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On Tomorrow

After moving from Chicago down to northeastern Georgia, I have noticed an extremely vexing trend among many of the native Southerners. The phrase “on tomorrow,” i.e. “We will have a staff meeting on tomorrow.” The first time I heard this spoken out loud I assumed it was a mistake; when I continued to hear the words spoken from several different, well-educated, people I assumed it must be dialectal. “On yesterday” has also found itself crept into everyday conversation...

Has anyone ever heard (or spoken) such a phrase? Is this a Southern thing? It just sounds unnatural to me and I do not understand why it is deemed necessary to put the preposition in front of tomorrow (and sometimes yesterday). “We will have a staff meeting tomorrow” sounds just fine to me.

  • March 10, 2009
  • Posted by biz
  • Filed in Usage

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I have never heard such an aurally odious phrase! I went to high school in Texas and have never heard (or spoken) such a phrase. If it is a Southern thing, it must have not made it this south. :)

Also, I agree--"we will have a staff meeting tomorrow" sound fine...and is grammatically correct!

PT March 11, 2009, 10:37pm

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We are in God's hand, brother, not in theirs.
March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow, bid them march away.
- Henry V, act III scene vi

The OED notes that "on" is "Now also (esp. U.S. and Irish English) used with tomorrow, yesterday, etc., app. redundantly". I think they say it's redundant because etymologically "tomorrow" already contains the preposition "to".

But as the Shakespeare quote shows it's quite an old usage. And "on" is used with other expressions of time, for instance "on the weekend", "on nights", where just "the weekend" and "nights" could be used without any confusion.

Some usage books complain about it, tho.

goofy March 12, 2009, 6:59am

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Let me revise: "on" is used with other expressions of time:
I work on weekends.
I work weekends.
Let's get together Thursday.
Let's get together on Thursday.

goofy March 12, 2009, 7:28am

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I don't know how far south the expression goes, but I have heard many people say it in Kentucky.

Amanda March 13, 2009, 4:59pm

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I live outside Nashville, TN and I have yet to hear someone utter the words "on tomorrow" or "on yesterday." I have often heard "on the weekend" or "on Thursday."

Charles March 14, 2009, 12:25am

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Maybe it's a sign that you should move back Nawth.

Smash March 18, 2009, 8:06am

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I have lived in Texas all my life. I am also a school teacher. I had never heard the phrase until last year when our new principal used it in a faculty meeting. Many of us thought it was just a slip-up. However, since then we have added a new counselor who always uses the phrase. I don't know where it came from or how it got started but it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

leslie.espinosa March 25, 2009, 9:38am

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I'm from Hong Kong and people use the phrase very often. Maybe this a Hong Kong thing but is now spreading over to the US.

leung_timothy March 25, 2009, 11:53pm

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I think that way back when (I am not sure how far back), people would have said "on the morrow" where we would now say "tomorrow." I wonder if "tomorrow" actually evolved as an elision of "the morrow." The Shakespeare quote given above may represent a sort of half way point in the evolution of the modern word, and perhaps "on tomorrow" is a slightly later stage, and thus not a new form but an older one.

On second thoughts, I wonder if these Georgians you are talking about might really be saying "on the morrow," and (perhaps because of the unfamiliar accent) you are mishearing it. "Morrow" still appears in modern dictionaries, although it is usually marked as literary, archaic, or obsolete (but maybe not so much in Georgia).

Nigel March 28, 2009, 11:18pm

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When I think of the preposition 'on', I am reminded that people often use it in the place of 'upon'. Were 'on' in that phrase to be replaced with 'upon', it would seem to make more sense. "Upon dawn," for example, would mean, "when dawn occurs." But "upon tomorrow," or even, "when tomorrow occurs," makes hardly any sense, because I doubt the time they are referring to is 12:00 AM. There are some removed instances when using such a phrase can be correct, but generally, it seems to be a misuse of prepositions.

Sara April 7, 2009, 7:03pm

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This is a commonly used phrase in India, by people who do not speak good (correct) English.

Anshu April 9, 2009, 6:52am

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Sounds like it's just an old-fashioned way of saying things that got stuck in some crevices. I like old-fashioned verbiage, idiom, regional dialect... but I find Brooklyn accents odious to the point of occasionally switching off the radio in horror, so I can't tell other people what to dislike about a switch in regional style.

scyllacat April 12, 2009, 1:06pm

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I thought that the usage of the phrase was a regional issue until I heard an MSNBC reporter use it yesterday. It's a growing trend and technically, it is grammatically incorrect.
Here's why:

The most common misuse of the phrase "on tomorrow" occurs where "tomorrow" is used as an adverb in a sentence, i.e.: "I'll return this report to you on tomorrow." Adverbs can not be the object of a preposition.

Part of speech is dependant on function within the sentence. If a word is used as an adverb and is acting as an adverb in the sentence structure, then it is an adverb.

The word "tomorrow" already includes the IMPLIED prepositions "on" or "to" and was once written as "to morrow". Later, hyphens were added (to-morrow) and then eventually, the words were joined without the hypen (tomorrow). "Yesterday", "Today" and "Tomorrow" do not require the preposition "on" for the same reason. "On the morrow" is already implied with the word "tomorrow". Adding "on" or "to" is redundant.

