“Trainings or Courses” And “Out of Office or Out to the Office”?

Caveat: The purpose of this series is neither to proclaim myself as a grammarian nor to despise people who are still unfamiliar with common grammar mistakes. It is to serve as a reminder that there are rules in English that refute those mistakes. I am well aware that I still have a lot to learn in English and I will not stop digging those rules to share them here. If you happen to be a guilty party, please remember that I shared these blog posts in the spirit of constructive criticism.

Last February 24 of the current year, one of my articles, “Stop Saying ‘Thanks God’ When…“, about common grammar pet peeves in 2014 gained almost 2,000 Facebook shares and 4,310 page views in a matter of two days. It drastically outpaced my old masterpiece “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions” that, although frequently viewed still, has only 633 Facebook shares after three years. At a time like, I feel really proud. For a struggling blogger, it feels good to know that people read his posts. The best feeling though comes from knowing they spend time to share those posts on social platforms especially Facebook and Twitter. This is the trend.

To those people who made me me reach that milestone, my biggest thanks! Your support has always been the lifeblood of my inspiration.

Suffice to say the milestone instantly fueled my muse. It’s been six months since I published a blog post pertinent to grammar pet peeves. We’ll be wrestling with the word “trainings” and “two common nonstandard phrases found in out-of-office replies” for this episode.

Three months ago, I did apply for a different position in the company where I am working for. Before sending my résumé to recruitment division, I did a thorough proofreading. (e.g., includes removing every period at the end of each of my bullet point statements, ensuring that a period appears after an abbreviation unless the item is an academic degree or certificate, eliminating the career objective section, and so forth). The thing is, there is this section (i.e., TRAININGS) of the résumé that I always find specious even though I know several corporate trainers who use “trainings” as a plural. The last time I checked Google did not show hints of grammar bugbear that points to our subject in dispute: trainings. I then revisited some of the reliable grammar sites (dictionary.com, dailywritingtips.com, pongororesume.com, & josecarilloforum.com) on my list that time. Thank God I did.

Apparently, trainings is not the plural form (was never in fact) of training. It just doesn’t fit right on the tongue as a countable noun. I couldn’t help shrinking as I was thinking of the times I forwarded the résumé for job application or reference purposes.

Those grammar sites affirm that when training is used as a noun, it is uncountable or mass noun. Therefore, there’s no need to attach “s” to it. Training is training in its plural form. That isn’t how I used the word in that section of my résumé. See, I also slip. I need some more training in English.

The nuts and bolts of this entrée is, trainings is nonstandard. It’s a grammar pet peeve. Grammar Nazis and reliable grammar sites say that if you want to pluralize it, you might as well use coursesshort courses, training course, or  training sessions most especially in the context of résumé components.

The two common phrases “out of office” and “back to the office” have been quite visible in our workplace so that I also thought they are grammatically correct. If not because of their respective off sounds–brought about by the absence of article “the” in the first phrase and the preposition “to” in the second one–I would have not bothered to probe.

English Language Learners Stack Exchange’s website says that, “out of office” has a completely different meaning of office, which is an appointed government position. For example, “After a series of unpopular decisions, the entire board of education was voted out of office.” Without the article “the” in the phrase in red, it will not make sense by itself since it refers to a specific office that is countable. However, if used with uncountable nouns it will work as in these examples: “I am out of coins.” and “This product is out of stock.” The phrase in red will also work if used as a compound adjective/modifier as in, “Google can give you a multitude of examples of out-of-office replies“.

Remember to include the article “the” in the phrase “out of office” as in “out of the office” when you are implying that you are on vacation or  in training and will be back soon (e.g., “I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16.”)

back to the office

On the other hand, the phrase “back to the office emphasizes one’s physical presence back to the office; it indicates motion (e.g., “After the meeting I will not come to the pub, I will go back to the office.”)

If you are to write an out-of-office reply where you will indicate your return in it, you should not use “back to the office“. The correct phrase in that sense is back in the office as in the example below.

Thank you for your email.

I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16, and I have intermittent internet access during said period.

I will be back in the office on May 17.

Please contact Jason Statham at thetransporter@office.com for exigent matters.

So remember, training is a mass noun, out of the office is the correct phrase to use when you imply being on vacation or in training, and back in the office means resuming to work in the office after a leave or holiday.

Major References: englishforums.com, senseira.de & dailywritingtips.com

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mabel Kwong says:

    Another great grammar lesson, Sony. Rarely have I heard the word trainings before and if I saw it in a book or something I’d be thinking that maybe the author made a grammatical error. You explained back in the office and back to the office really well – and I notice that the former we usually use in emails and the latter usually in every day speech.

    No wonder your grammar articles are very popular – you explain grammar to us in such simple language. Those are very impressive statistics that bloggers like me can only dream of. Maybe one day you’ll be an English teacher 🙂


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Right, Mabel. “Stop Saying ‘Thanks God’ When…” has reached 2K+ when I checked it earlier. Thanks, God!

      I never knew that article will make it this big. Sorry for sounding conceited. I’m just really proud. Maybe, I should start giving equal number of posts. I’m supposed to be a travel blogger, and believe me I worked hard to be accepted as a member of the most famous travel bloggers in the Philippines: Pinoy Travel Bloggers. The hard part is, my travel posts don’t seem to sell. The articles about grammar pet peeves do. But, of course, I still want to grow as a travel blogger. Right now I’m enjoying writing something about grammar for obvious reasons.

      Mabel, thank you very much for commending me. Didn’t know I could explain well. Maybe the teacher in me just sounds natural and it reflects to how I explain the subject. The posts about travel though seem “trying hard”. That’s why I will still travel and write more stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth says:

    I like this post. Though I’m glad I didn’t use “out of office” and “back to the office” before (maybe because I am ALWAYS at the office – and whenever I take a day off, the boss ALWAYS calls me!!!) . When writing my CV, I don’t use the word trainings (maybe because I have forgotten them or they are not important enough to be included in my CV! 🙂


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Beth, I believe I should edit my resume again. Your last statement gave me a lot to think about. Less is more after all.

      Your children are lucky I must say. They have a very concerned mother. 🙂


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