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I am having trouble with these two sentences:

  • He drinks of the spring.
  • He drink the spring.

Are these two sentences correct? Do they have the same meaning?

By the way, is there anyone having any suggestion for Chinese students in English?

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    You may find English Language Learners useful. Also, I added "verb-agreement" to the tags. Click that tag to see numerous other questions with answers about subject-verb agreement. Jul 18, 2013 at 14:35
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    Both of those sentences are kind of awkward but "He drinks the spring" means he drank the whole spring which wouldn't make sense. I'm not sure why you're using "drinks" as opposed to drinking or drank but anyway . . . I'd say, "He drinks from the spring." (Or "He is drinking from the spring.", or "he drank from the spring.") Jul 18, 2013 at 14:38

3 Answers 3

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As Kristina Lopez mentioned in the comments, the word you want here is from:

He drinks from the spring.

Generally, in English, we say that a person [or animal, etc.] drinks from a container or a body of water. However, when we talk about the substance a person is drinking, no preposition is used:

He drinks orange juice with his breakfast. [Correct]
He drinks of orange juice with his breakfast. [Incorrect]

We can combine these two to refer to both the substance and the container:

She drank coffee from a mug.

Of is rarely used in this way in modern English. It sounds old-fashioned and poetic. You will encounter it, for instance, in translations of the Bible:

... but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst ...
(John 4:14, NASB)

So, to return to your example sentences,

He drinks the spring.

would probably be perceived as incorrect by a native English speaker.

He drinks of the spring.

is technically correct, but sounds unusual.

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"He drinks of the spring" is a more poetic usage. One would generally "drink from" a spring, or any other container or source of water. One can "take a drink of" a liquid, but that's using a gerund (the noun form of the verb drink.)

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Your first sentence is not incorrect. It would be better (and more normal) if you write from instead of of.
As for your second sentence, it is incorrect. The verb following a singular subject always ends with an s or an es (provided it is written in the present tense).

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  • Present perfect doesn't require "s" or "es."
    – Noah
    Jul 18, 2013 at 15:35
  • Oh yes. Sorry. I should edit my answer. Thanking you for pointing out.
    – Wonder
    Jul 18, 2013 at 15:44

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