So if I think *that*, then do I have another "think" coming, or another "thing"?

From early childhood, I would hear this expression mostly on TV shows and movies, and I understood this as:

I always thought it was another “thing” coming. I don’t remember wen I became aware of it; it’s just one of those expressions that are so basic to the language one doesn’t remember that.

But I do vaguely remember the first time I heard

When I say “vaguely” I mean that I don’t remember the context or who spoke the words. I don’t remember how old I was, though I was still a kid. What I do remember was that I thought, "Shouldn’t that be “thing”.

While I most likely couldn’t have explained my thought processes at the time, I think I can fairly say that a few possibilities occurred to me:

[li]The speaker was saying “think” for humorous effect.[/li][li]The speaker was using some dialect in which “think” and “thing” have merged.[/li][li]The speaker mistakenly believed it to be “think”, the way people do mishear things, like mishearing “dog-eat-dog” as “doggy-dog”.[/li][li]It actually is supposed to be “think”, and I had misheard it in the first place[/li][/ul]

The problem with the dialect theory is that “think” and “thing” don’t exactly rhyme, at least not to me. “Thing” doesn’t rhyme with “sing” because the vowel falls somewhere between the /ei/ of “sang” and the /i:/ of “sing”.

The problem with the word in the second clause really being “think” is, where else do we see “think” used as a noun? When do we think thinks? ? On the other hand, I can think of at least one other example of a verbal root occurring in a stock phrase where it functions as a vowel: “without fail”, in which the word fail means “exception”.

So what do you think? Do I have another thing coming, or another think?

Thing…unless you are Tony Montana.

I grew up in London, born in the '60s. “You’ve got another think coming” was a common expression. My dad used it often as a rebuke. It meant, quite unambiguously, “That’s not going to happen, you will have to re-think your expectations”. I know it unambiguously because it was sometimes stated more fully “If that’s what you think…you’ve got another think coming.”

I don’t recall ever hearing the expression in the U.S., where I have lived for many years, but perhaps I am less frequently rebuked now!

Aurally, in my dialect (and I think in most common dialects), “think_coming” is barely distinguishable from “thing_coming”, so it may well have been corrupted.

I’m sure there will be people falling over themselves to tell you that the original is “think,” I definitely learned it as “thing,” too.

Though the difference you describe is very different from the one I hear. The only real difference between thing and think is the /k/, and since it’s immediately followed by “coming,” the only difference is the length of the /ŋ/ and /k/.

(Thing coming = /θiŋː kʌmiŋ/ think coming = /θiŋk kʌmiŋ/

It’s always been thing to me. I’ve seen think in print more than once but just figured it was a typo; it never occurred to me that think was correct.

Also, I believe the song You’ve Got Another Thing Coming by Judas Priest uses your construction:

“If you think I’ll let you go you’re mad; you’ve got another thing comin’”

It would be helpful if people could say where & roughly when they grew up hearing one version or the other, so we can figure out if there’s are regional & temporal patterns. My “think”, as I say, was London 1960s-1980s.

Born in southern UK in late 70s. Has always been “thing”.

Just out of interest, as a more general matter the construction

“I will have another think about that”

is standard grammar (and common usage) in British English. How about the U.S.?

Ok, it seems that there’s a long history of discussion and research on the two variants.

I haven’t read through all of that, but from a quick scan it looks like “think” is probably (but not unambiguously) a little older; both variants have been around for a long time; “thing” is now much more common, although both are still seen. I see no mention of a transatlantic difference.

(I am astonished that this has reach 8 posts without any prescriptivism rearing its ugly head. I guess the peevers are all asleep.)

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960s and '70s. It has always been think. Metalheads and whoever, coming along later, have goofed up a useful, witty expression and reduced it to near-imbecility by substituting the inane “thing.” I blame the decline of literacy.

How can you have another thing? But you can have another think. I ask you: What was the first “thing”?

I am an editor. “Another think coming” is the way it would appear in the most correct of publications. Y’all can say whatever you want. But don’t get your grammar rules from rock ‘n’ roll.

“Think” is rarely ever a noun, so it’s not surprising that when they sound nearly identical and the meaning doesn’t really change (either way, you expected something to happen and something else is going to happen instead), people will pick the very common noun instead of the informal one.

Easily. You expected one thing to happen, but something else (i.e. another thing) happened instead.

I have not voted on this as it is the type of question that could fry your mind.

NO my mind has not already been fried, well maybe slifghtly grilled but yet to go wizzz-bang

The original expression was with “thing”. When some people started preceding it specifically with “If you think that…,” as a little joke they changed it to “think.” This has caught on enough that some people now say the expression with “think,” even without that set-up line.

But not me. Always “thing.” Raised in northeast US in the 70s and 80s.

I always said “thing” but I think the original expression was “think” because it makes more sense. So what was formally a mistake has now become legitimate through usage, making both correct. Language is the ultimate democracy :slight_smile:


Does “think” as a noun mean exactly the same thing as “thought”? And if so, why isn’t the expression “another thought coming”? Is “thought” not colloquial enough?

It’s “thing” if I’m understanding Rob Halford correctly.

I grew up with “thing” in the Chicago area, but after I believe discussing it here years ago, I’m convinced that “think” is the original usage, but I still use “thing.” Old habits die hard.

It’s think.

“Thing” makes zero sense as wordplay, and I can’t think of any saying or turn of phrase that’s so pathetically ambiguous as “another thing coming”. It’s “think”, which is obvious wordplay. Not especially witty, but enough to have caught on. I have no doubt it was coined by some comedian as a silly version of “you’ll have to think again”.

Any turn of phrase that catches on has to make sense in context and has to be memorable. “Another thing coming” is not just pathetically ambiguous, it lacks any measure of wit. Oh, right, I’m supposed to be scared of the thing, am I? You’re not going to tell me what the thing is, just that it’s a thing. OK, right, worst threat ever.