resign / content / make do

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Little Chandler, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    Hi there,

    resign / content / make do

    I know these verbs are very similar, but I don't think they're exact synonyms and I often find myself hesitating over which one to use. I can't seem to see things clear just by looking at the dictinoary. For example, let's consider these three sentences:

    - He resigned himself to live alone.
    - He contented himself with living alone.
    - He made do with living alone.


    What are the differences between them? I know this isn't a very specific question, but I'd appreciate any light you can shed on the subject.

    Thanks.
     
  2. b3n5p34km4n Junior Member

    American English
    1. "Resigned" to me implies that he tried to find someone to live with, but then gave up.
    2. In my experience, I do not think I've seen content used in this way. I think it'd be more common to say "He was content (with) living alone". But either way, this word to me does not have the same implication of giving up that resigned does.
    3. "Make do" seems to imply a temporary arrangement to me. As if he would sometime in the not too distant future be living with someone, but for now he was fine with being alone.
     
  3. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    Would you say that "He's content with living alone" (let's rephrase the sentence...) implies that he's totally ok with the situation (maybe that's what he's always wanted)?
     
  4. b3n5p34km4n Junior Member

    American English
    Yeah, I'd say "content with" = "totally okay with". But while we're being nitpicky grammarians, if it's what he's always wanted, I'd perhaps choose a word/phrase with a stronger connotation. Something like "He was happy to finally be living alone." Maybe he had a bunch of horrible roommates in several consecutive living arrangements?
     
  5. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    And what about the structure "content oneself with something"? Does the second sentence sound strange to other native English speakers?
     
  6. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    Ok, b3n5p34km4n. Thank you so much for your clear explanations.

    I'm just a bit confused about you not being familiar with the second sentence. I've just looked it up in the Merriam-Webster (just in case it was a BrE/AmE difference) and I've found:

    ----- * ----- * ----- * -----
    content yourself with : to be satisfied with (something that is less than or different from what you really want) : to accept (something) as being enough
    ▪ The rainy weather spoiled our plans for the beach, so we had to content ourselves with a relaxing day at home.
    ----- * ----- * ----- * -----

    So I'd rather get it straight now than keep having doubts about it.
     
  7. b3n5p34km4n Junior Member

    American English
    Sorry for the delay. If you looked it up and saw that, then I'd trust that. I just haven't seen it to be common. I've always considered "content" to be an adjective and not a verb, but apparently both can work.
     
  8. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    Thank you for your patience.

    I found it here:

    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/content [3rd entry - content (verb)]

    But there are so many things that dictionaries don't tell you, especially when it comes to knowing if a word is common in everyday usage. That's why I'm asking other native speakers to confirm your thinking about the structure, so that I can wipe it from my mind. :)
     

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