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I'm writing a very short sentence, like these:

Love cooking, unrequited.
Love math, unrequited.

I love to do something but I'm not good at it, without telling directly. I was wondering if "unrequited" (to make it sound a bit funny) alone at the end of the sentence and after the comma is correct or not.

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    It's not standard grammar, but perhaps it's not meant to be? Whether it would be understood is a matter of opinion; probably not by everybody ("unrequited" is not a very commonly used word).
    – Stuart F
    Aug 1, 2022 at 10:50

1 Answer 1

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'Unrequited love' means love that is not reciprocated (ie you love someone, but they do not love you back, at least not in the same way). You've explained that you know this doesn't make sense with a metaphysical thing like 'maths' and the context is within a joke.

'Unrequited' is an adjective. The equivalent adverb is 'unrequitedly'.

So, a correct construction would be:

I love maths unrequitedly.

Although this may be opinion-based as humour is subjective, I personally think that it would be funnier to say:

I love maths, although it isn't reciprocated.

It just lands better. With the first construction, the audience is more likely to be overthinking the meaning and perhaps wondering if you understand the meaning of the word yourself. The second, wordier construction may not seem as 'punchy' but it places a pause between the statement that makes sense and the nonsensical punchline, as well as showing that you understand what you are saying because you're explaining rather than condensing down to a single adverb. Based on usage of the words as demonstrated by this ngram, it is likely that more people would comprehend the word 'reciprocated', too.

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  • Yes I understand it's a bit non sense, but that is supposed to be the "funny" part. I'm trying to find the best way to translate this "joke" from italian. The object doesn't love you back of course, it's just you that are bad at it :D Perhaps something like "Love math, not reciprocated" or "Love math, one-sided" would be better, I think. It's just that Unrequited sounds better to me.
    – Marco
    Aug 1, 2022 at 11:13
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    People sometimes say "I like [a food] but it doesn't like me", meaning that that type of food disagrees with them. So you could perhaps say "I love cooking but it doesn't love me." Aug 1, 2022 at 11:48
  • @marco thanks for clarifying, I've updated my answer, hope it's helpful.
    – Astralbee
    Aug 1, 2022 at 11:57
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    Also, in the case of maths, ‘reciprocated’ could be a subtle pun
    – gidds
    Aug 1, 2022 at 18:55

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