One night at critique group several years ago, I corrected a sentence Lu Ann had written. It went something like this:
"If you think that, you've got another think coming."
Naturally, I changed think to thing, because, first off, think isn't a noun, and second, the phrase isn't, "you've got another think coming" but, "you've got another thing coming."
Duh. Of course.
But when I mentioned it, she insisted, "No, the phrase is, 'you've got another think coming.' You think one thing, but you're wrong, so you have another think coming after that."
I argued with her, saying that she'd heard it wrong, that think made no sense.
"But that's how we said it in Indiana when I was growing up," she said.
In the end, I offered to ask my father, Mr. Linguist, what the correct version of the phrase was. His gut reaction was the same as mine, that it was thing. But he decided to ask around at work to see what others in his department thought.
The response surprised both of us: his non-scientific survey revealed an almost even split between the two forms but with (horrors!) think getting slightly more votes.
What the . . . ?
He did a little more digging and found out that think used in this phrase has been around slightly earlier than thing, and that another thing coming likely came about because:
1) Think and thing sound so similar that if someone heard think used this way, they could easily assume the person meant thing, especially since
2) Let's face it, think really doesn't make that much sense here. You have another think coming? Don't you mean another thought?
A lot of the opinions varied based on where the person's geographical background was. And sure enough, people from the Midwest (like Lu Ann, from Indiana) all insisted on another think coming.
It still makes me twitch.
Think is a verb, folks, not a noun.
Except . . . even the OED has one tiny entry listing think as a noun . . . including "to have another think coming." Dating from 1937. Darn it.
Rather grudgingly, I reported back to Lu Ann that think in this phrase indeed predated thing.
"I knew it," she said with a grin.
Apparently, I had been the one with another think coming.
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