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Does it mean I should or shouldn't call 911?

Is it an implicit form of speaking?

It's ambiguous.

  • 1
    I've never actually heard it phrased this way. Far more common (as far as I'm aware) is Don't hesitate to call 911. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 15 '18 at 20:05
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    The meaning is probably "don't hesitate to call 911" (though one would have to examine the context to be sure). This is a common twisting of English syntax, probably most often seen in people who speak a "rural" dialect. – Hot Licks Aug 15 '18 at 23:00
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This is intended to be interpreted as:

(Don't hesitate) and (call 911).

Not as:

Don't (hesitate and call 911).

It could be made clearer with a period or a semi-colon.

Don't hesitate. Call 911.

  • People might pause too long at the period (in Don't hesitate. Call 911.) and never call 911; perhaps that's why it is constructed as one sentence. – AmE speaker Aug 15 '18 at 20:03
  • In this case I would consider "and" to be used as a preposition, similar to "to", not a conjunction. – Hot Licks Aug 15 '18 at 23:01
  • It should perhaps be noted that our ability to confidently say that it means the first, and not the second, is based on our understanding of what it is about, and on our making some reasonable assumptions about the circumstances in which it would be uttered. So far as its grammatical structure is concerned, it is ambiguous between the two interpretations. – jsw29 Aug 16 '18 at 3:30
  • @jsw29 Agree 100%. – Ian MacDonald Aug 16 '18 at 13:16
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during the last 70 or so years, there has been a growing practice of substituting ‘and’ for ‘to’ after so-called ‘modals’. Teachers used to correct this as careless slang. I doubt if you could find it in the Times or in formal writing generally.

Don’t you try and get round me with flattery.

In fact I have only come across ‘try and’. It makes sense because (a) there is nothing else it can mean, and (b) it is now common enough to be familiar. There is not need to grace it with a grammatical explanation, beyond saying that ‘and’ after ‘try’ can serve the role of ‘to’.

‘Hesitate and’ is new to me.

  • Did you try and fail to find other uses for "try and"? – Ian MacDonald Aug 16 '18 at 13:17
  • @IanMacDonald I don’t understand the question. I cannot think of a usage of ‘and’ in place of ‘to’ with any other verb than ‘try’ (and ‘hesitate’, of course, if that is not a one-off). So far I have not found a search question that yields any result. I’ll keep trying – Tuffy Aug 16 '18 at 13:49
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It means that, once calling 911 is definitely in order, you must not hesitate, not even for a moment; but rather reach for the phone and call it right away.

No more and no less.

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You should call 911 without hesitation, because if you think in calling 911 then it means you need it. Do you understand the meaning of hesitation? Hesitation example: "Should I call or not 911?". Hope helping you. Cheers.

Please refer to https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitating to see samples and meanings.

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