I Was Gifted? Really?

I Was Gifted? Really? September 6, 2017


Today is the day for me to offend literally (and I do not mean that figuratively or metaphorically) everyone one of you, my dear beloved readers. Because I have probably read you doing this, or heard you in person. But what I want you to know at the outset is, I am not judging you, and if I have judged you, I totes forgive you. But the thing has risen up to the top of the levy, so much so that I think the way we use this particular phrase is about to become fixed, sweeping away in the flood of modernist speak what was once a common manner of expression. And that would Not Be A Good Thing. But it may not be too late! If every English speaker would commit to giving equal time to the old way, it’s possible that we might save what is about to be lost.


Don’t use “Gifted” instead of ‘Gave’ quite so often.
I was gifted this candle.
We were gifted this casserole.
They gifted me with this chair.
They have gifted you with themselves.

You get the idea. ‘I was gifted’ has taken the place of the more active form, ‘She gave me this,’ or even, ‘I was given a cupcake.’ ‘Was given’ is passive, of course, but the solution to this passivity is not to make it into ‘I was gifted a cupcake.’ The solution would be to name the person who gave you the cupcake. ‘Beula gave me a cupcake and now I am eating it and it’s delicious.’

It’s like we’ve all developed some sort of awkwardness around the word Gave. It’s too in your face. We can’t deal any more. And so we’re all saying Gifted as a way of tiptoeing around the margins of that incredibly offensively direct word, Gave.

For the life of me I can’t think why this would be. It’s not like Gave and Give are full of unpleasant associations like Hurricane or Inclusive or White Supremacy. What has become so wrong with using ‘give’ to describe the action of one person taking an item, or some time, or something ephemeral but essential like affectionate consideration, and putting it into the possession of another person? Is it that we’re trying to elevate that substantial action to loftier heights by using a more indirect construction? Or is it the embarrassment of human connection in a culture that idolizes individuality? There must be some deep seated reason for the simpler expression to be traded for the more obtuse.

Language changes, of course. Even though it hurts me, I know that we are allowed to use, as it were, ‘they’ following a singular construction, when we don’t know, or don’t want to say the sex of the subject of the sentence. And I understand that nauseous has taken the place of nauseated. And, of course, there are others. I’ve been trying to remember to start a collection, but I keep losing the scraps of paper upon which I jot them (cough).

But I really want to plead for equal time for just using the word Gave. It’s simpler. It’s more direct. It’s more elegant. Especially when you come into the realm of talking about God. God gives us gifts. It’s not very lovely to say that he gifts us gifts, that he gifted us with his son.

So, have I hurt your feelings? SORRY. If you think I’m full of it go ahead and gift me with your thoughts and shoutings in the comments.

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