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Headline is:

"The streaming platform executive says he — and the company he helped build — will survive a bout of bad earnings numbers."

My question is should I read it like:

1 - bout of [ bad earnings ] ( numbers )

or

2 - bout of bad ( earnings numbers )

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    What difference does it make? May 29 at 11:10
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    '2' is more likely. Every publicly-traded corporation reports on its finances four times a year. These reports could be informally called “earnings numbers”; I cannot say if I have in fact heard that phrase before, but it would be understood. And sometimes the report is bad news, or bad numbers. Jun 1 at 4:41

1 Answer 1

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The first reading is the only one that's grammatical.

If the author intended the second, in which case the earnings numbers would be only some of the bad, they would need more words, or more punctuation. Even then the sentence would sound odd.

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    Could you please explain further? I don't understand what you could mean by "be only some of the bad".
    – Dan Getz
    May 28 at 21:42
  • "A bout of bad" could be an ungrammatical slang-like way to say "Many bad things", Then presumably poor earnings would be among them. May 28 at 21:49
  • No - unqualified "a bout of bad" could only mean the speaker isn't a native Anglophone. It's irrelevant to bring that up in the context of parsing OP's text. May 29 at 11:11
  • @FumbleFingers You're right. I think someone could say that on purpose to make a point in conversation, but that interpretation doesn't really help an English language learner. May 29 at 12:45
  • I'm actually quite surprised to consciously recognise that almost no native Anglophone ever uses the word bad as a noun, considering how easily we nounify verbs and verbify nouns in general. The only actual definition in the full OED for bad as a noun is obsolete (it once meant a cat - domestic or wild). But maybe modern apologetic My bad! counts as a noun use, I dunno. May 29 at 15:04

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