A baby <is subject to> a bad cold.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by fh3579, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. fh3579 Senior Member

    Hangzhou,China
    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?
     
  2. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    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)
     
  3. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    The part I've bolded is correct and colloquial. The other ("subject to...") does not carry the same meaning.
    Perhaps. But this is not a language question.
     
  4. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    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.

    = liable to, open to, exposed to, vulnerable to, prone to, susceptible to, disposed to
    http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/subject-to
     
  5. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    Although that statement is equally as untrue as the one originally made, shouldn't the correction to the sentence be "Babies are subject to bad colds"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.
     
  6. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    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
     
  7. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    English - Scotland
    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.
     
  8. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    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.
     
  9. fh3579 Senior Member

    Hangzhou,China
    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?
     
  10. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    English - Scotland
    From a grammatical perspective that's fine.
     
  11. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    Yes, I agree.
     
  12. fh3579 Senior Member

    Hangzhou,China
    Chinese
    Thanks very much.
     

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