winner take all/dog eat dog world -- grammar?
Thread poster: Olaf (X)

Olaf (X)
Local time: 10:21
English to German
Apr 7, 2008

Because of the elections I hear the phrase winner take all system a lot and was wondering why it's not called winner takes all and whether this phrase and the similar dog eat dog world is considered slang or is grammatically correct.

 

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
adjectives Apr 7, 2008

Olaf wrote:

Because of the elections I hear the phrase winner take all system a lot and was wondering why it's not called winner takes all and whether this phrase and the similar dog eat dog world is considered slang or is grammatically correct.


These are adjectives qualifying nouns and should - strictly speaking - be hyphenated.

It's a dog-eat-dog world / a winner-take-all system

Why they are not in the 3rd person is probably related to the infinitive (without to) form being preferable for making an adjective.


 

The Misha
Local time: 04:21
Russian to English
+ ...
Right on, Lia! Apr 7, 2008

That's exactly what I was going to suggest. Cheers!

 

Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:21
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why there's no S at the end Apr 7, 2008

I always understood these verbs as being in the imperative. Commands don't generally have an S at the end.

I, too, prefer to see these terms hyphenated, though the hyphenation of compound adjectives seems to be on the decline.

[Edited at 2008-04-07 18:27]


 

Jim Tucker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
as Steven says... Apr 8, 2008

though more precisely it's a subjunctive, short for:

"may/let (the) winner take all"

You find a similar construction (for example) in:

"Every man for himself, and (the) Devil take the hindmost"

[Edited at 2008-04-08 02:01]


 

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
agree Apr 8, 2008

Jim Tucker wrote:

though more precisely it's a subjunctive, short for:

"may/let (the) winner take all"

You find a similar construction (for example) in:

"Every man for himself, and (the) Devil take the hindmost"

[Edited at 2008-04-08 02:01]


Preisely Jim, the original phrase would have been the subjunctive, formed with expressions like "may" or "let" combined with the infinitive without "to", then converted to an adjective form with hyphens.


 

David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:21
Spanish to English
winner takes all Apr 8, 2008

My understanding that the phrase is winner-takes -all and dog-eat-dog

 

Peter Winch  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:21
Japanese to English
+ ...
as David says Apr 9, 2008

I learnt the phrase as "winner-takes-all", but it is arguable whether it is an imperative, more often it seems to be a statement of fact.

 


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winner take all/dog eat dog world -- grammar?

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