"I pondered the question" and "I pondered over the question".

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MeyaN

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"I pondered the question" and "I pondered over the question". Are both the preceding statements correct? Do they mean same? Which sounds natural?

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emsr2d2

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They're both correct. I would use the first because it's simpler.

As you can see from 1) in this link, "ponder" is often followed by "upon" or "over" but it's not obligatory.
 
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jutfrank

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I firmly disagree with the above. Only the first is correct. The verb is used transitively:

to ponder something

The meaning of ponder is most similar to think about. And as with its other closest synonyms, it needs an object.

It doesn't actually make sense without an object. How can a verb be both transitive and intransitive without having different uses?
 

jutfrank

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It can be used intransitively.
Have a look at the example sentences in the link below.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ponder

You'll also find plenty of instances of "ponder" + "over" in the Corpus of Contemporary American English as well as in the British National Corpus.

I'm not sure what you mean by emphasising can. There certainly are examples of it being used intransitively on oxforddictionaries.com. To be precise, four example sentences out of twenty. Dictionaries are generally interested in giving evidence of usage, whether the usage makes sense or not. This descriptive approach is even more apparent with corpora, (from which most dictionaries take their examples) which will show all kinds of erroneous language use, regardless of how egregious.

My argument is that if


  • to ponder the meaning of life
  • to ponder over the meaning of life

express the same thought, then why the grammatical difference? What effect does the difference in transitivity have?

Or is that these are two slightly different uses, and therefore different meanings of the word ponder?
 

jutfrank

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They're both correct. I would use the first because it's simpler.

In what way is it simpler? If anything, the second (intransitive use) is simpler as there is no necessary object of the verb.
 

emsr2d2

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The original question specified "the question". You can "ponder/ponder over" a lot of things. If I were talking about "the question", I would use "I pondered the question" - I said it was simpler purely because it uses only four words instead of five.
 

teechar

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Dictionaries are generally interested in giving evidence of usage, whether the usage makes sense or not.
This descriptive approach is even more apparent with corpora, (from which most dictionaries take their examples) which will show all kinds of erroneous language use, regardless of how egregious.
I disagree. I think that dictionaries and corpora list examples of natural usage of a word/phrase. That such usage may or may not not make sense to some of us is an entirely different matter.

My argument is that if


  • to ponder the meaning of life
  • to ponder over the meaning of life

express the same thought, then why the grammatical difference?
There may or may not be a reason, but the fact is such usage exists and is common enough!

I could be wrong about this, but perhaps "over" is used for some kind of emphasis here - in the same vein as "mull something over" or "go over something"; with the preposition "over" intimating that you scan/examine that thing thoroughly. In any case, this is not unusual at all. Consider, "Please clean your room" and "Please clean up your room"; I can't see any difference in meaning between "clean" and "clean up", and yet we all know they're both natural and common, and both mean the same thing.
 
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jutfrank

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I think that dictionaries and corpora list examples of natural usage of a word/phrase.

I don't think that corpus builders will vet the examples for naturalness. Any vetting is done by lexicographers.


the fact is such usage exists and is common enough!

I'm not disputing this, though. There are many common errors made everywhere, all the time. Even by expert teachers and lexicographers.

perhaps "over" is used for some kind of emphasis here - in the same vein as "mull something over" or "go over something"; with the preposition "over" intimating that you scan/examine that thing thoroughly.

Yes, that sounds plausible.
 

Raymott

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There are many common errors made everywhere, all the time. Even by expert teachers and lexicographers.
People can certainly make mistakes. I think that's the reason for all the disagreement in this thread.
 
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