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Take some solace or just take it all

What gives you solace?

Maybe it's a hot cup of tea and a good book. Maybe it's a stroll through the woods on an autumn day.

Or maybe it's cat videos. Lots of cat videos.  

What gives us solace is knowing that we have thoughtful, curious listeners who send us great questions, including one from a listener who wanted to know if "solace" can be modified by "some"?

That is, can you take some solace or do you have to take it all?

To find the answer, Anne Curzan checked the Corpus of Contemporary American Englishfor which words most often appear with "solace. "Some" was right near the top of the list, along with "find", "take" and "seek." 

Curzan also found that you can find solace in more places than you might expect. Well, at least in more grammatical places than you might expect.

For starters, it can be both singular and plural.

Maybe your garden has been a solace to you, or maybe watching cat videos is just one of many solaces you've found in life.

"Solace" can be a verb too. It's rare, but it's out there.

You can say, "The warm soup solaced the shivering boy," or maybe you were solaced by a sunny sky after several days of rainy weather.

This was a great question, and we're solaced by the fact that it won't be the last. Send us your language and grammar questions at acurzan@umich.edu or rkruth@umich. edu.

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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