Generally, the preposition "on" is paired with holidays, specific days of the week, or dates. This has been the practice from Old English to the present.

Examples: on Christmas; on Bastille Day; on Friday; on Monday; on May 15th; on October 2, 2009.......

Had the sentence read "On the morrow, I will return this report to you", it would have been a correct, albeit obsolete, use of the phrase "on tomorrow".

I hope this clarifies the matter. For the record, I live and work in Memphis. I hear the phrase daily.........and it makes me cringe every time! I thought it a reflection of the local school system. Should I be glad it isn't just a local trend?

(I'm more and more thankful for the private school education I received! I think my parents daily!)

memphisareabands April 14, 2009, 5:02pm

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I live in Mobile, Alabama and have heard this phrase said by the older teachers at my high school, and I hate it! All of my peers would snicker whenever a teacher would say it, so I don't think it is spreading to the youth, atleast not where I live. I lived in South Florida for 13 years and have never heard the phrase uttered, not even as a mistake. I'm assuming it will mostly be heard in the bible-belt.

As for "on tomorrow" being for the older people in the south, the kids my age don't say they "live" somewhere, they say they "stay" somewhere. After I moved here from florida, someone asked me where I stayed and I had no idea what they were talking about,but they were simply asking me where I lived!

Cooper.Haley April 21, 2009, 4:35pm

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I am from Rhode Island and we do not use that type of grammar. However, my first time in North Carolina I heard people using that preposition before today, tomorrow, and yesterday. At first I thought it was really weird, but now I've gotten use to it. I have also heard it used regularly in Indiana as well. I don't know what it is.

janell_000 April 28, 2009, 12:18am

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I work at LSU and one of my colleagues says "on tomorrow." She started in my department a month or two ago. I hadn't heard that phrase before I met her. It drives me bananas!

Cregis1 May 7, 2009, 1:05am

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I am a native South Carolinian living in south Georgia, and not until the past 6 months have I heard this usage. I have been Googling it for several months; that is how I came upon this discussion. From the above posts, it seems to be a form of speech that has been migrating across the country.

jcochran July 2, 2009, 11:57pm

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I have heard this "on tomorrow" so many times here in Georgia and I want to correct those who say it and don't know how, since I feel people would be embarrassed. But it grinds me the same way it does you. How do we get the word out that "tomorrow" and "yesterday" is simply all you need to say, especially in those church announcements.

sandy7261 July 16, 2009, 9:55am

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I attended high school in Marietta, GA, and my homeroom teacher said "on tomorrow." She is the only person I have encountered that used the phrase in conversation. It always made me feel better about myself whenever she used it.

Wow. I'm sorry that I needed people like her to feel better about myself.

Although, I think it would be hilarious if the South revived "on the morrow." It would make life a little more interesting.

joshfaulkner July 20, 2009, 9:35pm

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I have been hearing this phrase for several years now. Unfortunately, I hear it from teachers and school administrators of African-American decent. I'm not sure if it is cultural or not - but I agree that it is incorrect grammar and should never be used in a school setting.

pricea August 3, 2009, 8:01pm

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I live in New Orleans and I have never heard it before I moved here and got the current job I have. Every so often it shows up in company emails and it drives me bananas. So much that I googled it to see if I could find anything.

"We will have a meeting on tomorrow Thursday."

I originally thought it was Outlook with a very bad error in the grammar/spell check suggesting it but nope.

Easily the most annoying thing ever. And its not just one person at work, its several.

bfittje August 24, 2009, 3:45pm

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I like Angela G's answer. She is correct: "tomorrow" descends from "on the morrow." As such, "on tomorrow" is grammatically redundant. I'd like to think "on tomorrow" means "on t'morrow," but that usage went bye-bye in the 16th century.

I suspect that "on tomorrow" is a regionalism—a southern one, judging from the comments. I am a fan of regional talk. It both enriches the language and lets you know you are someplace else.

douglas.bryant August 25, 2009, 2:02am

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[...] it a couple of time recently. Naturally, being a grammar geek, I did some research and I found this conversation about the very same subject on Pain in the English. Some of the commenters said that they thought [...]

On Tomorrow « Jerry Landry August 28, 2009, 8:27am

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I have a principal that says on tomorrow on the loudspeaker during announcements almost every day. It drives me NUTS! I want to run up there and give him a grammar lesson every day. Perhaps I will... on tomorrow. Eeeekkkk!!!

He is of African-American decent. It is a Southern Black thing. It is incorrect.

dyanneill September 3, 2009, 9:16pm

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I am a native Philadelphian, and am currently a senior at a university in Washington, DC. Until I came here I'd never heard it. It's nails on a chalkboard to me! I quite literally cringe everytime I hear it, and it seems as though I do several times each day.

fdsfadsfds September 7, 2009, 5:35pm

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It's not an African-American dialect for all of you who have assumed such a position. It's more a regional dialect and drives me crazy! I am an African-American from New England from a very affluent Maryland family. We abhor the grammatically incorrect phrase. My english studies has always deemed the phrase "on tomorrow" grossly incorrect. But I've observed colleged educated (many many teachers) Baltimore/DC metro area people of all ethnicities and cultures using the phrase. The experience is like nails on the chalkboard to me as well. But truly, it's not a big deal. :)

lvanzie October 3, 2009, 9:41pm

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It's not a Southern thing; it's a "stupid" thing.

lovell November 25, 2009, 1:17pm

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i have certainly heard it in Atlanta!

jennabeau December 2, 2009, 9:35am

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I'm currently dating a guy that always uses the phrase "on tomorrow," and only minutes ago, I received an e-mail from a colleague that used it as well. So, I decided to Google it for clarification. The guy I'm seeing is from Georgia, and I am too; different parts, my colleague is from Texas (where we all currently reside). I too thought it was a slip-up when I first heard it, but it has become repetitious.

chris3 December 8, 2009, 3:45pm

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I've only heard it once since I moved to Baltimore, and it was from a woman from South Carolina. Never before have I heard the phrase.

