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Is it correct to say "Pay attention that..."? or must I use "Pay attention to..."

For example: "An attention should be paid that this is a one-way street".

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  • The that is fine. The an is wrong.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:50
  • Thank you. Why the "an" is wrong? Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:55
  • 2
    Because you pay attention. Uncountable. Not one attention or seven attentions. You yourself used the construction correctly, thrice, before suddenly throwing in an article for reasons unspecified.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:57

2 Answers 2

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Whilst it is difficult to fault 'Attention should be paid that this is a one-way street' as being ungrammatical, it would nonetheless be an unusual, and slightly clumsy way of putting it.

If it were me I would say one of the following depending on whether I was speaking, writing, putting up a notice etc:

'Please pay attention to this being a one-way street.'

'Please pay attention to the fact that this is a one way street.'

'Please pay attention. This is a one-way street'

'One way street. Please pay attention'.

'Attention please; this is a one-way street.'

'Please note that this is a one-way street'.

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  • Thank you for your answer. What would you suggest in case of writing an article, when I want from the reader to pay attention to something that was described before. For example: "Attention should paid that X is defined...." I prefer not to use the direct approach of: "Pay attention". Thanks again. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 16:20
  • Well you could say 'Please pay attention to the note on page 46'. But I am wondering if you are using the most appropriate verb here. 'Pay attention' is quite a strong and instructive expression. Can you not say simply 'for description of this, see page 27'.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 16:44
  • @YuriFeigin in that context, the most common form is "Note that if X is not defined, bad things happen".
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 17:55
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You're using "pay attention" 2 different ways and I think that is muddying the waters a bit.

In transitive use you pay attention to something.

However there is also the intransitive use:

"Pay attention!"

So your second example (with the "an" removed, as @RegDwight noted)

"Attention should be paid that this is a one-way street".

Can also be stated:

"Attention should be paid. This is a one-way street".

In this case "attention" is not directly tied to "that". "That" is being used as a conjunction.

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  • Thank you for your answer. What would you suggest in case of writing an article, when I want from the reader to pay attention to something that was described before. For example: "Attention should paid that X is defined...." I prefer not to use the direct approach of: "Pay attention". Thanks again. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 16:21
  • "The passive voice should be avoided" ;) You would have to say "attention should be paid that x is defined..." when it's much simpler and more direct to say something like "Note that x is defined" or "Ensure that x is defined" if the user is expected to define x. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 16:24

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