It's an example sentence under the entry word "shock".

verb 1 [with object] cause (someone) to feel surprised and upset: [no object] experience outrage: he shocked so easily

What does "so easily" mean here?

  • 2
    That means it is easy for him to shock. – Safira Nov 7 '13 at 9:03
  • 1
    @Safira: That seems unlikely to me. With no other context, I think almost all native speakers would interpret your paraphrasing as meaning He has no difficulty shocking [other people], whereas OP's usage means that other people (or things) have no difficulty shocking him. The "standard" paraphrasing is thus it is easy for him to be shocked. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 8 '13 at 3:06

OP's intransitive usage is relatively uncommon, but it's defined in OED...

shock (verb) also intransitive for passive, to suffer shock.

Here's an example from Google Books...

...talk to Maria Shriver about contemporary social mores and she shocks easily and giggles like a teenager.

But in practice most native speakers would always say she is easily shocked (she's shocked by things that wouldn't normally bother most people). Also note that, idiomatically, we don't use is shocked easily (which has only one instance in Google Books, compared to over 5000 for the first link in this paragraph).

  • Can I paraphrase it as “He was so easy to be outraged by things that most people would take for granted”? – dennylv Nov 8 '13 at 1:16
  • 1
    @dennylv: No, you certainly can't. Grammatically, you're treating the entire string "easy-to-be-outraged" as an adjective, which would only just about be acceptable (but colloquial and "quirky") if written with hyphens as there (or spoken quickly, to indicate how you're trying to "bend" natural grammar). As a learner, you shouldn't bother about such non-standard forms. The normal phrasing would be he was [so/very/rather/etc.] easily outraged by... – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 8 '13 at 2:28
  • Thank you for the correction to my grammar. What about its meaning? Is that an effective and solid paraphrase? – dennylv Nov 8 '13 at 2:32
  • @dennylv: I don't understand what you're asking. Your suggested paraphrase is comprehensible, but it isn't really "English" as used by native speakers. When I say "comprehensible", I mean I understand you to be trying to say "he was easily angered" (i.e. - it didn't take much / was not difficult to make him angry). If that is indeed what you understand then that's all well and good, but your "paraphrase" is not good English. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 8 '13 at 2:59

Technically, the writer probably mean, "He WAS shocked so easily." That is, it was very easy to shock him. Most likely the writer means that things that others would find acceptable or just mildly annoying, this person found to be shocking. You might say this of someone who becomes offended and outraged because you used the word "darn".

"He shocked so easily", if read literally, would mean that it took little effort for him to shock others. Either he has little concern about the feelings of others and so does things to shock people with no hesitation, or something about him means that things he says or does with innocent intention, others find shocking.

That said, people do in fact say, "He shocked easily" meaning "He was shocked easily." I think it's grammatically incorrect, but it's common.

  • 2
    I've heard things like "He scares eas(il)y", but I agree that "He shock[s] easily" would be strange. – Tyler James Young Nov 7 '13 at 17:42
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    @Tyler James Young: None of them are particularly common, but he angers easily, he frightens easily, and he scares easily, for example, all sound perfectly reasonable to me. I'm not sure if the "easy" versions are inherently clumsy, or just par for the course in conversational American. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '13 at 22:59
  • @FumbleFingers I think it's an arguably legitimate flat adverb. – Tyler James Young Nov 8 '13 at 1:28
  • @Tyler James Young: I've no idea what "legitimate flat adverb" means, or how it relates to my points that (a) - forms such as he is easily angered vastly outnumber he is angered easily; and (b) - I personally think easy in such usages is uneducated/vernacular, but possibly that's a US/UK split. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 8 '13 at 2:40
  • 1
    @Tyler: I didn't know the term "flat adverb" before, but obviously I'm quite familiar with the range of usages. And like snailboat I'm happy enough with some. So go easy on him is fine by me (apart from anything else, in my experience no-one ever says go easily on him). But this sentence, for example, doesn't work easy for me. Or this one, though I can't easy explain why. I guess it depends on the verb and/or precise construction, but I have to say in OP's cited context I'm not very keen on easy. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '13 at 3:43

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