Move Vs Tug at your heartstrings

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Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

The verb to ''move'' meaning ''to cause someone to have strong feelings, especially of sympathy or sadness'' is (for me, a non-native speaker) the most difficult verb to use in a natural way (as a native speaker really does). My question: Is "tug at your heartstrings" a better option than "move" in the example that I created below?

[Husband asking his wife to forgive him]: Husband: I'm sorry, Jane. I cheated on you in a moment of weakness. But we have to stay together to raise our three children! I can't live without you! Wife: You don't move me. Vs You don't tug at my heartstrings. Stop the drama and get out!

*I believe that ''move'' is better because it seems less wordy.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Move and Tug at one's heartstrings are synonymous in certain situations.
    A movie could be said to move me or tug at my heartstrings but the situation
    you have posted doesn't work well with either choice.

    Your words aren't convincing me. You aren't reaching me with any of that.
    You could say - You aren't moving my feelings at all.
    Because to move could be physically done, I feel that what you are moving must be stated.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I think "tug at my heartstrings" can work in this context.

    What are you trying to do, tug at my heartstrings? It's not working! Get out!
    You aren't reaching me with any of that.
    Are you sure? This one doesn't work for me.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You don't move me. Vs You don't tug at my heartstrings.​

    I wouldn’t use either of them. In my experience, people don’t talk like that in such situations. I would find something like this more natural: “You just don’t do it for me anymore. I no longer feel anything for you.”
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That use of move is all about stirring up strong emotions in people (often when they least expect it), and it’s probably mainly used in the expression “I was moved to tears” or “It moved me to tears”.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    “You just don’t do it for me anymore. I no longer feel anything for you.”
    I don't think that's the intended meaning. The way I understood it is "You're not tugging at my heartstrings / getting me emotional by talking about the children."
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Oh, I see. Right. That certainly makes sense in view of the last bit! So she’s really issuing a command: “Don’t try tugging at my heartstrings. I’m not falling for that one!”
     
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