what I'm on about with him

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what I'm on about with him

Post by dante » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:56 pm

Hello everyone,

I'd like to know if the phrase "be on about with someone" makes sense in the following sentence:

"I like him for being an outspoken person.I always know what I'm on about with him"

I'm wondering if I can use the red coloured sentence as an alternative phrasing for "I always know what he thinks because he expresses himself clearly and straightforwardly"

Thank you for the help
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:08 pm

I would greatly prefer "I always know where I stand with him".

'To be on about something' is a colloquial term meaning 'to talk about something'. It tends to be used pejoratively or dismissively:

"What's he on about?" ≈ "What nonsense is he spouting?"

"I don't know what you're going on about" means, more or less, "I don't understand (or I don't want to hear) what you're saying, and it sounds like nonsense".
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:09 pm

When I hear (or say) "on about" what I mean is "going, carrying or blathering on about something" It means to make much ado, often about nothing.
"What are you going on about, now?"
"Are you still going on about that?"
"You really don't need to go on about that, anymore"
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by dante » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:11 pm

Thank you for the answer Erik and trolley.
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by hsargent » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:10 am

I'm late to the party.

I have never heard and would say it is improper English with two prepositions in sequence.
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Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:16 am

hsargent wrote:I have never heard and would say it is improper English with two prepositions in sequence.
Harry, wherever did you manage to dig up that peculiar notion?

How do you account for:

"The stopcock is located up inside the closet"

"Shining down below the stalactites that dangled from the roof of the cave, Harry's flashlight revealed the lake at his feet"

"Across by the shed, he could make out the indistinct outline of the groundsman" ?
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by hsargent » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:21 pm

Erik,

I am from the era of diagramming sentences. Two prepositions would be a challenge.

A couple of your examples, I believe, have understood phrases which might offer some relief from the challenge.

Across (the yard) by the shed...

up (the shelves) inside the closet.

shining down (I see as an adjective rather than a preposition in this case) below the stalactites...

My teachers would pull these out after I was stumped with analyzing a sentence.

But I can't explain the on about ....

Maybe you can help me either with an understood phrase or some diagramming suggestion.
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Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by russcable » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:39 am

"going on" is a phrasal verb.
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Lanfear » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:44 pm

How do you diagram a sentence?
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:01 pm

Most people who know what that means first have to draw on their memories.
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by zmjezhd » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:29 pm

You could go to the locus classicus and read about it: Alonzo Reed and Kellogg. Graded Lessons in English (link).
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:30 pm

On about what are Addisonian Terminators going?
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by dante » Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:57 pm

While reading the later posts I've felt a sudden drop in my overall ability to understand written English.
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:32 pm

Sorry, dante - threads do tend to develop into a bun-fight after (hopefully) a few genuine attempts to help - or a real discussion where there are differences of opinion.
Erik (post 2) explained the expression you quote well, plus a related one that seems to match what you want to say more accurately.
Harry Sargent (post 5) queries the grammatical correctness of the use of two adjacent prepositions in English (eg on about in your example), and then Erik (post 6) gives three readily understandable examples (though down could also be an adverb). Across by is a great example, concisely and clearly conveying two distinct aspects of spatial relationship.
Be careful not to confuse two-preposition structures with two- or three-word prepositions such as next to, away from, in front of.
Harry responds (in post 7) that sentence-diagramming struggles to cope with two-preposition structures, but sentence-diagramming is only a medium for trying to clarify sentence structures that have already been agreed on as being grammatical.
Russ correctly points out that to go on about a matter involves a phrasal verb, with on being an adverbial particle rather than a preposition and about being the preposition. They are very common structures in English, and consist of
1) VERB + ADVERBIAL PARTICLE eg The cold weather set in.
2) VERB + PREPOSITIONAL PARTICLE eg She got through her exams. ........ or
3) V + ADV PTCL + PREP PTCL eg I look forward to reading your essay.
Diagramming sentences can be instructive, so I hope Lanfear (post 9) has found the website of Eugene R. Moutoux (though I think his classification of Parts of Speech needs correcting).
My comment (post 12) refers to the famous arguments between groups of English grammarians over whether it was a cardinal sin to end any sentence with a preposition, as Mr Addinson was apparently prone to. do. Winston Churchill is said to have famously said that this practice was something up with which he would not put. Or perhaps it was the mangling of an editor trying to 'correct' a statement of his that contained such an 'error'. Most commentators now say, "Do what sounds right." This would do away with one of my favourite sentences: "What an awkward day to lose the bag I keep the thing for tightening the spokes up with in on."
Last edited by Edwin F Ashworth on Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what I'm on about with him

Post by dante » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:55 pm

Thank you for the informative post Edwin.Debates over grammar are always heated and interesting to me.
In one of my previous posts I wrote about the strong critics of some of the most basic concepts of traditional grammar made by Huddleston&Pullum in their "Cambridge Grammar of the English Language".I don't think that they left a stone unturned in their critics of traditional grammars (prepositions in their nomenclature are not necessary followed by nouns;adverbs in traditional grammars are sort of a "wastebasket" concept for completely unrelated groups of words;"phrasal verbs" is a misleading concept;there's no such things as "prepositional object",but there is "prepositional complement"- a functional category which comprise locative and goal and similar prepositional phrases(considered adverbials in traditional grammars) and concept known in traditional grammars as "oblique" or "prepositional" object).
I can't say if the new grammar is,from the linguistic point of view,more correct grammar than Quirk's referent "Comprehensive Grammar of The English Language",but to me it seems less practical and in some parts plainly not understandable to me.
Here's http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-o ... mar/25497/ Pullum's article criticizing Strunk's "Elements of Style",in which he didn't mince words in expressing his disagreement with people praising that book.
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