What not to say #1: is

I do not, in fact, admonish you against using the word isIs is, if I may say, a very good word.  I do, however, admonish you against writing the word is with incorrect capitalization.  In particular, I’m talking about using the headline case and lowercasing this particular word.

I just spent the week at the RSA Expo here in San Francisco, and as I always do in these circumstances, I saw examples of this error.  I would be walking the floor, and I’d gaze up at the signage for some hip security startup ju jour called, let’s say, DotCloudNetSecure, and DotCloudNetSecure would have a big sign, and it would read,

Security is Now in the Cloud.

Ignore the vapidity of this statement for a moment, and let’s talk grammar.  The English language has pretty well agreed upon rules of grammar, and I’m unaware of any serious groundswell of opinion questioning the word is‘s status as a verb.  Miss Pickett taught me that in the first grade, and I’ve never forgotten it since (thanks, Miss Pickett).

I think most people who make signage for trade show booths (or advertisements, or marketing collaterol, or all the other places I see this particular error) are aware that is is a verb.  Furthermore, this same set of people rarely if ever get confused about the capitalization of longer verbs such as transmogrify.  We would never see a sign reading

Security Now Transmogrifies the Cloud.

Even though it would be really cool if we did.  Note also that is is not the only victim.  We often see other short verbs like am, are, can, and do suffering from the same malady.  These small, kind of infrastructurey words are the ones that confuse marketers on a routine basis.  They seem to think they’re conjunctions or prepositions or something.

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