Submitted by Warsaw Will on September 29, 2012

You’ve got another think/thing coming

If you’re over a certain age, you will probably be familiar with the expression - ‘If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming’. But if you’re a bit younger than me, you might well have heard it as - ‘You’ve got another thing coming’, especially if you’re a heavy metal fan. While I can understand that the saying could have changed through mishearing (an eggcorn?), I am puzzled as to how people who use the newer version understand it’s meaning. The original has a perfect logic to it (if not perfect grammar) which seems to me to be completely lost in the newer version.

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The logic of "You got another thing coming" is clear in its meaning: something else (unexpected or unwanted) is on its way.

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Corinna,

You say "Just because it's the way you've always heard it doesn't make it correct. Using "thing" in this phrase doesn't have any logic behind it at all."

But it is logical. When a person hears this phrase, the person immediately uses context, knowledge of the words thing and think, and their understanding of the purpose of the phrase, and they believe they hear the word "thing" not "think" because it makes sense to them. If "thing" wasn't logical then the mistake wouldn't have been made in the first place.

I prefer thing to think. The think version, while I understand the message, is just awkward.

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I'm 56 and up until last week I'd never heard the "another think" version. I thought it was a recent and clever play on words. Obviously it is not recent at all. For those struggling with the logic of "another thing" here's what I have always understood.

The expression really needs to be looked at within the context it is being used. In actual context the words "that" and "thing" refer to specific future events nearly always involving a threatening situation. Here's an example of what I mean.

"Your time's up, Jones," Smith cried, waving his gun. "On the count of three I'm gonna blow your head off. I'll be free of you bossing me around at last."

"If you think that you have another thing coming, you rotten little...."

Here "that" refers to the event or the "thing" (freedom from Jones) that Smith is thinking of / anticipating. "Freedom from Jones" in this context is the first "thing" and gives logical sense to use of "another thing". When Jones retaliates with "you have another thing coming" the meaning is that Jones will stop Smith from killing him and gaining his freedom, and that events or things are not going to work out the way Smith thought.

In other words I've always understood it to mean "If you think things are going to work out that way, you're wrong. Things are going to work out differently."

This is probably the same understanding that Bill S mentioned above.

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Dang, I understand why using "think" in this phrase sounds awkward to you and many others; it's because we don't usually consider the word "think" to be a noun. But during the time when this phrase first cropped up, "think" was indeed used as a noun, as in, "I believe what I need is a good long think." Granted, not usually the way we use it today, but that's the way it was then.

The problem is that "thinkcoming" and "thingcoming" run together and sound the same. That's why so many people misquote it. As far as it being logical with the word "thing", think of it this way: how can you have ANOTHER thing, if you haven't had a first thing? In other words, in order for "thing" to make logical sense, you'd have to say, "If you thing this, then you have ANOTHER thing coming." See the flaw in your logic?

This is what happens whenever people mishear a quote; they stretch the meaning of what they think they hear to fit. After they've said it incorrectly all their lives, of course the original phrase sounds incorrect to them.

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I can understand both sides. It seems that the 'think' argument has history on its side. Does this make it right? Maybe. But then rightfully 'ache' should be 'ake' and 'island' should be 'iland'. Growing up hearing 'thing', I'm ashamed to say that I never questioned it. As I understood it, the meaning fell alongside the dozens of other expressions whose literal meaning had been somewhat lost. Or maybe, as Geoffthing and Traduttore were saying, I understood 'thing' to refer to some kind of secondary reckoning. But this is how language develops. Around the time 'napron' became 'apron' were the older folks arguing that for their side on similar grounds? For me the evolution of things like this and the etymological changes that shape a language have a sort of ontogeny-recapitulates-phylogeny kind of relationship.

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The phrase "If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming" is a play on words that incorporates the older term "You've got another thing coming," changing "thing" to "think" for humorous and meaningful effect.

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@Warsaw Will
This is an excellent example of the type of evolution of language that we could well do without and about which I have constantly ranted.
It;s right up there with "home in" becoming "hone in", "regarding" morphing to "in regards to", and "signs" becoming "signage". (Firefox spell check at least recognises the latter as an error.)
It seems that the stock excuse for the use of these blights is "that's the way I've always heard it"!!

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I see how old this thread is so I'm sorry that I'm so late in joining the debate. As a young person I naturally fall into the 'thing' side of the argument given, as many have already explained, its rise in popularity in the 80s. Although I can understand the historical logic of 'think' I do believe there is absolute sense in the se of 'thing' this word represents an undefined abstract which fits perfectly into most sentences of this phrase. I find 'think' too limiting as it is not necessarily that the person will have to mull over or reconsider their belief or opinion. Rather it could be that there will be repurcussions for having this opinion or standing, eg 'if you think buying that dress is a good idea you've got another thing coming'. Of course this 'thing' could be a 'think', a reflection on your action with regret, or this 'thing' could be more substantial; perhaps ridicule by your peers or a huge credit card bill. I can understand the value of 'think' but find 'thing' all together more useable.

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@porsche - oops, sorry! It was my mistake. I originally had 'you've got' for both, but there was a problem with apostrophes, and I changed one but forgot to change the other. I've tried it again with 've got'. The corrected version still shows that the popularity of the thing version is relatively recent, although stronger than I had it originally, and that the increase really started around 1982.
http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=ve...

@Bubbha - OK, but it's a bit vague for me. Let me explain how I've always understood the think version - If that's what you think/thought, you've got another think coming

The speaker thinks that the other person is wrong, and that sooner or later they will realise they are wrong and have to rethink their position, in other words have another think about it - hence they've got another think coming. So for me, the second think isn't simply a play on words, it's the whole point. And I feel that this is completely lost in the thing version. For me it's not simply that some vague thing is on the way, it's that the person will have to change their thinking on this particular matter. Hence the strength of the idiom.

