I have a usage related doubt about using 'Dark' in the following sentence:

Each time, when he switches on the light, he is surprised how it vanishes ______ completely.

'Darkness' fits well here, but does 'dark' work too, as it is also a noun?

  • 2
    You may need to re-read/revise your question, as neither "...he is surprised how it vanishes dark completely..." nor "...he is surprised how it vanishes darkness completely..." make sense! – 568ml Mar 24 '14 at 14:39
  • Specifically, I would say there is a missing article the after the word vanishes. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 14:41
  • I've given an answer below, but this and questions like it would be better on our sister site English Language Learners. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 14:49
  • vanquishes [thefreedictionary.com/vanquish] might fit better than vanishes. And use of the before either dark or darkness would be preferred, as stated above. – Mike Mar 24 '14 at 20:44

Most importantly, what is incorrect in both the examples is that 'vanish' is an intransitive verb. It cannot be used transitively as you have done.

'He vanished the coin' does not make sense, as it is the coin which 'vanishes'. So one needs to say 'he made the coin vanish'.

Similarly you cannot say '...it vanishes the darkness completely'. You need to say '...the darkness vanishes completely', or '...it makes the darkness vanish completely'.

On the more minor point about dark v darkness, I think 'darkness' is the more literate and elegant word to use. However I do not rule out that many people would say 'it makes the dark vanish'. 'Dark' is certainly used as a noun as well an adjective - but 'darkness' is better.

  • People do say vanished in this manner. It's less common, but they do say it. See definition #5 with an object. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 17:45
  • In fact: See this, too – David M Mar 24 '14 at 17:53
  • 1
    @DavidM According to the OED there is a transitive use of the verb 'vanish', but the examples it cites are few and far between. And the OED does confirm that nowadays it is almost exclusive to conjurers. – WS2 Mar 24 '14 at 19:05
  • I agree, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it wholesale wrong. It is just the lesser used form. As always, lesser used does not equal invalid. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 19:22
  • @DavidM apologies for the mis-spelling s/b 'conjuror'. – WS2 Mar 24 '14 at 19:49

Making the assumption that you have left out an article (the) after vanishes, I would say either is correct.

It is unusual in English to use vanish as verb with an object in this manner, but it is a valid usage. See definition #5. The meaning becomes to cause to disappear. See this search page entitled How to vanish a coin.

Each time, when he switches on the light, he is surprised how it vanishes the darkness completely.

Each time, when he switches on the light, he is surprised how it vanishes the dark completely.

Darkness is a noun. Dark is a noun. They are effectively synonyms of one another.

That said, to my native ear, darkness has a "better ring to it". But, there is no grammatical reason why this is true.

  • To whomever down voted, see the revision. The usage is perfectly acceptable. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 17:52
  • It's certainly uncommon to see vanish being used a transitive verb. – reinierpost Mar 24 '14 at 18:12
  • @reinierpost Uncommon, yes. Valid, yes. Uncommonness does not invalidate it. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 18:14

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