Using “utilize” when you should be utilizing “use”


I object to the use of “usage” when it’s used in place of “use”. There’s nothing wrong with using “use”. It’s been in use for a long time and I’m used to it. It isn’t that “usage” isn’t useful, I simply have no use for its current usage. The use of “usage” should be consistent with good usage. I prefer to say “My use of the internet” rather than “My usage”. If I meant it collectively, I might say “The Philippine usage of the internet” but, so far, I haven’t meant that.

And as I’m using space on “usage”, I’ll use some more on “utilize”. Using “utilize” instead of utilizing “use” is one of those attempts to make things sound more important than they really are. Sports announcers and commentators do that all the time. They imply big words incorrectly.

“He’s not utilizing all his skills!”

They don’t understand that an athlete does not “utilize” his skills. He “uses” them. The coach “utilizes” his players while the players “use” their skills.

Don’t use “utilize” when you should be utilizing “use”.

Another sports announcing crime is the use of the word “differential” when they mean “difference”. For example,

“There was a 12-point differential at half-time.”

No. Sorry. It was a 12-point “difference” at half-time. Differential is a mechanical or a mathematical term, and by mathematical I don’t mean San Antonio Spurs 55, Indiana Pacers 43. “Difference” and “differential” are different.

Go Spurs Go!

It also annoys me that people sometimes claim to see a “linkage” when they actually see a “link”. I think “link” is fine. “Linkage” reminds me of a car’s transmission. In fact, my car’s linkage is located somewhere near the differential.

“Stoppage” is another troublesome word. The most frequently heard euphemism for a labor strike is “work stoppage”. Apparently, labor strike sounded too Marxist for the locals. “Stoppage” sounds like an obstructed bowel and stoppage is much too close to sewage for my comfort.

“Usage”, “linkage”, and “stoppage” remind me of “outage”. “Outage” sounds like something is done when a gay person’s identity is revealed. But actually, its most frequent use inscribing a loss of electricity. A “power outage”. We used to say “power failure” but I guess my countrymen do not want to admit failure, even when it manifests.

Regardless, we ought to find better way to answer the question “What happened to the lights?”

By the way, I recently heard the following sentence in a local news report:

“Because of the tropical storm, about a thousand families are without power.”

And I thought, “Gee, when you think about it, about 93 million people in The Philippines are without power. They just aren’t aware of it.”