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  1. Member
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    #1

    Exclamation When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Hi

    I know the meaning of "be all thumbs" and "be all fingers and thumbs", but I encountered the sentence below which seems to be strange.

    "When he plays his fingers are all thumbs"

    Can we say "his fingers are all thums"?

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    #2

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Yes. That's the origin of the expression "to be all thumbs". The idea is that your fingers are less dexterous than your thumbs.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venus.jam View Post
    Hi

    I know the meaning of "be all thumbs" and "be all fingers and thumbs", but I encountered the sentence below which seems to be strange.

    "When he plays his fingers are all thumbs"

    Can we say "his fingers are all thumbs"?
    Note your typo above. It's true that thumbs on their own are less dexterous than fingers yet, without opposable thumbs, we wouldn't be dexterous at all.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #4

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Note your typo above. It's true that thumbs on their own are less dexterous than fingers yet, without opposable thumbs, we wouldn't be dexterous at all.
    Quite right, though I do remember a girl in my eighth-grade science class who managed remarkably well despite the absence of a thumb on her dominant hand.
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    #5

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Yes. That's the origin of the expression "to be all thumbs". The idea is that your fingers are less dexterous than your thumbs.
    I'm confused. If his fingers are all thumbs it means that his fingers are more dexterous than his thumbs but he cannot play well because his fingers are all thumbs. But, you've said the reverse.

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    #6

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venus.jam View Post
    I'm confused. If his fingers are all thumbs it means that his fingers are more dexterous than his thumbs but he cannot play well because his fingers are all thumbs. But, you've said the reverse.
    The expression means that he plays as if he had thumbs instead of fingers.
    I am not a teacher.

  7. Skrej's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: When he plays his fingers are all thumbs.

    Thumbs are primarily for grasping. They're not so good for precision pointing. It's very difficult to pick something up without your thumbs, but mostly because of their size and shape, they are awkward for pinpoint manipulation. They also have a shorter reach and aren't parallel to your other fingers. They sit off at an acute angle.

    Since your sentence seems to be referring to music, imagine trying to play a stringed instrument with only your thumbs. While thumbs work well enough on keyed instruments which offer a broad surface to strike, they're mostly useless in picking at strings where you need to stop the string at a precise point. They serve only to solidify and grasp the fret board or neck.
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