Tell you what / I tell you what is a grammatically incorrect phrase commonly used by TV pundits as a way of indicating they are about to tell the audience something. Many pundits are guilty of using this phrase to start nearly every other sentence.
The irony of the phrase "I tell you what" is that when someone begins a phrase thus, they rarely proceed to tell us anything, but instead just proceed to state the blatantly obvious.
Newspaper pundits are able to resist the urge to waste valuable column inches on "I tell you what." They instead prefer the more traditional capital letter to start a sentence, rather than a meaningless stock phrase.
Notable Culprits[edit | edit source]
- Andy Gray - somewhat unsurprisingly given that Gray only knows around ten different phrases which he uses at least twice in every game he commentates on. Other gems include, "You just don't save those," "He had no right to score from there! Absolutely no right!" and the classic "Take a boo [sic] son! Take a boo [sic]." Gray's lack of vocabulary makes it almost impossible to distinguish his real commentary from his virtual appearance in EA Sports' FIFA series.
- Alan Hansen. Almost every statement Hansen makes is of the form: I tell you what, if you're talking about a concept, then you're talking about a realisation of that abstract. A phoentic example being, "I tell ye wor, ye talkin aboo poo-er defendin, ye talkin aboot Bramble today. Absolutely shockin terrible."
- Mark Lawrenson. Usually follows "Tell you what" with some tired piece of whit or a remark so depressed it makes Lawrenson sound borderline suicidal.
- Andy Townsend. The worst culprit of all, often using the phrase in excess of a 100 times during a short four minute segment. Fortunately, TV audiences get far less Townsend exposure following the destruction of the Tactics Truck and the return of Premier League highlights to the BBC.
Grammatical Nightmare[edit | edit source]
In addition to being tedious to listen to, the phrase "I tell you what" is a grammatical catastrophe. This is best evidenced by the fact it cannot be conjugated into other persons or tenses and the looks of bemusement it draws on the faces of foreign TV pundits whenever it is used.
Brazilian housewives' favourite Leonardo was so confused by Lawrenson and Hansen's rampant use of the phrase at the 2006 World Cup that he left the tournament convinced "I tell you what" was the correct English translation of porque (because). He also spent a lot of time rambling incomprehensibly, but still managed to make more sense than Marcel Desailly.