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I heard this phrase today and I'm pretty sure that there is something wrong with it. I do not know if it is the grammar or the syntax or the meaning of the words. Can you please tell me what the problem with this phrase is? Would a native American or British use it? If it's not correct, can you please tell me the correct alternative?

I hope that you get what she was trying to say: a good coffee can always be used to battle a bad headache.

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Totally off topic, but clearly the speaker has never experienced a migraine! –  Jeffrey Blake Dec 14 '11 at 16:59
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@JeffreyBlake Or you've never had a good enough coffee ;) But probably what you said. –  Matthew Crumley Dec 14 '11 at 17:53
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Is the comma necessary? –  Sam Pearson Dec 14 '11 at 20:53
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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think the main source of awkwardness is the missing object for "relieve". But it's grammatically correct. Compare the (simplified) negation, which is more obviously correct:

There is a headache that a coffee will not relieve.

I would prefer

There is no headache so strong that a good coffee won't relieve it.

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Some might consider 'that' to be a relative pronoun functioning as the object of 'relieve'. Others may not. –  Barrie England Dec 14 '11 at 15:52
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In that case, @BarrieEngland, maybe removing the comma would suffice: With the comma in place, it is hard to see "that" functioning as anything but a conjunction. –  JeffSahol Dec 14 '11 at 15:55
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'that' -> 'which' works to show that it could be analyzed as a relative clause, not needing the 'it'. –  Mitch Dec 14 '11 at 16:00
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It's the sort of thing that many native speakers might say, but some might prefer to end the sentence with it.

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Are you a native speaker? If yes, does this phrase sound normal to you? I mean, would you frown if you saw it written on a blog or something? The usage of the verb: "relieve" is OK? –  F1234k Dec 14 '11 at 15:52
    
@F1234k: My answers in order are 'yes', 'yes' and 'no'. –  Barrie England Dec 14 '11 at 15:54
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I'm a native English speaker, and my only qualm about the sentence is the presence of the comma. In this context it implies that there is a subordinate clause, which there is not. I would omit it. Besides that, Americans use constructions like this fairly often. –  Jay Dec 14 '11 at 16:13
    
@Jay: If the second part of the sentence isn't a subordinate clause, what is it? –  Barrie England Dec 14 '11 at 16:28
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You are right, this sentence is grammatically wrong. The problem with this phrase is that "enough" has been used instead of "so". Also, "a cup of coffee", or "coffee" without the indefinite article would do better. There are two ways to correct it:

Use "so ... that ..." > There is no headache so strong that good coffee can't relieve (it). or Use "enough": No headache is strong enough for a cup of good coffee. (relieve is implied, not necessary to use it) I would prefer the latter way of expressing this thought for "brevity is the soul of wit."

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+1 I agree it should be “so” rather than “enough”. –  Pitarou Mar 10 '12 at 4:34
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It is perfectly fine, as can be demonstrated by replacing the words.

"There is no paper strong enough, that a sharp knife won't slice"

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