to add another piece to/of the puzzle

Discussion in 'English Only' started by englishelp, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. englishelp Senior Member

    Chinese
    Hi,

    If I want to say that my study contributes to the understanding of a particular issue, can I use the following sentence:

    It adds another piece to/of the puzzle.

    Should the preposition be "to" or "of"? I think it is "to the puzzle", but I hesitate because of the existence of the set phrase: a piece of the puzzle.

    Thanks
     
  2. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    To is what I would choose too.
     
  3. greg from vancouver

    greg from vancouver Senior Member

    vancouver, canada
    Canada, Vancouver
    I have to disagree and say that "adding a piece to the puzzle" means to enlarge the problem, not shrink it. Consider this: the police officer found a bloody knife in the trees, which only added to the puzzle considering the victim showed no stab wounds on his body."

    The 'puzzle' metaphor is usually used for isolated, temporary problems, not for long-standing things. Another example: Amelia Earhart vanished without a trace a long time ago. Her disappearance is a long-standing mystery, but not a long-standing puzzle. The latter would be understood but is not idiomatic, to my ears.

    In your case, depending on what the issue is that you're referring to, I would say that your writing "contributes to the understanding of".

    Hope that helps,
    Greg
     
  4. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Oh, I only skimmed the post and thought the question was about the preposition. In that case "contribute to the understanding of", a wording Englishelp used too, is, of course, better.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  5. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    I think of this in relation to jigsaw puzzles. Another piece of the puzzle is what you're holding in your hand - you're trying to work out where to add it to the puzzle; and in this situation 'the puzzle' means the finished, joined-up pieces of puzzle (as opposed to all the mixed-up pieces of the puzzle in the box). To add a piece to the puzzle is to fit it into the pieces that make a picture. It is to reduce the unknown, to add to the known.

    Though, that said, I can understand that the opposite also makes sense: to throw another piece into the puzzle is to add something that makes it more complicated, one more thing that you have to fit in.
     
  6. greg from vancouver

    greg from vancouver Senior Member

    vancouver, canada
    Canada, Vancouver
    Yes, I thought of that too and agree with everything you said!
    -Greg
     
  7. neal41 Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA, English
    You are adding a piece of the puzzle to the puzzle. If you leave out 'of the puzzle' it is understood that 'piece' means 'piece of the puzzle'. If you leave out 'to the puzzle' it is understood that you are adding the piece to the puzzle.
     

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