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In the song in question, the use of thing is logical because the lyric does, in fact, present a first thing. "If you think I'll let it go...you got another thing coming." Instead of letting"it" go the singer is suggesting another thing it's coming. The inference is the other thing is that the singer will not let "it" go.

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I too thought "think" was a variation of "thing," not the other way around. I stand corrected.

I agree that "think" makes sense as the completion of "If that's what you think...." But some contexts don't involve "think." For instance: "If you expect the CEO to be happy with these results, you have another thing coming."

"Thing" doesn't make a lot of sense in this construction, but it makes more sense than "think." So I'd say both versions are correct depending on the circumstances.

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What always surprises me is that people who have always used the "you've got another thing coming" version often have no idea that "think" was used in the original (and logical) phrase. As one language expert put it: Some people might think there’s no difference between a clever turn of phrase and an ignorant mistake, but they have another think coming.

Just because it's the way you've always heard it doesn't make it correct. Using "thing" in this phrase doesn't have any logic behind it at all.

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@Corinna, you took the words out of my mouth - how do the 'thing' supporters explain 'another' - as you say, the whole point of another 'think 'is that the first 'think' was wrong.

@Dang - I don't want to get into a right version / wrong version argument, and it's only natural that we each prefer the one we're used to. But most authorities do seem to think that the 'think' version did indeed come first, and the Ngram graph I linked to above seems to show that the 'thing' version, although admittedly getting more popular, didn't really take off till the 1960s.

A Google Books search gives interesting results - 145,000 (think) to 36,000 (thing), and the first page of the 'think' results mainly consists of books on the English language suggesting the think version to be the original and most logical. The first entry is from Garner's Modern American Usage by Brian Garner, who I don't always agree with, but who seems to carry quite a lot of weight amongst grammar fans in the States. He says - 'It may not be funny anymore, but it makes sense: X is wrong, so eventually you're going to think Y instead.'

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=got+another+think+coming

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I am an older person too and I've only heard the 'thing' version until very recently. I thought when I first heard it that the 'think' version was a pun on the original 'thing'.

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@Corinna - It all depends on how people understand "correct language". English existed for at least 1000 years before the first grammar book was published. But it always had grammar, it always had rules. Rules don't come out of a grammar book or usage guide, but from the use of the language, and they change.

All that grammar books and usage guides do is codify this, and good ones will take these changes into account. Of course we all prefer what we're used to, and few people like change in language (except perhaps for young people). Personally, I regret the passing of any sense of awe in the modern use of the word awesome, for example, but I just have to get over it; the meaning I grew up with is very much the minority meaning nowadays.

As far as punctuation is concerned, I think this got codified quite late on, and the rules seem stricter in the States. I prefer comma=short pause, semicolon=longer pause rather than a list of strict rules, for example.

The apostrophe was the last punctuation mark to arrive in English, and perhaps its use took a long time to get really settled. The so-called Greengrocer's apostrophe (as in your examples) was in fact one of the earliest uses of the apostrophe, especially with words of foreign origin where people didn't know if the final S was a plural or part of the singular noun. Like the use of "less" instead of "few", this "wrong" use of the apostrophe never causes any ambiguity (unlike a wrongly placed comma, which is said to have started a war!), and the only possible reason for criticising it is so that we can feel superior: that "we" know the "rules", and "they" don't.

Go down to any London street market, and you'll see hundreds of Greengrocer's apostrophes. But listen to the people who wrote them: you won't hear many people use English as creatively they do. So no, I might smile when I see them, but I don't want to scream. But I can't say the same for those "apostrophe abuse" hunters (and critics of "Ten items or less") that take such glee in finding other peoples "errors", while evidently thinking themselves "Oh so superior". Like the folks at the website Apostrophe Abuse, for example. :)

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@Corinna - I was trying to be careful not to suggest that you personally had a feeling of superiority, but I can assure you that's the impression I get when I look at sites like Apostrophe Abuse, or perhaps self-satisfied smugness would be a better description.

Yes, you're right, what you're talking about is not the Greengrocer's apostrophe, but I don't think the sin is any less venial. (I can't remember seeing any signs like this on this side of the pond). I just think that there is so much more about English that is truly fascinating than worrying about somebody else's "errors", which in the case of apostrophes are incredibly minor and make absolutely no difference to anything.

Incidentally, one strange AmE / BrE difference - what you call a yard, we call a garden. A yard for us usually has a hard surface like concrete or stones etc, like a builder's yard or a farmyard, for example. I discovered this when I wanted a picture of a back yard (in the BrE sense) for a song exercise for my students, and all I could find on Google Images were beautiful back gardens - not what I wanted at all. :)

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How about "having a laugh." Or an even more marked use of a verb that's not a noun as a noun: "having a good cry"? He heard a sneeze. It's not the cough that carries you off... The list is endless. It's like asking whether something that happened in a movie "really" happened. It's language, and in the English language you can't really say that a noun isn't and can't be used as a verb.

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http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=go... - Notice that the rise starts in 1982, the year of Judas Priest's song - 'Another thing coming'

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In context:

If you think that, you've got another thing coming.

Another thing = not 'that' (that's the logic of the sentence). Even said without 'if you think that...' it is usually contextually assumed.

If you think that will happen, you've got another thing coming.
Something else will happen.

If you think that will happen, you've got another think coming.
You will think of it in a different way.

