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  1. LwyrFirat's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 343
    #1

    "What can I do you for?"

    I've been hearing this phrase quite ofen, even from the pople who tend to use proper English. Isn't it grammatically wrong? Could you explain the grammatical structure of this sentence please?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #2

    Re: "What can I do you for?"

    An informal sentence said for comic effect. It is ungrammatical, and deliberately so.

  2. BobK's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • UK
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,038
    #3

    Re: "What can I do you for?"

    Quote Originally Posted by LwyrFirat View Post
    I've been hearing this phrase quite ofen, even from the pople who tend to use proper English. Isn't it grammatically wrong? Could you explain the grammatical structure of this sentence please?
    To flesh out Anglika's answer a bit:

    A polite offer of help (used by shop assistants, for example) is 'What can I do for you?' Informally, to do someone is to exploit/short-change/'diddle'/'con' them (in the context of '...for'), or to do them an injustice. Example: 'When they realized I was a complete beginner, they did me for a fiver' [=they tricked me out of 5]

    The joke in the question 'What can I do you for?' depends on these two facts. It is on the face of it a polite offer of help, but actually promises to do you.

    b

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