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Question
Dear Ted:

If "to have a thing about something/someone" and "to have a weakness for something/someone" are synonyms, would you please give me some formal and informal/idiomatic/colloquial alternatives to these prepositional phrases?

Thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

If "to have a thing about something/someone" and "to have a weakness for
something/someone" are synonyms, would you please give me some formal and
informal/idiomatic/colloquial alternatives to these prepositional phrases?

*** They are NOT synonyms.

"Have a thing about something" does not show a weakness.  It shows a desire.

IDIOMS:

Jim has an itch to travel.  Jim is hung up on traveling.  

MORE FORMAL:

Jim has a desire to travel.  Jim yearns to travel.   Jim has a penchant for traveling.

SERIOUSLY FORMAL:

Jim has an obsessive desire to travel.  [When you use the words "obsessive" or "obsession," you are suggesting that Jim's "thing" has reached the point of being a mental problem.

WEAKNESS:

Jack has a weakness for pretty girls.  Jack's weakness for pizza has caused him to gain weight.

*** Although this is not always the case, using "weakness for" most often indicates something negative.  That "pretty girls" is Jack's weakness suggests that his desire for them could ultimately cause problems.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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