Is this sentence grammatically correct?

He picked up a quarrel.

  • 2
    Sounds like "India-speak" ... – GEdgar Sep 26 '12 at 18:56

He picked up a quarrel.

Is it syntactically correct? Yes, of course.

Is it semantically correct? Less clear. Was he a crossbowman who’s spilt his quarrels on the ground? Or was he a short-wave operator trying to tune in a distant channel of people bickering?

In either of those cases, sure. But if we’re talking about somebody being quarrelsome and starting one up, then no. One starts quarrels; one does not pick them up.


If you mean that he's about to shoot a stubby arrow from a crossbow, then yes. If you mean that he tried to start a fight, the idiom is, "He picked a fight".

  • 3
    Unless the two quarrelers had to take a break for some reason. In that case, when the argument resumed, the quarrel could be picked up where it was left off. – J.R. Sep 26 '12 at 23:08
  • @J.R. Agreed, but that would be pretty specialized. (Admittedly, so would the crossbow use.) – Charles Jul 4 '18 at 14:52

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