancellor, has apparently given instructions to his civil servants on using correct grammar in official letters and papers.
According to the Times, he has banned “ensure” in favour of “make sure” and using “impact” as a verb. His grammatical guidelines also advise against using contractions and beginning sentences with “yet” or “however”.
It would be interesting to know if his list includes one of my own pet hates – “put in place”. Or, more to the point, the increasing misuse of this phrase. We have “plans are being put in place”, “road works are in place on the M1” and “a committee is being put in place”. What’s wrong with saying “plans are being drawn up”, there are road works on the M1” or “a committee is being formed”?
One of the worst examples recently came from the mouth of the Defence Secretary, who during a visit to Tunisia in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, spoke about. ‘the mitigations they [the Tunisians] have put in place’.
OK so one expects politicians to utter incomprehensible nonsense. But, unfortunately, journalists, who should know better, are constantly committing this word crime. It’s the main reason I had to stop listening to the Today programme. In almost every TV news programme you hear about something being put in place. It’s got so bad that sentences are being constructed in a way that will accommodate the phrase.
Come on guys, let’s put “put in place” in its proper place.