When Is A Gift Not Free?

When Is A Gift Not Free?


Free Gift

As you surf the Internet perusing the offerings of all and sundry you might notice the same words and phrases being repeated on a lot of websites.

We are bombarded by so much information and we read so much each day that we don’t even think about the things we’re reading. We just accept them at face value without stopping to think whether they even make sense.

If you spend enough time on self-development or marketing websites, or even blogs, you’ll notice that the owners of these sites are willing to give you something in return for your email address. These free offerings are marketed as free gifts. This term is widespread and doesn’t appear to be country-specific.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with offering something in return for capturing an email address to add to your list. This common practice is known as a lead magnet and it’s your chance to make a great first impression. It is the terminology that bothers me. Think about it.   Free gift.   Should the words free and gift be side by side?

Isn’t a gift, by definition, free anyway? If it wasn’t free it wouldn’t be a gift, now would it? I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for any of my gifts. Can you imagine that? Someone gives you a wonderful gift, and then presents you with the bill. That’s less of a gift and more of a purchase.

Perhaps free gift should become free offering or free contribution. Or perhaps what’s being offered could just be called by its name, a free e-book or a free audio or a free report. That makes more sense than telling people your gift is free since that’s what gifts are.

You don’t give someone a gift and proudly announce,  Here’s your free gift. No, no, that’s ok, it’s free, no charge. Just as you wouldn’t give someone a gift and tell them it’s for free.

This is another strange expression that I’ve noticed. Oftentimes when someone gives you something they tell you it’s for free. Isn’t it just free?

Call me a little strange but I breathe a sigh of relief when I look at a website and someone is offering something free, not for free.  If the offer was for sale it would be for X amount but when you’re giving something away the expression isn’t quite the same.

Free is not a quantity. It’s a state of being. The word is telling us there is no charge for the item, that you can have it without having to exchange something of equal value. It’s yours, no strings attached, no payment required. Although in a lot of cases what appears to be free is far from it on closer inspection, so it’s wise to be a little wary of such offers.

The English language is varied and flexible. There are lots of different ways to express what you have to say. There’s no reason to use the same tired phrases which, as I have brought to your attention, don’t always make sense when you think about it.

So let your creativity off its leash and give it free rein. Indeed, throw the leash away and never again stifle your imagination. Put some thought into what you want to communicate and make good use of the richness and diversity of language. There are thousands of great words just waiting for you to use them. Really read and understand what you’ve written so it makes sense.

Original thought is a rare and wonderful thing and a sure way to stand out from the crowd.



2 Replies to “When Is A Gift Not Free?”

  1. Hi Kathryn. Yes I’ve noticed that strange Australian expression of calling a bra a pair of bras, always makes me think of two of them. I often wondered how uncomfortable it must be wearing a pair of bras instead of the usual one, they must need extra support.
    Then again we also say a pair of knickers or a pair of trousers and there is only one. It can’t be because there are two leg holes or two compartments or we’d have a pair of jumpers or a pair of shirts.
    Maybe everyone really is wearing two of everything and they just haven’t told us. Perhaps we are the the strange ones:-)
    Thanks for reading. I look forward to reading your next post.

  2. Kathryn Work says:

    I also hate the term ‘for free’. I left a box of lemons outside the Visitor Centre marked Free Lemons…obvious really. Then the tourism officer changed the sign to Lemons For Free! They are not for free…they are free!!! Yet I found myself making that same mistake just recently (verbally). Another pet hate? I wear a bra, yet I find some Australian women talking about wearing bras or a pair of bras….which made me think….maybe they are right because we are tucking two of them away in this garment…or maybe they are putting two bras on to control bounce??!!! Would love to hear your thoughts on this Allyson.

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