You can say goodbye to your £10. Tom never repays his debts.

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wanabee

Senior Member
Japanese
Dear all,

(The Free Dictionary: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/kiss+goodbye+to)
kiss/say/wave goodbye to something if you say goodbye to something, you accept that you will not have it any more or that you will not get it.
You can say goodbye to your £10. Tom never repays his debts.

When you look up kiss/say/wave goodbye to something, 'can' is often chosen as an auxiliary verb preceding the idiom, as in the underlined example.
But I'm not sure why it is so.
For example, the underlined sentence seems to sound fine this way, too: you (must / have to / should / might want to) say goodbye to your £10. Tom never repays his debts.

Could someone tell me why 'can' collocates with the idiom "kiss/say/wave goodbye to something" much more often than other auxiliary verbs?

I would appreciate any comments.
 
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  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The phrase is meant to be ironic. Here, 'can say goodbye to your £10' apparently gives permission or possible is an indirect request to bid farewell to something. Must, have to and should are strong modal verbs, and by using them some of the irony would be lost. At a pinch, might want to could work too, although it would be less idiomatic.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Could someone tell me why 'can' collocates with the idiom "kiss/say/wave goodbye to something" much more often than other auxiliary verbs?
    Collocation has to do with the way people do say things in actual everyday life, not with the way people might say things. I would say that this "can say goodbye" has more to do with "can" and its use in hyperbolic exclamations than with "say goodbye."

    You'll hear other phrases in English like:

    You can say that again!
    You can bet on it!
    You can just go fuck yourself for all I care.
    You can take that all the way to the bank.

    In all these expressions, and "You can kiss X goodbye," "can" introduces a emphatic and dramatic verb phrase. Also, "can" emphasizes that we do not mean the following words literally, but are using them hyperbolically to emphasize a point. This is one important way English speakers use "can," and it's why we choose to use "can" in "You can kiss X goodbye."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    From a different perspective:
    If someone is not leaving, you can't say goodbye to them because it wouldn't make sense. If someone is leaving, you can say goodbye to them if you want to. They will still be gone whether you say goodbye or not.
    You can say goodbye to your money (if you want to) because you are never going to see it again.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Imagine the following scenario:

    A drug user is being pursued by a drug dealer for failing to pay for the goods.
    Addict: I'm terrified he's going to catch me!
    Friend: You can relax, he has been killed in a gun battle.

    This "You can relax" is another way to say "from now on you will be able to relax"

    In the case of the £10, it is very similar:

    John: Tom owes me £10 and it is really annoying me.
    Bill: Well you can stop worrying. Tom never pays his debts. You can achieve closure by deciding to forget about the money. You can say goodbye to it.

    In a way, a choice is being offered (a) You can choose to continue expecting the return of the money and continue to be annoyed or, alternatively, (b) You can choose to say goodbye to the £10 and get on with your life.
     
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