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  1. #1
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Default There was nothing I could do but wait = I could do nothing but wait.

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me your expert opinion concerning the following sentences?

    1.1. There was nothing I could do but wait.
    1.2. I could do nothing but wait.
    2.1. There was nothing we could do but go there at once.
    2.2. We could do nothing but go there at once.
    3.1..There was nothing we could do but tell him.
    3.2. We could do nothing but tell him.
    4.1. There was nothing I could do but come back.
    4.2. I could do nothing but come back.

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: There was nothing I could do but wait = I could do nothing but wait.

    They all look fine.

  3. #3
    pyoung is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: There was nothing I could do but wait = I could do nothing but wait.

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me your expert opinion concerning the following sentences?

    1.1. There was nothing I could do but wait.
    1.2. I could do nothing but wait.
    2.1. There was nothing we could do but go there at once.
    2.2. We could do nothing but go there at once.
    3.1..There was nothing we could do but tell him.
    3.2. We could do nothing but tell him.
    4.1. There was nothing I could do but come back.
    4.2. I could do nothing but come back.
    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.
    Dear Vil:

    Yes, the sentences you have written are essentially interchangeable.
    I think the only difference may be that 'there was nothing' has an absolute sound, suggesting, in its relative passivity, that not only could I not do anything but come back, but there was no other option at all for anyone.
    A similar expression is, 'There was nothing for it but to come back,' 'There was nothing for it but to tell him.' This emphasizes the complete lack of any choice or alternative action.

    Hoping this helps,

    Petra

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