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Thread: In the works/work

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    In the works/work

    Self-made sentence:

    "If the law in the works eventually goes into effect, it will benefits everyone."

    I know "in the works" is an idiom, but any reason for using plural not singular? Does a plural concept come into mind when "works" is being used?

    When "in the work" is used, it could still represent a collective concept meaning all the work that has been done.

    Comments?

  2. #2
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    Re: In the works/work

    "Works" is a common plural noun, which you can see here in our dictionary.

    See also:

    spanner in the works
    Spanner in the works/Spoke in their wheel
    throw/Put a spanner in the works
    to put a spanner in the works

    Which is exactly what happens when you try to "fix" common and popular metaphors as "in the works."
    "My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." - Ernest Hemingway

  3. #3
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    Re: In the works/work

    I want to point out that "a works" in English means a factory or a machine: "an iron works," "the works of the clock." That's what's being described in this idiom - something is "in the works," it's in the factory right now, it's being made/processed.

  4. #4
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    Re: In the works/work

    Colloquially (at any rate in BE) one can say of something that it is "In the works". For example "We have two new products in the works but they will not be ready before next year". However even though a law which is being codified may be eventually be put into place has some similarities with this usage, one would not say it like this and even less write it. One would say something like "If the law which is being considered eventually goes into effect, it will benefit everyone."

  5. #5
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    Re: In the works/work

    I don't think that it's impossible to say that a new law (or a new set of regulations, etc.) is "in the works." To me, it sounds like the various law-makers are currently building a law, voting on its clauses, writing it, re-writing it, padding it with pork, etc. It's being manufactured into the final form, which will then eventually be considered ( = voted-on, rewritten again) by the lawmakers.

    At least in the US context, there's a lot of deliberation on what the language of a law (well, a bill) will be before it even emerges to be debated/voted on/etc.

  6. #6
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    Re: In the works/work

    This is one of those terms which carries slightly different usage in British English and American English. In this case, partly because of the differences in our legislative systems. I would agree that "the law in the works" is an acceptable usage in American English.
    "Everything is within walking distance if you have the time." -- Steven Wright

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Re: In the works/work

    I would change it to "If the law that is in the works eventually goes into effect, it will benefits everyone." if I were to say something like that.
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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