"wear" and "put on"

Mark P. Line mark at polymathix.com
Wed May 11 15:50:32 UTC 2005

David Palfreyman said:
> My non-native English-speaking brother-in-law and his native
> English-speaking wife were preparing to go out, and running late.  He
> indicated a dress and said "wear that".  She said "OK" and went on doing
> her make-up.  A minute later he said in frustration "come on, wear
> that!"  It turned out that he meant "put that on".
> Now, I can see the difference in meaning between the two verbs, but how
> would you describe it in semantic terms, and are there other pairs of
> verbs with a similar distinction?

It's just the usual distinction between state and change of state, isn't
it? PUT ON X means to change from a state of NOT WEAR X to WEAR X.

The brother-in-law was expecting WEAR to carry a change-of-state meaning
and for his wife to comply, but it doesn't and she didn't.

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX

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