English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I read a book and came across "caught you unawares". I kept thinking it's supposed to be "caught you unaware".

Is this an acceptable form or was that a typo or something?

share|improve this question
up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is a correct form. Unawares is an adverb meaning "while not aware of something" or "by surprise". Caught needs an adverb complement, so unawares fits nicely. It turns out unawares was actually Random House's word of the day several years back, and this does a nice job of explaining it.

share|improve this answer
    
I generally agree that quoting is preferable, but given the length of the cited material, in this case I thought that it was reasonable to simply link. The wayback machine captured it, so it's available now at: web.archive.org/web/20070217123544/http://www.randomhouse.com/… I'll edit the answer to update. – Dusty Jul 27 '15 at 23:19

It's the correct form, "unawares"is the adverb form of the adjective "unaware" and caught calls for an adverb complement rather than an adjective.

share|improve this answer

Sorry, couldn't resist:

Bananas in pyjamas
Are coming down the stairs
Bananas in pyjamas
Are coming down in pairs
Bananas in pyjamas
Are chasing teddy bears
'Cause on Tuesdays
They all try to
Catch them unawares

share|improve this answer
    
I'm reminded of a song on Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke. – oosterwal Feb 1 '11 at 20:19

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.