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Is it correct to say "Pay attention that..."? or must I use "Pay attention to..."

For example: "An attention should be paid that this is a one-way street".

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The that is fine. The an is wrong. –  RegDwigнt Feb 17 at 15:50
    
Thank you. Why the "an" is wrong? –  Yuri Feigin Feb 17 at 15:55
    
Because you pay attention. Uncountable. Not one attention or seven attentions. You yourself used the construction correctly, thrice, before suddenly throwing in an article for reasons unspecified. –  RegDwigнt Feb 17 at 15:57
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2 Answers 2

Whilst it is difficult to fault 'Attention should be paid that this is a one-way street' as being ungrammatical, it would nonetheless be an unusual, and slightly clumsy way of putting it.

If it were me I would say one of the following depending on whether I was speaking, writing, putting up a notice etc:

'Please pay attention to this being a one-way street.'

'Please pay attention to the fact that this is a one way street.'

'Please pay attention. This is a one-way street'

'One way street. Please pay attention'.

'Attention please; this is a one-way street.'

'Please note that this is a one-way street'.

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Thank you for your answer. What would you suggest in case of writing an article, when I want from the reader to pay attention to something that was described before. For example: "Attention should paid that X is defined...." I prefer not to use the direct approach of: "Pay attention". Thanks again. –  Yuri Feigin Feb 17 at 16:20
    
Well you could say 'Please pay attention to the note on page 46'. But I am wondering if you are using the most appropriate verb here. 'Pay attention' is quite a strong and instructive expression. Can you not say simply 'for description of this, see page 27'. –  WS2 Feb 17 at 16:44
    
@YuriFeigin in that context, the most common form is "Note that if X is not defined, bad things happen". –  terdon Feb 17 at 17:55
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You're using "pay attention" 2 different ways and I think that is muddying the waters a bit.

In transitive use you pay attention to something.

However there is also the intransitive use:

"Pay attention!"

So your second example (with the "an" removed, as @RegDwight noted)

"Attention should be paid that this is a one-way street".

Can also be stated:

"Attention should be paid. This is a one-way street".

In this case "attention" is not directly tied to "that". "That" is being used as a conjunction.

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Thank you for your answer. What would you suggest in case of writing an article, when I want from the reader to pay attention to something that was described before. For example: "Attention should paid that X is defined...." I prefer not to use the direct approach of: "Pay attention". Thanks again. –  Yuri Feigin Feb 17 at 16:21
    
"The passive voice should be avoided" ;) You would have to say "attention should be paid that x is defined..." when it's much simpler and more direct to say something like "Note that x is defined" or "Ensure that x is defined" if the user is expected to define x. –  Digital Chris Feb 17 at 16:24
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