I do have to admit that I love hearing regional dialects. It makes me glad I do not live in that region.

zachrisso December 16, 2009, 7:22am

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I'm in St. Louis, MO. I received an email from a Texan today that happens to be an Assist. School Super that used "on tomorrow". I've also noticed a growing missuse of "on" amoungst my co-workers. It drives me nuts. So does the word amoungst by the way.

asimmons January 5, 2010, 8:25pm

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I'm from Pennsylvania and went to school in Maine. The first time I heard this ridiculous phrase was when I first started working in Houston, Texas. I heard it and cringed. I looked around but everyone else seemed to not notice this horrible phrase. I assumed that the principal, the woman with her PH.D and the leader of our school had made a mistake...

jacquelinesmith360 January 8, 2010, 2:16pm

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I teach at a historically black school in South Carolina, and it is very common.

geoffrey.collier February 5, 2010, 5:00pm

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Sadly, On Tomorrow is alive and well in Central Florida. I moved from PA to Florida to work in the school system and was horrified when I heard teachers and principals using the term. It horrifies me!

misswease5 February 11, 2010, 8:03am

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I have never heard this "on tomorrow" phrase, but one that drives me batty is "graduate high school." "To graduate is an intransitive verb. One may graduate from high school, but what is happening when one graduates a school? Can anyone give me an action analysis of that?

cookus February 16, 2010, 4:16pm

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I am as Southern as they come in Charleston South Carolina and I have happened upon this site in a search to find why people say on when referring to tomorrow. I have a few colleagues that use this phrase not just in their speech, but they will write it as well. It is an awkward use of our language and it is NOT a Southern thing. It is simply a mis-taught, or better yet learned, use of the language and is no more correct than ain't, idn't, and y'all... which ARE all a Southern thing!!! but do not sound so ridiculous as 'on tomorrow.'

amy_grace77 February 19, 2010, 4:01pm

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I am from Tennessee and have lived among rural as well as urban populations. I've also lived in N. Dakota and Kentucky. However, I had never heard this expression until I began working in metro Atlanta schools. The first time I heard it was from an administrator. Since that time, I hear it almost daily and always from African-Americans from the south. Recently a young African-American student from the N.E. informed her classmate who had used the expression that there was no such usage as "on tomorrow." Certainly this may have "hung around" since the early 17th century when slaves learned English from owners of that era. Still, it would seem that an educated person would have learned verb usage and would demonstrate good English usage especially in a school setting. After 10 years of hearing this term, I still cringe. Growing up I thought a good education should evoke some kind of change in a person. But I meet many masters and PH.D degreed persons who I would never guess had an extensive college education. To bad really, especially as they are educators.

amaskamom February 19, 2010, 5:34pm

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In my observation, I have never heard a white redneck in the South say, “on tomorrow.”

It is a southern black thing. As previously mentioned, it's usually used by public school teachers or administrators. In their efforts to overcome negative stereotypes about their intelligence and speech patterns they over enunciate and add extra words. It's tragic that they're trying so hard not to use Ebonics but just end up sounding ignorant anyway. And what teacher is going to have the courage to go up and correct their principal?

ryan April 21, 2010, 10:33am

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Sharon, I'm not trying to be mean, but while we're on the topic of correcting people's grammar, don't you mean "too bad"?

ryan April 21, 2010, 10:39am

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I agree with Ryan.... I just didn't want to offend anyone... but now that someone else said it... :) It is a black thing. And it is predominantly heard by otherwise successful black people. It is annoying and I hear it daily!!! UGH!!! Which is why after all this time.. I am still obsessing about it on this post.

amy_grace77 April 21, 2010, 3:55pm

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What bothers me—really bothers me—is intolerance. On this site we discuss the English language. One marvelous aspect of English is its variability, its malleability. English is spoken in all parts of the world, and it exists in standard forms (mainly British and American, but with others ascendant) and non-standard forms. It is a gross misunderstanding of the language to believe that non-standard speech equals ignorance. And it is intolerance to reject non-standard yet perfectly understandable phrases like "on tomorrow" as ignorant.

Is "on tomorrow" a "black thing?" Maybe, and maybe not. That is a question for linguists; it is interesting but beside the point. Is it grammatically wrong? No it is not wrong, any more than "on Tuesday" is wrong. Is "We'll meet tomorrow" more concise than "We'll meet on tomorrow?" Of course it is, just as "Tuesday" is more concise "on Tuesday." So what? Are we all suddenly Hemingway, with no room for rhetoric? I think not.

Regional variety is just that: variety. Enjoy it. Think of it as an unfamiliar spice.

