You're six months shy of 18

dreamlike

Senior Member
Polish
I stumbled upon this phrase while watching the movie. I worked out the meaning - the person will come of age in six months. I wonder how common is this phrase "to be .... shy of." Am I most likely to encounter it in British English or American English? Is it universal or one can only use it in terms of age? I made up some sentences containing this phrase, I would be glad if you could check them.


Two months shy of her 18th birthday, she left her family home.
I'm just two cents shy of 1$, can you lend me it?
The prices of oil had risen considerably, now they're just 10 cents shy of 140$ per barrel.
You're five months shy of 21, it's about time you start living on your own!

How would you put "to be ... shy of" differently? "To be ... short of?"
 
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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Yes, that's fine. It's from an AE betting term OED
    1895 I. K. Funk et al. Standard Dict. Eng. Lang. (at cited word), Having a less amount of money at stake than is called for by the rules of the game; short; as, to be shy a dollar in the pool.
     

    elm11

    Member
    English - US
    Your sentences are grammatically correct, but the fourth one sounds a bit strange to me. The expression carries a lighter tone to my ears, so I don't imagine anyone would use it in that context. One would be more likely to say, "You'll be 21 in five months," or simply, "You're almost 21."
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    This might sound silly, but in the last dreamlike's example:
    You're five months shy of 21, it's about time you start living on your own!
    Shouldn't it be "... it's about time you started living on your own!"?
    Just want to make sure that I'm not wrong. Thanks
    M
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks for your help.

    Your sentences are grammatically correct, but the fourth one sounds a bit strange to me. The expression carries a lighter tone to my ears, so I don't imagine anyone would use it in that context. One would be more likely to say, "You'll be 21 in five months," or simply, "You're almost 21."
    Well, it's a sore point with me... I happen to build awkward sounding sentences, like the one you pointed out. Does it sound any better? You're going to turn 21 in five months, it's about time you started living on your own.

    And when I come to think of it I have misgivings about this sentence as well:
    The prices of oil had risen considerably, now they're just 10 cents shy of 140$ per barrel.
    "Risen considerably" is certainly a formal way to say it, "... shy of ..." was labeled as informal by OED. I was taught that it is inadvisable to mingle formal expressions with the informal ones. Is that true?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Does it this sound any better? You're going to turn 21 in five months, it's about time you started living on your own.
    Your original sounded fine to me.
    And when I come to think of it I have misgivings about this sentence as well: "Risen considerably" is certainly a formal way to say it, "... shy of ..." was labeled as informal by OED. I was taught that it is inadvisable to mingle formal expressions with the informal ones. Is that true?
    There are degrees of informality and, in general terms, English is quite forgiving. Again I see nothing wrong with "Risen considerably" + "shy of"; the sentence would be unremarkable coming from the mouth of a TV economic commentator.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks PaulQ, that's really reassuring :) So you think that there is nothing exceptional about my sentences and they could be uttered by native speakers and go unnoticed? I guess I'm making some progress in my "not sounding stilted or phoney" mission.

    Cheers.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As far as I can see, you were required by the rules to give examples, and the examples you gave adequately demonstrated your ability to use the "shy of" construction. Any corrections given were very minor, and related to subjective style rather than usage.

    If I had to comment on anything:
    I'm just two cents shy of 1$, $1 can you lend me it? - although spoken as "one dollar/pound/Yen, etc., it is invariably written with the symbol first.
    The prices price of oil had risen considerably, now they're it was just 10 cents shy of 140$ per barrel. - for some unknown reason, I only hear "The price of oil" or "oil prices" - "prices of oil" sounds very strange.

    As you see, neither of these have a bearing on "shy of."
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I didn't give the examples just beause I wanted to abide by the rules of the forum. I always make a few sentences with newly learnt phrases or words. It doesn't serve any purpose to learn words or expressions, for that matter, just as they are. And I want to enhance my writing as well.

    Thanks for your corrections. I think that making a minor errors is something that non-native speaker has to come to terms with.
     
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