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"A Day’s Wait" by E. Hemingway

Sentence:

Downstairs, the doctor left three different medicines in different colored capsules with instructions for giving them.

Questions:

  1. What is "instructions for giving them"?
  2. Why the word "giving" is used here?
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  • What exactly is confusing you about this sentence? The word giving seems to be pretty obvious, and as for the instructions part, doctors who prescribe a medicine will also provide the frequency, timing, dosage etc. for correct treatment
    – ColonD
    Apr 20 '18 at 13:31
  • @ColonD - Any time a word has well over a dozen definitions, I try to be careful about saying that its meaning should be "pretty obvious." That said, I do think this definition, found in Wordnik, might be helpful: To administer: give him some cough medicine.
    – J.R.
    Apr 20 '18 at 14:01
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"Instructions for giving them" are intended, for example, for a parent giving medications to a child, for a doctor giving them to school children, for a nurse giving them to an older person in a nursery home or for someone giving them to a dog.

"Instructions for taking them" are intended for a reader of the instructions who will be also the one who will take the medications.

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  • It's worth pointing out the different nuances of the word give that may make a learner more confused. After all, a parent can give a lollipop to a child, a man might give an old lawnmower to his neighbor, a dog owner might give a dog a bone, and a doctor might give some advice to a patient. These instances of give are not quite the same as "giving medicine", which, as you say, is more about how to take the medication (i.e., proper frequency and dosage).
    – J.R.
    Apr 20 '18 at 14:11
  • @J.R. Yes, an example are instructions for a doctor how to give an injection.
    – Jan
    Apr 20 '18 at 14:12
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In English, we say: to give medicine(s) to someone based on instructions that come with the medicine (medication, pills) or are provided by a doctor.

In the field of medicine, the formal way to say "give medicine to someone" is "to administer medication to a patient".

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