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through Jeremy Butterfield.In Confusable Words, Grammar, assist for authors & editors.17 comment on “Suffice it come say” or “suffice tosay”?


The issue

The plot provides twists and turns like a line writhing in the desert. To tell would be to spoil, but suffice to say, writer, director and also cast have actually colluded brilliantly.

You are watching: Suffice it to say in a sentence

Fraser’s scenes room painfully boring to watch—suffice it to say, he’s not a master of physical comedy.


Take our Poll

An editor in an digital editorial team raised the concern of which version is correct, and also her questions elicited more than 80 comments. Many human being swore that suffice come say was the correct and only version, and that suffice it to say to be a “hairy mutant”. People in the various other camp lambasted your opponents, and also resorted to dictionary to prove past a doubt the the four-word variation was gospel. What is the reality of the matter?

Quick takeawaysBoth creates are in use (see more detail at Frequency below).Suffice it come say is slightly more frequent in a brother corpus, and much much more frequent in one American one.Suffice it to say was formerly considered standard, and also is still watched by many human being as the just correct formulation.However, possibly because of that is puzzling syntax, the is frequently “regularized” come suffice to say.

Below, i look in much more detail at the grammar, frequency and background of this phrase, i beg your pardon the Oxford dictionary Online aptly defines as “Used to show that one is saying enough to make one’s an interpretation clear when withholding something for reasons of discretion or brevity.”

Meanwhile, the results of the poll installed in this blog show that the choice with most votes is that both versions space ‘correct’. Which you use is likely to count on whereby you’re from, how you first heard or used the phrase, and how girlfriend parse it, among other things.

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Syntax

Three things are worth mentioning around suffice it come say. First, the subject of the sentence is the “dummy” or personal it. Second, the verb kind is subjunctive—the absence of the normal third person singular –s mirrors this, i.e. suffice, rather than suffices. Third, there is subject-verb inversion.

The phrase hence belongs to that very little group that “fossilized” phrases in i beg your pardon the goodbye is used: God save the Queen! far be it indigenous me to…, Perish the thought! all of them might be rewritten as “Let + subject + verb” i.e. let God save the Queen, let that suffice to say, etc. In particular, far it is in it from me screens the same subject-verb inversion.

However, the truth that such subjunctive phrases are rare and on the fringes of many people’s grammar means, i believe, that they have difficulty analysing the “suffice it to say” form, and also therefore attempt to regularize it come “suffice to say”. The turning back of subject and verb presents a further block to analysis.

It has also become clean to me, from conversation of this concern in virtual editorial forums—or fora, if you really, for sure must—that some people interpret the it together the object of the verb suffice. Together a result, they disapprove it, correctly, in so much as lock perceive suffice to it is in intransitive in this use, however incorrectly if one analyses the expression as having subject-verb inversion.

“Suffice come say”, however, while sounding superficially favor a second person imperative—stand up, wake up, pay attention, etc.—is together anomalous as the four-word form. That is being addressed in this imperative?

Current situation

FrequencyThe Oxford English Corpus (OEC) has actually slightly more examples that the wire “suffice to say” 보다 of “suffice it come say”: 952:937 (and every occurs less than as soon as per million native of text.) However, filtering out “suffice come say” together a zero infinitive, i.e. In paragraph such as let it suffice to say, it have to suffice come say, etc., reduce its total to well below 900, making it, therefore, less regular than the longer form.Though the shorter form is offered in all arrays of English, its use does seem to be particularly marked in Australian English, at least in the OEC data.In the Corpus of contemporary American the circulation is an extremely different: 376 occurrences of the longer version against 97 for the shorter. It is an especially noticeable that in academic writing the longer kind occurs in an even greater ratio of 6:1.A Google Ngrams compare of “suffice come say” and “suffice it to say” says a decline in the use of both phrases over the critical century, However, “suffice come say” is frequently the zero infinitive pointed out previously, and it would be also time-consuming to compare the frequency of the 2 phrases in detail over time. Because that the period 1960-2000 (i.e., the latest duration covered by Ngrams) “suffice it to say” is the an ext frequent the the two strings.Dictionaries

Both the Oxford virtual Dictionary and Macquarie bracket the it: suffice (it) come say, indicating plainly that they expropriate it together optional. Merriam-Webster Online note “often supplied with an impersonal it sufficith.

Mark xiv. 41

There is climate a separate group with the adhering to rubric:

“Const inf or i with, or (formerly) without, anticipatory dummy subject it. Currently chiefly in the subjunctive, suffice it, sometimes short for suffice it to say.”

The very first OED quote of this usage is indigenous the center English (1390) Confessio Amantis, reflecting an infinitive as the topic of the verb:

to studie ~ above the worldes lore Sufficeth now withoute more.

There is one more citation before the Book of common Prayer ~ above Publyke Baptisme f. Iiii*v (1549) showing a comparable infinitive construction.

If the childe it is in weake, that shall suffice come powre water vpon it.

However, the an initial citation for the specific phrase “suffice it to say” walk not show up until a 1779 execution of the periodic The Mirror:

Suffice it come say, the my parting with the Dervise was very tender.

An earlier citation (1692), however, has:

It suffices come say, the Xantippus becoming the manager of affairs, altered extreamly the Carthaginian Army.

See more: To Err On The S I Err On The Side Of Caution Explanation, Meaning, Origin

In the Corpus of historical American (COHA), the cable “suffice to say” is largely of the zero infinitive form mentioned above. However, the earliest quote of it individually is in 1815, in the drama by Edward Hitchcock the Emancipation the Europe, or The Downfall the Bonaparte: Marshal Ney, no less, replies to a question from Talleyrand, no less, around how a fight went:

Oh most murderous! too horrid to relate. Suffice to say our troops room overwhelmed in toto.

“Suffice to Say”—a long-forgotten hit

Googling in connection with this topic, I found a 1977 hit by a band called The Yachts. Here are several of the lyrics:

Although the rhyming’s no that warm | It’s quite a snappy little tune | I’m certain you’ll like the chorus as well | It’s short and sweet and also to the allude | It also says that i love girlfriend | just after this: Suffice to say friend love me | Can’t speak that ns blame friend | Suffice come say i love you too

Clearly, leaving out it was necessary on rhythmical grounds. And also if you want to relive your on-the-fringes-of-Punk days with this little ditty, right here it is: