I want to go ahead and complain…

So I want to go ahead and complain about people who go ahead and insert “go ahead and” before random verbs for no apparent reason.

Actually of course it’s not completely random; they go ahead and do it preferentially in certain contexts (probably not very often including that one where I went ahead and did it right there).

But anyway, it goes ahead and annoys me!

That last context is probably completely non-normative. I’m gonna go ahead and search the web for “it goes ahead and”

And we (go ahead and) find that the phrase isn’t common, but also isn’t unheard of. Never in the (what’s the word?) tenseless sense of “it goes ahead and annoys me”, but sometimes in the (what’s the other word?) nonspecific present sense of “if you give the program the wrong arguments, it goes ahead and deletes all of your files”.

Thinking about it, this phrase (clause, set of words) doesn’t always annoy me. It feels fine in the imperative, when there is some sort of giving-permission involved. To “Can I eat these?”, it’s clearly (clearly, haha) valid to say “Sure, go ahead”. Or, by obvious extension, “Sure, go ahead and eat as many as you like” or alternately “Go ahead and eat two or three, but leave the rest for the ancestors”.

(Here is Language Hat emself, who we are sure would never annoy us, saying “if you’re sure enough, go ahead and correct the Wikipedia article“, and indeed it seems quite correct.)

Even in non-imperative cases, the wording seems benign enough when there is some sense of permission involved, or notable lack of permission, where the going ahead (now that permission has been granted, or despite the fact that it wasn’t and one should have stopped) is remarkable in itself, in addition to whatever the actual activity was.

So from another web search, “I hate when you tell someone a secret and they go ahead and tell people”, seems plausible, as does “best friend knows you like someone, but they go ahead and date them”, both because, well, they shouldn’t have gone ahead, they should have stopped.

The annoying cases are when people (go ahead and) use it in non-imperative cases, when there is no permission involved at all, where it’s basically just a very long and distracting way of saying “um”. I heard a perfect example on the radio last night but of course I can’t remember it. Let’s see…

Impressive! A little web searching actually found it. The words were, speaking of the fun that giraffes an’ ellafumps have when they have food that is not all pre-processed for them: “If they have a large limb that they can go ahead and strip and pull the leaves off of, then they’ll work on pulling the bark off and then…” and so on.

That, I thought, was pretty clearly just an “um”, only much longer. Looking at it now from the wisdom of another day’s worth of experience, I wonder if this “go ahead and” might be signalling that a process, a set of steps, is coming up. That might be a reasonable excuse.

One more for now, also from NPR somewhere: “I believe it’s possible to get re-elected without taking large campaign contributions. So, why would I not go ahead and try to do that?” What’s up with that one? The sentence feels punchier and more impactful to me without the “go ahead and” (“why would I not try to do that?”). It’s hard to excuse it as a permission thing, and there’s no series of steps there.

So I will go ahead and remain annoyed by that one. :)

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One Comment to “I want to go ahead and complain…”

  1. totally agree!!!
    it’s in every second video tutorial, it’s so distracting!
    now i will go ahead and continue watching them…

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