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  1. #1
    taked4700 is offline Member
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    Default hang by/on/with a single thread

    Hi,

    The future of Japan is hanging by/on a single thread.

    I know this is idiomatic, but I wonder if 'hanging with a single thread' could make sense or not.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    By is natural and correct. On is unnatural but perhaps barely acceptable. With is out of the question.
    Last edited by probus; 12-Mar-2013 at 03:53.

  3. #3
    taked4700 is offline Member
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    Thank you, Probus.

    Can I ask a further question?

    My dictionary says 'hang on a single thread' is an idiom.

    Could you tell me in what context 'hang on a single thread' is idiomatic?

    1. It is hanging on a single thread if I could make the train to the office.

    2. My dinner date with Kate is hanging on a single thread. I've lost my bag so I have no money, no cash cards with me now.

    Do you think these are idiomatic?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. #4
    probus's Avatar
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    Quote Originally Posted by taked4700 View Post
    Thank you, Probus.

    Can I ask a further question?

    My dictionary says 'hang on a single thread' is an idiom.

    Could you tell me in what context 'hang on a single thread' is idiomatic?

    1. It is hanging on a single thread if I could make the train to the office.

    2. My dinner date with Kate is hanging on a single thread. I've lost my bag so I have no money, no cash cards with me now.

    Do you think these are idiomatic?

    Thanks in advance.
    Yes I think they are all idiomatic. Who am I, a humble retired English teacher, to argue against a dictionary? All I meant to say was that I think by is the better usage than on, and that with is wrong, which I think was your original question, and is still my original answer.

  5. #5
    taked4700 is offline Member
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    Thank you, Probus.

    Let me make sure once again.

    Generally speaking, 'hang by a single thread' is more idiomatic than 'hang on a single thread' in any context, in other words, there is no context that makes 'hang on a single thread' more idiomatic than 'hang by a single thread'.

    Is this right?

    Thanks in advance.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    I will happily argue against a dictionary if I think the compilers are mistaken. Who published your dictionary, taked?

    1. It is hanging on a single thread if I could make the train to the office.

    2. My dinner date with Kate is hanging on a single thread. I've lost my bag, so I have no money, no cash or cards with me now.


    #1 seems to me to be so unnatural as not to be English. With my correction, #2 is possible, but 'by' would be more natural.

  7. #7
    taked4700 is offline Member
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    Thank you, 5jj.

    It seems to me that 'hang by a single thread' is more natural than 'hang on a single thread' in any context.

    Is this right?

    Thanks in advance.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: hang by/on/with a single thread

    Quote Originally Posted by taked4700 View Post
    It seems to me that 'hang by a single thread' is more natural than 'hang on a single thread' in any context.

    Is this right?
    That is what probus and I have said.

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