nag (at) somebody

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tigerduck

Senior Member
German / Switzerland
Hello

I was wondering whether nag somebody and nag at somebody has the same meaning.

Can I say:

If she'd only stopped nagging at me, I might actually help.
If she'd only stopped nagging me, I might actually help.

I'm always nagging at him about his diet.
I'm always nagging him about his diet.


 
  • KON

    Senior Member
    I think nag at somebody is more grammaticaly accurate. That's because the preposition at in this context is directing "the nag" to someone.

    Consider the verb to shout: My mother always shouts at me. if it was without the preposition, to me at least it would sound a bit odd.

    In this case I would personally use nag at, eg. my girlfriend always nags at me about being late all the time.
     

    kitenok

    Senior Member
    I think nag at somebody is more grammaticaly accurate.
    I would always use "nag" in this sense with a direct object, not a preposition of any sort. If I heard a native speaker say "I'm always nagging at him about his diet" I would probably wonder what s/he meant by putting that unnecessary preposition in there.
     

    Welshie

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "to nag at someone" sounds very clumsy to me. I would say "nag someone". KON makes a fair point, but prepositions not always necessary for it to be clear on whom the verb is acting. Consider:

    "My mother annoys me"

    for eg.
     

    Salvage

    Senior Member
    USA English
    For me, nagging with an object is used the same way as annoy. I annoy someone, I nag someone. The preposition is unnecessary, it doesn't add any information.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    It is interesting that all native speakers, who have responded so far, seem to reject the preposition at with nag.
    I was also taught to use them together.

    I've given myself a browse of my dictionary (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English), here's what it says:
    1
    to keep asking someone to do something, or to keep complaining to someone about their behaviour, in an annoying way
    ᅳsee also pester I wish you'd stop nagging!
    nag somebody to do something
    Nadia's been nagging me to fix the lamp.
    nag somebody about something
    She keeps nagging me about my weight.
    nag at
    He’s always nagging at Paula for wearing too much makeup.
    2
    to make someone feel continuously worried or uncomfortable
    nag at
    a problem that had been nagging at him for days
    One question still nagged me.


    Curious...

    Tom
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    To nag at somebody iis more aggressive and sustained than simply to nag somebody.
     
    Last edited:

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I have been confused with this word. I used it as a synonym of "scold" (with the preposition "at"), but it's normally used as a synonym of "annoy", right?

    With an example, would you say:

    The teacher nagged at me for being late.

    with or without "at"?

    In the original example it is with "scold".
     

    kitenok

    Senior Member
    I have been confused with this word. I used it as a synonym of "scold" (with the preposition "at"), but it's normally used as a synonym of "annoy", right?
    I would say that pester and, perhaps, bother are the closest synonyms of nag as I use the verb in AE. Nagging is annoying, to be sure, but it's just one of thousands of types of annoying behavior.

    To adapt your example with the teacher: "My teacher constantly nags me about being on time" would be a natural use of nag, and would roughly mean that your teacher annoys you by repeatedly reminding you to be on time.
     

    KON

    Senior Member
    "to nag at someone" sounds very clumsy to me. I would say "nag someone". KON makes a fair point, but prepositions not always necessary for it to be clear on whom the verb is acting. Consider:

    "My mother annoys me"

    for eg.

    I have to be honest here, I've caught myself sometimes saying "stop nagging me" to someone. I thought it was a difference between AmE and BrE, because I think in AmE prepositions are used less often than in BrE.

    eg
    I'll see you on Saturday night BrE
    I'll see you Saturday night AmE
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Example: The way my friend sneered at me when I announced that I got cast in a Livetime movie has been nagging at/X me all weeks.

    Does "It nagged at" suggest that the nagging is less aggressive, but more recurrent and persistent? For instance, when I was busy with something else, I could put the problem aside, but it'd come back to you when you had nothing else to do.

    "It nagged me" suggests the nagging is aggressive at it over a period. I couldn't put my mind off it even as I was trying to occupy myself with something else.

    I'd like to hear what you think about this.
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I think in this example you need "nagging at".

    See Thomas1's definitions in post #6.

    A person can nag another person by repeatedly saying they should do something.

    The way a person sneered at you cannot actually nag you. It can nag at you by staying in your mind and making you upset on a regular basis.

    As a result, I can't give you an answer about whether "nag at" or "nag" sounds more or less aggressive in the context you have given, as only one of them is correct.
     
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