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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Insofar as could be determined

    Hi All,

    Is there any difference between "Insofar as could be determined" and "Insofar I could determine" (I mean, a practical difference in the use of the two phrases)? The first one looks objective, whereas the second one subjective. I am never able to claim that something is not true: I just can say that I have determined that. In Google, the first option wins, although both have poor scores.

    Thanks in advance,
    Nyggus

  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Insofar as could be determined

    Hello Nyggus

    1. Insofar as could be determined...
    2. Insofar as I could determine...

    If you don't want to express the agent, you can use #1. This may make the statement seem more impersonal, e.g.

    3. Insofar as could be determined by electron microscopy, the immunosuppressive viruses were of endogenous origin.

    This structure might be useful in a scientific or forensic context, for instance.

    In #2, on the other hand, the agent is expressed. I would not say that #2 necessarily gave a "subjective" impression, though; "insofar as I could determine" is itself a cautious phrase, and might make a text seem "objective" to the reader.

    Moreover, if we want to, we can express an agent in the #1 structure:

    4. Insofar as could be determined by my initial investigations...

    In other words, the "objectivity" of the statement would depend on the entire context!

    MrP

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Insofar as could be determined

    Thanks, MrPedantic. I am wondering, however, if "Insofar as I could determine" should not be replaced by "Insofar as I have been able to determine." This sounds more correct to me, but I can be wrong.

    Best,
    Nyggus

  4. #4
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Insofar as could be determined

    Hello Nyggus

    Yes, "Insofar as I have been able to determine..." is also fine. The "could" version places the "determining" in the past; the "have been able to" version makes a connection to the present, e.g.

    1. Insofar as I have been able to determine, the sky is blue.

    Here, there is an implied connection to the present: perhaps you intend to continue your researches, for instance. Or perhaps your researches were completed very recently.

    MrP

  5. #5
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Insofar as could be determined

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    Hello Nyggus
    Yes, "Insofar as I have been able to determine..." is also fine. The "could" version places the "determining" in the past; the "have been able to" version makes a connection to the present, e.g.
    1. Insofar as I have been able to determine, the sky is blue.
    Here, there is an implied connection to the present: perhaps you intend to continue your researches, for instance. Or perhaps your researches were completed very recently.
    MrP
    Thanks, MrPedantic. Usually, when one writes something like this, he/she should refer to a current knowledge, so the connection to the present is obvious: "I have been able to determine that nobody has studied this problem." It would make no sense (usually, I mean - in the situation we are considering) to write that before 1994 the problem was not considered. So - which phrase should we choose: the one with "could determine" or with "have been able to determine"?

    Best,
    Nyggus

  6. #6
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Insofar as could be determined

    Hello Nyggus

    1. Insofar as I have been able to determine, no one has studied this problem before.

    2. Insofar as I could determine, no one has studied this problem before.

    3. Insofar as I could determine, no one had studied this problem before.

    I wouldn't entirely exclude #2: it could relate to the very recent past, for example. The difference from #1 lies in the fact that in #1 the speaker is maintaining the connection between the "determining" and the present (perhaps he intends to continue his researches into whether anyone has studied the problem before); whereas in #2, the speaker presents the "determining" as complete.

    #3 on the other hand puts both the determining and the studying in the past; perhaps I looked into the question last year; perhaps I looked into it 10 years ago. In either case, the speaker regards it as a closed incident.

    MrP

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