The old version seems applicable in less situations and uses a word which has been phased out of the language in that form. I think it's quite an attractive phrase though because it's like a prod in the right direction: 'you need to rethink this' or 'you're about to realise your mistake'.
Still, both work, and it seems very likely that 'thing' will almost completely replace 'think', because children know 'thing' as a noun and 'think' as a verb, so will automatically hear it as thing.

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I'll be honest: before reading this thread I thought it was most definitely "thing", so thanks for educating me! I doubt I've seen the phrase much in print, and in speech it's hard to distinguish between "think coming" and "thing coming".

As for greengrocer's apostrophe's, the last time I visited the UK three years ago I was at a market in Cambridgeshire and those apostrophe's were rampant! I remember seeing "asparagu's" and printed signs for hot dog's, chip's and so on. I wonder how many of them are deliberate.

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"@I'm - of course, they're both idioms, so I don't think the verb / noun thing is that important, really."

In a nutshell.

Language logic tends to be holistic in nature; the logic of the expression is in the meaning conveyed by the idiom as a whole, not by its constituent parts.

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@MagicMatt - "So I'm pretty big on correcting other people's grammar when they misspeak." - And you think that's something to be proud of?

You make a great play on the fact that the noun is 'thought' and not 'think' - this is what ex-professor of English at W.S.U Paul Bryans has to say:

'Here’s a case in which eagerness to avoid error leads to error. The original expression is the last part of a deliberately ungrammatical joke: “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.” '

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/thing.html

And maybe when someone uses an idiom you haven't come across which you suspect might be British, it might be an idea to check with a British dictionary before accusing them of being ignorant. There are lots of things Americans say which we don't, but we don't usually accuse them of sounding stupid.

http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/b...

If you really think it's fun to correct people who 'misspeak', it might be worthwhile doing your homework first, or you're the one who's likely to end up with egg on your face.

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Let me start by saying I shall not and will not rant, even though it's in my DNA, and almost everyone reading and certainly posting on this website probably has a good old rant in them. I fall on the "think" side in this debate, and I know the probably with being open-minded is that your brains might fall out, but still, I see the "thing" side in spite of my own conviction. If you're around children at all, you hear the utter conviction with which they now say "on accident" and if you're familiar with more than one foreign language (I'm a translator) you're aware of how relative "rightness" can be: obvious to you, invisible to millions of others. But I believe in multiplicity: I believe that for every successful coinage there are several converging factors, a coincidence of supporting conditions. And I can see that for many coinages there are parallel possible paths. Just as any great work of art (say, Dante's Divine Comedy) there are hundreds of valid if not equally good translations, so for a thought might there be more than one arguable form that the language can take. Johnmgt745 says that this evolution of language is something "we could well do without." We who? We, everyone who disagrees? The people who use this language don't belong to the pool of English speakers? Hmmm.

Anyway, to quote the imperishable Ellen De Generes, my point, and I do have one, is this: I look at this division on think and thing (and by the way, kudos to Corinna for pointing out, rightly, that "a good long think" is a very standard substantive, and it certainly has an old-fashioned feel. But what about "thing"? Can't that have a deliberative value? When Brooklyn wiseguys say "let's do this thing," aren't they talking about a decision, a project, the outcome of thought? Isn't the Latin term, re publica, the ablative case of res publica, the statement of a collective thought process? Isn't the oldest parliament in the world the Icelandic Althing (which means "All Thing"), and in fact the root of deliberative democracy is as much bound up with the barbarians as the Ancient Greeks. In German, Denken is think and Ding is thing. I'm not sure the two words are cognates, but I do like the idea that Anglo-Saxon assemblies worry about concrete things and Mediterranean parliaments worry about words. (I translate from Italian and French, so construe that as no slur). But let's look at the OED (Shorter) definition of "thing". First definition, marked with one of those "obsolete" swords: "A meeting, assembly, esp. a deliberative or judicial assembly." There it is, in the deep tissues of the language, sensed as if telepathically by the young people more than the old, like a faint trans-galactic echo of a linguistic Big Bang, the original intrinsic meaning of "thing": a good, hard think. This is something I see all the time when translating, an almost oracular percolation of meaning from inside the history of the words themselves. It's one reason, I think, that having been a classicist and once an aspiring archeologist helps so much in translation. Translation, if done right, is more like brewing tea than stamping out metal parts. The swirling mist of the word's history and nuances must color the page. Not that I spend time on it: I translate fast, so I'm talking about a "blink-brew" process, but I do believe that every word contains eons and multitudes. I still think it's "another think," but the history suggests that there may be more than just a heavy metal song propelling this supposedly jejune linguistic development. Whew! If you've read this far, thanks for bearing with me. And I'm not being pollyannaish when I see that, really, I think that all of you (or both sides) are right....

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I too am an older person, fast approaching my three score and ten.
It's always been "you have another think coming" any time I've heard it.
In fact as a kid I heard it almost daily. :-))

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Is this a contest to see who's the oldest? HS, you seem to be just pipping me, although I am over retirement age. As the original questioner, I have now realised that if the "thing" version is all you have heard, yes, it will make perfect sense to you (although lacking, for me personally, the preciseness of the original).

Skeeter, I think you're probably right as to how it started, and I will continue to use "think", but perhaps we oldies should now accept the "thing" version with good grace. :)

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Oh, I don't think it has anything to do with feeling "superior". Lord knows, I have errors in almost everything I write, like anyone else! :D As for the apostrophe useage, I don't think your example of the Greengrocer's apostrophe is quite the same as these yard signs, because when you see a sign that says "The Brown's", what you are reading is that this house belongs to ONE Brown. So unless you are a family of one, it would simply be incorrect.

And the rules between British English and American English---oh, my goodness, that's another huge pit to fall into! Quotation marks in different places and the like. Sometimes what one side of the pond sees as incorrect actually is not, depending on where you are.