Plus which—another non-standard phrase given currency by a certain Oxford-educated U.S. president—when you start talking about "otherwise successful black people" you risk expressing prejudice, and you invite it.

douglas.bryant April 24, 2010, 9:17pm

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I too have a principal in Texas, she is black and says it every morning. We are all making a joke about it, but wish she would just stop. She also "axs"everyone to attend the staff meeting "on tomorrow". We are teachers for goodness sakes! I wish I had the nerve to send this to her;

pam_harrison7 April 30, 2010, 10:56pm

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I have addressed the ask/axe issue elsewhere, but it seems to bear repeating.

The pronunciation of "ask" as "aks" is sometimes seen as a sign of ignorance or poor education, but it is not. Nor is it a race-based variant. I found the following explanation online:

"While the pronunciation /aks/ for ask is not considered standard, it is a very common regional pronunciation with a long history. The Old English verb áscian underwent a normal linguistic process called metathesis sometime in the 14th century. Metathesis is what occurs when two sounds or syllables switch places in a word. This happens all the time in spoken language (think nuclear pronounced as /nukular/ and asterisk pronounced as /asteriks/).

Metathesis is usually a slip of the tongue, but (as in the cases of /asteriks/ and /nukular/) it can become a variant of the original word. This alternative version in Old English was axian or acsian, as in Chaucer's: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housband to the Samaritan?" (Wife's Prologue 1386). Ascian and axian co-existed and evolved separately in various regions of England. The ascian version gives us the modern standard English ask, but the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects.

In American English, the /aks/ pronunciation was originally dominant in New England. The popularity of this pronunciation faded in the North early in the 19th century as it became more common in the South. Today the pronunciation is perceived in the US as either Southern or African-American. Both of these perceptions underestimate the popularity of the form.

/aks/ is still found frequently in the South, and is a characteristic of some speech communities as far North as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Iowa. It is one of the shared characteristics between African-American English and Southern dialects of American English. The wide distribution of speakers from these two groups accounts for the presence of the /aks/ pronunciation in Northern urban communities.

So in fact, ... /aks/ [is] a regional pronunciation, one with a distribution that covers nearly half of the territory in the United States and England."


Perhaps instead of making fun of your principal behind her back—hardly a professional thing to do—you should consider that she is merely quoting Chaucer.

douglas.bryant May 1, 2010, 4:19am

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Douglas, calm down.

As you aptly pointed out, we had a white President who was infamous for mispronouncing nuclear, and I, a white man, have probably mispronounced asterisk myself. Just because someone else has made the same error, doesn’t mean it is proper or standard English. It’s great to celebrate the diversity in non-standard English or different dialects, but a professional setting among professional educators calls for standard English.

If you celebrate diversity among non-standard English, you shouldn’t be so offended at the observation that cultural backgrounds affect the way we all speak. I’m sure if we went deep enough into Appalachia or watched enough of The Beverly Hillbillies we would find plenty of uniquely white non-standard variations.

abc123 May 6, 2010, 1:08pm

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Thank you Ryan!! I was trying to find the right words on how to reply. You did it well and I agree completely that we are not talking about how you speak in the privacy of your own kitchen with your mama.... we are discussing common misuses we hear in the professional environment. I by no means meant to offend anyone or welcome prejudice. I was simply stating my observation that this use of the language is NOT a sign of ignorance but clearly a culturally influenced teaching of improper application. My comment... "otherwise successful" is admittedly misleading and I apologize.

amy_grace77 May 6, 2010, 3:56pm

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The pronunciation of "ask" as "aks" is not an ordinary mispronunciation. It is indeed a Metathesis, but a very old one. It is non-standard, yes, but widespread. I agree that cultural background influences the way we all speak. But in the case of ask/aks the cultural factor is not merely race-based.

douglas.bryant May 7, 2010, 2:09pm

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Also Douglas,
I will add that while quoting Chaucer may be a very intelligent showing of your vast knowledge of the English language's History.... "Quoting" him unknowingly would only confirm our sentiments as Chaucer is famous and well known for his ability to "speak to and for the people" He intentionally wrote as the uneducated folk of his English town spoke.... leading him to be a well known niche in the history of literature. So to QUOTE Chaucer is one thing.... but to speak as Chaucer wrote is very much another meaning all together.

amy_grace77 May 10, 2010, 5:06pm

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Actually, I didn't quote Chaucer. The reference was in the cited passage from Random House, which is signed "Heather." I don't claim a "vast knowledge of the English language’s history," but I do know a little about factual research.

The fact is that the pronunciation of "ask" as "aks" is ancient. It predates the discovery of America. And as such, it is not a "southern thing," as you point out. But it is not a "black thing" either. It is a relatively common variant which crosses social and cultural boundaries.

