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  1. #1
    timtak is offline Newbie
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    Default Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    I have been correcting my students when they say that they "work a part time job" telling them that they should say that they "do a part time job."

    However, I just checked Google and find that there are quite a few hits for "work a job." Many of them are of the form "work a job fair," which is a different kind of usage,

    But there are also people saying things like


    "I work a job that in no way describes me or determines who I am as a person."

    "I work a job that makes the rest of these on this post look pretty damn interesting."

    Is this usage correct? Is it correct to say "I work a job"? Or should one say "I do a job"?


    PS
    For me if someone says "I work a part time job" or "I am working a part time job" then it sounds like they are using the part time job (work a piece of machinery) or making the most out of their part time job, perhaps even decieving the manager (I think that con men are said to "work a mark"), and not simply doing their part time job. E.g. "I really needed money for my heroin addiction, so I worked that part time job like there was no tomorrow, taking home office stationery, raiding the till, and even stealing from my co-workers." Again if a "job" is a bank job, or other often illegal endeavour, then "Sid is working a job right now, tunnelling under the Ealing branch of Lloyds," also sounds grammatically correct.

    But then Americans say "Good job" when I would say "Well done." So perhaps the reason why people are using "I work a job" is not because the usage of "work" is different, but that their usage of job, is in this case refering to something like "bank job," in the above, that is to say an endeavour but not a nefarious one. For me "a job" when used as a word for an endeavour rather than a type of employment, refers to an otherwise unmentionable endeavour, such as in the famously unmentionable "big job."

    Also I think that I could say "I work at a job that I enjoy," where I would be kind of using "job" as workplace, or company. But at the same time "working at a job" sounds a bit like I am "working at getting promotion", or "working at achieving my dreams," and not the same as simply doing the job.
    Last edited by timtak; 27-Oct-2010 at 09:18. Reason: add my interpretation of the target phrase

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    Quote Originally Posted by timtak View Post
    I have been correcting my students when they say that they "work a part time job" telling them that they should say that they "do a part time job."

    However, I just checked Google and find that there are quite a few hits for "work a job." Many of them are of the form "work a job fair," which is a different kind of usage,

    But there are also people saying things like


    "I work a job that in no way describes me or determines who I am as a person."

    "I work a job that makes the rest of these on this post look pretty damn interesting."

    Is this usage correct? Is it correct to say "I work a job"? Or should one say "I do a job"?
    I, a speaker of southern BrE, would consider them 'incorrect'. However, I don't know about AmE in this case.

  3. #3
    timtak is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    Thank you very much.

    Are there any speakers of American (or other varieties of) English that would be so kind as to share their opinion?

    I am working this thread.

  4. #4
    Munch's Avatar
    Munch is offline Member
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    As an Australian teaching American English, I am in a similar position to you.

    I have heard Americans use the phrase “work a job”. I am not sure if it considered correct in standard American English however. I am curious too, so I hope one or more Americans sees this thread and sheds some light on this.

    I have occasionally heard Australians use this phrase and it sounds natural, but perhaps colloquial, to me.
    Last edited by Munch; 28-Oct-2010 at 07:32. Reason: To give the Australian point of view.

  5. #5
    timtak is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    I am not necessarily teaching American English. My workplace emphasises TOEIC which contains US, Canadian, UK, and Australian English.

    So, Munch, to an Australian "work a job" sounds "correct but colloquial." This is important.

    I would like to hear it from an American English user too.

    An English friend said that he thought "work a job" sounds like the language of "a mafia dude," as well as being a tautology.
    Last edited by timtak; 28-Oct-2010 at 12:17. Reason: to point out that I am meant to be teaching Australian English too so Munch's post was definately useful

  6. #6
    ackeiyword is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    I would like to say "do a job" in my life,this reads smoothly and is more reasonable ...

  7. #7
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    riquecohen is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I, a speaker of southern BrE, would consider them 'incorrect'. However, I don't know about AmE in this case.
    Quote Originally Posted by Munch View Post
    I have occasionally heard Australians use this phrase and it sounds natural, but perhaps colloquial, to me.
    While I'm loath to say that it's incorrect in AmE, I think it would not be used by educated speakers. I agree with Munch that it's colloquial. To me the phrase could imply that the job is illegal or simply something temporary.

  8. #8
    Jay Louise's Avatar
    Jay Louise is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    I have been correcting my students when they say that they "work a part time job" telling them that they should say that they "do a part time job."

    As an AmE speaker I would say "I have a part time job at S-mart" or "I work part time for S-mart" or "I do some odd jobs for the neighbor" "I did some work in the neighbor's yard".

    To me, a job is something you have and work is something you do. I think sometimes job is used in place of work. When I say "good job" I'm really saying you did good work.

    I might say that I work at a job that is boring but never that I work a job and it is boring.


    If someone said to me that they "did a job" I would think guns were involved and if they "worked a job" I would wonder how much they stole.

  9. #9
    Vidor is offline Member
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    Default not a teacher

    Strangely, this sounds more natural when you insert the qualifier "part-time". "Working a part-time job" sounds better to me than "working a job", which I'd never say.

  10. #10
    jamescuck is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Do we "work a job"? Or "do a job"? Or both?

    Different countries people use a language with different style in their communities.

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