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    #1

    The usage of "was/were not + infinitive"

    Look at the following sentence which is from Soviet war in Afghanistan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    “The assumption among most Western diplomats was that the Soviet-backed government in Kabul would soon collapse; however, this was not to happen for another three years.”

    I know that “The Soviet-backed government in Kabul collapsed after three years.”

    I concluded from the context that we usually use the structure “was/were not + infinitive” to state that a situation was not expected to happen but did in fact happen.

    Could you please correct my conclusion if I am wrong?

  1. Academic Writing's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The usage of "was/were not + infinitive"

    Quote Originally Posted by Shamsiyan View Post

    I know that “The Soviet-backed government in Kabul collapsed after three years.”

    I concluded from the context that we usually use the structure “was/were not + infinitive” to state that a situation was not expected to happen but did in fact happen.

    Could you please correct my conclusion if I am wrong?
    Hi Shamsiyan,

    The conclusion should actually be a bit different. The diplomats were expecting the collapse (and they were expecting it soon), but the collapse didn't happen until later.

    This tense isn't used very often in everyday speech but it is more or less common in historical texts to give exactly this meaning (something that was expected to occur at the time but did not happen until later--or even at all if we say that a given event "was not meant to be").

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Academic Writing; 27-Aug-2012 at 14:48.
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