14

Which of the following constructs sound more idiomatic to you?

Is there any British/American equivalent to the French phrase "broyer du noir"?

Is there any British/American equivalent for the French phrase "broyer du noir"?

Is there any British/American equivalent of the French phrase "broyer du noir"?

If all three are acceptable options, how do these differ from each other?

Ngram AmEng

Ngram BrEng

Ngram "an equivalent"

  • 1
    If it's of any help, you can also type equivalent_NOUN of,equivalent_NOUN to,equivalent_NOUN for on Google Ngram – Yay Jan 23 '16 at 11:11
  • I think there is another option in your question: 'Is there any British/American equivalent in the French phrase "broyer du noir"?' However, I think in that case the best option is equivalent of . – haha Jan 23 '16 at 11:37
  • @haha Thing is, I have most often come across the turn "equivalent to [the word/phrase]" used by native speakers on ELU. And so, I was wondering why, considering that "equivalent of" is, per NGram, the most common phrase... – Elian Jan 23 '16 at 12:36
  • They all sound idiomatic to me except for the last one equivalent in. I would feel comfortable using any of the first three - almost interchangeably. – WS2 Jan 23 '16 at 12:48
  • Since 'equivalent' means 'having the same worth as', the idea is that you can 'exchange one thing for another'… so, without any context, the preposition 'for' is the one that makes most sense, even if it is not the one that is used most. – user58319 Jan 26 '16 at 21:37
4
+200

I learned a simple trick a long, long time ago that still serves me to this day when dealing with prepositions, which admittedly, as a native speaker come naturally to me but I still found this useful.

If you turn the sentence around to lead with the prepositional phrase, would it still make sense? Let's try it out...

To the French phrase "broyer du noir", is there any British/American equivalent? Does this make sense? No, it does not.

Of the French phrase "broyer du noir", is there any British/American equivalent? Does this make sense? No, it does not.

For the French phrase "broyer du noir", is there any British/American equivalent? Does this make sense? Yes, it does!

I'm sure that there are other members of this community that can give you the wherefor's and why's regarding preposition usage but I've found this KISS (keep is simple sweetie) approach the easiest to explain to non-native speakers.

9

equivalent to <thing> when two things may be substituted for one another

Is there any British/American equivalent to the French phrase "broyer du noir"?

equivalent for <field> when a thing is like something in another field

"Mare" is the word for a female horse. What is the equivalent for dogs

equivalent of <thing> is the same as equivalent to <thing>. The former is used in the definite, the latter the indefinite, ie. one says "an equivalent to", but "the equivalent of".

equivalent in <language/place>

There is a phrase "broyer du noir", what is the equivalent in English?

Paris has the Louvre museum. Is there something equivalent in London?

  • The idea that it is connected to definiteness is interesting, but I don't see this pattern in the Ngram Viewer. What that shows is that definite "the equivalent of" is by far the most common, indefinite "an equivalent of" is the next most common, and "the equivalent to" and "an equivalent to" are the least common, and in current usage nearly the same in frequency. – herisson Jan 23 '16 at 16:10
  • Ngram AmEng – herisson Jan 23 '16 at 16:11
  • Ngram BrEng – herisson Jan 23 '16 at 16:11
  • Also, all of the examples in the original post are nouns, but your last example sentence uses the adjective "equivalent." (Part of itcouldevenbeaboat's answer seems to be a response to this.) – herisson Jan 23 '16 at 16:14
  • @sumelic I assume you are referring to the "equivalent in" case? Indeed you are right. The examples show when the words might appear together correctly. "Equivalent in" does not apply correctly to the OPs question, as also itcouldevenbeaboat's answer also states. – Born2Smile Jan 23 '16 at 17:08
1

To, for, of or none of the above. None of the above (foregoing): Professionally trained translators don't talk about equivalents or equivalency. They talk about equivalent meanings or equivalency of meaning. Therefore, one would say it like this: Is there a British/American phrase that is equivalent in meaning to the French phrase "broyer du noir"? That said, in English, to be idiomatic one has to say /equivalent to/. Sixteen ounces is equivalent to one pound.

0

Equivalent to is to the only working combination.

The following sentence is correct,

1 dollar is equivalent to 2000 rubles.

In this case, 'equivalent to' has been combined with the compound noun '20 rubles' to make a compound adjective. To is the only preposition that can be used with Equivalent in this sense.

Equivalent in and equivalent for are not real combinations but generic compounds with the preposition "in" or "for" that can be used in for any word. For example,

"What is 'Orange' in French?"

"What is 'Apple' in Russian?"

"What is 'Truth' in Latin?"

Or, with for,

"What's French for 'Apple'?"

"What's French for 'Man'?"

"What's the French word for Germany?"

(Any noun can be used in the place of the direct object.)

  • 2
    I agree with you about the adjective "equivalent." However, all of the examples in the original post have the noun "equivalent." The choice of preposition after this noun doesn't seem to be based on the object. – herisson Jan 23 '16 at 16:03
  • The "in" variant wasn't part of the question, I think you confused it with the "of" variant which your answer doesn't address. – talrnu Jan 23 '16 at 16:19
  • 1
    the "in" variant was part of the question, but the question was edited. – Born2Smile Jan 23 '16 at 17:13
  • What @sumelic said. Equivalent is a noun in all the examples so "to" wouldn't be correct. – Kristina Lopez Jan 29 '16 at 23:22
  • The word 'equivalent to' in the rubles example means literally 'equal to'. That's a bit of a difference in function, in my book. – Tim Ward Jan 29 '16 at 23:31

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