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 explain what something means. Is it correct to express that using the word "idea" as follows?

  1. He pulls up next to him. To pull up (pause). That's the idea that someone does X.
  2. He pulls up next to him. To pull up (pause). It has the idea of someone does X.
share|improve this question
    
It would be helpful to give us more context here. The it in the second sentence appears to be a pronoun referring back to a noun, whereas the it in the first sentence appears to be dummy subject as in It's good to see you.. –  Shoe May 7 '12 at 5:41
    
Look at my update. –  Alex May 7 '12 at 5:52
1  
"It gives the idea of someone doing X." Also, may be "it gives the idea that someone does X." The former is what you need. I wouldn't use the latter, instead I would say "it suggests that someone does X." –  Fr0zenFyr May 7 '12 at 21:51
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

An expression neither is nor has an idea: it expresses or conveys an idea. But more simply, it means.

So

That conveys the idea that somebody does X

or more usually

That means that somebody does X

Also, the idea of requires a noun phrase, not a verbal phrase, so

That conveys the idea of somebody('s) doing X

would be OK. (I put the 's in parentheses because some grammarians insist on it, but many people don't use it even in writing: see this explanation)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your statement (quoted) doesn't provide a clear picture of your suggestion to someone. You may find the usage in any dictionary. For instance, on M-W:

Usage: It is usually considered correct to say that someone has the idea of doing something, rather than the idea to do it: he had the idea of taking (not the idea to take ) a short holiday

share|improve this answer
add comment

In your two examples, "It's the idea that ..." and "It has the idea of ..." do not convey any sensible or clear idea to me. Perhaps the phrase you want instead is "The idea is ...".

For example, after presenting an instance or two that in some way illustrate X, one says "The idea is that X occurred", to make explicit what the examples were intended to show.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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.