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Thread: word order

  1. #1
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    word order

    I've heard this sentence in an American movie and in an English series:
    What can I do you for?

    I don't understand why for is used after who... I suppose it is not correct, is it? Is it colloquial? Do you use it normally?

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: word order

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    I've heard this sentence in an American movie and in an English series:
    What can I do you for?

    I don't understand why for is used after who... I suppose it is not correct, is it? Is it colloquial? Do you use it normally?
    Yes, it's colloquial and jocular. The standard form of a polite offer of help (a shop assistant might say it) is 'What can I do for you?' The joke here is that there is an idiomatic usage 'to do someone [for something]', meaning 'to take advantage of someone's gullibility/naivety'. It's very colloquial: 'This bloke comes up to me and says "Excuse me, I'm new here"; so I done 'im for a tenner' [a ten pound note].

    So a person saying 'What can I do you for?' is offering help, but threatening, in a joking way, that s/he may take advantage of you if you're not careful.

    It's a little dated now.

    b

  3. #3
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: word order

    Oh, thank you so much, indeed! I had been thinking about it with my friend for quite a long time! ;)

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