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  1. #1
    azhu's Avatar
    azhu is offline Junior Member
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    How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    Hi, I was reading an essay "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" by Walter Benjamin when I came across this following passage with the sentence that stuck me:

    "...A person's inner concerns are not by nature of an inescapably private character. They attain this character only after the likelihood decreases that one's external concerns will be assimilated to one's experience."

    I can't understand the boldfaced sentence, because I think I've found two verbs in this sentence, "attain" and "will be", which totally made me lost!
    And do "They" here refer to "A person's inner concerns"?



    If I didn't offer enough context, please let me know, and I will add them immediately. I don't wish to throw a bunch of texts in the very beginning to scare everybody away !
    Thanks to anyone who would help me understand this sentence structure and what this sentence means.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    If you're reading texts of this complexity, azhu, I'm surprised that you're confused about finding two verbs with different subjects in the same sentence. You must have encountered this many times in the course of your reading.

    The subject of 'attain' is 'they' ('a person's inner concerns') and the subject of 'will be' is 'one's external concerns'.

    Compare:

    'My brother likes butter but my sister prefers margarine.'
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 14-Sep-2013 at 09:28.

  3. #3
    azhu's Avatar
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    Re: How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    If you're reading texts of this complexity, azhu, I'm surprised that you're confused about finding two verbs with different subjects in the same sentence. You must have encountered this many times in the course of your reading.

    The subject of 'attain' is 'they' ('a person's inner concerns') and the subject of 'will be' is 'one's external concerns'.
    Thank you Rover, for knowing that this is such a simple grammar yet still explained to me.
    I'm now deeply aware of my lack of reading ability. I haven't met a clause that has "will+verb", and so that was why the sentence panicked me.

    May I ask another question? I'm not sure what "external concerns" mean in this sentence. Do they mean the attention/interest one pays to the outside world? Thanks a lot.

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    That seems to be what it means, yes.

  5. #5
    azhu's Avatar
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    Re: How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    That seems to be what it means, yes.
    Thank you! Finally got one right.

  6. #6
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    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Re: How come I find two verbs in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by azhu View Post
    Hi, I was reading an essay "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" by Walter Benjamin when I came across this following passage with the sentence that stuck me:

    "...A person's inner concerns are not by nature of an inescapably private character. They attain this character only after the likelihood decreases that one's external concerns will be assimilated to one's experience."

    I can't understand the boldfaced sentence, because I think I've found two verbs in this sentence, "attain" and "will be", which totally made me lost!
    And do "They" here refer to "A person's inner concerns"?



    If I didn't offer enough context, please let me know, and I will add them immediately. I don't wish to throw a bunch of texts in the very beginning to scare everybody away !
    Thanks to anyone who would help me understand this sentence structure and what this sentence means.
    I don't mean to complicate your life, but there are actually 3 verbs in that sentence. You missed "decreases". The subject is "likelihood".

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