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The differences between Americanisms and Britishisms is a never ending source of fascination, and one that would be worth an entire thread of its own! I frequent a site that is fairly evenly divided between Americans and Brits, and through the last several years we've had many good laughs at the confusion that can exist between the "two" languages. To add to the confusion for me, I'm a fifth-generation Texan, and we have often been accused of having our own language altogether! ;)

Here, a garden is a plot that has been plowed into rows in order to grow crops of vegetables. Sometimes you might also hear "flower garden", but most often that would be instead a "flower bed". Sometimes we use "lawn" instead of "yard" to describe an expanse of open grass; however, even though a lawn is always a yard, a yard is not always a lawn, because it may sometimes be only dirt rather than grass. But the word "garden" is never, ever used here to describe an open expanse of grass.

It's a wonder we can communicate at all! ;)

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@Corinna - we also use lawn and flower beds (some people think that no British garden is complete without its lawn), but I always used to wonder about the title of Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns until I realised that you use sprinklers a lot over there.

A couple more from your own comment - plow (AmE), plough (BrE) - dirt (AmE), earth (BrE)

There's an excellent blog about these differences run by an American linguist living and working in Britain - http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/

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Pare it back even further, and the answer seems clear to me.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=another+think+coming%2Canother+thing+coming&year_start=1800&year_end=1900&corpus=0&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Canother%20think%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Canother%20thing%20coming%3B%2Cc0

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@_Shorty - that looks convincing at first, but the devil is in the detail. Everyone's pretty well agreed that the expression we're talking about (following "If you think ...") only arose around the turn of the century, so there's not much point in taking a period that ends in 1900.

Click on the references to Google Books below your graph, and you'll find that none of the examples include the expression we're talking about. Let's take the first few examples from 1861-1899:

'... my own brief experience teaches me that a pessary is one thing after it comes from the hands of the inventor, and another thing coming from the hands of the maker'

'And then again, gentlemen, I see another thing coming'

' "... that 's quite another thing !'' Coming back into Deansgate'

'... one thing coming out by mistake, another thing coming out by forethought'

'There's another thing coming on my mind at present'

'I am sorry to see another thing coming about in this land of ours'

None of these are preceded by "If you think ...", the expression under discussion, so I'm afraid they're pretty irrelevant.

This could also be said of my graph, of course, but the lines on my graph do seem to reflect the use of this particular construction. And if you click on the references below, say for 1930-1999, the examples do seem to mainly be of the "If you think ..." type.

What's more, you look more closely at yours and you'll see we're talking tiny numbers here. Even the "thing" peak in 1900 (which was very short lived) represents a hundredth of the "think" peak in the 1990s, and could be due to just a few books. In fact clicking on 1900 only brings up two books. Even 1861-1899 only brings up twenty, and as we've seen, none of them are of the "If you think" type.

Incidentally, PITE only recognises http addresses, but you can fool it into making Google addresses links by removing the s from https. It will then show as a link, and Google will automatically convert it into https.

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Take a look at the first hit. 1826, iirc. That's close enough for me. :)

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@_Shorty - Can you be more specific; the only hit I can find from 1800-1826 is this:

"I own, indeed, that in God's covenant of promise there is a connexion and order established, for conferring of these promised blessings unto us : so that when God gives one thing, it is a pledge of another thing coming: when he gives grace to ..."

But there is absolutely no previous mention of "if"and "think" here, which is the whole point of this thread - the play with the two occurrences. And even if it did, one example hardly makes a trend.

The discussion here is not simply about "another thing coming", but expressions like "If you think that, you've got another think/thing coming". The earliest known example of the 'thing' version is from 1919, in the Syracuse Herald (N.Y.) - "If you think the life of a movie star is all sunshine and flowers you've got another thing coming."

The "think" version is though to have been around from before that, but examples are difficult to find. But here's one from 1906:

"May be you think your factory is not a school. But if you do, you've got another think coming" (http://books.google.pl/books?id=NQVZAAAAYAAJ&am...)

And this is from a book by Montague Glass called "Elkan Lubliner, American" published in 1912.

"And if you think that this here feller Borrochson comes to work in our place, Scheikowitz, you've got another think coming, and that's all I got to say."

(You can find it at Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27423/27423-h/27...)

Thanks for that. I've now found earlier examples than in the OED.

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I don't think the setup of the sentence we're talking about is that important, frankly. What's under debate is whether or not the meat of the phrase is "You've got another thing coming." The first half, "If you think <whatever>" really has no bearing on anything. The meaning/gist of the second half is what we're concerned with. And the first example I found in that search has exactly the same meaning/gist as what we're talking about. And there are many other examples as time goes on. If you don't agree, oh well. I have made my mind up, anyway. :)

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@_Shorty
I think you have completely missed the point.
"You've got another thing coming." is meaningless.
The correct use of the phrase in question was, is, and always will be "If you think ......., you've got another think coming".

The "thing" version is arrant nonsense.

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@_Shorty - As it was me who originally put the question, I think the 'setup of the sentence' is vital, and the first part absolutely has bearing on the whole thing. I suggest you reread my original question and the comments that follow it; this whole thread is about a two-part idiom, currently with two versions:

'If you think ..., you've (got) another think coming'
'If you think ..., you've (got) another thing coming'

I'm inclined to agree with Hairy Scot,and that is the form that is usually listed in dictionaries, but I accept that the 'thing' version is probably more popular these days, and as such, perfectly acceptable. If you want to debate the origins of the full idiom, that's fine, but 'another thing coming' on its own could mean anything.

Incidentally I've put my findings (on its history) on my blog: http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/01...

