Ah, Capital One: Just when I think you’ve exhausted all your weird copywriting tricks, you bring out Jerry Stiller to lay another one on us.
Forget the Stone Age. I’m stuck in “is your savings” and I can’t un-mire myself. Surely I’m not alone in seeing a problem here with subject-verb agreement.
True, savings is a funny word. According to Garner’s Modern American Usage, it’s “technically” a plural, but “the phrase a savings occurs so frequently in modern usage that to label it an error would be futile.” Case in point: We give “a savings of $100” a grammatical pass.
But I’m less willing to condone “Is your savings…?” in the absence of a noun such as account after savings. Nearly all the examples I found online used a plural verb with savings when the construction was a question:
Are Your Savings Safe? (Telegraph, UK)
Are Your Savings Ready for Anything? (Credit Union National Association)
Assessing Bank Assets: Are Your Savings Safe? (Investopedia)
Are YOUR Savings Going Up in Smoke? (Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension)
Are Your Savings Protected? (Moneywise)
I did see a declaratory exception on the home page of Savings Square*:
“This is your savings.” [Visual of a small black square.] “This is the interest applied to your savings.” [Visual of a green border added to the black square.]
This doesn’t bother me; here, “savings” is a singular entity. I certainly wouldn’t change the sentence to “These are your savings.”
But Capital One’s headline does seem peculiar, if not strictly wrong. I’m itching to rewrite it as “Are your savings…” I wouldn’t protest “Is your money stuck in the Stone Age”? And why not “Is your banking...”? After all, this Capital One campaign has been banging the “banking” drum, linguistically speaking, since the first ads appeared: see my previous posts on “banking like a Babylonian” and “1.30% vs. bupkus.”
Any grammar mavens care to weigh in?
* Yes, it’s another square name!