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Scratching a wound!

Is it OK to say 'prevent a child from scratching directly on a wound', or ought it be 'prevent a child from scratching a wound directly' or 'directly scratching a wound'?

Are they all acceptable?


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited February 2018

    Why use the word 'directly'?

  • edited February 2018

    Because it is in contrast to scratching with an intervening protective layer between the offending scratching fingers and the wound, i.e. a glove.

  • For me, that isn't scratching. You scratch with your nails.

  • OK, let's separate the vocabulary from the grammar.

    • Use something instead of prevent.

    • Use touch directly instead of scratch (let alone scratch directly).

    I've no problem with
    You should make sure a child never touches a wound directly.
    You should make sure a child never directly touches a wound.

    If you use scratch, you can't (in my opinion) use directly.

    And we don't say scratch on — It's either scratch or scratch at.

    [We can, however, say scratch on a door, scratch on a window etc.]

  • Why would the word 'prevent' not do?

    You can still try to scratch with your nails even if you're wearing gloves. It's just that it won't have the same effect.

  • For me, scratch means to slide your nails along something (if using you hands, that is — you can also scratch with a sharp metal implement or a diamond). Gloves would make that impossible.

    Prevent would be suitable for a specific act, but you're writing about the general possibility of catching.

    [There are more possibilities with _prevent something_.]

    The only context in which I can imagine for prevent a child from scratching is if you do something drastically physical such as tying up their hands.

    For me prevent someone from doing something means 'make it impossible for them to do it'. With children and scratching, the idea is to make them not want to scratch. You can forbid them; you can stop them; but it will take extreme physical measures to prevent them. A suitably vague expression is see that they don't.

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited March 2018

    You can still try to scratch with your nails even if you're wearing gloves.

    Exactly, norwegianblue. And the appropriate expression for that action is 'try to scratch' — not scratch.

    The only sort of context I can think of for scratch directly is if you want to contrast the action of scratching with a different action which is not so obviously direct. For example

    You can stimulate the skin with this electric devise, or you can scratch it directly.

  • Thanks for your thoughts on the issue, and your time and effort, David Crosbie. I shall mull it over.

    Sometimes translating something can be a bit confusing in that you are not sure exactly how many 'aspects' of the original you ought to include to make sure the meaning at least is faithfully reproduced.

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