I could do with a day's rest from work.

wanabee

Senior Member
Japanese
Dear all,

I want to take a day's rest from work tomorrow.
I could do with a day's rest from work tomorrow.

I made up the second sentence by using the idiom "could do with", and I think it means the same as the first sentence.
What's bothering me is that I have no clue why "could do with" means "want".

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance.
 
  • wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much, soundshift.
    I see. Now I can't tell why "I could do with" means "I need"...
     

    mattant

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To me, 'could do with' denotes an element of necessity (i.e. 'I need'), but not necessity entirely. In my opinion, 'could do with' is a softened version of 'I need', often used when wishing to indicate that you'd like a rest.

    In context, ifI was saying "I could do with a rest tomorrow" to my boss, that would be a polite way of saying, "I'm tired, can I have a day off tomorrow?"
    If I was saying it to my friend, it'd be a way of saying "I'm tired, if only my boss would give me a day off tomorrow/I'm tired, I wish I could have a day tomorrow."

    So I would say it was a cross between 'I need' and 'I want'.
     

    wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much, mattant.

    I think I understand what you mean:
    "could do with" is used to express one's necessity in a soft way, and in many cases, what "someone needs" is what "someone wants". Therefore it's a cross between need and want.

    Now, "could do with" is another idiom that I just have to memorize? "Do with" is hard for me to understand. I can't think of "need" or "want" even by looking hard at the phrase "could do with"...:confused:
     

    AquisM

    Senior Member
    English/Cantonese
    Yes, unfortunately, it is just another idiom you'll have to memorise. A slightly more comprehensible variant would be 'could use' - 'I could use a day's rest from work' is practically interchangeable, although some may find that 'could use' leans slightly towards desire more than necessity.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    "I could do with ..." is predominantly British, I think. Americans would be more likely to say "I could use a day off" or "I could stand a day off."

    The meaning is the same, I think. I would say it's a bit weaker than "I need a day off" but stronger than "I want a day off." I am saying that I would benefit from a day off, or that I want a day off but because I feel the need for a rest.
     

    wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much, AquisM and Sparky Malarky, for your useful suggestions and information!
     
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