I thought him smart (agrammatical?)

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iRoy

Member
Dutch
Hey forum people,

I was wondering whether the sentence ''I thought him smart'' is grammatically correct or is one to say ''I thought that he was/is smart'' instead?

Thanks in advance : ]
 
  • aasheq

    Senior Member
    English (Estuary)
    "I thought him + adjective" is perfectly good English, if perhaps a bit at the elevated end of the stylistic register. The problem with your sentence is that, at least in this country, "smart" in the sense of "clever" is perceived as a vulgar Americanism. There is thus a stylistic incongruence in your example.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "I thought him smart" is fine but far less common than the alternative.

    "I thought the play well-produced but lacking a plot."
    "I consider the country boring and the inhabitants stupid."
    "I thought the wine above average for the year." etc.

    if perhaps a bit at the elevated end of the stylistic register.
    :thumbsup:
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I see what aasheq is getting at:

    A: I thought him rather too casually dressed.
    B. Oh no, I thought him quite smart.

    A. I thought he was a smart guy.
    B. Yeah, smart enough to fool me anyhow.
     

    Fictional

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I see what aasheq is getting at:

    A: I thought him rather too casually dressed.
    B. Oh no, I thought him quite smart.

    A. I thought he was a smart guy.
    B. Yeah, smart enough to fool me anyhow.
    In the first dialog, can we also say:
    A: I thought him rather too casually dressed.
    B: Oh no, I found him quite smart.
     
    Velisarius' example:
    A. I thought he was a smart guy.
    B. Yeah, smart enough to fool me anyhow.
    aasheq, further, says proper-speaking Brits find such usage 'vulgar' and American. These proper persons reserve 'smart' for 'tidy and well dressed' [V's first example] and, I gather, disocciate themselves from usages found amongst the American peasantry.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    :D I dissociate myself from "smart" meaning "clever", because it's one of the Americanisms I don't use, but it's very widely used in Britain with just that meaning, as far as I know.
     

    aasheq

    Senior Member
    English (Estuary)
    My point is simply: whether "vulgar" or "informal" (Oxford on-line), "smart" in the sense "clever" does not go well with the quasi-literary construction "I thought him + adjective". I do not believe that our American friends, peasants or urbanites, would really say "I thought him smart".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Like velisarius and aasheq, I think there's a dissonance between the formal construction "I thought him X" and the informal adjective "smart".

    If I was going to use "smart" meaning "intelligent" (which I probably wouldn't:)), then I would prefer "I thought he was smart".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi benny

    I note that, for you, "I found him smart" is OK, and I take it that also means that, for you, "I thought him smart" is OK.

    I guess that means that you don't see any dissonance between the informal "smart" and the formal construction "I thought him X":)

    Perhaps the construction "I thought him X" isn't formal for you?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah, OK - that's where we differ: I thought him X is fairly formal for me:).
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Does this sound formal to you?

    "I met your neighbor and found her obnoxious as hell."
    "As hell" is obviously not formal.
    For me:
    "I found her obnoxious" sounds formal and old-fashioned.
    "I found her to be obnoxious" sounds formal be not old-fashioned.
    "I thought she was obnoxious" is a normal (casual) register.
     
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