So many people object to ‘I’m good, thanks’ in reply to questions like: ‘Would you like chocolate on top?’ (of your cappuccino). It means, of course, that you don’t want the chocolate.
I’m not sure if people who object to this also object to answers like ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m OK, thanks’. Maybe it’s just because this usage is new(ish). Maybe they don’t like the change in meaning of a good old-fashioned word like ‘good’, meaning ‘acting in a good moral way, kind, virtuous’.
Is it American? they ask, suspiciously
Well, yes, I think ‘I’m good’ in this usage probably is imported from American English. Personally, I don’t see any harm in it. The language changes as and when we collectively need it to change, and no-one can stop it. And of course, American English is a major influence on the English we Brits speak.
‘Your email has gotten a lot simpler and sleeker’ – BT website
Having said that, I do hate gotten, as in the headline above, seen recently on a BT – yes, as in British Telecom – website somewhere. If it had said ‘Your email has got a lot simpler and sleeker’ instead, I wouldn’t have had that frisson of annoyance…
Before you all write in and say that ‘gotten’ actually comes from Old English, let me say ‘I know!’ but nevertheless it fell out of use in common British parlance for several centuries, only making a comeback recently, due to American influence. ‘Gotten’ has always been used in this way in American English, deriving from the English that the Pilgrim Fathers took with them to America in the seventeenth century.
We used to say, in the UK, ‘Can I have a … (something to eat or drink)?’ Maybe, if we were being specially careful, we’d even say ‘May I have a … (whatever it was)’.
But now, especially in casual spoken English, in our many coffee shops and burger places, most people will ask ‘Can I get a latte/quarterpounder, etc.’ It may be that we think we sound less formal, yet in a way still very polite.
Another of my pet hates is ‘grab’ as in ‘Do you want to grab a coffee?’ instead of ‘Do you want to have a coffee?’ ‘Grab’ – it seems to me – is losing its meaning of ‘take hold of roughly or quickly’, and being substituted for ‘have’ or ‘take’. As in ‘Do you need that chair? Do you mind if I grab it?’
Feel free to comment on this comments section of this blog if you disagree – or agree!