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  • Subject

    watch one's Ps and Qs

    Context/ examples
    They were nice people. I didn't feel I had to watch my Ps and Qs with them.
    Any idea what that means? Or a German translation?
    AuthorLena31 Mar 06, 17:42
    Suggestionpleases and thank yous
    Basically, "I didn't feel I needed to be overly polite/formal with them."

    (I didn't need to keep saying my "pleases" and my "thank yous")
    #1AuthorGary31 Mar 06, 17:46
    Suggestionumsichtig sein?
    Die Form "mind one's P's and Q's" existiert auch. Es bedeutet "vorsichtig sein, damit man kein Ärgernis erregt".
    #2AuthorCJMoss31 Mar 06, 17:50
    CJ prima vorschlag
    #3Authork31 Mar 06, 17:57
    Suggestiongute manieren and den tag legen
    the idiom is

    TO MIND one's ps and qs
    #4Authork31 Mar 06, 17:59
    @k: I think the discrepancy might be an AE/BE thing. The Brits mind everything, Americans watch or watch out for things.
    I will never forget hearing the famous "MIND the gap!" announcement the first time in the London Tube. My friend and I found it extremely amusing. On the other side of the ocean we would say "WATCH your step!".

    #5Authorwpr31 Mar 06, 18:08

    i appreciate what you say ... although your example is an unfortunate one since both expressions are used and do mean something different...

    overall, i still think mind the ps and qs is more a little more common - i imagine when the expression came into being, literacy and writing was anything but common.
    #6Authork31 Mar 06, 18:20
    Thank you everyone :)
    #7AuthorLena01 Apr 06, 09:26
    It's "mind your p's and q's" in AE (not *watch...)

    Other than in this expression, wpr is correct that we don't use 'mind' in this sense in AE; however, it remains in this fixed expression.

    The origin is disputed, here are a few sources of which the last is the most comprehensive:
    #8AuthorPeter <us>01 Apr 06, 10:24
    Just to clarify: I was not trying to imply that "Watch your Ps and Qs" is somehow more correct, in the US or elsewhere. "Mind your Ps and Qs" definitely sounds "best" to my AE ears too. "Watch" sounds like a deviant. But sayings often get quoted incorrectly or impartially and I think that explains the google results for "watch...".
    I also was not trying to suggest that this difference(watch vs. mind) is a rule. I can think of many exceptions, eg. mind your manners sounds much better than watch your manners, although both sound acceptable to me.
    Thanks for the links as to the origin. I never knew where the expression came from. I always thought it sounded humorous. Just goes to show what a slippery thing language can be.
    #9Authorwpr01 Apr 06, 10:44
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