admit vs admit of

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valdemar

Senior Member
Español mexicano
Hi guys!

What is the difference in usage when using "admit" following the preposition "of" compared to the case when "admit" is used alone?

These are two sample sentences I've made by myself- hope they are correct:

-The rules of the programs admit (of) no exceptions
-The situation as such apparently admits (of) only one solution

Thank you in advance.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Our dictionary has this to say about "admit of", valdemar:


    1. [~ + of + object] to allow;
      permit:The facts admit of no other interpretation.

    I never hear "admit of" in ordinary speech in my part of the world, valdemar. I run across it in text sometimes. When I see it, "admit of" is usually followed by some abstract noun or phrase like "exception" or "interpretation".
     
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    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thanks olwman.

    3. to allow or concede as valid:to admit the force of an argument.

    So, accordingly would you say that "to admit the force of an argument"= "to admit of the force of an argument". Is there no difference then other than formality?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    So, accordingly would you say that "to admit the force of an argument"= "to admit of the force of an argument". Is there no difference then other than formality?
    I'm not sure what either of those phrases mean, valdemar. :confused: Are you permitting somebody to argue with force? Are you admitting that somebody's argument is forceful or logical?

    Speaking generally, I think "admit of" is needless and wordy.
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    I just confirmed with COCA and there're only 37 entries by using "admits of". Actually now that I think about it there happens the same thing when translating these phrases into my language, meaning it just a matter of taste and sometimes of sounding cool but we generally don't lose much if the particle es omitted . Anyway I was only asking out of curiosity because most dictionaries consider it as a phrasal verb and then I thought it should have a different meaning. Now I understand it. Thank you guys as always.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    It's very rarely used in the UK, but in any case it has a different meaning from admit.

    Admit can have several meanings: confess, recognise or concede as valid, acknowledge, allow to enter or join, ... but they all concern factual situations or occurrences, or people.

    Admit of means 'allow the possibility of'. It's not just a fancy alternative to admit. You can't just drop the 'of' without changing the meaning, or maybe making it meaningless.

    Let's take your sentences, valdemar:

    - "The rules of the programs admit of no exceptions." — The rules of the programs (are written in such a way as to) allow no possibility of exceptions occurring.
    - "The rules of the programs admit no exceptions." — The only meaning I can see is: The rules of the programs recognise no exceptions as valid (even though they may occur).

    - "The situation as such apparently admits of only one solution."The situation apparently allows the possibility of only one solution. (Whether or not it will be resolved is another question.)
    - "The situation as such apparently admits only one solution." That doesn't mean anything to me. I don't see how a situation can admit anything (in any of its senses).
    [...] So, accordingly would you say that "to admit the force of an argument"= "to admit of the force of an argument". Is there no difference then other than formality?
    "To admit the force of an argument" means to recognise the force of an argument as valid.
    "To admit of the force of an argument" is meaningless (at least to me): I can't see how you can allow the possibility of the force of an argument.

    Ws:)
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Very nice explanation Ws! Just to make sure I understand it completely let me give you this example:

    I have known David for so long now and I can assure his sense of responsibility admits of no doubt.

    In this sentence I mean just like in your explanation that "his sense of responsibility allows no doubt". Now, if I'm not mistaken it shouldn't make sense if I omit the "of" right?. If this is so I'd like to know if this happens also in American English.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I don't understand what you're trying to say there, val. Do you mean that his sense of responsibility allows no possibility of doubt (in his mind) about something? Or that there's no doubt about his sense of responsibility?

    In either case, I don't think I'd use "admits of" there (even in my wildest literary fantasies ;)).

    Ws:)
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    I don't understand what you're trying to say there...
    It's kind of a word-for-word translation from my language into English just to see if it might fit well. The phrase means basically that I have no doubt he's a very responsible person. In the literal meaning this amounts to saying that there's no room in "his sense of responsibility" for any possibility of doubt coming from any person, "his sense of responsibility" doesn't allow it. Of course this way of saying it is very formal and literary.

    Anyway, yesterday I was trying to understand why young Americans don't use "admit of". My guess, judging by aloofsocialite's first comment, is that they merge the uses. A similar word that come to mind is maybe "admit to doing something" vs "admit doing something". I'm not sure though.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    OK. I still have a problem with the idea of other people's doubt being within his sense of responsibility. I could accept that his actions might 'admit of' (allow) no doubt (in others' minds) about his sense of responsibility; or that his sense of responsibility might allow him to do (or not do) certain things; but I don't see how his sense of responsibility can either allow or prevent doubt in others. His sense is what's going on in his own mind; any doubt would exist in other people's minds.

    For me, that sentence would best be formulated without any use of 'admit': "I have known David for so long now that I can assure you there's no doubt about his sense of responsibility."

    You may be right about the uses merging. But most young Brits (and most older ones
    ;)) probably wouldn't use "admit" at all (with or without of) in your sample sentences in #1: they'd probably use "allow".

    Ws:)
     
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