I want to use something like this in a cartoon, animated banner advertisement:

Where my employers at?


Where my entrepreneurs at?

Are there connotations of the phrase I should consider, for example is it too slangy or is its use too closely linked with hip hop culture to be acceptable in the business sector?

  • 2
    The question you need to ask is not whether it is 'grammatically correct' but whether it will sell the goods or services the advertisement seeks to promote. – Barrie England Aug 8 '12 at 8:56
  • What does it mean? Maybe the problem is I know nothing about hip hop culture. – neil Aug 8 '12 at 9:14
  • @neil "Where my X at?" means "where are/is my X?" – Matt E. Эллен Aug 8 '12 at 9:29
  • @BarrieEngland so is it grammatically correct? – Derfder Aug 8 '12 at 10:40
  • Difficult to comment on it all in isolation. Can you show us the entire ad? – Barrie England Aug 8 '12 at 10:47

Normally, we do not put a preposition at the end of the question when we use the interrogative pronoun "where."

For example,

Where are you going? -- not Where are you going to?

Where did you stay? -- not Where did you stay in?

Compare this with when you change the interrogative pronoun to "what" or "which":

Which restaurant are you going to?

What hotel did you stay in?

*Note: There are of course exceptions to this like when we ask "Where are you from?"

Adding the preposition "at" in the question "*Where are __ at?*" is unnecessary and informal usage. It strongly implies casualness and may thus be inappropriate for a business/ professional setting.

Like what you predicted, some people can also connect it to urban slang and you should consider whether such a thing is undesirable for your advertisement. Take the entire context and your exact purpose into account.

Since the questions are asking about "employers" and "entrepreneurs," personally I interpreted is as coming from a dire need for more employment and self-starting entrepreneurs. That's how the language came across to me. It reminded me of an article from Times magazine.

I don't think everyone will get the same message though, whether it was an accurate interpretation or not.

  • Contrarianista hipsters know where it’s at.😉 – tchrist Aug 8 '12 at 14:03
  • I am aiming at 18 - 30 or maybe 40 yo people with this ads. It is not typical banksters type of guys. Just young internet people. Is this still inappropriate usage? Btw. thanks for the complex explanation. – Derfder Aug 8 '12 at 17:20
  • @Derfder No, you will only come off as looking stoopid. Don’t do that. – tchrist Aug 8 '12 at 17:28

No, your phrases are not correct, because they lack verbs. Sometimes that is ok in advertising, but not here, because they make no sense. Yours is the first one in this sequence; notice how it doesn’t read correctly compared to the others:

  1. Where my employers at?
  2. Where are my employers at?
  3. Where my employers are at?
  4. Where are my employers?
  5. Where my employers are?
  • 1
    Isn't this AAVE? I've heard a lot of African Americans ask "Where you at?" in movies meaning "Where are you?" – Armen Ծիրունյան Aug 8 '12 at 13:49
  • 1
    Is language of blacks not accepted by majority in commercials in the United States of America? – Derfder Aug 8 '12 at 17:16
  • @Derfder Yeah sure. Not. – tchrist Aug 8 '12 at 17:29
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    @Derfder: Is English your first language? If not, then a dialect like AAVE will probably not come easily. And so the word 'accepted' will be -very- difficult to assess for you. You could piss off (or just annoy) a lot of people with attempts at trying to be 'hip'. – Mitch Aug 8 '12 at 18:16
  • yes, dropping the 'is' is somewhat slangy
  • but 'entrepreneur' is not.

having the two together in a sentence is somewhat incongruous, giving a similar feeling to, say, Tina Fey attempting rap. It may be funny but only at a meta-level where she is making fun of herself.

That may be the effect you want, but it is difficult to judge.

As to whether it is 'correct', it is not 'correct' house style for newspapers, and nobody who normally drops the 'to be' would use 'entrepreneur in the same sentence. But 'Where you at?' is 'correct' for slang (maybe for AAVE, I don't know).

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