Q&A: There’s no need to obsess about it…

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print

Each week, we take a look at a common confusions and ambiguities in the English language (that gives us about a century’s worth of material!) – making things easier through the power of friendly conversation. This week, we share an obsession of ours…

Q: Hi Australian Writers’ Centre, I’m obsessed with the little plastic ties on bread packets, while my friend is obsessed by those teeny tiny forks that you stick into corn cobs. Which of us is right?
A: Well, neither of you seem quite right, but I think you’re after the grammatical side of things, yes?

Q: Indeed. Am I correct saying “obsessed with” or is my corn-lovin’ pal correct with “obsessed by”?
A: Both of these adjective forms are found in English usage. And there are many cases of them being used interchangeably without too many eyelids being batted. It’s not an American/English thing for a change, it’s often a context and preference thing. However…

Q: Yes?
A: The verb ‘obsessed’ leads a double life. When it’s not off gallivanting about as the simple past tense and past participle of ‘obsess’, it’s lurking in the shadows as “being influenced by evil spirits” (kind of a lite version of ‘possessed’). The latter is less common these days, but could be the reason we’ve got two options.

Q: So would I be right in this case?
A: In terms of being “really into something”, we think “obsessed with” is the way to go. Because you are the active participant doing the obsessing. As for “obsessed by”, you play more of a passive role in things – much like being possessed by or entranced by something – it’s the something else that’s doing the obsessing. This CAN makes sense and sound right, especially in spoken English, but when writing it, go with “with”.

Q: I knew I was right!
A: Yep, you’re the best thing since sliced bread (in a packet, tied up).

Want to be first to read our quirky anecdotes in Q&A? Then sign up to our fun weekly newsletter!

Courses starting soon

Creative Writing Stage 1

Online, 29 June 2020 - $450


Writing Picture Books

Online, 29 June 2020 - $450


Freelance Writing Stage 1

Online, 29 June 2020 - $450


Novel Writing Essentials

Online, 29 June 2020 - $695


Copywriting Essentials

Online, 6 July 2020 - $550

Writing Picture Books Masterclass

Online, 6 July 2020 - $345

Write Your Novel - 12 month program

Online, 6 July 2020 - $245/month

Writing Workout

Online LIVE, 7 July 2020 - $550

Travel Writing

Online, 13 July 2020 - $450

SEO Copywriting

Online, 13 July 2020 - $550

Teenage Creative Writers’ Program

Online, 13 July 2020 - $395

Browse posts by date

These graduates changed their lives – you can too!

About us

The Australian Writers’ Centre offers courses in creative writing, freelance writing, business writing, blogging and much more. Our practical and industry-proven courses will help you gain confidence and meet your goals faster!

Contact us

Phone: (02) 9929 0088
Email: courses@writerscentre.com.au
Head office: Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street, Milsons Point NSW 2061

© 2020 Australian Writers' Centre | FAQs | Terms, conditions & privacy policy


Back to top ↑

Nice one! You've added this to your cart