bend and lean

GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello,
Is it correct to say "Jim leans/bends forward too much when he is writing."? I think that the two verbs are quite similar in this context, but for some reason I prefer "lean". What do you suggest?


A small correction. I think that "too much" doesn't make much sense. Maybe "too far forward"?
 
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  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Bend means to make something that was previously straight into a curved or angled shape.
    The AmE definition of lean has a component of bend in some of its meanings as well as the "angle away from vertical", while the Collins BrE definition does not.
    It is possible to bend without leaning and it is possible to lean without bending.
    If you lean the upper half of your body forward but keep the lower half still, you can be said to lean forward. Your whole body bends in this action, but your upper half does not necessarily bend:D
    You have to decide how much detail you wish to convey in your sentence.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I think that "bend" would suit the context much better than "lean" then. I absolutely agree with your definitions. I just have to say that very often the whole upper body moves. We are splitting hairs here :D. I think that some people bend over their exam papers. One last question Mr Stuart. Does that sentence "He bends forward too much when he is writing." make sense to you?

    Please feel free to correct me. I actually want to learn from my mistakes.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You have to decide how much detail you wish to convey in your sentence.
    We are splitting hairs here :D.
    That's another way of putting it!

    If his lower body remains (more or less) still and he bends his back to move his head closer to the table, the word for that would be closer to slouching (or even slumping), as already suggested. If you say "lean" it will not automatically be assumed by your reader that the upper body becomes (more) bent as a result. If you don't mind that some people will not assume the bending, then you could use "lean" - it's up to you how important which part of the meaning is in your sentence.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I see, Mr Stuart. By "That's another way of putting it!" do you mean that my sentence in post #5 is grammatically correct? "Too much" is the part of the sentence that troubles me.


    Thank you for everything
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    No, I meant that "splitting hairs here" and "being specific in your meaning " are the same thing. Bend and lean are fairly vague terms with respect to describing a range of (combinations of) body motion. If that's OK , then use them. If you wish to convey a more specific meaning, you will need to add words or use different words.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Let's try again then. I am comfortable with "slouch", but I don't want to use it now. I want to put it differently. "Jim bends too far down, so that his face is over the exam paper." It sounds ridiculously wrong to me. "Far down" is definitely wrong. That even suggests he is in an upright position. Please excuse me incompetence :(.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Do you want the sentence to have the same meaning as it would have if you used the word "slouch"? If you do, you should use the word. Otherwise, you can approximate it with "leans too far forward", close to your original attempt, because we will assume (even though we have no further context) that the person is already sitting down. However, it won't be as specific as "slouch", because it might still mean that the back remains straight (in a slouch the back bends). It also might mean that the shoulders do not droop (in a slouch they droop). I can lean forward from my waist and not bend my back or reposition my shoulders. The devil is in the details (and context). That's the hair-splitting, distinguishing specific meanings by examples I was referring to.

    I'm not sure why you wish to avoid slouch
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Do you want the sentence to have the same meaning as it would have if you used the word "slouch"? If you do, you should use the word. Otherwise, you can approximate it with "leans too far forward", close to your original attempt, because we will assume (even though we have no further context) that the person is already sitting down. However, it won't be as specific as "slouch", because it might still mean that the back remains straight (in a slouch the back bends). It also might mean that the shoulders do not droop (in a slouch they droop). I can lean forward from my waist and not bend my back or reposition my shoulders. The devil is in the details (and context). That's the hair-splitting, distinguishing specific meanings by examples I was referring to.

    I'm not sure why you wish to avoid slouch
    Yes, of course. When we lean we move out upper body from the waist. When we bend down/over/etc, we do the same thing but we also droop out shoulders. That's what usually happens while writing. Therefore slouch is the right word to use. But I think that bend forward probably makes sense. When we bend we droop our shoulders. At least I do. Bend = lean forwards and downwards. We can't bend properly without drooping our shoulders. Do you agree?

    I know exactly what you mean Mr Stuart
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I see "shoulder drooping" as a separate movement from "bending forward". If you are sitting at a table writing, when you combine those movements, you are slouching, but you can bend your body forward while keeping you shoulders "back" (i.e. the shoulders do not move with respect to the body).
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I see "shoulder drooping" as a separate movement from "bending forward". If you are sitting at a table writing, when you combine those movements, you are slouching, but you can bend your body forward while keeping you shoulders "back" (i.e. the shoulders do not move with respect to the body).
    Okay, I am going to say something stupid now. To me "lean --> 60-70 degrees", whereas "bend --> 40 or anything under 40 degrees". Drooping now included. I just don't see where I go wrong. It is pretty simple. Both of them suggest a movement from the waist, just when we bend we go a bit further.


    Also, would you say "slouch too far forward"? That's all, Mr Stuart. I think it is more similar to stoop. I think that tall people tend to stoop down. I don't know why but this verb suggests an upright position to me.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The only way you are "going wrong" is in thinking that these words are as specific as you describe with numbers! They overlap a lot more than you think. Both words are often modified by "a lot" or "slightly" etc. Drooping is not included in the sense of either word.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I think it depends on the listener, as you have pointed out. The numbers were just a mere example. All I am saying is that when we "lean", let's say forward, the top part of out body also remains still. When we bend, out torso looks like a fishing hook turned upside down, and the top part of our body also bends. I have never really thought much about it, to be honest. As pathetic as it is, but I haven't :D. And I am just saying that to me, the position of the body is the difference between stoop and slouch. I read all the examples provided by Macmillan and OALD and I got that idea. I hope I am not wrong. Slouch is more versatile for I might be walking, sitting, standing.
     
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