[Ads-l] "What would be the right thing to do?"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 1 05:15:22 EDT 2017


He was asked, "What would . . . ?"
________________________________
From: Wilson Gray<mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: ‎7/‎1/‎2017 2:34
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: "What would be the right thing to do?"

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      "What would be the right thing to do?"
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Read: 1) "He was asked what would be the right thing to do."

One upon a time, the "correct" word-order would have been,

2) "He was asked what the right thing to do would be."


I don't find this as bizarre as splitting an infinitive with _not_ - "to
not VERB" as opposed to "not to VERB" - since, from 1945 to 1954, I was
actually taught that (1) was "incorrect" and (2) was "correct."

Not to mention that the preferred form of the question was taught as,

"What would the right thing to do be?"

Also heard, a pahk-the-cah"-speaking Boston police captain saying,

"Unless we could find out more, we would never be _through_ with these
armored-car robberies."

Possibly the only time that I've heard anyone on the East Coast use
"through" instead of "done."

--
-Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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