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I am trying to state that a particular question is not annoying, but its frequency is. I have come up with the below sentence, but I feel like it could be worded better.

It is an annoying question only in the frequency in which it is asked.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The question itself isn't annoying, but it is being asked too often.

I believe this is clearer, and I hope a bit nicer -- assuming that's the effect you're going for. :)

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I actually don't think that's an accurate rephrasing for exactly what OP wants to convey. This version could easily apply when the speaker isn't in fact annoyed at all, but for some completely unrelated reason wants to point out that it's being asked too often. Perhaps he even likes answering this question because he's done it so often he finds it easy - but his boss thinks this is a non-productive activity, and is planning to change the mechanism by which such questions are routed through to the speaker. – FumbleFingers Mar 16 '12 at 23:22
I'm sorry, I actually find your rephrasing too blunt and a little awkward. I know I've shown up on the scene a bit late, but (depending on the point-of-view and style) I would suggest "It is infuriating how often I am asked this question," or "It is not the question which bothers him, but rather the frequency with which he hears it," or even "Though being of an innocent nature, the question is asked with intolerable frequency." – Aerovistae Mar 17 '12 at 14:04

While the question initially seemed pleasant enough, somewhere around the 127th utterance it took a nasty turn towards annoying.

The question was reminiscent of a top 40 pop song. The lighthearted head nod it inspired at first disintegrated all too quickly into the self-inficted banging of one's head into a concrete wall. (This wall, like most concrete walls, features nooks and crannies seemingly straight from a Thomas's English Muffin. Or are they all nooks? All crannies? After all, who can really tell the difference between nooks and crannies?)

The characteristics of that question's aging are more comparable to milk than to wine. While mostly agreeable in the beginning, it soured over time and failed to develop the delicious subtleties and complex notes of intellectual flavor that embroider deeper interrogatives much like ivy on the walls of an august New England academic building.

The question did not bother me - at least not the first hundred times.

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The first and last one are great in their punchiness. The middle ones are tinged purple. – justkt Mar 30 '11 at 12:33
the "top 40 pop song" example should have ended before the parentheses. – Dan Hanly Mar 30 '11 at 13:01
cool - thanks for comments. this is the first ive heard of purple prose. for some reason (perhaps undeserved) i really like the milk/wine thing, is there a better way i couldve developed that? i feel like i kind of "laid it on a pretty thick". i like the term 'purple prose' to describe it. kind of analogous to being a ham when acting. – jon_darkstar Mar 30 '11 at 14:16
@jon_darkstar The last rephrasing is good. The first 3 are quite purple, I agree. The first one: [initially seemed-->started off],[127th-->hundredth],[took a nasty turn towards annoying(do you hear how weird that sounds?)-->took a nasty turn for the worse]. The middle two cannot be saved, they're simply too overwrought and elaborate for something that should be expressed in 10-15 words or even less. Metaphors are meant to simplify, not complicate. – Aerovistae Mar 17 '12 at 14:10
@Aerovistae - The middle two are obviously way over the top (loved learning the term purple btw!) So while you're overall point makes sense: metaphors being meant to simplify? I'm not sold at all. Most adjectives are plenty simple. Deep comparisons tell a lot more. Concise? Yes. Simplified? Not at all. – jon_darkstar May 8 '12 at 21:27


The question is annoying only because of the frequency of its use.

Always try to avoid awkward phrasing or complicated grammar structures; most readers won't get it.

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The question itself was not unreasonable, but was asked too often.

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The answer is no. Quit asking me.

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The question itself is not annoying but the rate of it is.

This is an alternative, it might sound to harsh in your context though.

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Could there be some way to use indirection? The narrator in "For Esmé -- With Love and Squalor" tells of his training in April 1944:

"Rainy days, I generally sat in a dry place and read a book, often just an axe length away from a ping-pong table."

If we could write like that we wouldn't be on StackOVerflow. But you know what I mean.

-- pete

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as your name appears with all your posts, no need to sign it - just FYI. – justkt Mar 30 '11 at 12:34

If the annoyance attaches to the frequency of asking, rather than the question itself, OP started wrongly in the original version by placing annoying immediately before question. Put it next to the annoying thing...

The annoying frequency with which this question is asked... (if you've got more to say about it)

...or if you just want a simple statement, identify the annoying thing first so your gripe target is clear...

The frequency which which this question is asked is annoying.

I will also just point out that it's "frequency with which" something happens, not "in which".

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I would just keep it simple, something like:

It's an annoying question only because of how often it is asked.

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