reading me to sleep

tugcee

Member
Turkish
One night my mother was reading me "Little Red Riding Hood" to sleep.

I 'd like to say my mother was reading me to sleep.If I add that direct object "Little Red Riding Hood",does it change the meaning of the sentence?

thank you
 
  • Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Welcome to the forum Tugcee.

    I think "... reading me to sleep" sounds odd with or without the direct object, but I suspect others will disagree. By itself, as in "Mother read me to sleep last night" it's not too bad, but the more extra bits you add to the sentence, the worse it sounds. Even changing the tense of the verb to "was reading" makes it worse, but I can't explain why (because I don't know why!).

    But to answer your question -- no, it doesn't change the meaning, it just makes the meaning more difficult to discern. WWhy don't you say something like, "One night my mother was reading Little Red Riding Hood to me to help me go to sleep." I know that's a bit more long-winded, but it flows much better.

    By the way, you really ought to put something in the title of the thread to indicate what it is you're asking. "Someone help me" doesn't tell us much about the question.
     

    dannyv

    Senior Member
    I think this works, but I'm sure I'll hear about it: "One night my mother read me to sleep to the story of "Little Red Riding Hood"... somewhat akin to, "i fell asleep to the music of Debussy"... comments? criticisms? :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We say she sang me to sleep, and I don't see that we can't say she read me to sleep, though one doesn't hear it often. But I'm with Lexiphile about it sounding worse the more one tries to get the expression to do, and I'd say she read me Little Red Riding Hood to help me get to sleep, which is very close to the form he gave.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    You might just get away with it, Danny. Most of the really hard-nosed critics on the forum live in England, and they've all gone to bed already.

    But seriously, are you sure about the indirect object on read? Is this normal usage in the US? It sounds to me like "my mother bored me to death last night" or some such thing (yes I know, that's a direct object). It sounds so much better to me to say "read to me" rather than "read me".

    Edit: You can obviously exclude Thomas from the list of H-N critics. :)
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Read me to sleep is a... mmm ... an idiomatic expression I guess. It's easily understood by native speakers when unmodified. If you take such an expression and interrupt it with objects or modifiers, it is no longer idiomatic, and while it may be understood, it will sound awkward. Unmodified, it's not especially uncommon. (Results 1 - 20 of about 106,000 for "read me to sleep")

    I think even the most hardened of hard-nosed critics accept that there is such a thing as colloquial speech. It's best taken as we find it, and used or not according to our stylistic preferences.
     

    Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    Yes, the form "read me to sleep" follows the pattern of "sang me to sleep," "rocked me to sleep," or "cried myself to sleep," where the process of singing/rocking/crying/reading is what makes you fall asleep.
    "Read me to sleep" is certainly not as common as the others, and I don't think I've ever used it, but it doesn't sound particularly strange to me.
     

    dannyv

    Senior Member
    You might just get away with it, Danny. Most of the really hard-nosed critics on the forum live in England, and they've all gone to bed already.

    But seriously, are you sure about the indirect object on read? Is this normal usage in the US? It sounds to me like "my mother bored me to death last night" or some such thing (yes I know, that's a direct object). It sounds so much better to me to say "read to me" rather than "read me".

    Edit: You can obviously exclude Thomas from the list of H-N critics. :)
    I closely observed GMT before I said this, and we should probably delete it before the H-Ns wake up :)

    No, not at all common usage, i was just going with the flow... it's like the old--and i mean old cuz i'm old--"write me when you get a chance" instead of "write to me when you get a chance"... so i agree with you, it is much better to say "read to me"... :)
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Read me to sleep" is idiomatic in British English and doesn't sound strange at all. The addition of an indirect object as in your original sentence, renders the sentence strange. However, the following does sound idiomatic to me:

    Mum used to read me to sleep with Pepper and Jam, my favourite book.

    Similarly:

    Sometimes she would sing me to sleep with a lullaby.

    I don't know how either of the above sound to AE ears.
     

    jess653

    Senior Member
    Ireland, english
    I think the best way to put it would be
    My mother read me to sleep with Little Red Riding hood
    or
    My mother reead Little red riding hood to me until I fell asleep.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Last night my mother read me to sleep with "Little Red Riding Hood."
    With the small addition to match the Thread's example, this is absolutely the one I vote for.

    Sometimes, colloquial is the best choice, unless it's for a school paper or test.

    "...read me to sleep" is such an old-fashioned, cuddly way to say it, as snugly and warm as the thought it's expressing.

    AngelEyes
     
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