Discussion Forum

Please consider registering

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —

— Match —

— Forum Options —

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
My brains
Perfect sounding English could be wrong
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
Forum Posts: 488
Member Since:
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
In the UK TV series ‘House of Cards,’ there is this line uttered by the beautiful female aid to her villainous Prime Minister:
I’ve been given the distinct impression … my presence here has more to do with my body than my brains.
(It’s about 14 minutes into episode 2/season 2 -She articulates the plural ‘brains’ very strongly, hammocking it just the way Brits like to do.)
Though it’s quite common to hear the likes of ‘He has a brain for high learning,’ the plural above seems outright wrong. Is there a reason that it might be right?
New River, AZ, USA
Forum Posts: 959
Member Since:
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Doesn’t sound correct to me, but “brains” is sometimes used in a sense that implies singular, rather than an actual plural noun. As an implied singular form, “brains” is quite common in English. For example: “He has the brains to solve that problem.”

Acknowledging the usual Google Ngrams cautions, see this comparison.

But in the context of the example you cite, it just doesn’t sound right.


Forum Posts: 1719
Member Since:
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

The plural there sounds natural to me. I don’t have a problem with it. In my speech there is a lot of overlap between singular and plural uses. Both can be literal or figurative with nuances.

When used literally, the plural suggests brain matter rather than an intact organ. When used figuratively, the plural suggests more generic capacity than specific skill.

The ME removed and weighed the brain.
The suicide shot his brains out.
She has the brain for theoretical physics.
He doesn’t have the brains for college.

In this case (“… more to do with my body than my brains.”), the plural suggests to me that general intellect is what is being referenced.

Forum Posts: 27
Member Since:
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Left brain – right brain – riddle solved – two brains make a brain :)

Forum Timezone: America/Los_Angeles

Most Users Ever Online: 1147

Currently Online: EmmettRedd, Robert
6 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

Heimhenge: 959

Ron Draney: 684

Bob Bridges: 680

deaconB: 626

RobertB: 489

Robert: 488

tromboniator: 447

Dick: 434

samaphore: 312

dilettante: 287

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 611

Members: 3072

Moderators: 1

Admins: 5

Forum Stats:

Groups: 1

Forums: 1

Topics: 3392

Posts: 18015

Newest Members: Writerdeb, southwest88, mr_ochie, jayelgee, MrsDrSanders, CharleneTX, KimfrmKanada, hi.dee, RickLight, Bellevance

Administrators: Martha Barnette: 820, Grant Barrett: 1445, EmmettRedd: 778, Glenn: 1719, timfelten: 0