Reading a newspaper the other day I came across an oft used phrase but with the wrong word in it.
In disgust, I hurled the paper to one side then emailed my husband and said “you’ll never guess what…” and told him what I’d read.
He didn’t get it.
I took a deep breath. What if it was me and I’d been wrong all along?
It does happen… occasionally.
So, of course, online I went to get to the bottom of this only to discover another language minefield.
The verdict was split pretty much 50-50 and the conclusion it seems (as is often the case) is that it depends on how you heard the expression as you grew up.
The phrase is:
“If you think that… you’ve got another think/thing coming!”
Which basically means whatever you’re thinking it’s wrong and you can expect something quite different.
But the debate over whether it should be think or thing is huge.
To me there is a simple straight forward way of looking at it. It’s a very clever play on words.
To say you have another think coming is grammatically incorrect because to think is a verb, and it should surely read instead another thought.
But at the same time to have another thing can’t be right either because in the sentence you haven’t had a thing in the first place to have another one!
The overall consensus seems to be that think was the original true phrase and was a deliberate play on words:
“If you think it’s going to rain tomorrow you’ve got another think coming.”
Literally, think again.
It’s logical and another example of how fun and creative language can be – and why for so many people English is such a hard language to learn.
Think about it… and please, let me know your thoughts.