Can I say...

Hello everybody!!
I wonder if you can help with this sentence. Can I say: One of the most common people’s complains is lack of time? Thanks anyway

Hello, I am not a teacher,

It seems to me nice.



Your sentence is incorrect. Here’s why:

The noun form of “complain” is complaint. Your sentence refers to a complaint. Also, it’s awkward to use people’s possessviely in this sentence. This would read better: “A common complaint people have is lack of time.” OR: “A common complaint of people is…”

Or if you still want to use “one of the most” in your sentence, Chana, you could write this:

  • One of the most common complaints (that) people have is lack of time.

(The word “that” is optional.)

[size=75]“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” ~ Thomas Jefferson[/size]


Bit of stretch, isn’t it to say: A complaint is a lack of time?


Hello Alan,

Perhaps a tad more than just an enigmatic question would be more helpful for Chana – additional suggestions for ways to reword her sentence, for example.

Presumably you don’t think she should use “is”.

[size=75]“One of the hardest things in this world is to admit you are wrong. And nothing is more helpful in resolving a situation than its frank admission.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli[/size]

Hi Amy,

The ‘enigmatic’ question was directed at you!


In that case, I’m afraid you’ll still need to explain it further, Alan, because I really have no idea what you were trying to say.

[size=75]“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself.” ~ Potter Stewart[/size]


At the risk of being a crashing bore, what I meant was that it was a bit of a leap to say: A complaint is a lack of time - I would say: A complaint is about lack of time. But let’s not fall out over this!


Very good, Alan. Giving Chana an additional suggestion wasn’t really so tough after all, was it? lol

In answer to your question, no, I don’t think that the phrase “a common complaint is (a) lack of time” is a stretch. It sounds natural to me. (Note, however, that it was you who added the word “a”.) I certainly have heard people here in the US use that sort of wording often enough. And it appears that wording is also used by at least some people in the UK as well – apparently even by educated ones.

For example, look at the third sentence after the heading “Gaps in knowledge that prevent businesses from reducing waste” (on page 3) in the link below. It was written by a Senior Lecturer (a Doctor, no less!) at the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University:

a common complaint is lack of time

Chana’s sentence simply referred to “lack of time” more generally.

[size=75]“Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.” ~ W. Clement Stone[/size]

Hi Amy,

And I thought maybe you’d dropped the patronising tone but you haven’t, have you? Never mind.


Why do you find it so patronising, Alan? And don’t say you don’t, you’ve even recorded a voice message. I don’t think you should have. By the way, I have also heard that expression many times, not only by Americans but also by the British.

By the way, Amy has helped me a great deal in the past. I’m very grateful to her and I’ve also written that to her.

Dear Amy, although I love British English more, I certainly appreciated your replies to my messages, moreover, I didn’t think you were patronising at all. At least you give me satisfactory answers that indeed make sense to me. Thank you for being on the forum.

And, dear Alan, you would have made a fine sollicitor, as you always post replies like: ‘I don’t know what you mean’/ ‘What is your question?’ etc, etc.
By the way, Alan, have you ever tried to study other languages, like Dutch, French or German? Dear Sir, you certainly have a way to make me angry (congratulations!) I speak and write all of them fluently, not perfectly, but fluently; just to tell you I’m not a snob. God’s Death, what is it with you?


Thank you all for advises. I’ve finished my essay and I think it’s pretty good!
The topic was:“Do you prefer to be very busy or to have plenty of free time? Describe the schedule of someone you know who is very busy and someone who often has free time and then tell who you would most like to be?”

One of the most common people’s complaints is lack of time. People are usually busy with their job, their plans, family, friends, with their own ambitions.
What do you think of working hard compared to having plenty of free time? And what does it mean ‘to have free time’? Is it when you have nothing to do? Or having free time is when you finally have time for yourself, for doing everything except your work? In the second case you can read a book, go clubbing, do shopping, work out in the gym etc. and be busy with it.
My grandfather is a retired worker. He spends all his free time watching TV, looking after domestic pets, gardening and sometimes selling fruits – it’s seasonal. Moreover, he adores writing poetry.
My uncle is the exact opposite of him. He is business-minded, he’s up to his eyes in work.
If you work overtime, have no rest, no personal life, like my uncle, you should ask yourself a simple question: “What are you living for?”. People worry about their past and dream of the future but the present. You should work hard and find time for yourself, use your time efficiently – this is something worth aiming for.
David Herbert, an English writer once said: “Better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions”. Both hard-working and having free time if you do nothing make you fall into a rut.