flag down a taxi..or flag a taxi down

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  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    comsci said:
    A quick question. Which one would be more idiomatic to say? To flag down a taxi or to flag a taxi down? Or does it matter? Comments are welcome.
    Hi Comsci,
    There may be lots of regional variations, so take this as just
    one northeastern US opinion: In order of frequency--

    Flag down a cab
    Hail a cab
    Flag down a taxi
     

    comsci

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Flag

    I've in fact searched the web for further reference to this phrasal verb, and the result turned out to be half-half. In the source above it gives "Please flag a taxi down for me" as an example. Plus I've heard from an Aussie friend of mine saying the same. That's why I raised the question here. When it comes to regional variations, it's especially hard to distinguish from right and wrong, at least to my ears. :) I said "flag down a cab/taxi" but my Aussie friend said back to me "you mean flag a taxi/cab down"? That's when the confusion kicked in. :)
     
    comsci said:
    http://www.multiplay.co.uk/columns.asp?m=view&id=135&uid=29

    If you search for the word "down", you'd find another example stating "flag a taxi/cab down." I wonder why this has been the way it is. :(


    Hail Comsci!

    You have to remember that this is someone's personal blog; he is using his own particular style of writing.

    You woul be understood if you said "flag a taxi down".

    I've just typed "flag something down" into Google and found this. I hope this will console you. :)


    Regards

    LRV
     

    comsci

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    flag down someone/something

    To signal someone or something to stop by waving.

    A police officer flagged us down to check our vehicle registration and date of inspection.

    I guess it doesn't matter after all or maybe it's people's preference or style of speaking that's all.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    comsci said:
    http://www.multiplay.co.uk/columns.asp?m=view&id=135&uid=29

    If you search for the word "down", you'd find another example stating "flag a taxi/cab down." I wonder why this has been the way it is. :(
    Just my guess, but taxis have/had a small flag on their meter. When a passenger entered the taxi the flag would be pushed down engaging the meter and signalling to other would be customers that the taxi was occupied. The flag, I suspect, may have originally been real - a piece of cloth on a stick, that was used to show availability. When you "flag" the taxi "down", you are using the taxi.
     

    mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Either of the flag down examples sounds fine to me, though I usually say I'm going to grab a cab.

    For panjandrum:

    From the American Heritage Dictionary:

    flag down Signal to stop, as in The police were flagging down all cars. This expression uses the verb flag in the sense of "catch the attention of, as by waving a flag," a usage dating from the mid-1800s; down was added in the first half of the 1900s.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    mariposita said:
    Either of the flag down examples sounds fine to me, though I usually say I'm going to grab a cab.

    For panjandrum:

    From the American Heritage Dictionary:

    flag down Signal to stop, as in The police were flagging down all cars. This expression uses the verb flag in the sense of "catch the attention of, as by waving a flag," a usage dating from the mid-1800s; down was added in the first half of the 1900s.
    Flags are still used by traffic cops in some cities of the world today. When the flag is help up (upright above the head) the cars are free to move. When the flag is held down (extended at a right angle from the body) the cars must stop.
     

    Dr. Zamenhof

    Member
    Mexican Spanish
    It has do with phrasal verbs, and I guess that's what comsci is asking. In this case both ways are acceptable. "Flag down" is one of those phrasal verbs that admit the object before or after the adverb –or preposition–.

    Go out and flag down a taxi.
    Go out and flag a taxi down.
     
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