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I have found this whole discussion to be fascinating, especially the heat that it generates. I have always said “think,” my wife has always said “thing,” and as one perceptive commentator noted, one of the fascinating things about this issue is that most people seem to hold one strong position, and largely to have been unaware of the opposing position, as if Jonathan Swift’s Big-Enders and Little-Enders existed in parallel dimensions, simply unaware of any other way to eat eggs. Perhaps the internet is bringing some of these differences out, as new topics for us to quibble over.
I’m especially intrigued by an aspect of the duality that I’ve commented on before, but I’ll mention again: “thing” and “think” aren’t just any old words. They’re sort of fundamental ones: rooted in cognition and existence. It led me to look into the origins of “thing,” for starters. As I’d pointed out in an earlier comment, “thing” is also a term that means “assembly” or “congress.” What I hadn’t understood till now, though, is that “thing” originally meant assembly (still present in English in the word “hustings,” and in the name of Iceland’s general assembly, the Althing, or “all-thing,” one of the oldest assemblies in the world). This is present in other languages, by the way: “cosa” comes from “causa,” or lawsuit. The Latin word for thing is “res,” and it’s the source of the word “republic,” the “public thing,” or “common thing.” To say nothing of Cosa Nostra.
So the confusion between these two words, their invisible coexistence in these two rival formulations, seems to smack of the metaphysical. Please note that they’re not from the same root, the way, say, “garden” and “yard” are. (As a translator, this has been brought home to me by the fact that often the correct English translation of the Italian word “giardino” is, very simply, “yard”). No they are two distinct words, one meaning an assembly of people converging to agree on something (just imagine, in this context, the feeling of seeing something, finding it hard to believe your own says, turning to another person, and asking them, “Do you see it too?” Couldn’t that be the origin of thing-ness? The agreement of several people that it is, indeed, a thing? And consider the current slang term, “Is that even a thing?”)
The etymology of “think,” interestingly, is “to cause to appear to oneself,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. And so both these terms seems to entail conjuring something into existence.
The idea that either could be the wildcard in a single formulation is, to my mind, very appealing. This is where the discussion of language seems to be a discussion of the very essence of existence, perception, and memory. Turns out, by the way (again, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary), that “do your thing” is a very old term, with the same meaning, dating back to the 1840s.
I love the room that it leaves for an oddly redolent misunderstanding, almost up to the level of Sidney Morgenbesser’s reply to linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin’s claim that while a double-negative might have a positive meaning, in no language on earth does a double-positive produce a negative meaning. Morgenbesser, of course, commented, dismissively, “Yeah, yeah” (or according to a variant version, “Yeah, right”).
So in this Janus-like, double-headed expression, what you have another one of coming is either a consensus or deliberation (“thing”) or a “causing to appear to oneself” (think).
Shorty concludes: “My mind is made up.” Well, like a bed in a hotel room, when it’s made up, it has the advantage of neatness, but it doesn’t serve its intended function. A mind that’s made up about language is like a mind that’s made up about the nature of the universe. Since it’s impossible to know for certain about either subject, making up your mind is pointless.
But I wanted to see what happened if I put “you have another * coming” into nGram Viewer. And look what emerged:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=yo...*+coming&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Cyou%20have%20another%20*%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20think%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20guess%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20thought%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20thing%20coming%3B%2Cc0

I tried to copy in a screengrab: but it didn't seem to take. But it turns out the EARLIEST occurrence is “you have another guess coming.” Now that’s funny. And "another guess coming" has a very long and vigorous life as an expression that I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion. Guess it didn't have the fascinating closeness of "think" and "thing."
Garner’s Modern English Usage (2009, page 49) says that “another thing coming” is “grammatical but not even vaguely clever.” It’s not clever if the only joke there is is the joke made with “another think coming,” but as so often happens, there’s more than one joke in the room. I’m a “thinkist” by birth, but I see the point of “thingism.” That’s the kind of open-mindedness that loses the Democratic Party elections, I get that. But I don’t think there’s a right and wrong side here. I think there’s a fascinating linguistic kaleidoscope to be enjoyed.

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Sorry, that Ngram URL seems not to have copied right. I'll try it again. In any case, it's simply an Ngram search for "you have another * coming"

Here it is:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=you+have+another+*+coming&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Cyou%20have%20another%20*%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20think%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20guess%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20thought%20coming%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Byou%20have%20another%20thing%20coming%3B%2Cc0

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@Traduttore - that's a lot to take in quickly, so I'll have a read of it at my leisure, but your thinking seems fairly akin to mine. That was a good idea to use a wildcard, I hadn't thought of that. I'd also read something about the guess version - could you give any references with 'If you think'? OK, here's one from 1906 and another from 1907 (from Google Books, via your Ngram):

"If you think I never ponder over the work you have done and are still doing for the protection of the furred and feathered people, you have another guess coming."

"If you don't believe there are such union men, then you have another guess coming."

I'm not sure it predates 'think', but it certainly seems to start around the same time, although it seems to have peaked around 1917. However, the results for this search are quite low (peaking at 000000300%) compared with '"another thing coming" and "another think coming". But it's quite interesting to compare them together:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=an...

Not surprisingly perhaps, when you try it with British books, 'guess' is rather less common.

And talking of British English, we never use "yard" for a green space with vegetation (this is a North American thing), so for us 'giardino', 'jardin', 'jardín' etc are always 'garden'. A yard for us is an area with a hard surface, typically surrounded by buildings or walls. Vive la différence!

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/en...

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Very interesting. Didn't know that about British yard. I see that "backyard" has some currency though. Is that just an Americanism? So would a green space with only lawn, no flowers, still be a garden?

