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Hello,

I learned that trouble should be singular in the phrase ‘get into trouble’. However, yesterday I was presented with these four sentences and could not find a reason to defend. They all convey the same meaning to me!

“I’ve gotten into trouble so many times that I feel too embarrassing to mention.”
“I’ve gotten into so many troubles that are too embarrassing to mention.”
“I’ve gotten into troubles that are so embarrassing to mention.”
“I’ve gotten into troubles so embarrassing to mention.”

Is the rule I learned valid? If so, please explain what could be wrong with the last two sentences.

Sometimes, a seemingly trivial usage like this one suddenly causes me to question my knowledge!

Thank you very much in advance.
Hoa Thai
Comments  
At first I was going to say that I would rewrite them as "trouble" in each case, but it seems the writer means different types of trouble. Perhaps trouble with money, trobule with women, trouble keeping a job, trouble with the law... See what you think of these?

“I’ve gotten into trouble so many times that I feel too embarrassed to mention it.”
“I’ve gotten into many types of trouble that are too embarrassing to mention.”
“I’ve gotten into troubles that are
too embarrassing to mention.” This one means many types of trouble.
“I’ve gotten into troubles
too embarrassing to mention.”This one means many types of trouble too and is no different from the one above.
Grammar GeekAt first I was going to say that I would rewrite them as "trouble" in each case, but it seems the writer means different types of trouble. Perhaps trouble with money, trobule with women, trouble keeping a job, trouble with the law... See what you think of these?

“I’ve gotten into trouble so many times that I feel too embarrassed to mention it.”
“I’ve gotten into many types of trouble that are too embarrassing to mention.”
“I’ve gotten into troubles that are
too embarrassing to mention.” This one means many types of trouble.
“I’ve gotten into troubles
too embarrassing to mention.”This one means many types of trouble too and is no different from the one above.
Hi Grammar Geek,

Because of my statement "trouble should be singular in 'get into trouble'", the challenger asked me to analyze his four sentences assuming different types of trouble.

Actually, the first time he wrote, "I’ve gotten into trouble so many times that are too embarrassing to mention." However, that statement could tie 'the embarrasment' to 'times' instead of 'trouble' so the sentence was changed to "I’ve gotten into trouble so many times that I feel (the trouble is) too embarrassing to mention." But that does not convey different types of trouble!

Because of that, he insisted that the right way was with either so many troubles or troubles as shown in the remaining sentences. However, that would invalidate the rule I learned!

Now, with your comments, I would have to tell him that I must stand corrected.

By the way, would you please share with me why you used 'too' instead of 'so' in the last two sentences?

Best Regards,
Hoa Thai

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>However, yesterday I was presented with these four sentences and could not find a reason to defend.

Strange sentence. To defend what?
Marius Hancu>However, yesterday I was presented with these four sentences and could not find a reason to defend.

Strange sentence. To defend what?
Indeed!
Fortunately, Grammar Geek read my mind. The four entences point out the use of troubles is sound; thus I could not defend the idea why trouble has to be singular in the phrase 'get into trouble'. Perhaps, she will again share with me what was in her mind when she made changes in those sentences.
Hoa Thai
Hoa Thai
By the way, would you please share with me why you used 'too' instead of 'so' in the last two sentences?

Hi Hoa Thai,

The patterns is:

... too [adjective] to [verb]. It was too embarrassing to describe. He's too smart to do that.
... too [adjective] for [noun]. I was too happy for words. You're too good for her.

Or

... so [adjective] [that] [clause]. - the "that" is often optional

The cake was so pretty that I hated to eat it. I was so happy that I thought I would cry. I was so embarrased that I wanted to crawl into a hole.
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Hi Gramma Geek,

Thank you for your note. I can see the subtle difference between the two of them with so ... that pattern. I will keep that in mind when I write. However, here is a usage note from answer.com (The American Heritage Dictionary) regarding so:

"
Critics have sometimes objected to the use of so as an intensive meaning “to a great degree or extent,” as in We were so relieved to learn that the deadline had been extended. This usage is most common in informal contexts, perhaps because, unlike the neutral very, it presumes that the listener or reader will be sympathetic to the speaker's evaluation of the situation. Thus one would be more apt to say It was so unfair of them not to invite you than to say It was so fortunate that I didn't have to put up with your company. For just this reason, the construction may occasionally be used to good effect in more formal contexts to invite the reader to take the point of view of the speaker ..."

In your opinion, does the phrase may occasionally play down the exception?

Thanks and Best Regards,
Hoa Thai

If I read them that way, it's fine, but informal.

so embarrassing to mention means that it's the act of mentioning them that I find embarrassing.

too embarrassign to mention means that the troubles themselves are embarrassing to such a degree me that I cannot mention them.
Hi Grammar Geek,

Once again thank you for your time and detailed explanation.

Hoa Thai
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