can't stand the fact that

LV4-26

Senior Member
Hello there,

Could you people help me settle a controversy?

On some French forum, several people are arguing about the following sentences

1. You can't stand the fact that you have to deal with someone who is smarter than you
2. You can't stand the fact of having to deal with someone who is smarter than you
3. You can't stand having to deal with someone who is smarter than you

To which I'm going to add my own version
4. You can't stand having to deal with someone smarter than you

Which do you like best?
My own order is 4 /3/1/2
Which is yours?

Any input appreciated.
Jean-Michel
 
Last edited:
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello J-M,

    Sorry to begin with this bothersome detail, but those are not sentences, as they lack ending punctuation.

    For AE, or at least my version of it, 4 is the most idiomatic, followed closely by 3, then 1. Number 2 may (or may not...I don't know) be ok in BE, but it sounds "off" if AE.
     

    ><FISH'>

    Senior Member
    British English
    Number 2 is the black sheep of that set. It does make sense, but the "... fact of..." part means it sounds more like "You can't stand the reality of having to...".
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I've started to answer this several times and stopped. The basic purpose of 'the fact' is to convert a clause into a noun phrase, to use in constructions that require a noun phrase. It clutters up a sentence if it's used unnecessarily.

    However, I'm not sure what 'stand' can take:

    I can't stand your behaviour.
    ?I can't stand that you have to deal with them.
    :cross:I can't stand you have to deal with them.
    I can't stand having to deal with them.

    I can't work out how idiomatic 'the fact of having' is: it sounds poor, but not completely ungrammatical.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Hello J-M,

    Sorry to begin with this bothersome detail, but those are not sentences, as they lack ending punctuation.
    Oops. You're absolutely right, sorry.

    For AE, or at least my version of it, 4 is the most idiomatic, followed closely by 3, then 1. Number 2 may (or may not...I don't know) be ok in BE, but it sounds "off" if AE.
    It sounds off to me as well. Not really incorrect, just awkward.

    Thanks a lot, Cuchu.

    EDIT : Thanks for your help, FISH and entangledbank.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I agree with ETB.

    The purpose of "the fact" in most of these sentences, and of "that" in "I can't stand that you have to deal with them" is to clarify that we have a direct object for stand. Without the clarification we might have to think of and then reject an intransitive meaning of "stand" (I can't stand, only sit or lie prone).

    When not needed for clarification, the fact (of) just slows down the sentence and makes us have to consider that it might be important that this direct object is quite factual. Sentence 2 is grammatical but weak and wordy. It might as well say:

    It must be just that you are unable to deal appropriately with the fact of your having to deal with a person who just happens to seem to be smarter than you are.

    Wordy indeed, but grammatical.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "the fact" seems unnecessary to me and I think it clouds the issue. I am able to deal with facts quite well. Dealing with other people is another matter. :)
     
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