Wednesday, November 28, 2012

it doesn't add up

We all know that when we add one to one, we get two.  We call this mathematical process addition.  But the verb "(to) add up" has an informal meaning: it signifies that the result makes sense.

We will often hear it doesn't add up", meaning that the results don'tmake sense. This can be used when referring to numbers or when referring to facts.

Let's begin with this: Many people are puzzled or irate as to why General Petraeus was forced to resign.  They say that the facts don't add up to such a great American general being forced to resign. It doesn't make sense that the general would be forced to resign.  They wonder what's the story behind the story. Read, for example, this news story:

From Kelley to Petraeus, It Doesn't Add Up

When you read that article, Here we look at a news story that uses the term add up with reference to numbers.


Curbing tax breaks: Does the math add up?

Notice that the issue makes the news more often when the numbers don't add up. Why do you think that is?

House Democratic women's numbers don't yet add up to power


Here we switch to the use of the term both arithmetically and also emotionally and socially:


Now for your own analysis:  What facts would you add up in an effort to compute the real cost of drug abuse? What is the real cost of drug abuse? 



  1. This blog is great -- you manage to come up with just the kinds of example phrases that I always wish I could think of! Really really useful.

    Monica, English teacher

    1. Thanks for your comment, Monida. I'm glad you find the blog and its examples so useful!