Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Ukrainian
      • Home Country:
      • Belarus
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine

    • Join Date: Feb 2011
    • Posts: 425
    #1

    God willing

    I'd like to get some of your thoughts on the "God willing" expresion. What I'd like to find out is

    1) Is there a grammarian term (name) for this construction you are aware of?
    2) Is it ok to use other pronouns instead of God in this construction?


    God willing, we will catch up with them. - The driver willing, we will catch up with them.

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

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,843
    #2

    Re: God willing

    I don't think you can use other pronouns. It's a fairly fixed phrase. In the Christian religion at least, the belief is that things only happen if God wills it (ie if God wants it to happen and makes it happen). The theory is that no matter what us human beings do or what we want to happen, it won't happen unless God wills it. So in your "driver" example, it really doesn't matter how willing or enthusiastic the driver is, he won't catch up with them unless God wants him to.

    I should point out that this is my understanding of it but I'm an atheist so I might not have grasped the nuances of the omnipotence theory (if "omnipotence" is even the appropriate word).

    Before posting this, I mentioned it to my mum. She has always interpreted "God willing" as "If God is willing to allow it to happen", so she thought it meant that human beings could have an effect on outcomes although only if God allows their desired outcome to happen!

    I considered deleting my reply but I still think the first part is valid - you can't say "The driver willing ..."
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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

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

    Re: God willing

    Quote Originally Posted by Kotfor View Post

    1) Is there a grammarian term (name) for this construction you are aware of?
    2) Is it ok to use other pronouns instead of God in this construction?






    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,


    1. I checked my books and the Web, and it seems that the term for that expression is the

    absolute nominative or nominative absolute

    2. An absolute element is defined as some words that form an independent exoression. That is, it is an expression

    that, grammatically speaking, is not connected to the main sentence.

    (i) Here is a famous example. You and a friend go to a party. Your friend says to you, "Present company excepted, everyone here is really ugly!" ["present company" = "you"]

    3. "God willing" = If God wills it, we will catch up with them.

    a. The sentence is basically "We will catch up with them." Then you add "God willing" which is a clause of condition (IF God wills it). People who write grammar books often feel that conditional clauses are absolute elements. That is, they apply to the whole main sentence, not just one word (such as the verb).

    b. Nevertheless, the nominative absolute does have a "logical" relation to the main sentence. You want everyone to know that you all will catch up with them -- IF GOD WILLS IT.

    4. [I have deleted this section.]

    5. I think that native speakers usually restrict the nominative absolute to elegant writing. If you were to speak like

    this in your everyday conversation, people might think you a bit strange.

    6. If you are interested in pursuing this topic further, I most respectfully suggest that you google "nominative absolute God willing." Then click on the "books" section. You will find many books that explain this construction.


    James

    Credits:

    A Grammar of Present-Day English (1963) by Pence and Emery, pages 138 - 139.
    Descriptive English Grammar (1950) by House and Harman, pages 293 -294.
    A Grammar of the English Language (Vol. II) (1931) by Curme, pages 152 -153.
    Encyclopedic Graded Grammar (2007) by I.P. Attarde (accessed through Google books).
    Last edited by TheParser; 17-Sep-2012 at 16:36.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Ukrainian
      • Home Country:
      • Belarus
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine

    • Join Date: Feb 2011
    • Posts: 425
    #4

    Re: God willing

    TheParser you have provided a great and exemplary answer.

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

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #5

    Re: God willing

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Kotfor:

    Thank you for your kind note.

    After reading emsr's excellent post, I returned to Google books and discovered that "God willing" is the English

    translation of the Latin "Deo volente."

    According to Mr. Frederick John Lazell, very religious people used that phrase so often that they often abbreviated it to

    "d.v."

    Thus, as emsr said, it might be wise to restrict "willing" to the noun "God."



    James

Similar Threads

  1. God vs god
    By keannu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 31-Jan-2012, 18:09
  2. Oh my God or Oh, my God?
    By Patrick S. in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 16-May-2010, 21:54
  3. oh my god!!
    By julianna in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 20-Aug-2009, 04:29
  4. Oh, my God!
    By peppy_man in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-Jun-2006, 13:14

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
  •