In a very formal style, think is sometimes followed by an object and an adjective or noun complement.

They thought her fascinating.
We thought him a fool.

(M. Swan, Practical English Usage, 588.4)

It says 'very formal,' but my old dictionary says the structure, without 'to be,' happens in speech.

How should I understand these? Does this 'formal' mean... I don't know if this is a reasonable word... form-oriented? I mean it's like form for form sake? What is the word for it?


Such constructions are not used much in modern English. You will, of course, find them in period dramas, especially when the characters are upper-class or well-educated. So, yes, I would agree with Swan: both very formal and somewhat old-fashioned.


A meaning of formal is "not casual" or "strictly following protocol or rules of etiquette/politeness" and that's what is meant here.

Formal does not mean "form-oriented" for any of the meanings of form - with one exception: etiquette can be considered a standard or "form" for behavior.

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