sink in and soak in


Spanish Argentina
I d like to know if I can replace "sunk in" with "soaked in" in the following example
thanks in advance

The words that slipped unexpectedly from her lips surprised her as much as they startled Dan. There was a different sort of shell-shocked silence as they SUNK IN; Dan was gazing at her in disbelief which was fair enough because she'd just accused him of the most unlikely thing and God how stuck-up it had sounded and why wasn't he saying anything?! Pam felt like digging herself a hole six-feet deep, to crawl right in, and preferably stay there forever.
  • Botitas36

    Senior Member
    To my ear, "soak in" is not used to refer to the period of time words or actions or results take to begin to have effect on a person. In short, no

    You might be confused with "Soak up", which means to absorb some positive thing (literally or figuratively) "Soak up the sun" as made famous by Sheryl Crow.

    To my knowledge, "Soak in" is not a phrasal verb.... Soak is simply a transitive verb (remojar or dejar en remojo)... Soak the garbanzo beans in water overnight.


    Senior Member
    English, East Coast Suþerbia
    I agree with Botitas. You could say "soak in", but it wouldn't be as usual as "sink in", which is more of a fixed phrase, for no good, logical reason. It would stand out a little (but still be comprehensible).

    The preterite of "sink" though, is "sank"

    ex.) Let the words sink in
    ex.) The words sank in slowly
    ex.) The words had sunk in, but still, she couldn't think of any appropriate response.

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    A couple of points:

    'Soak' is usually used with liquids: words are not liquids, so they 'sink in'.
    'Sunk' is an acceptable alternative to 'sank' in the preterite; like Milktoast I would normally choose 'sank'.


    Senior Member
    English, East Coast Suþerbia
    "Sunk" past tense is slang. It's acceptable to use when you're using slang or don't wanna make other's feel bad about using it. I'd guess it's mildly annoying when people mess up preterite and imperfect in Spanish. You never sung a song, the phone never rung, and the ship never sunk. The reason to keep them separate isn't as important as for preterite vs. imperfect in Spanish, but the idea is the same.

    "Soak in" on the other hand doesn't have that much logic against it. I have heard:

    "Soak it in" as an equivalent for "take it in" or "drink it in" to talk about ideas, views/vistas, etc.

    ex.) Q: "How do you like LA?"
    A: "I'm still just soaking it all in, there are so many nice people here, the weather is great, everything is overpriced and everyone's clothes are too tight... blah blah blah"

    Words are not solids or dense liquids either so there's no logical reason why they should sink any more than soak. In English they just more often do. Similarly, you might hear someone say that they are trying to "absorb" a bit of information. You can have a "train of thought" or a "stream of consciousness." It shows how much fixed phrases determine speech that we never hear "stream of thought" or "train of conscious." (unless of course, you do)
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