take turns at doing something / do something by turns

  • Ume

    Banned
    Japanese
    Thanks a lot, timpeac.

    - the turns at doing something
    - take turns doing something
    Is the second more common than the first?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Thanks a lot, timpeac.

    - the turns at doing something
    - take turns doing something
    Is the second more common than the first?
    I honestly don't think I could choose between the two.:) (I presume you mean "take turns" in the first example;)). Maybe, at a pinch, the second is a bit more colloquial.
     
    Last edited:

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    All three expressions are perfectly fine and acceptable. The third one is not as commonly heard except perhaps regionally.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    All three expressions are perfectly fine and acceptable. The third one is not as commonly heard except perhaps regionally.
    If the third is not as commonly heard then why is it perfectly fine and acceptable? Personally, I've not heard it (although I'm certainly not saying it is regionally said ) - which regions is it said in?
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It is perfectly fine and acceptable because it’s a frquently used idiomatic expression. It’s familiar to me in all the regions of the UK that I’ve travelled, and it’s familiar too (by 1:3) in the region of—you’ve guessed it!—Google!

    (Though I don’t put much store by Google, personally.)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    It is perfectly fine and acceptable because it’s a frquently used idiomatic expression. It’s familiar to me in all the regions of the UK that I’ve travelled, and it’s familiar too (by 1:3) in the region of—you’ve guessed it!—Google!

    (Though I don’t put much store by Google, personally.)
    If it's a frequently used idiomatic expression then it's not "not as commonly heard except regionally" then, is it?
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, of course it is! Both! I’ve rechecked my original post (#6) and I haven’t made a typing error.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    3. drive the two-horse carriage by turns
    While this may—or may not—be ok in BE, it would be a source of confusion in AE. "By turns" is not used that way in AE, and would lead many readers or listeners to wonder if the carriage might also be driven by shopping malls, by parks, by recycling stations, etc.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    That definition is a little musty. Note the fine print: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

    That doesn't mean the term isn't still in use in some places today, but it is rare or unknown in modern AE.
    (Of course a serious, devoted Googler will find a few citations, and that will "prove" something or other.)
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It seems that it is indeed “rare or unknown in modern AE”. Still, I’m happy about it’s currency in England, and as long as Umeboshi hasn’t been left with the wrong impression, that’s all that matters. I’m sure there’ll soon be other readers of this thread wanting to chuck in their six penn’orth.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    It seems that it is indeed “rare or unknown in modern AE”. Still, I’m happy about it’s currency in England, and as long as Umeboshi hasn’t been left with the wrong impression, that’s all that matters. I’m sure there’ll soon be other readers of this thread wanting to chuck in their six penn’orth.
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by the wrong impression - if he's disinclined to use it in the south of England that's the right impression as far as I'm concerned!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    In British English if they "took turns (at) doing it", that would be acceptable, too (as per the original question!:))
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I looked for a couple more references to “by turns” (and they’re from the West side of the Pond, too!).

    alternately (adv)
    Synonyms: off and on, in turn, by turns, one after the other, interchangeably, consecutively
    Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007


    turn - definition of turn from YourDictionary.com
    ... by turns. one after another; alternately; in succession. call the turn. ?. ... by turns.
    taking turns, in succession, one after another, alternately, consecutively. ...
    www.yourdictionary.com/turn - 29k - 2008-05-03


    by turns
    One after another; alternately: "From the ... testimony emerges a man by turns devious and honest, vulgar and gallant, scatterbrained and shrewd" Life.
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000.
     

    Prairiefire

    Senior Member
    US (Midwest) - English
    The distinction that this Midwestern US native hears (and uses!) is that two people 'take turns' by alternately performing the activity in question. ('Take turns at' sounds stilted to my ears.)

    ONE person does two different activities "by turns."
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I looked for a couple more references to “by turns” (and they’re from the West side of the Pond, too!).

    alternately (adv)
    Synonyms: off and on, in turn, by turns, one after the other, interchangeably, consecutively
    Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007


    turn - definition of turn from YourDictionary.com
    ... by turns. one after another; alternately; in succession. call the turn. ?. ... by turns.
    taking turns, in succession, one after another, alternately, consecutively. ...
    www.yourdictionary.com/turn - 29k - 2008-05-03


    by turns
    One after another; alternately: "From the ... testimony emerges a man by turns devious and honest, vulgar and gallant, scatterbrained and shrewd"Life.
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000.
    Two points:

    First, dictionaries are notorious for cribbing from one another, and rarely delete obsolete or, especially, out-of-date definitions. That the term was once used in AE is not a point of contention.

    Second, the quote attributed to "Life" does not show up in the archives of Life Magazine, the photojournalistic publication around from the mid-1930s.

    Wikipedia's entry suggests it may have been in an earlier publication of the same name:

    Life generally refers to two American magazines:
    • A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought all rights to this magazine solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name.
    • A publication created by Henry Luce in 1936, with a strong emphasis on photojournalism. Life appeared as a weekly until 1972, as an intermittent "special" until 1978; a monthly from 1978 to 2000; and a weekly newspaper supplement from 2004 to 2007.[1]
    A citation from the earlier publication would be consistent with the 1913 Websters definition offered earlier.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks for the info, cuchuflete, some of which I was only peripherally aware of. I wonder then about this further reference I’ve found:
    ALTERNATELY(adverb)
    Meaning:
    In an alternating sequence or position
    Context examples:
    They were deglycerolized by alternately centrifuging and mixing / he planted fir and pine trees alternately
    Pertainym:
    alternate (occurring by turns; first one and then the other)
    http://www.audioenglish.net/dictionary/alternately.htm

    Prairiefire’s comment at post #21 is interesting in that he or she accepts that “ONE person does two different activities ‘by turns’”, which uses the same phrase in a slightly different way. I’ve been as familiar with that nuance, over the years, as I have been with “two or more people doing the same activity by turns”.

    I suppose I should simply be thankful that Merriam-Webster at least records the phrase—even if that fact shows me to be a person with a slightly old-fashioned turn of phrase at the same time. Oh well...!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Doing things by turns is not unknown or incomprehensible to AE speakers. It is not widely used. My original comments were based on the likelihood that (in AE) it would not be used at all in the context of the opening post:

    During the tour, participants take turns at driving the two-horse carriage.

    1. take turns at driving the two-horse carriage
    2. take turns driving the two-horse carriage
    3. drive the two-horse carriage by turns
    AE speakers may take turns doing something, or take turns at doing something. The third option above sounds anything but idiomatic; I can't imagine an average AE speaker using that construction, especially in that context.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In the structure "take turns doing something" is "doing" a gerund or Present Participle?
    I suggest it is a gerund. The logic would be that 'take turns doing something' is a compressed form of 'take turns at doing something'. And prepositions (such as 'at') are succeeded by nouns, noun phrases or simply words that function as nouns (such as gerunds).
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I suggest it is a gerund. The logic would be that 'take turns doing something' is a compressed form of 'take turns at doing something'. And prepositions (such as 'at') are succeeded by nouns, noun phrases or simply words that function as nouns (such as gerunds).
    I agree with you. In the sense it almost certainly has it is a gerund. It is technically possible that it is a participle, but that would mean "take turns whilst doing something (else)" - not very likely.
     
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