Yes, "you have another guess coming" declines in frequency over time, but it's the leader in the early years. Could it have been the origin structure? As in "you have three guesses" and the first one, evidently, was wrong? Then the witticism of "you have another think coming" superseded it, and then the homonym (thinGcoming being after all indistinguishable from thinKcoming) "you have another thing coming" took over, as it seems to have done?

It looks like "you have another thought coming" was used in just a few cases. I never know exactly how to read the percentages on Ngram.

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@Traduttore - thanks for the 'guess' thing; I've updated my blog post (link above), which includes Ngram graphs and lots of links to Google Books, as well as a hat-tip to yourself - at the moment, with the 'if you think part', 'think' and 'thing' are neck and neck (1906), but there's nothing at Google Books for 'thing' with 'if you think ...' between 1800 and 1910

@_Shorty - OK, I'm now beginning to think that the idiom might have grown out of a usage without the 'if you think' part, maybe with think, thing or guess. So I don't totally discount what you say. I think we're really in uncharted (historical) territory here, chaps!.

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By the way, I think there's a pretty clear instance of the "think" version in the play The Fruit of his Folly, on page 26 (published 1894). The author is Arthur Lewis Tubbs, and the setting is Philadelphia. The dialogue is in a theatrical dressing room, so I'm guessing it's pretty gaudy stuff, designed to seem like the latest thing. It's not the exact order (if you think that... then you have another think) but it's pretty clear. One guy says: "but I thought" and the snappy retort is "Well, you have another think coming."

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@Traduttore - a lawn with no flowers would probably just be called a lawn, maybe a garden, but definitely not a yard. Some time ago I was trying to find a picture of a backyard (our version) and got really frustrated because all I got was lovely gardens when what I wanted was something concrete or bricked over. Backyards was what we used to have in our slums.

I've found the full 1894 text of The Fruit of his Folly at Archive.org, but can't find the bit you're talking about. It certainly doesn't seem to be on p 26 of this edition, but if this is true this is exciting news, and I'll have to amend my blog post yet again!

But are sure it's this play? This seems to be set in New York City, and I can't see any scenes set in a theatre dressing room.

https://archive.org/stream/fruitofhisfolly00tubb#page/n7/mode/2up

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@Traduttore - OK, I've found this from A Deal In Ducks by Guy L Clements from 1921. That still beats the OED.

'Jackson thinks he has me in a pinch and that I will have to sell. Well he has another "think" coming."

But still looking

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I'm so sorry. I didn't look carefully.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Fo0_AAAAYAAJ&a...

It's a different play in a book that must be an anthology. But unless I'm mistaken, it dates from 1908.

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Same author, different play: Miss Buzby's Boarders.

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For fans of Steptoe and Son, heard in Series 2, Episode 2 - 'The Bath', first broadcast in January 1963: 'If he thinks I'm going to live under the stairs, he's got another think coming'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zba7emQgR6g - it's at about 21.40

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But I definitely have other occurrences, even earlier. Do you want them? I have something from 1901. As to how closely it cleaves to your exact linguistic formula, that's another matter. I see it as the same form, but I understand that lexicography is a stickler's game.

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It was certainly playing in New York in February 1909, but unfortunately I can find no texts. He seems to have had a pretty long career, this Arthur Lewis Tubbs; it's strange there's no Wikipedia article on him.

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What do you call the phenomenon which occurs when someone coughs? Or sneezes? The name of the action is a noun. I use 'cough',' sneeze'. What do you call these actions, Truttadore? This is not a case of using a verb (or verbs) as a noun, they are nouns all along, surely? They are examples of the verb and the noun being homonyms, surely? "If you think ... then you have another think coming" was coined as a joke, of course.

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@Traduttore - Yes please, go on, I'm collecting them.

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No, sorry Bubbha, it's the other way round. The earliest known occurrence in the US of the thing version was in 1919, and of the think version in 1898.

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/thing.html
http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxyouhav....
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/article...
http://grammartips.homestead.com/anotherthink.html

But in any case, you haven't answered my question - where is the possible logic of the thing version.

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Will, is there a way to contact you off this site? I have screen grabs and URLs to send you. Those won't go into comment, and I have to believe it would be less than scintillating for the other readers. You'll be posting the most interesting stuff anyway. I looked on your blog but couldn't see a clear contact button.

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@Traduttore - Sure, leave out all the spaces, plus signs etc. Look forward to hearing from you:

will + dot + randomidea + at sign + gmail + dot + com

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I just love this one, where think is absolutely crucial:

"Skidmore Tyres had another think coming when the brakeman signalled him to back-tip. but he didn't wait for it: that think that wasn't thought may cost him his job."

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine 1906

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Will, you compared "got another think..." with "YOU got another thing...". You should make the comparison fairer by taking out the "you" in the second version. "Think" still outnumbers "thing", but the recent growth of "thing" will be more apparent.

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@Rob Schmidt - obviously a lot of people are quite happy with the 'thing' version, and that's fine. But I don't understand why you don't think 'think' wouldn't work in your example. Surely an expectation is a kind of thought process - the first half could just as well have been expressed as "If you think the CEO will be happy with these results ..." with virtually no change in meaning.

We don't have to be too literal - "believe, expect, imagine, reckon, suppose" are all types of thinking - for me, 'think' still makes more sense than 'thing' after any of these.

For example, here are a couple of lines from Beyoncé's 'If I were a boy", where 'you've got another think coming' would also work very well for the second line.

If you thought I would wait for you
You thought wrong

But I think we could also substitute any of those verbs for 'thought' in the first line, leaving the second line as it is, and it would still work:

If you expected me to wait for you / If you imagined I would wait for you etc
You thought wrong

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Oops - a wayward double negative - the second sentence should obviously read - 'But I don't understand why you think 'think' wouldn't work in your example'

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@I'm late - "The old version ... uses a word which has been phased out of the language in that form" - I'll have to have a think about that.

