have ago

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.

have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:53 pm

Hello everyone,

I find this really strange. People speaking british english merge the article before the noun "go" (meaning try, attempt), i.e write it as "ago" and say like:

1.I had ago on my Sony Ericsson w960i, worked very nicely.
2.The other night I had ago with bacon on it, and although edible it didn't crisp as well as it does in a pan.
3.To practice I had ago at writing a web feature.

It's even stranger that this usage can be found even on the BBC site, but it can't be found in any dictionary I tried.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by zmjezhd » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:21 pm

It looks more like a typo to me, dante. (I had not personally run across it, or if I did I hadn't noted it.) I get 45.8k ghits for "I had ago" versus 245M ghits for "I had a go". While I didn't follow through past the first 20 results, I noticed they were all postings on forums, where one could expect negligence in spelling or merely typing.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:45 pm

Hello zmjezhd,

It's possible that it's a typo,but it's more likely that it's a frequent illiteracy.The number of results is too big to be put down to typing errors.I came across it in the today's Daily Mail article here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ssett.html
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by zmjezhd » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:49 pm

You may be right, dante. I've noticed that there are many more typos and misspellings creeping into online texts that are a direct result from dictionary / spell checkers in word processors. If the typo happens to be a valid word, as is the case in ago for [a go[/i], then it has a better likelihood of survival because the word is not flagged as being a misspelling. I have also noticed that the literary standards of most print journalism have declined in the past 30 years as a result of fewer typists, proofreaders, and editors being in the mix ...
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:01 pm

I can't be positive about the reasons for occurence of "ago" in this fashion zmjezhd, it was only a guess based on the number of google results.I checked dictionaries when I came across "ago" used this way, I thought it was a new word for me to remember at first :) I usually restrict google searches to UK and US sites (I know that WoZ won't like this :) to get more accurate results of some phrasing.Mostly UK sites in fact because I have an ambition of taking CPE exam in the summer, and they will expect me to speak english like Queen Elizabeth
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by russcable » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:18 pm

I just Googled "have ago at it" in quotes. Oddly, the first hit was in an English-Albanian dictionary of idioms. When I clicked on the link, the highlighted term that comes up in the text is "have a go at it".

Google can't be trusted.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by hsargent » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:53 pm

My only usage of ago is in "long time ago".

I have heard verbally, "I'm going to have a go at ....."

Of course you can't tell verbally whether it is ago or a go.

I would assume go may be used as a noun in this case but I'm not an expert. A is an adjective modifying go.... right?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: have ago

Post by zmjezhd » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:07 pm

A is an adjective modifying go.... right?

The words a and an are usually called (indefinite) articles or determiners. Deverbal nouns abound in English. For example: "I had a look".
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by russcable » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:11 pm

dante wrote:it was only a guess based on the number of google results
I have some more new words for you that get a large number of Google results: pwn, teh, l33t, kitteh, i can haz cheezburger, all your base are belong to us, ... I'm sure the CPE will be very impressed.
... english ...
Do I need to mention this again? ;-)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:25 pm

I would assume go may be used as a noun in this case
Absolutely correct hsargent.
A is an adjective modifying go.... right?
This isn't correct. Pre-modifiers of nouns are typically adjectives or,alternatively,other nouns.You'll find people include articles in "modifiers" (the answer given by a professional here for example http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-t ... ifier.html) but it makes much more sense if you look at the articles as "determiners" and differentiate them from noun modifiers. While adjectives and nouns premodify the noun by changing the meaning of the given noun in a way that they ascribe some quality to it or classify that noun in a certain way,determiners either identify the noun by:1. a) making it known or unknown to you (articles),b)pointing to it (demonstratives:that,this,these,those) c)telling whose the entity represented by that noun is (my,your,his,her..),or 2. quantifying it (quantifiers: all, neither, either, both,many,much..),
Last edited by dante on Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by zmjezhd » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:26 pm

have some more new words for you that get a large number of Google results: pwn, teh, l33t, kitteh, i can haz cheezburger, all your base are belong to us, ...

I'd say that these phrases are more widespread than ago for a go, which still looks like a simple typo or spelling mistake, and not a new word. Weren't pwn and l33t on somebody's word of the year list recently? As for Google, I still find it a useful tool, even when its results must be taken with a grain of salt. YMMV.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:39 pm

I have never, ever seen 'a go' written as 'ago' unless it was a typo. It is not in common use in Britain, well not amongst those of us who are literate anyway! I do read 'there' quite often, as in "I want to know where they keep there belongings", so anything is possible.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:47 pm

Hello BobinWales,

I apologize for not being clear here:
People speaking british english merge the article before the noun "go" (meaning try, attempt), i.e write it as "ago"
With "people speaking british english" I didn't mean all the people speaking british english, and I didn't mean that it's common occurence in the speech of people speaking british english. I was trying to say that the number of google results for "had ago" indicates that it might not be due to typing errors but because of a strange illiteracy of a small group of people speaking british english. The number of the results for the same phrase returned after searching american websites is ten times less. The explanation can be also that the phrase "had a go at/on/with something" is not as common in the american English as it is in the british English.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:07 pm

"The explanation can be also that the phrase "had a go at/on/with something" is not as common in the american English as it is in the british English."
I think this is the reason for the lop-sided number of occurrences between British and American useage. Over here, we'd be more likely to "give" something a try rather than "have" a try. I'm not that good at searching Google. Use "give it a go" and "give it ago" and see if there is the same variance.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: have ago

Post by dante » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:44 pm

Hello trolley,

I'm a little embarassed to admit that the total number of results given in my Mozzila browser deceived me.I was given the number of 45.000 results in the line showing the total number of hits. After reading people's responses here I started to doubt :).I paged through all the pages to the end (every page showing ten results), and it turned out that there's only 38 pages, i.e 380 results for "had ago" on british sites.It's still much more than the number of results returned from american sites but irrelevant to talk of "had ago" as some significant phenomenon, although I still doubt that it's about typing errors.
I've tried "give it ago" on your suggestion trolley and the results are 685 for "give it ago" on british sites and 26 results on american sites. Similar regularity to the corresponding "have ago" phrase.
By the way, the search for geographically specific results for the exact phrase takes only typing site:uk "searched phrase" for Britain for example and site:us "searched phrase" for The United States, so "give it a go" trolley, it is simple as that :)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Post Reply