I want to make a sentence which asks how far a person is willing to go to achieve a goal. I wrote:

Anytime you want to make sure that you are serious enough about your dream, ask yourself:

Are you ready to lose your 5 teeth but achieve your goal.

I have two problems with this self made sentence.

  1. Is "ready" a good adjective, because I think "ready" is usually used in different type of sentences like "Are you ready for the trip?"

  2. I am not sure about the "but achieve to your goal" part. Is it even grammatical at the first place, put aside being idiomatic!

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    "Are you ready to lose your 5 teeth to achieve your goal". – BillJ Jun 4 '18 at 16:29
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    Is "lose your five teeth" a saying in your native language? Is there some significance to 5? I ask because your five teeth is somewhat odd to me. Your front teeth would be idiomatic. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 4 '18 at 16:32
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo No, I just put the number, the bigger the number is, the more serious that may sound! – Cardinal Jun 4 '18 at 17:51
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    Then it would be five of your teeth. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 4 '18 at 19:18
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    @greenonline: As Michael "The Koan" Cohen might say, "Are you ready to lose all the teeth you still don't have?" – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 4 '18 at 22:18

Although ready and prepared are close synonyms, they seem to me to have a difference in emphasis here:

ready implies that those teeth stand a very good chance of being knocked out. They might well be lost. It's almost guaranteed.

Are you prepared to lose... implies that those teeth may be lost. You could lose them. There is some risk.

Would you risk your front teeth...

is less forceful, less fanatical than are you ready to lose.

So, depending on the degree of fanaticism and commitment required, you might choose one or the other.

  • Thanks for the nice answer, have you any suggestion for the but-clause? I mean, would you suggest the correct ''but-clause". I mean, is it possible to write an idiomatic sentence with "but"? – Cardinal Jun 4 '18 at 17:54
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    I think the idea you mean to express with but could be expressed by the phrase if that's what it would take to achieve your goal. Would you risk your front teeth if that's what it would take to achieve your goal? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 4 '18 at 19:20

In the two phrases "Are you ready to lose.." and "Are you ready for..", ready is being used as an adjective. When used this way, ready has two main definitions:

  1. To be willing to do something.

  2. To be prepared for an action or event.

You are using ready in the first sense, while being ready for a trip is using it in the second sense.

You should not say, "Are you ready to lose your 5 teeth...", as this implies that the person only has 5 teeth to lose. It would be better to say, "Are you ready to lose five of your teeth...".

Almost all style guides recommend that the numbers from one to nine be written as words instead of numbers, so you should say "five" instead of "5".

On the whole I think that your question may be better phrased as:

Would you be willing to lose five of your teeth if it meant that you would be able to achieve your goal?

  • Thanks for the informative answer, I liked the fact that you mentioned that implication. – Cardinal Jun 4 '18 at 17:55
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    Hmm. I always thought most style guides recommended writing numbers from one to twelve in words – somebody Jun 5 '18 at 0:31
  • That was an excellent answer up to the rephrase, which is not a linguistic formulation that a human who is standard would articulate to a listener who is also assumed to be a human who is standard. The original question (less the 'your 5') was much more natural and better expressed. – lly Jun 5 '18 at 4:31
  • It would be better to say, "Are you ready to lose five of your teeth..." "Are you ready to lose five teeth" would already remove the implication that they only have 5 teeth. "Your" (by itself) suggests that the five teeth are a complete set. (Note: your answer is fully correct; I'm just offering the smallest change from OP's original that already fixes the issue) – Flater Jun 5 '18 at 6:07
  • @somebody For some style guides the recommendation is for numbers from one to nine, others say one to ten, others say one to twelve, and others still say one to one hundred. Although I only mentioned 'style guides', I am not just referring to official, published style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style, but also house styles for magazines, universities and corporations, etc. I only chose to say 'one to nine' because it is the lowest range that is agreed to by all of the style guides that I have used. – James Jun 5 '18 at 15:20

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