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@I'm late - Doesn't exactly look as though it's dying out to me - http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=go...

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Hmm. I feel like 'I'll have a think about it' and 'I'll have to have a think about it' are idioms themselves (specificially 'have a think about it'). Trying to use it in novel sentences:

The opposite of the idiom - don't have a think about it - eh...
I wouldn't waste a think on him
It's worth a think (this works, it seems)

Maybe it hasn't been phased out. Maybe it's being phased out; it does seem like most usage is idiomatic. Maybe it isn't being phased out at all.

Glad I could clarify that for you.

If you think the stats are going to stay like that when the current young generation starts writing I'm afraid you've got another thing coming.

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@I'm - of course, they're both idioms, so I don't think the verb / noun thing is that important, really. Anyway, as I said before, I'm fine with people saying 'thing', although personally I think they're losing something.

That Ngram graph even suggests that the popularity of the 'thing' version has levelled out a bit, and the 'think' version is recovering a little - I would like to think as a result of the younger (Judas Priest - younger?) generation discovering the roots of the idiom. But certainly, custom rules, and I imagine the two will coexist happily for years to come.

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@I'm late - sorry, you lost a bit of your name in the last one.

As I'm British, just out of interest, and not trying to prove anything, I had a look at the graph for British books, where the difference is rather more marked - http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=go... , and at the British National Corpus, where there are ten examples of 'think' and none of 'thing' - http://bnc.bl.uk/saraWeb.php?qy=got+another+thi...

But I have to admit that on the Internet, 'thing' is way ahead - http://www.netspeak.org/#query=got+another+%253...

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Yes, on the internet, 'thing' is way ahead--and we all know how efficiently the internet spreads misinformation. This particular phrase warp is just one more example of that. It's much akin to the younger generation using "prolly" instead of "probably", an abbreviation that has spread to all corners due to both the internet and texting. I'm afraid we might be quite dismayed to find out how many younger people are under the assumption that "prolly" is a real word, just as many people believe the think/thing phrase has always been "thing".

I guess the internet is just a new way of causing change in our constantly evolving language.

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@Chris B - I assume your own was deliberate! Unlike errant commas, which can change the meaning (and one was rumoured to have started a war), errant apostrophes are pretty harmless. In fact, showing the plurals of certain words was one of the earliest uses of the apostrophe. This from the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language:

'There was formerly a respectable tradition (17c - 19c) of using the apostrophe for noun plurals, especially in loanwords ending in a vowel (as in We doe confess Errata's, Leonard Lichfield, 1641, and Comma's are used, Phillip Luckcombe, 1771)'

And Dr Johnson quotes Pope (without comment) - 'Comma’s and points they set exactly right.' from Pope's Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot 1735, (checkable at Google Books).

Obviously a traditional bunch, market traders. Just think of it as a little local colour.

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Yes my own rogue apostrophes were deliberate! I hope I didn't come off as an apostrophe snob there. I agree that, for whatever reason, some people attach too much importance to the little mark. However, because of those people, wayward apostrophes can make you appear uneducated.

If it was up to me, I'd get rid of apostrophes for possessions (although what I'd do with "Chris's" I'm not so sure).

Interesting to see "errata's" there. I thought errata was already a plural!

Back on topic, I think "another think coming" is a richer idiom than the "thing" version, and I'm glad to have found out about it.

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@Chris B - You didn't come across as an apostrophe snob - I took it as an observation, not a complaint. I'm happy you're coming round to the idea of 'think', although I realise that for many people, 'thing' will remain the version they know and love, and that's fine.

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So I'm pretty big on correcting other people's grammar when they misspeak. A coworker recently pulled up a website with "things people often mistakingly say" (notice the use of 'mistakingly' instead of 'mistakenly', how funny of them!). Anyway, the only one on that website I hadn't heard before was the one being discussed here. It's always been "thing" to me. And why not - it makes the most sense of the two!

I know this has been touched on already, but 'think' is not a noun people! Some verbs can also be nouns, sure. Like 'bite': it can be 'to bite', or 'a bite'. But you can't do the same thing with 'think'. You people keep saying "have a think", and I'm sorry but you just sound ignorant. Perhaps that's okay in the UK, but you sound like a fool saying something like that in the US. The corresponding noun for "think" is "thought". You have a thought, you don't have a think.

So, in that respect if indeed the original idiom was "you have another think coming", it makes absolutely zero grammatical sense and should have instead been "you have another thought coming". THAT, I can see being the correct phrase; but not with "thing". I understand that's the way it's been, but that's not to say it's completely ludicrous.

Someone also brought up the point that the phrase "you've got another thing coming" is not always (and actually more-often-than-not) preceded by "if that's what you think" or "if you think that". Someone else said that the example of "if you expect that to happen..." is not a good example because you can translate "expect" to "think". Well, in my experience it is not a thought or expectation that causes the phrase to be uttered. Consider this:

Bill is an exceptional worker, but he is often late for work. But Bill just got promoted to be a manager. Upon promoting Bill, his boss says "Bill, I'd like you to be the new manager. But if you keep coming in late to work, you've got another thing coming."

Now explain to me how "think" could make any logical sense in this case? Bill has something coming to him (a good thing - the promotion), but if he keeps his bad habits, he'll have something else entirely coming his way (a bad thing - he'll be fired).

Ready, go.

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' "...But if [you think] you [can] keep coming in late to work, you've got another [think] coming." '

Some insertions and viola. You have the 'think' version. Moreover, the idiom isn't based off grammar; a number aren't.

