Wear a smile

twinklestar

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi! If the subject is "we", should I turn "a smile" into "smiles"?

Which one is correct?

We wear a smile. OR We wear smiles.
 
  • SimonLux

    New Member
    English
    You probably would not say "we wear smiles" nor "I wear a smile" unless it was in a poem or something. To give you a proper answer, I would need to know in what situation you want to say this.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi! If the subject is "we", should I turn "a smile" into "smiles"?

    Which one is correct?

    We wear a smile. OR We wear smiles.
    SimonLux is right - context is everything. "wearing a smile" is fairly quaint language these days but if you're going to use it, it would probably be "we wear smiles" ie:

    "My two sisters are very cheerful people. They wear smiles all the time". OR
    "I and my sister are very cheerful. We wear smiles all the time".
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree: talk of wearing smiles sounds a bit ... fanciful to me. It reminds me of a cheesy song from
    a cheesy musical. :)D< cheesy grin)
     
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    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Perhaps it should be pointed out that wearing a smile, and nothing else, is apt to be chilly, particularly in a Manitoba winter.
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi all,

    Thank you for your help.

    If the context is as below, what one is correct or better?

    The restaurant is very nice, and the waiters always wear ___.

    A) wear a smile

    B) wear smiles
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The waiters always wear a smile.

    To me, saying "smiles" here would make the smiles seem artificial, as if they were different kinds of smiles perhaps.
    Thank you for your help, Forero.

    Could you or someone else explain why some people in this thread said "wear a smile" sound odd to them?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi, Twinklestar.

    It depends on what you mean and in what context you say it.

    "We wear a smile" taken by itself tends to sound illogical. Then, after we understand that it is not meant to be taken literally, we imagine other places we may have heard such an expression, quaint, cheesy, or Polar-Bear-Club places.

    It was in the context of restaurant waiters smiling that I could see a purpose for the singular. It is not literally one smile over all the faces, but a figurative smile, good cheer, that they all could "wear", and in my opinion in that context, "smiles" forces the smiles to be literal or the good cheer to be divisible, so I choose "a smile".

    [I assume you mean a "normal" restaurant, but I think the same would apply even in a quaint, cheesy, or Polar-Bear-Club restaurant (or a "topless and bottomless" restaurant). (Pardon me, I just couldn't resist the chance to "tie it all together".)]

    As another example, something like "all students raise your hand" sounds odd indeed, as if all the students have some kind of communal "hand" they can raise, but in the right context, "your hand" means one hand per student: "I need for all students who plan to go to the museum today to raise your hand." Otherwise one might witness twice the show of hands expected.

    I hope this makes sense. This is why we ask for context in this forum. Thank you for the question and the context.
     

    budt

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Based in the UK, I do not find the expression 'to wear a smile' quaint and that is probably why it was used in the article concerned. Incidentally, I would never use the plural form suggested, but say, for example, "the children wore a smile", "both the vicar and the verger were wearing a smile", etc..

    Further quotes: "On Liberation Day in my local even the grumpiest hate-the-worlds wear a smile." [Guardian, 19 December 2004]; Brian Wilson fans: not wearing a smile [Guardian Music blog headline, 24 July 2008]; "But they, like the game, wore a smile on the face.". [Telegraph, 13 August 2005].

    US usage appears to favour the inclusion of "each" in some circumstances: "Entering the baths, you first encounter a lobby lined with fading photographs of generations of bathing beauties and athletic champions, each wearing a smile as wide as July." [New York Times, 29 July 1994] - though not always: "... and if some of the plain cops looked bored not a few of them were wearing a smile that didn't come off when an innocent bystander asked a question." [New York Times, 30 May 1952].
     
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