A baby <is subject to> a bad cold.

fh3579

Senior Member
Chinese
I know there is such a phrase as "be subject to", but due to the difficulty of translating its meaning to Chinese, I can't figure out what it means.
Can we say a sentence like this?
A baby is subject to a bad cold.
I want to express that because its fragile composition, a baby is more likely to catch a bad cold than an adult.
Is this sentence correct? Is my understanding close to the truth?
 
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    No, that is not a good use of the expression.
    A baby is vulnerable to a bad cold

    A better example would be "imported whisky is subject to tax" (tax must be paid on imported whisky)
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Can we say a sentence like this?
    A baby is subject to a bad cold.
    I want to express that because its fragile composition, a baby is more likely to catch a bad cold than an adult.
    Is this sentence correct?
    The part I've bolded is correct and colloquial. The other ("subject to...") does not carry the same meaning.
    Is my understanding close to the truth?
    Perhaps. But this is not a language question.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I see nothing wrong with: "Babies are subject to frequent colds."
    Although that statement is equally as untrue as the one originally made, shouldn't the correction to the sentence be "Babies are subject to bad colds"

    If babies had a "fragile composition", few of us would be posting in this forum.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    That's a good point. I thought "frequent colds" might be less untrue than "bad colds".

    How about dogs then?
    "Dogs of all ages are subject to hip dysplasia and the resultant osteoarthritis."
    http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2084&aid=444
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I see nothing wrong with: "Babies are subject to frequent colds." They tend to suffer from frequent colds. To express a general truth I think the plural "babies" is better here.
    I see nothing wrong with it either, but it doesn't mean the same thing as what was described in the original post. Saying that babies are subject to frequent colds (or bad colds) implies that most babies get colds. But that's not the same as saying that they are more at risk of a bad cold than an adult - if the probability rises from 1% to 2%, that's still not most babies.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't agree that "subject to" implies "most". Staying with dogs, I consider it reasonable to say "Labradors were particularly subject to hip dysplasia before responsible breeders stopped using affected blood lines" to mean that hip dysplasia was a common problem in Labradors, but not to mean that over half of them had the condition.
     

    fh3579

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks very much glasguensis, cyberpedant, velisarius and Andygc. Your contributions are very helpful. I think the example of dogs are convincing. So I think "Babies are subject to frequent colds." is acceptable. What's your idea?
     
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