Think Different



I won’t deny it. I come very close to being an Apple fangirl at times, but I do not think that I will ever be a hundred percent blinded to the flaws that beset the company (just like any other company).

That being said, I cannot sit back and ignore two pieces that link Apple and grammar, which are two of my favorite topics.

About two weeks ago, I found myself almost snorting with laughter because of an email exchange between a Macworld UK writer and a reader. The exchange was instigated by Pedantic Reader with the subject: “Illiteracy (yours).”

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict the tone of that exchange, do you?

Anyhow, Pedantic Reader’s problem was (and probably is) the fact that Macworld uses the term “MacBook Pros” to refer to more than one laptop. Pedantic Reader asserts that the plural should be “MacBooks Pro” since “Pro” is being used as an adjective in this case. Here is his initial email.

I realise that it may be unreasonable to expect a British journalist to have any command of literacy, these days, but if you could grasp the fact that the plural form of MacBook Pro is MacBooks Pro, not “MacBook Pros”, you would make yourself look a lot less foolish and uneducated when you write.

“MacBook” is a noun; “Pro” is an adjective applied to it. When you are referring to more than one MacBook Pro, the correct grammar is to pluralise the noun, not the adjective.

(Does the Haslam household, when discussing two cars that are red in colour describe them as “reds car”?)

You need to address this perpetual sloppiness in your publication if you expect anyone to treat it with any respect.

Now I know this may not seem all that funny, but if you read the entire exchange, you’ll either be laughing or banging your head against your monitor.

My take on the subject is simple. I do understand where the reader is coming from. Certainly, in English at least, adjectives do not take on a plural form. However, I see “MacBook Pro” as a proper noun, hence the plural form “MacBook Pros”.

What do you writers think about this? Which form do you use?

The second article is a more recent one and can be found at ZDNet. Its title “Did Apple kill the adverb?” is more than enough to grab anyone’s attention, and it sure did catch mine.

Just like countless other people around the world, I have experienced moments of inspiration thanks to the charisma and wisdome of Steve Jobs. He has numerous quotable quotes, and “Think different” has probably moved many a seemingly average person to do bigger things than he imagined.

But there’s the issue of the adverb in the sentence.

Adverbs modify verbs. Adverbs usually end in “y”.

“Think” is a verb. “Different” functions as an adverb. Therefore it has to be in its “y” form: differently, right?

I think this is one traditionalists might have to take on the chin. (I am not excluding myself.) Sure, “think differently” is the correct form, but would it have had the same impact that the message bearer wanted? Besides, and I hate to say this, this is one of those things that are being used in informal settings more and more. In certain cases, exceptions (erroneous as they may be) may be made.

Just make sure you don’t forget your adverbs.

Photo via vedia


5 responses
  1. Aaron Poehler Avatar

    As usual, the more pedantic the reader the likelier they’re self-deluded. “Macbooks Pro” is completely incorrect.

  2. eileen Avatar

    I also agree that “Think Different” is OK, since it’s a slogan and not part of a regular sentence. It also eludes to Apple’s culture of doing things their own way. Regarding “MacBook Pros” — that’s the product’s full name, so “pro” is not used as an adjective in the regular sense. I think the “Reader” proves that with the “red car” example, where the adjective precedes the noun.

  3. eileen Avatar

    Oops! Meant to say “alludes” instead of “eludes”.

  4. Dee Avatar

    I agree with Eileen … it seems obvious to me that “MacBook Pro” is the full name of that particular model, therefore “MacBook Pros” seems perfectly acceptable.

  5. Chris Help Avatar

    It’s a play on words though. Different is referred to as a thing, an ideal. So while it is an adverb, it’s also used as a noun here. Double meaning. Yes, they’re taking liberties, but it’s purposeful and meaningful.

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