1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Leaving out preposition.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Yulan, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. Yulan

    Yulan Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian
    Hello everybody,

    I realized I tend to leave out prepositions whenever possible and so it happens that sometimes I am lead to make mistakes. :(

    A few practical examples:

    I am thinking of having a bath
    I am thinking having a bath

    She was thinking of having a tea
    She was thinking having a tea

    I thought I heard a noise
    I thought of having heard a noise
    I thought having heard a noise

    I would really appreciate if you could tell me whether the above sentences in italics are grammatically correct or not and why.

    I do thank you ;-)
     
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    You need the of in the first two, Yulan.

    The third has to be I thought I heard a noise.
     
  3. Yulan

    Yulan Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian

    Many, many thanks Thomas Tompion!

    Then, I assume, that is the exlusive correct form.
    Hope not to be a pain, but:

    I was thinking that having a bath could be relaxing
    I was thinking having a bath could be relaxing

    Is it the same condition?
    I mean I can not omit "that" either, correct?

    Again many thanks!
     
  4. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    English is a very prepostional language, so you're taking a big risk by leaving them out. In the case of italicised examples, all are grammatically correct, but almost certainly don't say what you're intending. Since there is no preposition, all the examples imply one.

    "I am thinking having a bath" implies "whilst", as in "I am thinking whilst having a bath".
    "She was thinking having a tea" implies "whilst" too, as in "She was thinking whilst having a tea".
    "I thought having heard a noise" implies "after", as in "After hearing a noise, I did some thinking".

    The preposition "of" is used in these examples to link the action of thinking with the subject of the thought. "I am thinking" is a straightforward action, and "having a bath" is the image you're thinking about, so you need "of" or "about" in between to link the two. Alternatively, you could put the subject of the thought into inverted commas to package it up and make it obvious.

    I am thinking "having a bath".

    I have to say, however, that this last approach is unusual, and I can only really imagine it coming out of the mouth of someone in Marketing who thinks in headlines. Probably best to avoid it.

    The only other time I can think of which would use the construction in your examples is if they were incomplete sentences. "I am thinking having a bath would be a good idea".
     
  5. Yulan

    Yulan Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian
    So many thanks Majorbloodnock for your detailed explanation.
    Indeed it is clear to me now!

    I have been speaking English for many years by now ... though I see I keep on learning every day!

    Again, many thanks.
     
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    You're now raising the whole question of elision, Yulan. I'm sure we've lots of threads on leaving out that. Here's quite a helpful one.
     
  7. Yulan

    Yulan Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian

    Yes, I realized I was astraying ... elision is a different kettle of fish!
    Many thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2010
  8. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Your examples confuse two entirely different constructions:

    think of X [= intend, imagine, plan, or invent X]
    think (that) P [= believe that P, be uncertain whether P]

    X is a noun phrase or a gerund-participial phrase with no subject:

    I thought of a good idea [= I invented or planned it]
    I thought of our first meeting [= I imagined or remembered it]
    I thought of having a bath [= I intended it (probably; or it could be as above)]

    P is a complete clause with its own subject. As almost always, 'that' is optional:

    I thought that you were having a bath. [= I believed you were, perhaps wrongly]
    = I thought you were having a bath.
    I think (that) I will have a bath. [= I intend to, but perhaps I won't]
    I thought (that) I heard a noise downstairs. [= I believed it, perhaps wrongly]

    Here the inner clause needs its own subject 'I' even though it's the same as the main clause subject. The verb is a finite verb (hear, hears, heard) not a gerund-participle (hearing).
     
  9. Yulan

    Yulan Senior Member

    Lombardia
    Italian
    Hi Entangledbank

    Thanks a lot for you inputs.

    My question was exclusively related to whether I could leave out the preposition "of" between "think" and the following "having" within the exact sentences I was proposing.

    Majorbloodnock's answer settles the question ... the only possibility for such a clause construction is elision.
    "I am thinking having a bath would be a good idea".

    I appreciate your precision, your explanation is abolutely clear and I totally agree.

    Many, many thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2010

Share This Page