Word Court


Word Court

thanks to thanks to thanks to due to

J. Nina Lieberman

Where blame is more to the point than gratitude, thanks to is indeed out of place. However, there are traditional limits on the use of due to that keep it from being an all-purpose solution to the problem. A noun is allowed to be due to a noun ("The need to repair the car wash is due to the storm"), but a clause may not be due to a noun ("The car wash needs repairs due to the storm"). It's usually possible to revise one's sentence to conform to the rule. But changing due to--or thanks to--to owing to or because of is almost always the simplest solution.

Why is owing to allowed where due to is not? It has been in use much longer in such prepositional contexts, due having been nothing more than an ordinary adjective ("Repairs are certainly due") a century ago. Those precisians who fifty or thirty years ago denounced the preposition due to as an arriviste have tainted its reputation.

"Enjoy!""Enjoy!"enjoy Enjoy yourself

Steve Saunders

What if the waiter said "Enjoy your meal"? This perfectly correct sentence establishes that enjoy can be used transitively (with a direct object), as well as in the reflexive way (with a direct object that is the same as the subject) that you note. The Oxford English Dictionary gives several citations for intransitive uses as well, including an evocative one from 1549 that reads, "Yet he neuer enioied after, but in conclusyon pitifully wasted his painful lyfe."

Grammar, then, isn't the problem. Could the problem be that the waiter is telling you what to do? And that you consider it the restaurant's job to provide an enjoyable experience and your prerogative to decide whether the restaurant has succeeded? And that it therefore seems presumptuous for an employee to be commanding you, "Enjoy!"? As for your doctor, could the problem be that you really would have been interested to know which he expected you to enjoy: the pulled tendon or paying the bill? But now we have strayed into the realm of psychology, and that's not my department.

try and, try to try andtry to try and

Steve Bone

You are--and won't the boss be surprised when you casually remark, one day soon, that try and do better and the like are examples of hendiadys, a device that was not infrequently used as a poetic ornament in Greek and Latin. Hendiadys, as H. W. Fowler explains it, is "the expressing of a compound notion by giving its two constituents as though they were independent and connecting them with a conjunction instead of subordinating one to the other." Nice and warm (as against nicely warm) is another example Fowler gives of the device as it crops up in English.

degree." degree

Betty D. Krueger

Good point. I suspect this is one of the many things that aren't being taught in high school anymore. And while we're at it: another reader, Irene Slaughter, of Asheville, North Carolina, has written to object to "She graduated high school"--also a good point. Graduate may be transitive ("The school graduated her with honors") but the graduating institution isn't allowed to be the object of the verb.

The Atlantic Monthly; July, 1996; Word Court; Volume 278, No. 1; page 112.

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