Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Just curious, normally if a person is not appreciating another person that's helping him, the person can tell him to show some gratitude. But how about "grow some gratitude"? It implies the person has no gratitude at all and have to undergo natural development by changing physically or psychologically to develop the quality of being thankful.

Will people think I am strange if I tell them to "grow" some gratitude?

share|improve this question
3  
People will understand what you mean and know that you're not a native speaker of English: "to grow some gratitude" is not idiomatic English. OTOH, they might think it's clever or creative or interesting, even if you are a native speaker of English. "Retarded" isn't quite the proper word to use in this case. In addition to being politically incorrect despite its currency in biomedical parlance, it just isn't the best description of someone who chooses to use unusual language. –  user21497 Jan 24 '13 at 1:21
    
@BillFranke Roger that! –  Help - I need somebody's help Jan 24 '13 at 5:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Will people think it strange? Probably. But it is difficult to answer for the "people."

Suffice it to say that the exact search for "grow some gratitude" reveals a mere 29 Google results (including this post), none too convincing.

The more familiar idiom, and the one you are trying to emulate is "grow some balls" (11.5mil hits) or "grow a backbone" (1.5mil). But note that in both these cases the thing that is being grown is, well, a thing, and an organic one at that. I can at least imagine growing a backbone, whereas growing gratitude remains abstract and somewhat nonsensical (despite the compelling alliteration).

If you are using this construction in your writing, I would suggest the far more common, "show some gratitude." Gratitude, an abstract concept, works better with similarly conceptual verbs like "show," "cultivate," or "develop," as opposed to concrete verbs like "grow," "build," or "gather."

I do not suggest the above as a rule, but as a rule of thumb. Good writing is often innovative, but it also follows a certain hidden logic, revealing something new and unexpected about the familiar words and riffing on familiar patterns. Growing gratitude confuses me personally, and I suspect it would sound similarly grating to others.

share|improve this answer
1  
I see your point, but I don't think there is any disagreement. The template is "grow some x", which of course means different things depending on what x is. What I want the OP to understand is that "growing gratitude" is not idiomatic or natural in English, along with suggesting some reasons as to why that might be the case. –  denten Jan 24 '13 at 4:17
    
Just a trivia: "Grow a spine" rakes in 22.3 mil hits! –  KeyBrd Basher Jan 24 '13 at 9:25

It would not be a usual way of phrasing things.

On the one hand, this could make the phrase fall flat or jar, when you use it.

On the other, all the best writing and speaking is not a usual way of phrasing things.

Just where the difference between the two lies is a matter of aesthetics, and it can depend on how it sits with the rest of what you say or write, but it at least strikes me as a clear description of how you think the person should change their attitude, rather than of you getting something muddled.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.