'a similar car to mine' vs. 'a car similar to mine'

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  • Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    Actually, there seem to be quite a number of such pairs in English. For example, 'a fat man around the waist' vs. 'a man fat around the waist'; 'a popular guy with girls' vs. 'a guy popular with girls'.

    All of such pairs do not show any difference in meaning? Or, is there any pair whose meanings are slightly different?
     

    themagicalfish

    New Member
    English - United States
    Technically, the phrase "a similar car to mine" isn't correct. The word "similar" should be included with the phrase "to mine", because the two need each other to make sense. The same happens with "a fat man around the waist", where the sentence describes a fat man who happens to be near a waist, or "a popular guy with girls", where it describes a popular guy who happens to be near some girls. Basically, the descriptor of the preposition should be next to the preposition.

    The difference, then, is that the first is incorrect and potentially confusing, while the second correctly describes the subject.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    "A fat man around the waist," if it means anything, does not mean "a man who is fat around the waist." It could, instead, be taken to mean "a fat man who is near someone's waist." ("Around" can mean "nearby" or "close at hand," as in "My daughter is always around when I need her.")

    Similarly, "a popular guy with girls" is ambiguous and might not mean "a guy popular with girls." It could mean "a popular guy who at the moment is accompanied by some girls."
     

    Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    Thank you for the straightforward explanations.

    Do you mean ultimately that there is little relation between the adjective preceding the noun and the preposition phrases following the noun?
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I'd personally go with the second as a non-native. I guess the key to sorting this problem out is to think it as a car similar to mine = a car which is similar to mine. English has lots of such expressions.

    a cup full of sugar...
    a person free to do whatever he wants...

    Additionally, if you feel dissatisfied with the answers and want to dig up this subject, you can check out English Grammar Today in Cambridge Online Dictionaries. I remember seeing that there.
     
    Last edited:

    Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    "A fat man around the waist," if it means anything, does not mean "a man who is fat around the waist." It could, instead, be taken to mean "a fat man who is near someone's waist." ("Around" can mean "nearby" or "close at hand," as in "My daughter is always around when I need her.")

    Similarly, "a popular guy with girls" is ambiguous and might not mean "a guy popular with girls." It could mean "a popular guy who at the moment is accompanied by some girls."
    According to your explanation, the preposition phrases 'with girls' and 'around the waist' are related with the whole noun phrases 'a popular guy' and 'a fat man', but not with the adjectives 'popular' and 'fat', isn't it?
     

    Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    I got it.

    The point, then, is that the relationship is hard to see between them just because they are not continuous, being intervened by the noun. Am I right?
     
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