'Sailing boats' or 'boats sailing'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by amanda_45, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. amanda_45

    amanda_45 Senior Member

    on the earth
    Persian
    the following question was in my exam but I doubt on one thing:
    what is the difference between number 1 and number 2?

    :thumbsup: When you are at the beach, you can see ___________on blue water.

    1)sailing boats
    2)boats sailing

    :confused:number 2 was written in question but i don't know why isn't number 1 written?

    :tick:(original question in my exam: When you are at the beach, you can see boats _____ sailing______on blue water.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    Did you copy them exactly?
    If the first choice was written with a capital letter -- Sailing boats -- then it should have been the first word in a sentence. It would not fit in the blank, because that is not the beginning of the sentence.
     
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    They both fit there. It's hard to say why 'boats sailing' sounds better. A 'sailing boat' is a kind of boat - like a rowing boat, a canoe, a motor yacht, or an ocean liner. So you can see various things at the beach: sand, swimmers, sailing boats, yachts, piers, jellyfish, etc. Some of these are on land, some are in the water (boats, swimmers, jellyfish). 'On the water' is less commonly used. Swimmers and fish are in the water (even when they're at the surface and you can see them from land), but boats can be described as sailing on the water. So that word 'on' in your sentence suggests you need the verb sailing: 'boats sailing' are not a kind of boat, they're 'boats' and what they're doing is 'sailing', an action. Boats sailing on the water = Boats which are sailing on the water.
     
  4. amanda_45

    amanda_45 Senior Member

    on the earth
    Persian
    Best answer, thanks
     
  5. Language Hound Senior Member

    American English
    To my American ear, sailing boats sounds definitely wrong.
    If I heard that in the sentence, I would think that the person
    meant to say "sailboats."
    For me, #2 (boats sailing) is the correct answer.

    Apparently, this is an AE-BE difference.
    The entry for "sailboat" from the Oxford Dictionaries (U.S. Dictionary) Online:

    Below that, if you click on
    Definition of sailboat in: The British & World English dictionary,
    you can read the following:
     
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Yes, there's a certain tendency for BrE to use longer expressions like sailing boat, rowing boat, frying pan, racing car, where AmE uses single words sailboat, rowboat, frypan, racecar. But it varies with individual words, I think: rowboat and frypan also sound quite natural to me, and sailboat is okay, whereas racecar sounds quite wrong.
     
  7. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In AmE, we do have row boats and race cars (with spaces), but we have frying pans not fry pans. ;)
     

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