A Choice Between Two Things vs. Two Choices

A Choice Between Two Things vs. Two Choices

Pardon me, but I get really ticked when I hear someone misuse “choice” and “choices.” Capital One comes to mind immediately because the ads are so pervasive. Samuel Jackson is always telling you that you have “two choices” when he really means that you have A CHOICE between two things!

Two choices means two separate sets of decisions, each with two or more options. YOU HAVE A CHOICE between the credit card he is hawking and some other brand of credit card. You DON’T HAVE TWO CHOICES!

If you wanted to have two choices you might need to choose, number one, whether or not to have a credit card at all and two, whether or not to have the credit card brand he’s selling. That’s two choices.

If you were buying a piano from me, I would tell you that you had A CHOICE between walnut or mahogany, not two choices. If you were buying a piano from me, I would tell you that you had A CHOICE of delivery dates — Tuesday or Thursday.

If I want to give you TWO CHOICES I’d tell you that you had two choices — one regarding the finish — walnut or mahogany — and one regarding the delivery date — Tuesday or Thursday.

Now you have A CHOICE. You can choose to ignore this post or you can comment on it. That is your choice. You actually have more than one choice here. If I give you TWO CHOICES your first choice involves whether or not to ignore it or to comment on it and your second choice involves whether you comment positively or negatively.

Got it? Thanks for reading. I hope you choose to comment!


Watch Your Language

Helping Businesses Grow

How many languages do you think you speak? Presumably you have English in your language repertoire and possibly some additional ethnic languages like Spanish, French, Italian or German. Or maybe Swedish, Danish or Norwegian.  Or maybe Japanese or one or more Chinese dialects. The more languages you have, the better you are able to communicate with those who might become your friends, business acquaintances and possibly customers as well. But are the ethnic languages, if you speak them, the only ones besides English that you speak? Probably not.

You have your regional language — words and phrases that are particular to the city, state, region or country where you live. Soft drinks are typically “soda” on the West Coast of the United States.  They are “pop” on the East Coast.  “Regular” coffee in the East has cream and sugar.  Not so in the West. People “paak the caa” in Boston, while in Texas they might have used “typerwritors” to compose letters before computers. In the U.S. you might be asked if you would like a wake up call in the morning when you check into a hotel. In the U.K., you’ll likely be asked if you’d like to be knocked up in the morning.

You also have your professional language(s). If you are an electrical engineer, you are familiar with terms like volts, ohms, amps and watts. These measure are quite foreign, however, to a cook who uses teaspoons, tablespoons, cups and pinches. If you are an accountant, terms like debits, credits, assets, liabilities and equity have very specific meanings. Their meanings might vary considerably to a small business owner not formally schooled in the actual language of accounting. And just try to get a homeowner considering the purchase of a new something to understand the nanoseconds and picofarads that were traded off during the design of that new toy.

It’s important to consider your language when you craft your marketing message(s), because what works great in one circumstance can fail miserably in another. Remember the Chevy Nova story, where in Spanish “nova” translates colloquially to “doesn’t go?” There are lots more examples like this where not enough attention was paid to the language, literal or not, of the potential consumer.

Effective communication is not what it is you are saying to the person listening to you. Nor what you think you are conveying with your language. It is what the other person is actually perceiving from your language. This, among other reasons, is why expert marketers test language before using it widely, do “a/b” tests with message headlines and convene focus groups to gauge prospective customer reactions to various marketing messages.Knocked-Up-Cartoon

Does what I’ve said here make sense to you?  If not, I’d sure like to know from you where I may have misspoken. Thanks for reading. Your comments are hereby kindly solicited.