Imagine an old father who works at his e.g. 70's from dawn to dusk to put a bread on the table of three unemployed sons. The old man is too weak to work anymore and thinks it's time to hang up his hat. One day, the father feels sick and sad. One of his old friends has sat next to him. His older son comes to him and as usual asks for money. Father gives him the some money. [sounds strange to the father's friend. He has not the faintest idea about the conditions.] Son asks for more money. Father gives him and the son walks away. The father's friend says:

  • I don’t know how he has the face to ask for more money.

What makes me doubt about the sentence is that if the compound verb "have the face to do something" means "to do something without being shy".

Although, it was a direct translation from my mother language into English. I have no idea if it is natural in English or not. If not, then please let me know what verb sounds natural here.

  • 1
    "...from dawn to dusk...." Jan 18, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    I would have edited it myself, but there is a minimum number of characters needed for editing and this would not have hit it. Jan 18, 2017 at 11:41
  • 1
    I se @TeacherKSHuang. Thanks again for being of help. ;)
    – A-friend
    Jan 18, 2017 at 11:44

2 Answers 2


You are correct in what you are thinking. The full meaning using your translation would be

I don't know how he can ask for more money without being shy

Speaking as a native, I would say it is uncommon to use face in this context but it can be used. It would be understood and it has the meaning you suggest. However, the phrase would more often be

I don't know how he has the gall/nerve/cheek to ask for more money


[edit] My initial post was incorrect and it seems that "has the face to" can be used in the context you describe, though it is not in common usage.

If you want to be polite, and you wish to stick to anatomical vocabulary, you could say:

  • I don’t know how he has the gall to ask for more money.

  • I don’t know how he has the cheek to ask for more money.

  • I don’t know how he has the nerve to ask for more money.

Somewhat more crudely, but arguably more colloquial:

  • I don’t know how he has the balls to ask for more money.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .