1

On May 7th 2018, Melania Trump unveiled her new First Lady platform and the slogan for the campaign is Be Best. The aim would be to focus on physical, social and emotional health, she said. (source)

Is "Be Best" proper English? It just doesn't sound complete to me.

Be your best, be the best... sound much better, but does Be Best work?

  • 2
    Sounds like it's a shortened form of "Be the best" or "Be your best"—either way it's a ham-fisted attempt, and is anybody outside the MAGA true believers cone of ignorance really surprised? – Robusto May 8 '18 at 14:37
  • MODERATOR WARNING: Answers go in the answer box. Comments that are not suggestions for improving the question will be deleted. Confine discussion to chat. – tchrist May 8 '18 at 14:46
  • @EddieB.True Please move your answer to the answer box. :) – tchrist May 8 '18 at 15:06
  • 1
    Hello, Janet. What do you mean here by "Is it 'proper'?"? You can put almost anything on a T-shirt, but you'll lose marks in say an essay for non-standard expressions. – Edwin Ashworth May 8 '18 at 15:59
2

My first thought was 'not any more than #BeBetter'; although, thinking it through a little further it would seem how 'be good' would be a sentence in an of itself; so, although it sounds weird, I'd have to side on 'be best' or 'be better' as complete statements as well when considering a verb 'be' and using "best or better" as nouns from the standpoint of a 'state of being' as it were compared to 'normal' usage as adjectives.

BTW, I posted this yesterday in the incorrect 'box', my apologies. EBT

  • I agree that it's a sentence, but I thought best was an adverb in this case. As in, What do you like best? -- "I'll tell him to be good." "No, tell him to be best." – Bread May 10 '18 at 1:26
  • No doubt Bread. Typically one would put the article 'the' between "be" and "best"; however, in a world where 'textspeak' exists, normal or proper are rarely in play. – Eddie B. True May 10 '18 at 12:23
1

"Be Best" is incorrect. "Be Good", "Be Better", "Be the Best", and "Be Your Best" would have been correct, but "Be Best" is not, even when used as a slogan. In English, a superlative adjective must be preceded by the definite article or by a possessive pronoun. (See: https://www.ef.edu/english-resources/english-grammar/comparative-and-superlative/.)

If "best" is used as adverb, the definite article is omitted. For example:

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

(See: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/best_2).
But this is not the case here.

Several articles have recently been written about this question. For example, see: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/08/be-best-melania-trump-initiative-grammatical-flaw

0

Yes it is correct, but very awkward.

Title case would only be used for a slogan.

The sentence uses a non-determinant structure. As mentioned in a tweeted reply to a tweet that asked the same question recently

It's absolutely correct!.. The extract above uses a non-determinant structure.

  • 3
    Thank you for your answer. I don’t believe our asker was concerned about the use of uppercase, but rather about the grammar involved. Could you please explain what a “non-determinant structure” means, preferably with citations or references? Also, if you have other examples of this structure, that would help, too. – tchrist May 8 '18 at 15:05
  • There's a typo it's spelled non-determinate (only one "n") But I see that indeterminate is more common thoughtco.com/indeterminacy-language-term-1691054 – Mari-Lou A May 8 '18 at 16:53
  • 1
    Who's the person who tweeted back? Is he a linguist? A professor? A well-known writer? What are his credentials? And you cite his reply as if he knows what he's talking about. Maybe he does but how do we know if you don't explain why you agree? – Mari-Lou A May 8 '18 at 17:02
  • if you want to know, go research him, i'm not your pa @Mari-LouA – Gary May 10 '18 at 19:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.