Today a friend of mine asked me to teach her how to fix her computer. The procedure was a little too technical for a layperson so I asked her out so that I can fix it for her in person, that she can avoid going through all the technical "trouble". I instinctively used the phrase "so you can save the trouble". In retrospect, I felt something was wrong with the phrase. However, on second thought, the sentence structure seemed quite similar to "so I can save you the trouble", both having "save" as the verb and "trouble" as the direct object.

Therefore, I'd like to ask, if this phrase is actually correct. What I want to know is an answer for whether the phrase is grammatically and semantically correct, instead of what other phrases may correctly express what I want to mean.

  • 1
    In that situation, the phrase should be "you can save yourself the trouble of [insert task / optional]"
    – CDM
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 14:38
  • It's grammatical and understandable, but not natural. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


You need to place an indirect object after the verb "to save." This expression typically uses a ditransitive conjugation:

  • Save yourself some trouble
  • Save me some trouble
  • Save him some trouble.

Whereas you should be able to move the indirect object on the other side of the direct object by saying, "Save some trouble for me," it doesn't work that way in expression. Saying it that way makes it sound like you actually want some trouble rather than have it prevented.

  • Most of over 62,000 written instances of save the trouble of (doing something) match OP's context, so clearly you don't need an indirect object. I think the problem with Save some trouble for me is primarily that Save me some trouble is effectively a shortening of Save me from some trouble - there's a semantic clash between the two prepositions, even though one isn't explicitly specified. Also there's a very strong idiomatic preference for the trouble over some trouble. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 16:03
  • Interesting that the very first reference on the link means what I said it would mean, which is to preserve the trouble, not prevent it. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 1:36
  • 1
    According to Wiktionary, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/save#Verb, definition 2.3, it seems the sense of "to save" as "to avoid" is correct. However, Wiktionary has given me the impression of being more practical rather than technical, so I still doubt if this is a valid meaning of "to save", though I believe it is acceptable colloquially. (Or is it not?) So for now we have two possible answers, one that it is practically incorrect or at least unnatural, the other that the expression has an implicit from.
    – busukxuan
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 2:28

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