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.

While asking a laptop related question over on Superuser, I wrote down a list of things I did trying to fix the problem.

One of the list items was that I tried running the laptop powered by its internal battery, and from an electrical outlet.

I used

Running the laptop both off the battery and off the electrical socket

but especially the latter part doesn't feel natural to me. Is there a more elegant, colloquial way to express both modes of operation?

share|improve this question
    
Pekka -- I'd also suggest explaining explicitly whether you mean at the same time, or that you tried "both" (ie, one and then the other). FYI at first, I actually thought you meant one then the other. I think the thing that feels unnatural to you is that the "both" should probably come AFTER the "other" word.. "I tried it with both the battery and adaptor connected at the same time" or "I ran it from both the battery and adaptor" or "I tried it using both the battery and the adaptor". It feels more natural if "both" is after the "other" word! (Now that's technical grammar talk!) –  Joe Blow Jul 10 '11 at 16:17
1  
He doesn't mean both at the same time. He means either one or the other, but trying both sources of power. –  pavium Jul 10 '11 at 21:57

7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If we wand to be able to use a "both" phrase, I would say "Running the laptop from both the battery and the outlet."

Even though you never explicitly state that what you're getting from these sources is power, it's easily inferred.

Here in the US at least, the phrase "electrical socket" isn't colloquial in general, but outlet, or wall, or even electrical outlet works.

A better option might be "I tried running the laptop both from its battery and by plugging it into the wall." The reason this is necessary in this case is that the same phrasing isn't usually okay to both describe power from a battery and from an outlet.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for "by plugging it in." Most colloquial speech refers to things drawing power from a wall socket as being "plugged-in." –  Andrew Jul 10 '11 at 18:03

How about "Running the laptop both from the battery and from AC."

share|improve this answer
    
AC strands for alternating current. Computers need direct current (the AC from the socket in converted to DC) and the battery also provides current (DC), hence the sentence is illogical. The expression „running something from alernating current“ is grammatically incorrect, I believe. –  Harold Cavendish Jul 10 '11 at 14:03
    
You could say "the AC power adapter" (or just "power adapter"). –  Peter Shor Jul 10 '11 at 14:08
    
@Peter Shor But the adapter is not the source of electricity. It would be like saying that a car is powered by a drive shaft. –  Harold Cavendish Jul 10 '11 at 14:12
2  
AC suggests an electrical outlet. Who uses DC electrical outlets? I'm sure @Pekka is familiar with the usage. And so will be his readers on Superuser. We don't need to explain much to these people. They would feel insulted. –  pavium Jul 10 '11 at 14:21
1  
@pavium: Agreed! In this case, "AC" would be immediately understood as meaning "wall power" and no further explanation is necessary. In fact, saying "AC power adapter" or similar would be silly and pedantic. –  The Raven Jul 10 '11 at 16:48

I would say: Running the computer on battery and connected to the electrical grid or using an external supply.

share|improve this answer

Running the laptop both off the battery and off the electrical socket

Here, the 'both, and also' construction is, while subtle, extremely effective. For example:

"I've tried running the laptop both off the battery and also off AC." This helps to cleanly differentiate both processes. You could tighten that a bit more: "I've tried running the laptop both off battery and also AC."

share|improve this answer

Most of the time I would say 'plugged-in' rather than 'off the socket.'

You could use this several ways, each of the following examples makes the separation of the two trials more explicit:

I tried running the laptop both on battery power and plugged-in.

I tried both running the laptop on battery power and plugged-in.

I tried running the laptop from the battery, and then tried it plugged-in.

You could also use battery power and wall power or cord power together to have a more parallel construction, such as:

I tried running the laptop on battery power first, then on wall power.

I tried running the laptop both from the battery and from the cord, but neither worked.

Or if you meant you tried to run it from battery power and wall power at the same time, you might say:

I tried to get the laptop to draw power from both the battery and the cord at the same time.

This is one of those situations where the common knowledge of how these things work (laptops normally draw power from battery or a cord, but not both at the same time) is going to inform most peoples interpretation of your statement. Really the only situation you'd need to worry about people understanding is if you really did mean you tried to get the laptop running from two power supplies at the same time.

share|improve this answer

If you are in Europe, ANZ, Canada, or elsewhere in the British Commonwealth, then mains would be a perfect word for this:

  • Running the laptop both on battery power and on mains power
  • Running the laptop with power from both the battery and the mains

External is also a good choice:

Running the laptop both on battery power and on external power

And, finally, you could also use power adapter or simply AC adapter:

  • Running the laptop using both the battery and the power adapter
  • Running the laptop with power from both the battery and the adapter

I should also add that on is the correct preposition to use when discussing power sources. The computer runs on either battery power or external power. Off is rather used when discussing connections. Thus, it's OK to say running off the [power] adapter. Using off otherwise is extremely informal at best.

share|improve this answer
1  
I know this is a general English usage site, but Pekka is in Germany, and most of his audience on Superuser will be in the US. –  pavium Jul 11 '11 at 3:09

In international English, use "the mains" ("Running the laptop off both the battery and the mains").

I have no idea if US English has a similar usage, but I have seen "mains electricity" used, which would give "Running the laptop off both battery and mains electricity".

Incidentally, switching the order of "both" and "off" allows you to remove the second instance of "off", making the sentence less of a brain-twister.

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.