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Another think coming - the plot thickens (thiggens?)

Posted by TheFallen on October 11, 2002

In Reply to: Another think coming - the plot thickens (thiggens?) posted by Word Camel on October 11, 2002

: : : : : : : : : Can anyone help solve an office argument?

: : : : : : : : : Is the following phrase correct:

: : : : : : : : : If you think that then you've got another thing coming;

: : : : : : : : : Or should it be

: : : : : : : : : If you think that then you've got another think coming?

: : : : : : : : It is definitely "another think".

: : : : : : : No evidence, just another opinion: I believe the original phrase was: "If you think XX, you've got another THING coming." But somewhere along the line it mutated to "'ve got another THINK coming." I first heard "think" used by a Disney character.

: : : : : : I know how you folks love documentation, but I don't have any. But this one is in very current usage so we should get by without doc.
: : : : : : When someone says that they think this or that and you believe them to be wrong, you say "well, if you think that, then you've got another think comming." In my house we spoke better Enlish than that. When someone said, I think this or I thought that, we would say, you've got another thought coming.

: : : : : : ES

: : : : : I've just, while Googling both phrases (results are oddly 6,640 for "got another thing coming" and 1,830 for "got another think coming"), discovered the following in our own archives, courtesy of the learned Masakim. I hereby paste it in its entirety.

: : : : : *** snip ***

: : : : : "You have another think coming"
: : : : : "If you think that, you have another think coming" means "You are mistaken and will soon have to alter your opinion". This is now sometimes heard with "thing" in place of "think", but "think" is the older version. Eric Partridge, in Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, gives the phrase as "you have another guess coming", "US: since the 1920s, if not a decade or two earlier". Clearly "think" is closer to "guess" than "thing" is. The OED gives a citation with "think" from 1937, and no evidence for "thing". Merriam-Webster Editorial Department writes: "When an informal poll was conducted here at Merriam-Webster, about 60% of our editors favored 'thing' over 'think,' a result that runs counter to our written evidence."
: : : : : From The alt.usage.english FAQ File

: : : : : *** end snip ***

: : : : : A couple of websites I visited claim that this phrase is changing from its original deliberately and humorously ungrammatical form to a grammatically correct form that misses the point - because people are overly keen to avoid errors. However, most authorities, such as they are, seem to go with "another think". I'd suspect that the phrase originally had slight sarcastic overtones implying stupidity, similar perhaps to another deliberately ungrammatical usage, as follows:-

: : : : : "Elizabeth Taylor's got married again - well gee, who'da thunk it?"

: : : : Yes, I agree - it is deliberately ungrammatical. Apropos of nothing in particular, a colleague of mine always signs himself 'evil ditto lad' when agreeing with something - it's an anagram of his name.

: : : : I've only ever heard this as 'think' and, until now, wasn't aware there was any debate about it. No evidence on offer from here, but doesn't the think version have the advantage that it makes sense whereas the thing version doesn't? What would the thing be but another thought anyway?

: : : I don't see that "thing" doesn't make sense. After all, the thing could be an event or a rude awakening and needn't be simply another though. I actually had never come across the "think" version until this discussion, but then it's not something I recall seeing in print. Especially in the United States where consonants tend to be softer than the UK, I think one might be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two versions just by listening.

: : Maybe this in in use in the US but no one I've ever heard in the UK uses 'thing' in that phrase. In my view the thing version is just plain wrong, and possibly the result of mishearing the phrase.

: : I can't agree that the thing version makes any kind of sense. "If you think that you've another thing coming" isn't grammatical. To have another thing you need a previous thing.

: : Mind you people are happy to put their best foot forward, which implies they have three or more feet.

: Okay - just toying with this a little...

: I'm not sure I see how it's ungramatical, illogical and twisted, maybe. I mean when you consider that "think" is verb and not noun, well isn't quibbling about "another thing" a bit like the pot calling the kettle black? Especially since the "thing" could be a thought? Is there a lesser of two evils where grammar is concerned?

: I haven't got strong feelings either way, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to use "think" since I will inevitably feel like I am doing bad German accent. Not that anyone else sounds like this. I think it's probably just my own phonetical bugaboo. (buggaboo?)

(Bugaboo). I feel morally obliged to point out that "think" is indeed also a perfectly valid noun in its own right - "let me have a think about that". This from the American Heritage Dictionary:-

NOUN: The act or an instance of deliberate or extended thinking; a meditation.

What's staggered me in all this is the almost 4 to 1 ratio of the clearly incorrect "thing" version over the "think" version that Google turned up. Have the do-gooders now turned from well-intentioned but utterly ridiculous political correctness to a similar grammatical correctness? I think we should have a junta.

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