Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #1

    "A" nonsense

    I have just heard Her Majesty's first minister say in the House of Commons:

    "What a complete nonsense!"

    I am pretty sure that most American speakers dropped that "a" long ago.

    Do most British speakers still say "a nonsense"?

    Thank you.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,822
    #2

    Re: "A" nonsense

    We do still use it although I would probably simply say "What complete/total nonsense" in that context although if referring to one very specific piece of writing or a particular speech, it would still make sense. I would use the indefinite article with "He made a total nonsense out of my very simple instructions".

    (Call me a political ignoramus, but I don't even know who "Her Majesty's first minister" is!)
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 30-Apr-2012 at 16:51. Reason: Additional info and typo correction

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #3

    Re: "A" nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post

    (Call me a political ignoramus, but I don't even know who "Her Majesty's first minister" is!)

    Au contraire.

    It is your humble servant who is a political ignoramus.

    I had read that before the office of "prime minister" was officially established, that the most influential adviser of His Majesty was

    referred to as "first minister," since all ministers -- officially speaking -- were but servants of His Gracious Majesty.

    I promise to simply use the term "prime minister" in the future.

    Thank you again for your reply.

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 25,596
    #4

    Re: "A" nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Au contraire.

    It is your humble servant who is a political ignoramus.

    I had read that before the office of "prime minister" was officially established, that the most influential adviser of His Majesty was

    referred to as "first minister," since all ministers -- officially speaking -- were but servants of His Gracious Majesty.

    I promise to simply use the term "prime minister" in the future.

    Thank you again for your reply.
    He's not the Prime Minister. He's a very naughty boy!

  3. BobK's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,038
    #5

    Re: "A" nonsense

    I think I heard David Cameron say that. He was angry (or at least it suited the 'show' to seem to be angry). Most English speakers in that context would say 'What complete nonsense'. The grandiloquent archaism is often used in rhetorical contexts, and it also implies a kind of superiority - it's the sort of bombastic trick used by self-important school-teachers.

    b

Similar Threads

  1. Defining "Street," "Road," "Avenue," "Boulevard"
    By ahumphreys in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 31-Dec-2010, 08:14
  2. [Vocabulary] Difference between "health" and "wellness", "Diagnosis" and "Analysis"
    By tobysky in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Dec-2010, 23:43
  3. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-Sep-2008, 08:27
  4. confusing words "expressed" or "express" and "named" or"names"
    By Dawood Usmani in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 26-Oct-2007, 19:33
  5. "a nonsense"
    By M56 in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-Jul-2005, 13:44

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •