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.

I'm trying to describe two people who stay up at night to get some work done. Are the following sentences all grammatically correct and equivalent?

Without sleeping we go on to finish our work.

Without sleep we go on to finish our work.

We unsleepingly go on to finish our work.

Is there anything wrong or awkward about any of the above?

share|improve this question
4  
Number three reads a bit awkward to me. –  boehj Jun 1 '11 at 3:59

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would add commas to the first two, but otherwise they each say almost the same thing.

  1. There is a slight possibility that we mean that we do not sleep while we finish our work:

    Without sleeping, we go on to finish our work.

  2. We are going without sleep, either before or while finishing:

    Without sleep, we go on to finish our work.

  3. I have never heard "unsleepingly" used, and the OED only has one citation for it, but it is correct. I think it carries more a of a sense of "watchfulness".

    We unsleepingly go on to finish our work.

share|improve this answer

All of these sound somewhat awkward to me. Also "Unsleepingly" is not a common word, if it is one you haven't just invented.

"We go on to finish our work without sleep(ing)" represents a more natural ordering of the various parts of the sentence.

share|improve this answer

unsleepingly sounds a bit silly, but I think the other two are perfectly fine.

share|improve this answer

All are correct, but there is a subtle difference in meaning:

Without sleeping, we go on to finish our work.

Here, you emphasize the choice or contrast: we could have slept, or we wanted to sleep, but instead, we go on to finish our work.

Without sleep, we go on to finish our work.

Here, there's less of a sense that we could have slept right now; maybe we were up the night before, and now we're tired. This form brings that deficit (without sleep--tired) more into focus.

We unsleepingly go on to finish our work.

Unsleepingly is almost never used, and carries a connotation that we don't need or desire or miss sleep, even if some might think we ought to.

We sleeplessly go on to finish our work.

You didn't mention this one, but this suggests that we would have trouble going to sleep even if we tried; maybe the work is too engaging, or maybe we just have insomnia.

share|improve this answer

We went on to finish our work without sleeping.

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.