Friday, June 10, 2011

Let's Agree to Disagree

The word 'agree' has several uses in English. One of the most common among them is to indicate that one person has the same opinion about something as someone else, or thinks what the other person suggests is a good idea. 

I agree with him about/on the current situation. (I have the same opinion about the current situation as he does.)

I agree with his analysis of the current situation. (I accept his analysis as I also feel the same way about the current situation.)

We agree that we have to do something about the current situation. (We both think that we have to do something about it.) 

I do agree with this proposal, but I think it’s a bit too early to implement it. (I think the proposal is a good idea…)  

Our views agree. (The views have no difference.)

Sometimes this is used in a figurative sense too.

The figures don't agree. (The figures don't match.)

The noun and the verb of a sentence have to agree (with each other). (The noun and the verb have to suit each other.)

The food I ate there didn't agree with me. (That food made me sick.)

When one person expresses their willingness to act according to what someone else suggests, the verb 'agree' normally takes the preposition 'to' instead of  'with' as in the earlier case.

The others didn't agree to our proposal. (The others didn't want to do what we suggested.)

She refused to agree to those conditions. (She didn't want to do what those conditions demanded.) 

All my friends agreed to support me. (They were all willing to back me up as I asked them to.)

The word again comes into play when two or more people - usually after some debate - jointly make a decision or come to a conclusion.

They agreed to leave at 7 o'clock.  (They jointly made the decision to leave at 7 o'clock - most probably after some discussion.)

They agreed on a departure time. / They agreed a departure time.[BrE]  (They managed to find a departure time that would suit both/all of them.)

Finally we managed to agree on a price. / Finally we managed to agree a price.[BrE]  (After much haggling, we were able to find a price acceptable to both parties.)

And then there are times we just can't accept what the other guy says or suggests. If there's no hope at all of finding some middle ground, we still can put 'agree' to good use to keep the peace.

We have to agree to disagree. [AmE] / We have to agree to differ. [BrE] (We have to admit that we have two very different opinions and there's no point in arguing any more.)

(Image credit: o5com)

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