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  1. #1
    Agnes is offline Member
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    'Be on something'

    What does it mean exactly when one asks, " What are you on?". Attended a meeting where the speaker was literally babbling. My colleague whispered to me and said "Gosh! what's this guy on?". First I thought he meant 'what's he talking about' but then I thought again that he meant the speaker was obviously under the influence of some drug or something similar. Could it have meant either in this context?

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Re: 'Be on something'

    Exactly. What types of drugs is he on?

    Are you on something?
    What are you on?


    We don't usually think the person really has taken illegal drugs, but the implication is that he is acting like someone who has.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: 'Be on something'

    Quote Originally Posted by Agnes View Post
    What does it mean exactly when one asks, " What are you on?". Attended a meeting where the speaker was literally babbling. My colleague whispered to me and said "Gosh! what's this guy on?". First I thought he meant 'what's he talking about' but then I thought again that he meant the speaker was obviously under the influence of some drug or something similar. Could it have meant either in this context?
    Barb's answer is fine. Informally, you could render 'What's he talking about' as 'What's he on about?' But 'What's he on?' implies drugs of one sort or another.

    b

  4. #4
    Agnes is offline Member
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    Re: 'Be on something'

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Barb's answer is fine. Informally, you could render 'What's he talking about' as 'What's he on about?' But 'What's he on?' implies drugs of one sort or another.

    b
    Thanks BobK, You've answered the other part of my question.

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: 'Be on something'

    Quote Originally Posted by Agnes View Post
    Thanks BobK, You've answered the other part of my question.
    I thought maybe that was the problem! Some users think I should always stick to answering the question asked, but I like to take a bit more care.

    b

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