not up to snuff

Status
Not open for further replies.

taked4700

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2013
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Hi,

1. They think that Tom is not up to snuff.

2. They don't think that Tom is up to snuff.

Do you think 1 and 2 mean the same thing?

I suppose that English has a rule that "I don't think..." is better than "I think that...not..".

If 1 and 2 mean the same, which is more idiomatic?

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:

charliedeut

VIP Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Spanish
Home Country
Spain
Current Location
Spain
As far as I could find out, it's "up to snuff": snuff - definition of snuff by Macmillan Dictionary. So IMO #1 is better.

charliedeut

PS: As you will notice, the dictionary says it's both "informal and old-fashioned", so you should be careful when using it.
 

Raymott

VIP Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
Australia
Current Location
Australia
Please fill out the "Reason for editing" box if you are going to make a reply look meaningless.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
I suppose that English has a rule that "I don't think..." is better than "I think that...not..".

Have you seen this given as a rule? I wouldn't agree with it- the context may affect which sounds better.
 

taked4700

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2013
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Thank you, all the teachers / contributors.


Tdol. Thank you for your important comment. I googled some examples which include "think... not..." construction.

[URL]http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2012/yan-interview-text_en.html

[/URL]But after my long-term observation and first-hand experiences I think it's not always decided by socialisation. Some people are just born that way. Their thought processes are different. They are born to promote self-interest at ...

( I guess this one is idiomatic because this sentence indicates partial negation:not always.)


http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1973/fischer-lecture.pdf
I
think I do not have to repeat the results of those investigations today. I would like to talk instead about a field of research in which we have been intensely interested in recent years: namely, the field of carbene complexes and, more recently, ...

( I guess this one is not idiomatic. "I don't think I have to repeat..." would be more idiomatic. )

Thanks in advance.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
To my ear they are exactly equivalent.
 

taked4700

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2013
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Thank you, Probus.

How about this:

1. I think he is not a nice guy.

2. I don't think he is a nice guy.

Both sentences mean an opinion of mine on him, and 1 indicates directly that he is not good while 2 presumes, in my thinking, he does not seem to be a good guy. Therefore, I think, 2 is politer than 1, which is the reason English speaking people prefer "I don' think" to "I think ..not..".

Am I right?

Thanks in advance.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Thank you, Probus.

How about this:

1. I think he is not a nice guy.

2. I don't think he is a nice guy.

Both sentences mean an opinion of mine on him, and 1 indicates directly that he is not good while 2 presumes, in my thinking, he does not seem to be a good guy. Therefore, I think, 2 is politer than 1, which is the reason English speaking people prefer "I don' think" to "I think ..not..".

Am I right?

Thanks in advance.

I see nothing to choose between them. To me they are the same.
 
Last edited:

jordanmichael

New member
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Both sound perfectly fine to me.
 

bmetz

New member
Joined
Jul 28, 2013
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Hello, I am an English teacher and I wanted to respond to your post. Yes, I think he is not a nice guy and I don't
think he is a nice guy mean the same thing. Don't is a contraction, which means it is formed by two words: do and not. Therefore, the sentence really is "I do not think he is a nice guy"

However, when looking at popular language, and Standard English, it is more common to say "I don't think he is a nice guy" rather than the other option.

  • don't = do not

As far as politeness, I agree that saying that I don't think is politer than I think.... not due to the presumptions of thinking and being able to change one's thinking. I don't think hints that there's a chance of changing one's thinking whereas I think... not is hard to argue with because it's your thoughts and your opinions. Does that help?

In addition, I wanted to correct, or comment, on your sentence, "Both sentences mean an opinion of mine on him." The correct way to say this is "Both sentences mean my opinion of him" rather than "an opinion of mine on him." We don't usually place things like opinions or other abstract ideas onto people, but rather formulate them.
Therefore, it's my opinion not an opinion of mine.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Hey bmetz, welcome aboard.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top