In a marketing or business communication - such as marketing slogan -, is it appropriate to use something like

"On time, on quality, on budget " ..

I'm not a native speaker. Somehow I stumbled upon this sentence -words - and my point is about correctness, learning to use language -English- right way.

closed as unclear what you're asking by user140086, jimm101, curiousdannii, Helmar, Scott Nov 20 '16 at 18:19

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  • 1
    Can you provide more context please? Like the full sentence surrounding this quote. – Emily88034 Nov 17 '16 at 20:28
  • Where did you find it? What is the context? What have you found in your research? Don't forget to check the Help Center: english.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic – Juan M Nov 17 '16 at 20:28
  • It's a marketing slogan - probably - . As for context, it would be telling clients that we do our job on time, and it will be on budget , and its quality will be ok .. – firatsarlar Nov 17 '16 at 20:30
  • @JuanM , Let's say I saw it on a stand in an exhibition, . It's curiosity more than research. As checking help center , not sure what to check for ? – firatsarlar Nov 17 '16 at 20:45
  • @firatsarlar Welcome to English Language & Usage. Click on the link or go to Help Center to find how to make questions that are user-friendly. It is also a good idea to take the Tour. english.stackexchange.com/tour – Juan M Nov 17 '16 at 20:52

An excellent question, and any useful answer must define what's meant by "technical and grammatical". At the very least, we must mean that the meaning is intelligible from the words. Thus we judge ungrammatical

[1a] *Love John Mary did about what.

because the rules of English syntax won't suffice to tell us even the direction of the flow of affection. Unlike the grammatical offering

[1b] What did Mary love about John?

There are also technical rules that apply to tell us something is wrong even when we get the sense. Thus in

[2a] *Mary hit he

we can tell the direction of the (apparent lack of) affection, but will insist on the "right" version

[2b] Mary hit him.

The application of these rules often relies on the context and venue of the utterance. So what about

[3a] on time, on budget, on quality

It certainly meets the rules of English syntax -- it's three prepositional phrases, all with the preposition on, and each preposition followed by an acceptable object, namely a noun phrase consisting of a single noun.

And it's certainly intelligible. It describes a company that does good work on schedule and within the agreed-upon costs. True, as written, it's not a complete sentence, but the context makes that acceptable: it's a slogan that you saw at a booth at an exhibition. In venues where space is at a premium -- headlines, warnings, instructions, hurried conversation, and so on -- we elide some syntactical elements without loss of meaning. I think it's safe to say that people understand the slogan to mean

[3b] [Our company does its work] on time, [brings projects in] on budget, [and produces results that are] on [a high level of] quality.

But this isn't going to fit on a brochure or a gimme cap. However, we can ask whether the shortened slogan violates any idiomatic usage. The first preposition is fine. On time is a common usage meaning a schedule met.

The second preposition is borderline. On here is more often used in the sense of about and usually with budget as an attributive noun, as in

[4a] We have to have a discussion on budget issues.

However, there are usages with the additional preposition in that mean to make a target budget:

[4b] One is determined to bring this project in on budget and on time.

The third time is not a charm: on quality seems unidiomatic. I think either at or with would be expected.

[5a] Not only did the units produce high-octane gasoline at quality and yield levels never before seen,....
[5b] ECOS consulting: "We promise to do our work with quality."

Call it the license of commercial poetry.

  • thanks for the answer . I was thinking that the question is at least appropriate for here, even it may not a great question .. But somehow I felt pushed out as I asked what was m in f=ma formula in a quantum physics class or something ... – firatsarlar Nov 18 '16 at 0:12
  • @firatsarlar It's actually a very deep topic -- the role of syntax, idiom, and venue in producing "acceptable" speech. Ironically, non-native speakers often have trouble with syntax and idiom in formulating "acceptable" questions for this particular venue, and the culture here is to push them out. (Not to worry, though: all this means that is that you speak at least one more language than I do.) – deadrat Nov 18 '16 at 0:48
  • Ah, the driveby downvoter, my favorite denizen of the site. Something wrong with the answer? Something that the questioner might like to know? It is a plague on this site. – deadrat Nov 18 '16 at 0:51
  • +1 for a thoughtful, well-reasoned discussion that many relative newcomers to the language are likely to find analytically useful. – Sven Yargs Nov 18 '16 at 1:00
  • Agreed. Great, thorough answer. I wonder if perhaps the slogan reused "on" as perhaps an abbreviation if the company or perhaps a giant ON with three tails of time, budget and quality. It is a weird word choice. – Tallima Nov 18 '16 at 12:40

It's technically 3 prepositional phrases strung together by commas. It lacks a subject.

English speakers do speak like this sometimes, especially for emphasis. I can imagine an office setting and an engineer asks "When do you want this, ma'am?" And the boss replies "On time, on quality, on budget."

But all in all, it's not good grammar.

  • 1
    not good grammar And why is that again? – deadrat Nov 17 '16 at 21:50
  • @deadrat It's bad grammar because it's not a complete sentence. It lacks a subject. Instead, it's 3 prepositional phrases strung together by commas. – Tallima Nov 17 '16 at 22:28
  • So if we met on the street and you asked me "How are you?" and I said, "Fine", you'd consider my answer ungrammatical? (By the way, I am not the downvoter.) – deadrat Nov 18 '16 at 18:49
  • @deadrat Interesting. (That was also not a complete sentence) Yesterday, I would have said yes. Most of my grammar skills were developed writing research papers. Complete sentences were mandatory; their flow and clarity were critical. But that's not really what grammar is, is it? Grammatical English conforms to certain rules, but it does not always show up in complete sentences. In my head, I have separated common syntax from "proper" syntax without really realizing it. I really enjoyed your answer above and spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. It widened my view of grammar. – Tallima Nov 18 '16 at 19:03
  • Audience is critical in determining the rules you use. The dean of my college used to say that his memos to the faculty had to be so clear that they could be understood without being read. Research papers need clarity approaching that level, so (as you note) complete sentences are mandatory. Nobody wants to read a paper and wonder whether fine means a good thing or a penalty. Just as no one wants a paragraph response to a social exchange. Proper is where proper does (or something close to that) – deadrat Nov 18 '16 at 19:26

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