The point I was trying to make is this: non-standard English is not the same as sub-standard English. Simply that.

douglas.bryant May 11, 2010, 3:35am

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Please go back and reread my comment... I did not suggest that "aks" or "on tomorrow" are a Southern thing... I specifically said they are NOT a Southern thing. And my comments mostly pertain to the "on tomorrow" more than they do the "aks" issue since that is what this thread was originally about. I am aware that both of these actually derived from Old English... but it is just that... Old English - not standard and in my opinion (which we are all entitled to) is not a professional use or pronunciation.

amy_grace77 May 13, 2010, 1:48pm

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What I said was "And as such, it is not a 'southern thing,' as you point out." In other words, I acknowledged that you pointed out that "aks" is not a southernism. Perhaps I could have been clearer.

douglas.bryant May 13, 2010, 2:06pm

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Yes, I see now... I read it incorrectly... I ignored your placement of commas, which we all know can drastically change the meaning of a sentence.

amy_grace77 May 14, 2010, 4:28pm

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I've lived in Virginia my whole life and have only heard one person say "on tomorrow" and "on yesterday." I'm pretty sure she says these things because she's an idiot. She also asks for an "ink pen" rather than just a pen, as if I was going to hand her a pen filled with something other than ink. This is also a woman who doesn't know the difference between atmosphere and hemisphere.

asidebottom May 27, 2010, 11:19am

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I live in Virginia and I only heard one person say it. It drove me nuts. He worked with me and he passed away. I went to his funeral; his sister is a preacher and she said it during the eulogy. He is from Virginia also but I have never heard anyone say this besides him and his family. It makes me cringe everytime I think about it.

I thought "on tomorrow" only drove me crazy. Everytime I mention it at work, people didn't see a problem with it. Scary. But the same people who did not see a problem with it are the same ones who will add an S to everything. For example: Walmarts, Kmarts, checkings, etc.....

edrita79 June 6, 2010, 9:31am

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I think is comes from the old saying "on the morrow" and over the years became on tomorrow. I'm from the west coast and was perplexed to hear "on tomorrow" stated on the news, in board meetings, and even by an english teacher during a course.

layke August 1, 2010, 5:07am

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I have heard it many times. Only by certain groups of people though. I live in TN. It's painful to my ears whenever I hear it and painful to my eyes when I see it written.

tyrin101 September 21, 2010, 12:57pm

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Tomorrow is NOT and adverb. Even it to-morrow or to morrow was once separated - it has now been combined into one word. The one word is tomorrow, a noun. "On tomorrow" is a prepositional phrase. Is "on" needed? No. Is it incorrect to use it? No. If today is Friday and I say "let's meet on Saturday" it is the same as saying "let's meet on tomorrow". I could also say "let's meet Saturday" or "let's meet tomorrow". It may sound funny to some of you but it IS correct. "On tomorrow we will discuss World History 1600 - 1650. On the next day, we will discuss World History 1650-1700. On Monday we will not have class" - On (insert time placeholder) something will happen." There is nothing wrong.

marchandprinting September 24, 2010, 1:03am

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Y’all come on down to South Carolina on tomorrow or any other time and you'll hear it everywhere you announcements made by principals and guidance counselors, superintendents in district wide emails, and all sorts of other places. Why, it stretches every inch of I26 from the NC/SC border all the way to Charleston. There just aint no way of gettin away from it round here.

stephen8brown8 September 28, 2010, 2:37pm

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I hear a lot of nouns used as personal hate is the misuse of "action". You can commit to an action, you can perform an action, but you do not "action something"!!! Everytime I hear that I want to slap someone in the head.

A close second is the misuse of dialogue. Why can't they just say they're going to talk or have a conversation rather than "dialogue each other"! Business Analysts and Project Managers...bah... they are the bain of English...

shaunc September 29, 2010, 7:09pm

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I am in Beaumont, Texas...SETX. I hear "on tomorrow" all the time!!! I am so tired of it because it is repeated daily. My child is hearing this and gets confused because the principal uses it in the announcements and I am telling her it is wrong. Geez!!!

mrodri_1 October 4, 2010, 1:45pm

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I started hearing this about 7 years ago, and it has become a huge pet peeve for me. I work with a lot of educators, and I hear it often in meetings and presentations. In fact, the high school guidance counselor at my son's school said it just last night.

Examples include "on tomorrow," "on yesterday," and "on next week." It's like fingernails down a chalk board to me. grin

P.S. I also hear "on accident" (as in, I did it on accident). Where did THAT come from??

raleightracy October 16, 2010, 3:07am

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I'm an elementary school teacher originally from California. I'd never heard "on" used with "today," "tomorrow," or with "yesterday" before I moved to Houston, Texas, where I live now. I hear it daily, by people from all walks of life. My school's administrators say it during morning and afternoon announcements. It hurts my ears. It bothers me that the kids hear this as a model for "proper" English. But, seriously, how do I bring THAT subject up with an administrator?!

ineedasillyname October 19, 2010, 10:26pm

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I hate to be pedantic, but as a student of Chaucer I can't help putting in my two cents. I don't think it's accurate to say that Chaucer "intentionally wrote as the uneducated folk of his English town spoke." Chaucer lived in London and, though he came from a middle class background, moved in aristocratic and courtly circles (to the point that his granddaughter ended up marrying an earl and then a duke). He did portray some uneducated folk in the Canterbury Tales, but the majority of his work was intended to be refined and elegant and to appeal to the upper classes (that's why some of his major influences were courtly French poets like Machaut and Froissart who were in vogue among English aristocrats). True, the fact that he wrote in English made his work accessible to a more "common" audience, but you have to remember that he was writing in a period when English was gaining authority as a literary language, and in fact Chaucer was regarded by his contemporaries and immediate successors as the poet who had infused English with the elegance and rhetorical stylishness of French or Latin. No one would have considered his writing akin to the speech of the uneducated.

