1. The project gives signs of too much uncertainty.
  2. The project gives too much uncertainty.

If I am trying to use sense 5c of this dictionary, would one of the sentences above be wrong? Is signs of needed?

  • 2
    Neither version sounds natural to me, though I'm not sure exactly what OP intends to convey anyway. One possibility might be "The project contains too many uncertainties". Jun 21, 2012 at 0:09
  • 1
    Or "There are too many uncertainties in this project." Jun 29, 2012 at 21:21

3 Answers 3


Sentence #1 is grammatically correct (though awkward) by your definition 5c, and sentence #2 is incorrect.

Definition 5c is a situation where "to give" means "to show (something)." "Uncertainty" here is an intangible element that cannot be "shown" in itself, but rather must be shown through tangible elements like "signs" of uncertainty. That is why sentence #2 is wrong for definition 5c.


The definition you refer to gives the meaning ‘show’. If that is what you want to say, then the first sentence is what you need. The second, if it were to be used at all, suggests that the project itself, its mere existence, creates uncertainty.

  • Thank you, Mr England! Looking through the dictionary whose link is in the original post, I found entries 7d and 10 fit the second sentence in the original post quite well. What do you think?
    – Nortonn S
    Jun 20, 2012 at 10:58
  • Definition 5c seems to cover it. Jun 20, 2012 at 11:24
  • I thought definition 5c only works for "project gives signs of too much uncertainty".
    – Nortonn S
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:44
  • 1
    At least two possibilities: Research carried out in the project indicates that there is too much uncertainty [in this area] to [justify further expenditure etc]. // Appraisal of the project shows an intolerable lack of conviction [that it will give any useful results etc] amongst the workers. Apr 7, 2013 at 10:49

Idiom does not necessarily follow dictionaries. Idiomatic constructions would be:

 2: The project creates too much uncertainty.
 2b: The project entails too much uncertainty.
 2c: The project implies too much uncertainty.
 2d: The project involves too much uncertainty.
 2e: The project offers too much uncertainty.


2f: The project yields too much uncertainty.
2g: The project emanates too much uncertainty.

The last offering is probably closest to the "give" domain of meaning.

And possibly even:

2h: The project signals too much uncertainty.

Although to my reading that might be too strained or artificial.

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.