firm believer that

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Sep 18 01:35:26 UTC 2011

I appreciate all the quick responses. Must be a slow Saturday night around the globe, not just here in Seattle :)

"that pigs can fly" is the object of the verb "believe."

Ordinarily, you would expect "believer that" to be used in a sentence like "I'm a believer that loves to imagine things."

"I'm a believer that pigs can fly" seems odd keeping that in mind.

I think this has to be chalked up to idiomatic usage.


On Sep 17, 2011, at 6:26 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Sounds fine to me too.  "anyone can have a
> breakthrough right in her own backyard" is the
> statement that is believed.  "I believe that pigs
> can fly" doesn't need "in the idea that".
> Joel
> At 9/17/2011 08:48 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> It sounds fine to me, though I see your point. I think it would be hard to
>> dispute the grammaticality on any basis.
>> (Not that it mightn't be tried.)
>> JL
>> On Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 8:37 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at>wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>>> Subject:      firm believer that
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> A non-native speaker of English asks me whether the following is
>>> grammatical:
>>> "I'm a firm believer that anyone can have a breakthrough right in her own
>>> backyard."
>>> It's from an essay of Oprah in the current issue of O Magazine.
>>> It took me about five reads before I spotted anything possibly amiss, but
>>> "a firm believer that∑" definitely appears wrong now that I see it.
>>> I think this must come from a cross of "I'm a firm believer in the idea
>>> that∑" and  "I firmly believe that∑"
>>> Is that correct?

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list