I still wouldn't be caught dead saying "on tomorrow," but not for any reason having to do with Chaucer!

ladysusan November 17, 2010, 10:24pm

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I hear it daily by teachers and students at the school where I teach.
(Miami Gardens,Fl)

jdussia1 January 10, 2011, 2:01pm

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Along similar lines, hearing "aks" and "maff" (math) from teachers makes me cringe every time.I won't even get into spelling.

jdussia1 January 10, 2011, 2:13pm

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I hear it occasionally and it sounds silly to me.

jennmcferran January 19, 2011, 8:22pm

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I recently moved from the Midwest to Georgia where "on" is used before "tomorrow" and "today" by just about everyone in the southern region. And I found it is NOT limited to only one race, or the less fortunate. It is spoken and written by my Superiors who hailed from different regions throughout the S.E... I only “Goggled” this information to ensure that I wasn’t the one wrong for not using “on”.

hhop13 January 20, 2011, 3:23pm

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It is not a "Southern thing"; however, it is a Southern African-American thing! I have had three black principals who all use this expression. Many of my black co-workers also use this phrase. It drives me nuts, but doesn't bother me as much as educated African-Americans who say, "Let me ax you a question".

joyclark_5 January 27, 2011, 1:47am

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I can honestly say that it is not only the African-Americans that use "On Today" or "On Tomorrow". I've heard it several times in our board meeting by the event leader who is a White Alabama Tide grad... Again, as I stated in my previous post this isn't limited to one race. This is a phrase that I have never heard while growing up in Colorado - so I just had to investigate.

hhop13 January 27, 2011, 2:37am

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Our [black-educated in Tennessee at Lane College] principal uses the phrases "on yesterday," "on today" and "on tomorrow" CONSTANTLY, especially on the intercom during morning announcements. This is the first person that I have ever heard do so. Everyone is afraid of her except me, but I don't feel like going to the mat on this one. I will let her continue to show what I consider to be poor grammar. To me, it reflects her upbringing and presents a bad first impression. Of course, at our school, her grammar is much better than about 30% of the teachers.

bond98892 March 3, 2011, 10:49pm

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Willie Mead:

I’m more bothered by the phrase “black-educated” than I ever could be by “on tomorrow.”

dogreed March 4, 2011, 6:23am

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The phrase in brackets means that "she is black and was educated at Lane college."

Which part bothers you? Is it he fact that she is black or that she was educated at Lane college?

This morning, she used the phrase "who attended the book fair on last night."

bond98892 March 4, 2011, 2:26pm

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Nigel, Biz is hearing it correctly. I've lived in the south all my life, and have only heard "on tomorrow" and "on today" used by blacks. I know that may sound stereotypical, but it is the truth. I've never heard anyone of any other race or ethnicity use it. And, I have only heard it used in the southeast.

suzirice1979 March 6, 2011, 5:41pm

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Joy Clark, I also hate being "axed a question." It's so painful! ;) Seriously though, that is also a black or African-American pronunciation, although I knew a teacher from the Virgin Islands who also axed questions too.

suzirice1979 March 6, 2011, 5:44pm

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I am from the south, and this bothers me to no end also. I am glad to see it is not just me annoyed by it.

Tom March 21, 2011, 8:37pm

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Thank God, I am not the only one to be annoyed by " on tomorrow"! I cringe when it is uttered in the pulpit of all places. I do believe that Southeners feel more educated when they kill the English language. And yes, I am a Yankee!

Millie March 25, 2011, 6:47pm

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I am not bothered by "on tomorrow." Its meaning is clear—as clear as "on Tuesday." It's the same construction. I hear it rarely, I admit. But really, haven't you— Tom, and Millie and all you others—something better to vex over?

dogreed March 26, 2011, 3:33am

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It's heard here in Louisiana particularly among African-Americans. I'm from the northeast and had never heard it until moving here. Grates on my grammar nerves, but I generally just leave it alone. I've given up correcting the incorrectness here a long time ago.

mabeline April 27, 2011, 1:02pm

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I am an African American woman and I have heard many people use this phrase from many races. For any of you to agree with the myth that African Americans are the cause and sole carriers of this phrase PROVES that racism is probably worse off than it was 40 years ago. People look for someone to blame when something goes wrong and how convenient is it to say "Oh, the black person did it." I need all of you to get your lives together and look at yourself in the mirror before you judge an entire race.
Also, in regard to the cowards that stated "I didn't want to say it but I agree with the racist comment above me," you should grow and nurture a spine. It will do you some good in life. I live in Memphis, TN now, but I have also lived in Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi. I have spent large amounts of time in the North and vacationed for weeks in Hawaii. Never have I seen such blatant ignorance.

As Always..we shall overcome April 28, 2011, 11:59am

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I'd never heard this expression before, but I think it's a little bit beautiful. I might try it out some time.

Sylvia May 1, 2011, 11:42pm

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@ as always

Keep adding fuel and fanning the flames and your racism never dies. I believe that observations were being made. One thing communications ought to do is eliminate ignorance. If you think someone is wrong, just say so. Alluding that everyone here is racist is so typical of those who wish racism not to disappear so they can have something to build their lives around.

