high time to get to sea [Moby Dick]

tindersticks

New Member
Turkish
I was taught that "high time" is not used as "be+high time+to", i.e. before an infinitive.

For example, as far as I know, we can say "It is high time (that) he went to bed" or "It is high time for him to go to bed" but not "It is high time to go to bed." The last sentence should be considered as ungrammatical because of the rule that says "'high time' cannot be used before infinitives."

But what about this sentence taking place in Moby Dick: "....I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." Is this sentence correct and is it related with the rule that says "high time is not used in be+high time+to"?

I'll be so grateful to your answers.

Thanks in advence.
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think littledragon asked a similar question here http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1063577; and that thread refers back to this one http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=197042.

    You used the word 'correct', tindersticks. In the absence of a committee that defines what is correct English, I think we have to look to classics such as Moby Dick to define what is correct. Your sentence is by definition correct, because it appears in Moby Dick. Of course, correct is not the same as currently idiomatic.
     
    Last edited:

    tindersticks

    New Member
    Turkish
    I was taught that "high time" is not used as "be+high time+to", i.e. before an infinitive.

    For example, as far as I know, we can say "It is high time (that) he went to bed" or "It is high time for him to go to bed" but not "It is high time to go to bed." The last sentence should be considered as ungrammatical because of the rule that says "'high time' cannot be used before infinitives."

    But what about this sentence taking place in Moby Dick: "....I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." Is this sentence correct and is it related with the rule that says "high time is not used in be+high time+to"?

    I'll be so grateful to your answers.

    Thanks in advence.
    You used the word 'correct', tindersticks. In the absence of a committee that defines what is correct English, I think we have to look to classics such as Moby Dick to define what is correct. Your sentence is by definition correct, because it appears in Moby Dick. Of course, correct is not the same as currently idiomatic.
    Thanks for your precious point of view. I was told so countlessly that "high time is not used before infinitives" that I guess I need some time to accept its grammaticality. :)

    By the way, I should say that unfortunately I could not find find any direct responses to my question in the above links. Your reply does better suit to my question.

    But I have one more question:

    Is it possible for a person who says that "high time is not used before infinitives" to accept the grammaticality of the sentence "I account it high time to get"?

    I mean,

    (It is high time to do.... ------ I account it high time to do....)
    Taking into account the fact that the first sentence is structured with "be+high time+to do" and the second one with "account+high time+to do", can we say that these two sentences are structured with different grammatical rules? OR Can we say that "be" and "account" have the same functions in the sentences?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Is it possible for a person who says that "high time is not used before infinitives" to accept the grammaticality of the sentence "I account it high time to get"?
    I account it high time to get uses an infinitive after high time.

    Nevertheless, I think it is probably a good idea to advise learners of English to prefer the structure It is high time we went when they compose sentences.
     
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