I'm having a minor surgery and I need to postpone a session with one of my clients from France. She wrote to me this sentence: "I wish you a good recovering Saturday". I certainly think this is not idiomatic, but I still want to check the grammatical correctness of this sentence and the associated phrases, below.

I'm aware that we can use the phrase 'recovery day', but I've the following questions:

  1. Can we use 'recovering day' to mean 'day of recovery' or 'recovery day'?
  2. Can we use 'recovery Sunday' ... is it grammatically correct?
  3. Can we use 'good recovering day' grammatically (if not idiomatically)? Or should we rather use 'good recovery Sunday', if the answer to 2) was a yes? The point here is putting two adjectives together: 'good' and 'recovery'. I know two adjectives can coexist, but is it okay to use like that?

Thanks in advance!

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    Just because a phrase is grammatically correct doesn't mean that it's widely understood or even understandable. – KillingTime Feb 18 at 9:37
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    I have downvoted as the OP has not given the sentence and context in which the phrase will be used: the question lacks necessary detail. – Greybeard Feb 18 at 11:22
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    But what is the person being addressed recovering from? – Kate Bunting Feb 18 at 13:18
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    If they're not ill, just working hard, then "have a relaxing weekend" would be fine. Beyond that, it depends on the context: from manager to staff, staff to manager, and whether you've been working closely. It could be seen as patronising or insulting to imply someone is exhausted and unable to keep up with their work. ("Recovery day" has a particular meaning as a special day off when you've worked exceptionally long hours or are jet-lagged, but doesn't seem to apply here.) – Stuart F Feb 18 at 13:35
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    @YosefBaskin I'm not sure Google Translate is as reliable as you think! I have a degree in French, and une bonne récupération samedi doesn't look like idiomatic French to me - it would have to be une bonne samedi de récupération.But Mathmath's correspondent may still have translated her own phrase incorrectly. – Kate Bunting Feb 19 at 9:05

The short answer is "I wish you a good recovering Saturday" is garbage and completely non-idiomatic.

The long answer is that the "-ing" form as a participle adjective has the adjectival effect of "that which verbs" and as a gerund has the effect of "associated with".


1 As a participle adjective: A "marking tool" is a tool that marks something, and a "cutting edge" is an edge that cuts.

2 As a gerund: A "walking stick" is not a stick that walks - it is something associated with walking and a "parking bay" is not a bay that parks but a bay associated with parking.

The question now is "how will "recovering Saturday" be understood?" It so happens that "recovering" will be understood as a participle rather than a gerund - A Saturday that recovers". This is because native speakers would expect you to use the deverbal noun "recovery" rather than the gerund "recovering" because there are also other noun compounds with "recovery in them: Recovery craft, recovery operation, etc.

I still want to check the grammatical correctness of this sentence.

Either this is (i) a pointless exercise as the phrase is not idiomatic, should never be used, and will be misunderstood, or (ii) you have misunderstood the word "grammatical".

Famously "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" is a sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorless_green_ideas_sleep_furiously)

  • Thanks - if she'd have instead written: "I wish you a good recovery day", would that be correct? Please see the edited question with the added details and more context. – Mathmath Feb 18 at 17:12
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    @Mathmath No. That also mangles English and is not idiomatic at all. The idea of linking Saturday and recovery probably cannot be done by attributive adjectives: "I wish you" is also awkward. "Have a good Saturday recovering" is what I might have said. – Greybeard Feb 18 at 20:27
  • Thanks again - I'm learning quite a bit from your answer and comments. I figured that I'd not say the way it was written to me, but perhaps you might like to cite some links where I could read more on these topics, e.g. I can't see why "I wish you a good recovery day" may be wrong? I know it's not used, but can't see what's wrong with it. I see your point of it distorting standard English and hence not being idiomatic, but I'm trying to see if people would understand and it'd be grammatically correct. – Mathmath Feb 18 at 20:49
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    but I'm trying to see if people would understand without context, they would not and it'd be grammatically correct. Why are you interested in that? – Greybeard Feb 18 at 21:45

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