Red May 3, 2011, 8:46am

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@Red you must be mistaken. If you would have read the entire feed before making a "judgment call" you would realize that the conversation turned very racist. The fact that you were not offended is a problem. Racism DOES exist and it does you no good to try to bury it. Take a look at the following comments:
*****It is not a "Southern thing"; however, it is a Southern African-American thing! I have had three black principals who all use this expression. Many of my black co-workers also use this phrase.*****
*****I agree with Ryan.... I just didn't want to offend anyone... but now that someone else said it... :) It is a black thing. And it is predominantly heard by otherwise successful black people. It is annoying and I hear it daily*****
****He is of African-American decent. It is a Southern Black thing. It is incorrect.****

Do your research. It has been turned into a racist discussion. Racism will never die and until you wake up and acknowledge it, all you are going to do is piss a lot of people off. The ONLY way to resolve an issue is to address it. Maybe you should spend your time working on a college education and only then should you come back and post. My comments, as stated in my previous post, were only meant for those who decided to discredit an entire race based on a few people they have seen. You should take your time, sound it out and read it again.

As Always..we shall overcome May 3, 2011, 11:12am

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I live in southern Louisiana and had never heard this type of usage until I started listening to the people from Mississippi, quite a number of them, who come here. They say "on yesterday" and even "on today", which are awkward, ungainly, unnecessary, and redundant phrases. But no one here in LA says these things. It's only the people from Mississippi.

Raymond June 13, 2011, 5:20pm

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I am so glad to see this string. The many emails I get with this term are driving me crazy. I just got one that said, "She sent me the message on yesterday." I want to write back and say "do you mean she sent you the message yesterday". Would that be awful? Any other suggestions other than to just grin and bear it? It made me so frustruated that I looked up this string while at work!!! Incidentally, the term is used by my African-American colleagues mostly in Mississippi.

Camille July 6, 2011, 10:05am

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I am very excited this is a topic that concerns people. I am from Memphis, TN but now live in Dallas, TX and hear "on tomorrow" everywhere I go. I don't recall ever hearing it in college (Knoxville, TN) or in Memphis. However, as an educator, I hear it in the schools,church, conferences, meetings, etc. Drives me crazy!!! Judging by this string, it's not a regional thing; it's a matter of an appropriate education! No matter where you're from, NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, or WEST, you will find people who use incorrect grammar on a daily basis; educated & non-educated. Maybe we should correct those who use it...all races, cultures, & regional dwellers. As for those of you who are trying to make this ONE more thing to add to the "it's a black thing list" get the speck out of your own eye first, pay attention, and re-evaluate your thoughts.

kphelece July 25, 2011, 12:46pm

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I have also heard this. It actually drives me nuts because it sounds ignorant and really pains the ears. The people I hear it from live in Atlanta GA. It has to be some kind of southern thing because I have traveled all over the world and have never heard it spoken anywhere else.

NK August 12, 2011, 8:25am

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There is a lot of racism here. Why do you think that white usage is superior to black usage? I assume that many of you also think that ignorant people eat fried chicken and watermelon.

BrockawayBaby August 16, 2011, 5:26pm

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I work in the non-profit sector and several colleagues use "on tomorrow" and "on yesterday". One colleague who uses this colloquialism is from Georgia, has a Master's degree and works in Upper Management. I am from the east cost and live in the midwest. I find the Shakespeare correlation reasonable of much of southern english is significantly poetic. Maybe not sonnetical (clearly not a word but thought it would be fun).
For me personally, I struggle with the Minnesota putting a preposition at the end of a sentence and omitting the indirect or direct object.
Ex: Instead of : Would you like to come with me to the store? They say: I am going to the store, would you like to come with?

Anyhow, cool site glad I found it!

Sarah August 19, 2011, 9:10am

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One more reflection here:

Sadly, are many stereotypes that prevail about all of us. Some perpetuated by media others by fear.
I am multiracial/multi ethnic- Creole (African, American, and French) and Eastern European Jewish And grew up in several regions of the United States including the east, midwest, and south.
Colloquialism is not bound to race, class, gender, or geography.
Xenophobia and fears of diversity can arise in many forms

My southern mother and east cost grandparents were raised with the value of knowing "proper" English as an asset, to be viewed as educated, or "learn-ed" and as a way to not be trapped forever in a life of poverty and struggle. They passed on this value to me. So they raised me to not use you plural aka "Yous". They also raised to embrace diversity, they never put down other colloquialism but recognized privilege in our country, that speaking in a certain standardized dialect would you to get through doors for employment and education.

Sarah August 19, 2011, 9:33am

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Sorry, my typos were atrocious, wanted to claify- being Creole- African American, Native American, and French or Multi-racial.

Sarah August 19, 2011, 9:41am

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I have heard "on tomorrow," "on yesterday," and "on today" so much from my principal that I want to bonk him on the head every time he says one of those phrases. He also uses them in emails on a regular basis. I never heard anyone do this until he arrived at our school a couple of years ago, but now some of the teachers are starting to do it too. It's getting on my nerves, but it's hard to say something to colleagues and higher-ups about such a matter.

Pebbles August 24, 2011, 8:57pm

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Pebbles--Just a minor comment on one of the terms you used, "higher-ups". It should actually be "highers-up". Check out the discussion entitled "Someone else's" and look at the comments about the plural of "passer-by".

