In the works/work

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sunyaer, May 3, 2013.

  1. sunyaer Senior Member

    Chinese
    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. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
  3. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    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. djmc Senior Member

    France
    English - United Kingdom
    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. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    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. Proudy Junior Member

    Daytona Beach, Florida
    USA, English
    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.
     
  7. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    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.
     

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