There's a reasonably common idiomatic phrasing in the form "Way <infinitive phrase>!" that denotatively means "You did a good job of <whatever>", but is almost always used ironically.

Examples include "Way to go!" or "Way to bury the lede!". (These are actually ironic in different ways, in that the first, presumably, is encouraging a good action when the action was bad, whereas the second is ironically encouraging a bad action.)

This has been touched on before in Way to do something, but my question is:

What is the grammatically-correct complete sentence version of this formation? Or is it already and I'm not understanding how?

(Bolded because I've buried the lede.)

I can't actually think of an instance where you'd need to use that basic formation formally; I just can't figure out its basis.

  • 3
    I think "Way to go!" is just short for "That's the way to go!" Whether it's used ironically/sarcastically or not isn't really relevant. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:04
  • I think you do misunderstand what "grammatically correct" means. "Way to go" is indeed grammatically correct. Grammatically incorrect would be, for example, "to way go". Take a minute to read this answer for details. I suppose what you are really looking for is a syntactic analysis of the phrase.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:09
  • Personally I think "bury the lede" looks incredibly ignorant. Do these same journo types also write about the "lede story"? Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:20
  • @RegDwightѬſ道: Generally speaking, "<noun> <inf.phrase>" doesn't work as a complete sentence. Nor does "<adjective> <inf.phrase>" or "<adverb> <inf.phrase>". (I'm not aware of "way" working as another part of speech.) If it does make a complete sentence, I'd like to know how, as asked in the question.
    – wfaulk
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:34
  • 1
    @wfaulk: letter spacing is called kerning. The space between lines is called leading and is pronounced ledding, unlike the lead (leed) story, leading brand, or loss leader. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


The correct grammatical sentence, with all the deleted, understood stuff [in brackets], would probably be reconstructed along these lines:

  • [That is] [*the*] way [in which] [for one/you] to VP.

Phrases like Way to go! result in maximum deletions, through various rules, but the Relative Infinitive construction the way to do V has a rather specialized sense, of being (in this case) not just the way for you to do it, but rather the way it should be done, generically.

There's always a deictic modal flavor of "oughta, shoulda, gotta" with relative infinitives. Which is why it's a compliment; it says you're not just good, you're the best there can be.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.