Talking about the hostages. I know what you've done to some of them. Mike told me. But that stops now. Do you understand? We don't use those kinds of methods here.

Could anyone please tell me if the emboldened sentence is idiomatic. Something about it just sounds awkward to me, but I'm not a native speaker so what do I know. Hope you can help.

  • 1
    It is not - it’s just normal English. Apr 10, 2021 at 23:16
  • 2
    It IS idiomatic. "Idiomatic" means any language that sounds natural (rather than awkward, foreign, borderline ungrammatical, etc) to native speakers. Some people here must have a different definition of "idiomatic", which is fine but doesn't answer the OP's question. :)
    – rjpond
    Apr 11, 2021 at 12:23

2 Answers 2



/ˌɪdɪəˈmatɪk/ adjective

  1. using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker. "He spoke fluent, idiomatic English"

(Some native speakers are not familiar with the term "idiomatic" as defined above, and will think it means "is an idiom or very commonly used expression with a non-obvious meaning, such as 'Cool as a cucumber'." "I know what you've done to some of them" is not such an idiom.)

Yes, "I know what you've done to some of them" is idiomatic English. It is slightly awkward, but it is the necessary construction to produce the intended meaning for the context.

It is slightly awkward because the noun phrase "some of them" is more commonly found at the beginning of sentences rather than at the end of them, but there is nothing preventing you from using this noun phrase like any other noun phrase in any location you can use a noun phrase.


I don't see anything idiomatic - what part are you thinking of? If it's the verb tense, it would also be fine to say, "I know what you did to some of them."

You must log in to answer this question.