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Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing
Grimace at... or grimace to... ?
Monday August 27th 2012
Question
Grimace at... or grimace to... ?
Answer

Question

What is the proper use of the word grimaced? Is it grimaced at or to a person's remark? –Teodoro G., The Philippines

Answer

Grimace, which refers to a facial expression that shows disgust or pain, can be either a noun or a verb, as shown in the following sentences:

  • The patient made a painful grimace as the doctor examined his wound. (grimace is a noun)
  • The patient grimaced when his wound was touched. (grimace is a verb)


When the noun (thing) that causes someone to grimace is the indirect object of the verb, follow this pattern: grimace + at + noun, as in these examples:

  • The rescue worker grimaced at the sight of the plane crash.
  • The driver grimaced at the dead animal in the middle of the road.
  • She grimaced at her uncle's remark.


To help you remember this, think about the word smile, which behaves the same way. Smile can be a noun or a verb, and when the noun that causes someone to smile is the indirect object of the verb, it follows the same pattern: smile + at + noun:

  • He gave a big smile. (smile is a noun)
  • He smiled when he opened the door. (smile is a verb)
  • The driver smiled at the kids as they climbed on the bus. (smile + at + noun)

 

I hope this helps.

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