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    #1

    What they can tell us!

    --Do they want to remove all those ruins?
    --No, they have been stopped. What they can tell us!

    This is a very confusing conversation to me, especially the underlined part. What does it mean? Is it natural to a native?

    Thanks!

    Jason

  1. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What they can tell us!

    Hi,

    I don't know whether it sounds natural or not, but it means (IMO): if the ruins could speak, I wonder what they would be able to tell us (of the times they were not ruins, but parts of buildings)!

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: What they can tell us!

    --No, they have been stopped. What they can tell us!

    It is not well-written. The two theys have different antecedents.

    'Ruins can tell us so much' would be better.

    Rover

  2. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: What they can tell us!

    Also, I believe "could" would be better, since they cannot actually tell us anything.

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: What they can tell us!

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    Also, I believe "could" would be better, since they cannot actually tell us anything.
    There are two possibilities:

    Ruins could tell us so much (if they could talk)
    Ruins can tell us so much. Ruins give us a great deal of information about the people who constructed the original building.

    'Can' is more natural here, in my opinion.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What they can tell us!

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonlulu_2000 View Post
    --Do they want to remove all those ruins?
    --No, they have been stopped. Just imagine what they can tell us!

    This is a very confusing conversation to me, especially the underlined part. What does it mean? Is it natural to a native?

    Thanks!

    Jason
    It's poorly written because "they have been stopped" is somewhat confusing. I have added in red a couple of words which might make the underlined part more clear (in conjunction with the other answers of course).

    As far as "can" vs "could" is concerned, I think they're both possible depending on whether you're talking about these specific ruins or ruins in general.

    - Do they want to remove all those ruins?
    - Yes, they want to but fortunately they have been stopped from doing so. Just think what those ruins could tell us (about life here many years ago)! (Specific ruins)

    - Do they want to remove all those ruins?
    - Yes, they do, but fortunately they have been stopped/prevented from doing so. Ruins can tell us so much about how people used to live. (Ruins generally)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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