To afford to vs. to get away with
WRONG: She has a slim body so she can
afford to wear that tight dress.
RIGHT: She has a slim body so she can get away with wearing that tight dress.
This week’s Czenglish mistake centres around the delicate issues of money and weight – and how when they are used together, the result can be a language disaster.
If you said to a random English native, „She has a slim body so she can afford to wear that tight dress“, they would be a bit confused. What? She can’t afford the dress? It’s too tight? I don’t understand.
The reason is because ‘afford’ is linked primarily with money – and having enough of it to be able to buy something. Can you afford a car? No, I don’t have enough money in the bank.
Afford linked to being able to do something because you are physically slim is strange to us. So if you want to express this, by far the most common expression in English is the phrasal verb ‘to get away with’. So, in this example, we’d say something like, „ She has a slim body so she can get away with wearing that tight dress.“
If you have pale skin, you might say that you can’t get away with wearing all white or yellow clothes because it makes you look too ghostly. Someone with a more tanned complexion can get away with those colours.