- On June 17, 2015
Grow is a trendy business word that works in some capacities—We hope our business will grow this year is A-OK—but is clunky in others. There’s a grammatical explanation, which I provide farther down. But first, consider these examples. I hope you agree that replacing grow with increase, expand, or build improves each statement.
• Businesses that publish infographics grow their traffic an average of 12% more than those that don’t.
Increase would make this a crisper claim.
• Use Instagram to grow your creative business.
Either build or expand would be more precise.
• The highest point in her career unfolded at Google, where, in 2004, she helped produce and grow Gmail.
I’d go with build.
• Digital gives you the potential to grow profits by 40 to 50 percent.
• “These 10 Foodies Have Grown the Strongest Engagement on Instagram”
This was a headline in Adweek, and it downright flummoxed me. How do you grow engagement? Built sounds better, but followed by engagement still sounds like jargon. Based on the article, I would replace engagement with following. “These 10 Foodies Have Built the Strongest Following on Instagram.” Now that I can follow.
Here’s the reason why increase, expand, or build are better choices: to grow is typically an intransitive verb, which means it doesn’t take an object. In the examples, traffic, creative business, Gmail, profits, and engagement are all performing as objects of the verb grow. (I said “typically” because when it comes to agriculture and grooming, grow takes an object—as in crops and beards.)
To those of you who think this is a nitpicking post, I summon up the late comic Joan Rivers, who when audiences booed her jokes for being too vulgar would say, “Oh, grow up!”