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Thread: avert/prevent

  1. #1
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    avert/prevent

    Dear friends!!!

    What's the difference between "prevent" and "avert" in the meaning of "to do something in order not to let something (usually bad) happen"?

    1) He managed to prevent him from jumping off the cliff
    2) He managed to avert his jump off the cliff
    3) He managed to avert him from jumping off the cliff

    Please tell me how "avert" is used in modern English.

    Can we say "to prevent someone doing something" instead of "to prevent someone from doing something"?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Please help me answer my question

  3. #3
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Hi,

    Prevent is usually something you do to someone else. Avert is something you do yourself.

    i.e. in 1, assuming 'he' and 'him' are the same person and not two people then the sentence is OK

    In 2, whether 'he' and 'his' are the same person or not, 'avert' would be wrong. Except perhaps in the very strange event that there is only one person who is jumping around at the edge of a cliff, and on one occasion, and realising that he is about to jump off the cliff does something, like grap a post or something, and therefore avoids jumping off the cliff. In that unlikely event he would have averted his jump off the cliff - but it's stretching the idea a bit.

    3. is wrong.

    You can say "to prevent someone doing something" instead of "to prevent someone from doing something". i.e. they both have the same meaning and are perfectly OK.

    Regards

  4. #4
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Thanks!! It's more or less clear now, but some questions still remain.

    1) What if in sentence #1 "he" and "him" refer to two different people? I thought that "prefer" can be used in such situations. For example:

    Bill prevented John from falling off the cliff
    He (Bill) prevented him (John) from falling off the cliff

    2) Please give me 2-3 your examples with "avert" so that I'll better understand how to use it correctly.

    Thanks

  5. #5
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Bill averted a more serious accident in his car when the brakes failed by running into the snow drift at the top of the hill instead of careering down the hill into the queue of people at the bus stop.

    Jane averted her eyes from the sun as the solar eclipse waned to avoid damaging her eyesight.

    Regards

  6. #6
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard1 View Post
    Bill averted a more serious accident in his car when the brakes failed by running into the snow drift at the top of the hill instead of careering down the hill into the queue of people at the bus stop.

    Jane averted her eyes from the sun as the solar eclipse waned to avoid damaging her eyesight.

    Regards
    Thanks!!! What about my question #1 from the previous message:

    1) What if in sentence #1 "he" and "him" refer to two different people? I thought that "prefer" can be used in such situations. For example:

    Bill prevented John from falling off the cliff
    He (Bill) prevented him (John) from falling off the cliff

    Best

  7. #7
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Re: avert/prevent

    My sense of these words is that avert has a primary meaning of "turn aside" [as in avert one's eyes] and a secondary meaning of "prevent."

    In my dialect of AmE, avert is used far less commonly than prevent when the meaning is ward off.

  8. #8
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    My sense of these words is that avert has a primary meaning of "turn aside" [as in avert one's eyes] and a secondary meaning of "prevent."

    In my dialect of AmE, avert is used far less commonly than prevent when the meaning is ward off.
    Thanks!!! What do you think of my sentences in post #6?

  9. #9
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Re: avert/prevent

    First of all, as an English teacher to an English learner, I must remind you to use a period at the end of every [declarative] sentence, especially the ones you are showing to a teacher.

    Second of all, you can use two pronouns in sentences like these if the reader has a clear picture of who the antecedents are and what they are doing from previous sentences.

    Lastly, your avert versus prevent concern:


    1) He managed to prevent him from jumping off the cliff


    This sentence sounds perfectly natural to me.


    2) He managed to avert his jump off the cliff

    I would still use prevent here.


    3) He managed to avert him from jumping off the cliff


    This sentence sounds very awkward, understandable but awkward.

  10. #10
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    Re: avert/prevent

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post

    Lastly, your avert versus prevent concern:


    3) He managed to avert him from jumping off the cliff[/COLOR]

    This sentence sounds very awkward, understandable but awkward.
    Agreed, but nonetheless incorrect.

    Rgds

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