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* viola should voila.

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But then you change the meaning of the sentence. Sure, I can add words to any sentence to turn it into a thought-based expression rather than an action-based one. But that's not the point.

Here, there's no implication of thought. He can think all he wants about coming into work late, and there are no repercussions of doing so. Your sentence turns it into him not thinking something anymore. My original sentence does not deal with any thoughts, only actions. The thing that has repercussions is his action (of continuously arriving late), and that's the only inference you're to draw from it.

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"So I'm pretty big on correcting other people's grammar when they misspeak."

You must be real fun at parties.

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To quote another song- ...to much time on your hands.....

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I think it's pretty clear that as far as usage is concerned, two groups in society have been using two expressions that are indistinguishable acoustically, assuming people who were saying "thing coming" were actually saying "think coming" and vice versa. In terms of logic, both versions make sense to the users. It's sort of like Jonathan Swift's big-enders and little-enders. To me, "thing coming" just seems lame and vague; to my wife, "think coming" sounds ungrammatical. The objection that something is ungrammatical strikes me as frivolous: I remember hearing, growing up in Washington DC, "that don't make me no never mind." Are you going to tell me people didn't say something because it was ungrammatical? They did, and it was. But "you have another think coming" is totally grammatical, as has been pointed out. What I find interesting is that there are these two large linguistic colonies, and their adherents are quite passionate about the rightness of their cause. Again, I refer back to Swift.

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I must admit, I found this delightful site while Googling the lyrics to check before saying "THINK*!" as a comment on a friend's post of the song. I am Canadian, mainly British schooled, only ever heard Think and would have sworn that was how the song went, too. So thank you all for being here! :D

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@MagicMatt: "...'think' is not a noun people!"
It can be: "I'll have a good think about that and get back to you."

Although as people have said, we're dealing with an idiom, so whether or not 'think' is a noun is pretty much irrelevant.

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My dad would be in his 90s if he were alive today. He always used the "another thing" version. So the usage is not necessarily generational.

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@Nancy N - as far as I remember, the first recorded example of the thing version is from only about ten or twenty years after the 'think' version, so that's quite possible. The 'think' version goes back to at least 1898, when this apparently appeared in the Quincy Whig:

"Chicago thinks it wants a new charter. Chicago has another think coming. It doesn't need a new charter as much as it needs some honest officials." (NPR)

One source puts the earliest recorded use of the 'thing' version as 1918, but it has really only grown in popularity since the late 70s, which puts it later than my generation, for example. And amongst my (mainly British) colleagues, it certainly seems to be generational. But it may also have been regional, of course.

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=an...

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Wow, this debate helps me understand the meaning of "you've got another think coming."
Thank you guys for all this information.
I personally think that "think" is correct. People might think "thing" is right just because both "think" and "thing" sound the same and they have heard it since they were young. If that is the case, they just misheard it. It's hard to say thing version is right just because of this reason. I'm Korean. There's many proverbs here as well. And there's are some words I misheard it and used it incorrectly. But then I realized later that I misheard it.
In my opinion, we have to know and use correct expressions even though we might use wrong one in conversation. Thank you for reading.

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:-)

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This is an excellent example of the type <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHG1gM77ozc&... Movies</a>of evolution of language that we could well do without

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@Traduttore and Bill S - I'm sure you're right.It's just that for somebody of my generation brought up knowing only the think version, and having the logic of that deeply engrained in us, it's difficult to see an alternative logic. I do realise it was around before Judas Priest, but its use before then seems pretty marginal, as this graph shows:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=go...

When I asked one of my younger teacher colleagues (30-ish) about this, he told me he had never heard of the "think" version, and no doubt many people not having the "think" baggage I have, are quite able to interpret the "thing" version their own way. But for us old fogeys, its a bit more difficult.

I'm certainly not in the "right and wrong" game, but I think I'll stick with the one I'm used to.

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This is an excellent example of the type[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHG1gM77ozc&...]Surfing Movies[/url] of evolution of language that we could well

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Did it ever occur to anyone one that if you say 'think' and 'coming' together, it sounds like "thing coming", because the 'c' and the 'k' blend together? I believe "you've got another think coming" is correct because, to me, it makes more sense.

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I'm an older person and I've only heard the 'think' version. 'Thing' is a mis-hearing.

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Warsaw Will, you are indeed a diplomat. :) However, I can't accept the misheard version of this quote simply because its use has grown in popularity. over the past couple of decades. If I did that, I'd also have to accept other "progressions" of the language that have increased over the past several years, namely the misuse of (or complete lack of) punctuation. I know we all flub up on that fairly regularly, but it does seem that it has become a more widespread problem over the last twenty years or so. (Does anybody else want to scream when they see those decorative lawn signs proclaiming "The Green's" or "The Smith's"? Ah, but that's a story for another day. :D )

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Correction - Like the use of "less" instead of "fewer"

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Geoffthing - fifty-six? - you're just a baby! No wonder you've got it wrong!

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Yes, and when you said "HS, you seem to be just pipping me", I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what you were saying, lol! I finally decided "pipping" must be the equivalent of our "beating" or "topping" or "outdoing". Don't know if that is correct or not, but "pipping" is definitely a word you don't hear in America. The things we take for granted! ;)

Thanks so much for the tip on the blog! I'll be sure to check it out.

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@Corinna - you're definitely on the right track: it means to just beat somebody, to beat them by a narrow margin. It's often used in the idiom "to pip somebody at the post", the post being the winning post, presumably from horse-racing, where many of our idioms come from.

We also sometimes use the noun pips for the small seeds in certain fruit such as apples and orange, which I think is not so common over there.

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