"Interviewer was grinding me down this morning". But if I had to say it in a manner like "I had to go through a lot of grinding in the interview" would it be correct? (without the word 'down' because the phrase is 'grind down'). Or would only 'grinding' here without 'down' would imply something DANCE related? (which isn't what I mean here obviously)

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    The fact that we have an idiomatic phrasal verb to grind down doesn't imply you can casually extend the usage to other syntactic roles (such as "He gave me a real grinding down"). So there isn't really a question here about whether your gerund-based grinding implies anything dance-related. It's more a matter of saying the implication is you're a non-native speaker trying to extrapolate a non-idiomatic usage from an idiomatic one. May 24, 2014 at 13:38
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    You could say "I was ground down by the tough interviewer".
    – Neil W
    May 24, 2014 at 13:57
  • @Neil: You certainly could. But could you accept "The interviewer's grinding down was tough on me"? May 24, 2014 at 14:21
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    My comment was more for the OP, but I think to grind down requires an object, so no. How about "The supervisor's grinding down of my spirit was relentless."?
    – Neil W
    May 24, 2014 at 14:56
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    To me, "I had to go through a lot of grinding in the interview" means that the interview took place in a butcher's shop, where you had to grind a lot of meat. I would say "I went through a grinding interview", because it was the interview that was grinding, not the grinding that took place. Adding 'down' makes things clearer (the grinding was debasing in some way), but it seems clumsy. Just an opinion, please don't flame me for it. May 24, 2014 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


I'm sure you understand that whichever of these you choose it will be a metaphorical use of the term 'grinding'.

'Grind' is a verb with a physical meaning of which I feel sure you are aware. 'Grinding down' is an idiomatic expression used for people and situations that tend mentally to exhaust one. 'Work grinds me down'.

'Grinding' on its own is less commonly used metaphorically, but that does not mean it is impossible to coin phrases which contain it.

'The daily grind' is an expression of hopelessness and the inevitability of work and its attendant miseries.

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