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    #1

    Could hardly have

    Hello!

    1. His great concern, and that of many founding members of PiS, was corruption. Scrupulously honest themselves (his brother Jaroslaw does not even have a bank account) the twins could hardly have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    About the part beginning with the twins…, I understand as follows.
    The twins were almost not different from the sleek cronies….. (a real event, or not?)
    = The twins were almost the same as the sleek cronies…..

    2. he advised the opposition trade union’s leaders in their talks with the communist boss-class.
    Is it possible to use on instead of in?

    3. A surprise victor in 2005, Lech Kaczynski proved an uneasy president. He looked nervous at public occasions.
    Is it possible to use on instead of at?

    1, 2, 3 from Lech Kaczynski, Apr 15th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

    Please consider 1, 2, 3.

    Thanks in advance

  1. kfredson's Avatar

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #2

    Re: Could hardly have

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello!

    1. His great concern, and that of many founding members of PiS, was corruption. Scrupulously honest themselves (his brother Jaroslaw does not even have a bank account) the twins could hardly have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    About the part beginning with the twins…, I understand as follows.
    The twins were almost not different from the sleek cronies….. (a real event, or not?)
    = The twins were almost the same as the sleek cronies…..

    No, it is actually the opposite. They were totally different. It would be almost impossible, in fact, to be more different than they were. When you add "hardly" it effectively changes "could have been" to its opposite.

    2. he advised the opposition trade union’s leaders in their talks with the communist boss-class.
    Is it possible to use on instead of in?
    If you change it to "on" you change the meaning. When you advise them "in their talks" you imply that you are present. When you advise them "on their talks" you imply that you are preparing them for what they will say when they are -- later -- in their talks. The difference is somewhat subtle, however, so in some circumstances you could use them almost interchangeably. I would stick with the usage that I have suggested.

    3. A surprise victor in 2005, Lech Kaczynski proved an uneasy president. He looked nervous at public occasions.
    Is it possible to use on instead of at?
    You could get away with either. However, it would be more normal to say "on public occasions." We would tend to use "at" when speaking about what happens at a particular place, rather than public occasions in general.

    1, 2, 3 from Lech Kaczynski, Apr 15th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

    Please consider 1, 2, 3.

    Thanks in advance
    Thank you for providing these interesting examples. They provide some examples of subtle yet important variants of common words.

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    #3

    Re: Could hardly have

    Hello, kfredson!

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    The question #1 is difficult. I produce a procedure for making it easy to understand. Please proceed in numerical order and check if any step is wrong.

    1. the twins could hardly have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    2. the twins could not have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    3. the twins were not more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    4. the twins reached their highest degree of difference from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    5. the twins were totally different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    Thanks in advance

  2. kfredson's Avatar

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #4

    Re: Could hardly have

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello, kfredson!

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    The question #1 is difficult. I produce a procedure for making it easy to understand. Please proceed in numerical order and check if any step is wrong.

    1. the twins could hardly have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.

    2. the twins could not have been more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.
    This is, indeed, one step beyond sentence one. The use of "hardly" implies a slight chance, whereas "not" does not. In practice, it means almost the same thing.

    3. the twins were not more different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.
    The meaning here is not so clear to me.

    4. the twins reached their highest degree of difference from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.
    I guess I understand what you are saying here, but I can't imagine a situation where it would be used, unless, perhaps, you were speaking of a particular point of time. "As they entered their thirties, the twins reached..."

    5. the twins were totally different from the sleek cronies who populate large parts of the Polish political spectrum.
    This is a more straightforward way of saying what is being said in #1 and 2. In fact, #2 and 5 mean the same thing.

    Thanks in advance
    I hope I have not misunderstood what you are getting at in your interesting post.

    I am now wondering how this phrase, "[they] could hardly have been more...," arose in the English language. It appears to be a more elegant way of saying what is otherwise a simple statement, "[they] are..."

    Thank you for bringing these sentences to us.

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