From the Daily Mail Online

The presenter, 45, was in high spirits as she took charge of Strictly Come Dancing spin-off It Takes Two - and baffled viewers by remaining to wear her wedding ring.

The writing on the Mail Online can be pretty baffling at the best of times, and I think this short excerpt is proof of that. It is common for English speaking journalists to take shortcuts by omitting prepositions, articles, pronouns etc., and preferring punchier words to convey a sense of urgency, and lend their articles a more dramatic tone.

However, the last line written in the passive voice, especially bothers me. I understand what it means: the female presenter who recently split (separated) from her husband, wore her wedding ring on the show, but how does someone "remain to wear a wedding ring"?

  1. Is this an error? Is it slang? Does it sound OK to native speakers?
  2. What should the author have written? I would have said:

... by keeping her wedding ring on.

Although keeping to wear her wedding ring, sounds even worse than the original phrase.

  1. What rule of grammar is this sentence construction breaking? If any?

  2. Is this an example of contemporary English?

  • deciding to wear... would be the least disruptive change. I've never heard "remaining to wear". I might be among the easily baffled.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 10:23
  • @TRomano but doesn't 'deciding to wear' suggest she had taken her wedding ring off at some point in the past? She then made a conscious decision to wear it again.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 10:25
  • No. I decide to wear my pajamas to work. I already have them on.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 10:26
  • @TRomano but you don't always wear pyjamas, (unlike a wedding ring) and it wouldn't mean you normally wear pajamas to work.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 10:27
  • Deciding to wear...doesn't imply that she put the ring on, only that she kept the ring on. The decision was to wear or not to wear, and it could be made even if the ring was on her finger at the time of the decision. You could say "by deciding to keep wearing" if you wanted to make it perfectly clear. You can decide to remain clothed when you step in the shower, if you don't care about soggy shoes.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 10:28

1 Answer 1

  1. Is this an error? Is it slang? Does it sound OK to native speakers?

Let's remove the extraneous material from the sentence:

  • The presenter baffled viewers by remaining to wear her wedding ring.

This is comprehensible, but it isn't idiomatic unless the reporter was trying to say that the presenter remained on stage after the performance in order to wear (put on) her wedding ring.

  1. What should the author have written?

The word continuing conveys the notion that conveys the sense you describe:

continue verb 1.2 Remain in a specified position or state. - ODO

  • The presenter baffled viewers by continuing to wear her wedding ring.
  1. What rule of grammar is this construction breaking? If any?

Consider the example given in the following definition:

Remain verb 1.2 [with complement] Continue to possess a particular quality or fulfil a particular role. ‘he had remained alert the whole time’ - ODO

It is conceivable that the reporter was thinking of this usage. The following might be acceptable:

  • Even after all that, she remained wearing her wedding ring.

It has a nostalgic sense as something about a woman who has been left behind but still holds the symbol of marriage dear.

However, your quote doesn't appear to have this connotation, leading to the remained-on-stage reading vying with the nostalgic sense. The result, strangely, sounds odd but still makes sense.

  1. Is this an example of contemporary English?

Ngram doesn't appear to have any instances of "remaining to wear", but it only reports up to 2008, so there may be more recent instances that remain unreported.

Looking at the first page returned by a google search for "remaining to wear" (with quotes), we get several examples like the following, which is a different construction to your quote:

  • Hopefully after you have decluttered you will have enough clothing remaining to wear and there will be no need to add to this for some time. - itmakescents

Only one of the examples fits the construction of your quote; it is dated May 28 2014, so can be considered contemporary:

  • Ghost skills allow you to obtain low detection while remaining to wear heavier armors or weapons and still be able to participate in stealth aspects of the heist. - STEAM

As noted by @StarWeaver and @TRomano in comments, this site contains other instances of non-idiomatic usage. The STEAM quote cited is in English and it is contemporary, but it might be a stretch to call it Contemporary English as used by the wider community of native English speakers.

Note that your quote features on several of the links returned on the first page. One of them is a variant of the page you linked to. Its headline includes the following words, agreeing with my suggestion above to use continuing instead of remaining:

  • Not sure if relevant, but there is no copyediting oversight on Steam community guides, and it's not uncommon to find some tortured english in some cases.
    – Weaver
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 12:08
  • 1
    @StarWeaver Very relevant. Colloquial usage abounds on the internet, and every new turn of phrase must start somewhere. Nevertheless, "remaining to wear", in the Daily Mail sense, is one I hope doesn't become established. :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 12:17
  • 1
    The author of the STEAM piece uses many unidiomatic constructions. For example, "Viewers should also assume that I primarily focus on the viability in Very Hard or Overkill difficulties and with less considerations to other difficulty levels."
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 13:31
  • @TRomano I've edited to note my view on the STEAM usage - it's broadly in line with yours and StarWeaver's.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 13:40
  • 3
    +1 One other note, if one wanted to use remaining with something being worn, the most idiomatic usage would be remaining in [the worn item]; for example, Miss Havisham baffled wedding guests by remaining in her wedding gown after being jilted. Even this construction sounds odd when combined with jewelry, however, as we don't typically say that someone is "in" a ring, necklace, etc. You might almost get to a natural construction with baffled viewers by remaining wearing her wedding ring, but that's still awkward-to-the-point-of-ugly.
    – 1006a
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 15:58

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