Student or Learner
Hi everyone, the following sentence is from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary :
It would have been political suicide for him to challenge the allegations in court.
(suicide - Definition and pronunciation | Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com)
How would you interpret this sentence? I think the usage of "would have been" has two meaning. Is the speaker describing an event in the past that didn't happen (which means he didn't challenge the allegations in court) or just making an assumption about the past?
You could rewrite this:It would have been political suicide for him to challenge the allegations in court.
It would have been political suicide for him if he had challenged the allegations in court.
So I agree with 5jj- the speaker is making an assumption/assessing the hypothetical impact of an event that didn't take place.
Thanks guys! However, I think it could also mean "the challenge" actually took place, right?
The likely situation could be:
A: I heard that John had challenged the allegations in court this morning.
B: Wow! That would have been political suicide for him to do that.
So, how do you determine whether "the challenge" took place or not based on this single sentence? Thanks!
Last edited by Tdol; 07-Feb-2012 at 11:59.
Again, the natural options are that may/could be political suicide. You could use may have been, and that is not the same as would have been for the simple reason that it is not definite- in other words, we are still waiting to find out whether he has committed political suicide. However, it is still a rather forced usage IMO.
PS Could have been political suicide requires more context than given showing that it wasn't political suicide in the end for it to work for me.