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    #1

    Smile not be above doing sth

    According to all English professional dictionaries, "be above doing sth" tends to be used negatively except Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary. The example is as follows:
    I thought you were above lying to people.
    Can I also say like this?
    Poor as he was,he was above selling his honour at any price.

    Looking forward to any valuable answer. Thanks in advance.


  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Quote Originally Posted by XW Rogers View Post
    According to all English professional dictionaries, "be above doing sth" tends to be used negatively except Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary. The example is as follows:
    I thought you were above lying to people.
    Can I also say like this? ——
    Poor as he was,he was above selling his honour at any price.
    ...

    It's hard to say without seeing the other examples, but I don't think the MW one is exceptional. The thing one is 'not above' is lower; so the negativity is applied to that.

    I don't see anything wrong with your suggestion, but it sounds odd to me; perhaps it's the addition of the last three words. I would say 'Poor as he was,he would never stoop to selling his honour at any price. (It's interesting that the idiom 'stoop to something' has the same idea of vertical movement. )

    b

    PS I've just realized that when you say 'used negatively' you mean specifically 'used after a word that expresses the negative'; in the MW case the negative is implied: '[I see now that you are not] above lying to people[, although] I thought you were'.
    Last edited by BobK; 23-Apr-2014 at 12:51. Reason: Added PS

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    #3

    Re: not be above doing sth

    First of all, thanks a lot for your reply.
    I 've never found any example that is used without "not" in the sentence with the idiom except the one from the MW. In fact, just as you say, in the MW case the negative is still implied, which I also feel. By saying all English professional dictionaries, I mean what English dictionaries I have found, for example, Longman, Oxford, Cambrige, Collins, Mcmillan, Merrian-Webster, including their various editions, all of which are from English-speaking countries.
    However, I did find some examples that are used with no 'not' in dictionaries by Chinese. Take for example, "He is above lying to people" (他不屑于说谎). I doubt its correctness. I still stick to my opinion.
    You said, "I don't think the MW one is exceptional", but can you give me some examples from an authoritative source?
    Thanks again.

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Quote Originally Posted by XW Rogers View Post
    I did find some examples that are used with no 'not' in dictionaries by Chinese.
    May I know the names of those dictionaries?

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    #5

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Example 1. <人> (清高得) 不会做出<…之事>,不屑…,以<做…>为耻:He is ~ telling lies.他不是会说谎的人。(《21世纪英汉汉英双向词典》Lingoes)
    Example 2. Though broke, he was above selling his books. 虽然手头没钱,他还不至于变卖自己的书。(P. 6《英汉六用词典》四川人民出版社)

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Thanks. I have just installed《21世纪英汉汉英双向词典》in my Lingoes.
    If what the dictionaries by Chinese says is out of keeping with what the world-famous ones says, I will definitely trust the latter.
    The definition in my Longman dictionary is "to not be too good or honest to do something", which is distinct from the Chinese one.

    Not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Quote Originally Posted by XW Rogers View Post

    Can I also say like this? ——
    Poor as he was,he was above selling his honour at any price.
    Yes, I'd accept that. The term is used in both positive and negative sentences.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Quote Originally Posted by XW Rogers View Post
    You said, "I don't think the MW one is exceptional", but can you give me some examples from an authoritative source?
    No need. As my PS said, I over-interpreted your use of 'in the negative'.

    b

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    #9

    Re: not be above doing sth

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    No need. As my PS said, I over-interpreted your use of 'in the negative'.

    b
    I see. Thanks anyway.

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