BrockawayBaby August 27, 2011, 11:11pm

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@kph - I'm with you. I lived in Memphis for many years and I don't recall hearing it. If I did, it must not have been often enough to make an impression. What I have heard is "onto tomorrow" at the end of day to wrap it up meaning "until or 'til tomorrow" and that's ok with me.

As for ask, aks (axs) ... I always reply to the person who says, "I'm aksing you." with "Why to do you want to chop me with an ax?"

In OE the verb was ascian (the c=k) and the noun was ascung (and frain) ... in ME the verb was asken and the noun ascung had been dropped for frain and the Latinate word - question.

While the spelling in OE is steady ... it's all over the place in ME from asken to eskien, aschen, eschen, ocsien, acsien, axien, axen, and past tense asked to escade, easkede, and haxede.

In this day and age, I'd rather be clear when I say, "I'm going to ask the boss" that the person doesn't report me to security for threatening to "ax the boss"! lol

AnWulf August 28, 2011, 9:59am

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I googled "on tomorrow" because it was driving me insane. I am originally from Northeast Georgia and I have returned after spending 10 years in Arizona. I have two co-workers sitting next to me setting appointments "on tomorrow" and rescheduling appointments that were to have happened "on Yesterday".

The use of the word is not related to Southern dialect but is specific to African American southerners.

Lisa October 24, 2011, 2:00pm

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I work in Memphis. There are a few people at my work that use "on tomorrow," "on yesterday," and "on today". I am also one that chringes when ever I hear it. The Memphis Public Schools must be teaching this. I went to a private school in Memphis and never heard this used until just a few years ago. As far as the African American southerner part, that may be correct. They are the only ones that I have heard use it.

Roxanne October 27, 2011, 8:49am

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@Roxanne ... It's been many years since I graduated from an MCS (Memphis City Schools) school but I assure you that "on tomorrow" wasn't taught in the schools back then. If it is being taught now, then maybe the Shelby County-MCS consolidation will fix that.

AnWulf October 27, 2011, 8:52pm

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I am Black and I am from Michigan. Never in my life did I hear on tomorrow, on yesterday, on today, until I moved to Dallas, TX...and I never heard it in Dallas until I started working in education. I see it in professional memos, hear it on the announcements, etc. I worked in several different places in Dallas, but not until I came to a SCHOOL did I hear these words. It drives me up a wall..and no one has really been able to explain to me where it originated from. I am glad I found this site because I had started to think it was a Southern thing, but either those other people migrated from the South, or it is everywhere! I would add that one of my parents was born and educated in Dallas and not once growing up did I heard her, or my father, from Texarkana, utter those words. If they are teaching it in the schools now, they were not teaching it to "Black people only" (as some people here seem to think),in the 60's when they were growing up. I don't know where it started, I just want it to stop!!

Catrice January 8, 2012, 12:51pm

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I grew up in Atlanta suburbs and I first heard "On tomorrow" in middle school, from an English teacher. I argued with her until I turned blue, but could not convince her that it was flat wrong. I continued to hear it from time to time, mostly in school from educated southern African-Americans, and as the phenomenon continued, I started hearing other people also using the term. As far as I can tell, it's an invasion of the language that is abhorrent, and as Catrice said, I just want it to stop!
I don't think it is something that is only taught to "Black people only". but I think it is mostly those who are picking it up from the educated black educators.

Techmeltz January 10, 2012, 9:32am

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It's very interesting that this thread has continued over such a long period of time. The use of "on" before tomorrow or yesterday irritates me to no end. As a 41 year old Black person with family of southern descent (not decent), I can say that this is not a term taught to or used mostly by this group. I had never heard the term until recent years, and it certainly is not used in my family by dentists, lawyers, judges, teachers, office workers, secretaries, or anyone else.

As an employee of a federal agency, I work with people from all over the country. Most recently, I have heard this term used by a white woman from Michigan. She always says things like, "I will check in with you on tomorrow and see where we are." My grandmother, who was raised in the Chicago suburbs by her southern parents, had never heard the phrase until recently. She says the secretary (white) at her doctor's office uses it. I have begun to hear the term more and more (from people of various races). I assumed it was a regional dialect. It's annoying to me no matter who says it or where they are from...But I am also annoyed by "ax" or "ass" rather than "asK", "yous" rather than "you", and the use of prepositions at the end of a sentence.

Ktspen January 18, 2012, 3:24pm

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Glad I'm not the only one that gets really annoyed at hearing this! I live in the South (Nashville) and hear it from time to time...especially from my boss! My boss is an African American female but I have heard it from a variety of races. I don't know if it's a race thing or a regional thing or a modern thing but I wish it would stop. Sadly, I doubt it will. I've noticed it seems like some people have made a deliberate effort to add that to their vocab and change the way they talk. Such as some radio DJ's. 1-3 years ago. Ugh. It's one of those sayings that has crept up in occurence over the recent years. On tomorrow is just one of the annoying "new" ways to talk I've been hearing. Things have a way of doing that whether we like it or not.

tyrin101 February 7, 2012, 9:33am

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"We will have a staff meeting tomorrow" is just as bad a thing to hear as "We will have a staff meeting on tomorrow". Firstly, it should be "We shall have ..." and secondly, who would want to go a staff meeting?

Brus February 8, 2012, 3:05pm

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Yes     No