aches and pains

quietdandelion

Banned
Formosa/Chinese
Acupuncture is commonly used in some East Asian countries to help people to overcome a wide range of medical problems, including infections, aches, and pains.

The above is a stand-alone test question for high school kids here. I wonder what the differences are between aches and pains. Thanks.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Acupuncture is commonly used in some East Asian countries to help people to overcome a wide range of medical problems, including infections, aches, and pains.

    The above is a stand-alone test question for high school kids here. I wonder what the differences are between aches and pains. Thanks.
    Aches and pains is an expression which is widely used to cover all kinds of minor medical troubles. An ache is continuous mild pain usually in a muscle, though it could be in a joint. A pain is more acute, usually, and, one hopes, temporary. Pain is the general word for a disagreeable sensation in the body - notice I used it to describe an ache.
     

    tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    "Aches and pains" (there should not be a comma between them) is an expression that is widely used. Usually it is not broken down, however aches are usually more chronic, something that lasts longer, like a headache. Pain can refer to a sharp, sudden feeling, if you burn yourself for example. Pains are usually more acute, causing more discomfort than aches.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "Aches and pains" is often a set phrase (although in your example it may not be intended as such. Also, note that the comma after aches is incorrect whether it is a set phrase or not). The difference is that an ache is a duller pain, often associated with muscular fatigue and is continuous. A pain is usually sharp (for example a cut) and may be short in duration, though not necessarily.
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Aches and pains" is often a set phrase (although in your example it may not be intended as such. Also, note that the comma after aches is incorrect whether it is a set phrase or not). The difference is that an ache is a duller pain, often associated with muscular fatigue and is continuous. A pain is usually sharp (for example a cut) and may be short in duration, though not necessarily.
    Hi,
    This hasn't been a good day for me.

    I've bolded the part of Matching Mole's post that confuses me.

    Why would the following sentence be wrong?
    Equivalently, why shouldn't I put a comma after the Y?

    I have many things including X, Y, and Z.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi,
    This hasn't been a good day for me.

    I've bolded the part of Matching Mole's post that confuses me.

    Why would the following sentence be wrong?
    Equivalently, why shouldn't I put a comma after the Y?

    I have many things including X, Y, and Z.
    Hi AWL,

    I suspect the point is that you haven't got X, Y, and Z. Just Y and Z, and you mustn't put Y, and Z. I may be wrong, of course.
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi All,

    Hi AWL,

    I suspect the point is that you haven't got X, Y, and Z. Just Y and Z, and you mustn't put Y, and Z. I may be wrong, of course.
    Original sentence is:
    Acupuncture is commonly used in some East Asian countries to help people to overcome a wide range of medical problems, including infections, aches, and pains.
    X= infections
    Y=aches
    Z=pains

    I know "aches and pains" is the normal collocation.
    Maybe it is just a style issue, and Matching Mole prefers X, Y and Z.
     

    perfavore

    Senior Member
    USA
    Philippines - Tagalog
    I think, (I think a comma is not needed here) that a comma is never used with (isn't between a better word here than with?) similar parts of a sentence united by and.
    For the sake of English.:) By the way, I totally agree with AWordLover. If some parts are not considered a set then x, y, and z should be the correct form.
     

    Malaya

    Member
    Belarus, Russian
    I’m sorry, you are right. I found this in a grammar book.

    · I like reading, listening to music, taking long walks, and visiting with my friends.
    They would like books, magazines, DVDs, video cassettes, and other learning materials for their library.

    Thank you also for correcting my mistakes.

    So is it always used before and or there are other cases? (except bed and breakfast)
     

    perfavore

    Senior Member
    USA
    Philippines - Tagalog
    I’m sorry, you are right. I found this in a grammar book.

    · I like reading, listening to music, taking long walks, and visiting with my friends.
    They would like books, magazines, DVDs, video cassettes, and other learning materials for their library.

    Thank you also for correcting my mistakes.
    You're welcome. (non fa niente):)
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Note that there is a difference in AE and BE involved here. The "serial comma" is not standard in British English. In this particular sentence it serves no purpose, e.g. in avoiding ambiguity, or to create emphasis, so in typical BE usage, it would not be inserted, and some would consider it an error (as I do).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Funny, but we had a thread on this exact topic a few days ago.

    The serial comma after B here - A, B, and C - is known in the UK as the Oxford comma. It was favoured by the Oxford University Press - but not many others in BE.

    It is known in the US as the Harvard comma.

    A web search for any of those terms will find lots more information.

    So it is correct, if your editor accepts it, to write:
    ... a wide range of medical problems, including infections, aches, and pains.



    If you were to insist that "aches and pains" represents a fixed entity, an inseparable pair, then you can't just leave the comma out. You would have to insert another and. Trying that without the Oxford comma:
    ... a wide range of medical problems, including infections and aches and pains.

    That's not good, so try inserting the comma:
    ... a wide range of medical problems, including infections, and aches and pains.

    Better, but that clunky phrase with two ands still bothers me. I'll have to reverse the order and keep that comma:
    ... a wide range of medical problems, including aches and pains, and infections.

    Found the thread:
    Comma and And
     

    Malaya

    Member
    Belarus, Russian
    More about Oxford comma:


    The 'Oxford comma' is an optional comma before the word 'and' at the end of a list:
    We sell books, videos, and magazines.
    It is so called because it was traditionally used by printer's readers and editors at Oxford University Press. Sometimes it can be necessary for clarity when the items in the list are not single words:
    These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
    Some people do not realize that the Oxford comma is acceptable, possibly because they were brought up with the supposed rule (which Fowler would call a 'superstition') about putting punctuation marks before and.

    So I was.:p

    thank you Panjandrum, very instructive.
     
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