When I think more deeply about the structures of some English sentences which seem to be easy to understand, I often find that I actually do not have a sound understanding of them. For example, we can change "It is a pity that you must go." back to "That you must go is a pity." to understand "it" refers to the deferred subject of "That you must go". However, this reasoning does not apply to "It seemed that he needed help." In my opinion, it is insensible to say that "It seemed that he needed help." actually means "That he needed help seemed." I guess there must be something missing after "seemed" in this sentence. Could it be "so" that is habitually omitted here by you native speakers? By the way, this morning, I read in a news report a sentence going, "Intrigued by their findings, Carroll's team started to look into the reasons why this might be." Could it also be "so" that is left out in this sentence?
Looking forward to your replies. Thanks.
Last edited by Raymott; 18-Nov-2014 at 10:33. Reason: typos
Your reply has caused me to go to my Oxford dictionary for the usage of "so", and I've got at the entry of "so" when used as an adverb Sense 5: used to refer back to sth that has already been mentioned. And at Sense 5 there is this example sentence: I hear that you're a writer-- is that so (= is that true)? So, I love your restructured version of "That he needed help seemed to be true/seemed to be the case " .
By the way, I have a question of a different nature about the use of "might" in "Intrigued by their findings, Carroll's team started to look into the reasons why this might be." and I hope you will also help me with it. This sentence is taken from a BBC news report entitled "Is violence more common in gay relationships?" and the sentence prior to it is " 'One of our startling findings was that rates of domestic violence among same-sex couples is pretty consistently higher than for opposite sex couples,' says Richard Carroll, a psychologist and co-author of the report." It is obvious that this one finding is now already a fact and only the reasons are still unknown. Then, why "this might be"? Could it be that "this might be" is actually casual speech and, to be more accurate or to be logical, it should have been "(why) this is the case" or "(why) this is what it is"? Or is it that this sentence is still intended to mean "Carroll' team started to figure out what the reasons might be" but because of sloppy thinking the speaker of this sentence got things messed up on the surface?
Looking forward to your reply. Thanks!
Last edited by ohmyrichard; 18-Nov-2014 at 10:49.
It is taken as fact that there is more violence between gay couples than straight couples. However, this might be due to reason A, reason B, reason C etc. Note that the quote says "reasons". The probability (might be) relates to the possible reasons not to the fact.
Yes, fact X is true. But it might be because of reason A, and it might not be.
Here's another example:
"He has parked his car three blocks away. I wonder why that might be." There is no doubt that it is true. But, he might have wanted to walk, for exercise; he might have run out of petrol, etc. There are several reasons it might be, but no doubt that it is.
So, that is how the phrase is used.
Anyway, do you native speakers of English use "for this/that reason", "due to this/that reason" and "because of this/that reason" interchangeably? Just now I went to my physical Oxford dictionary and the Online Oxford Collocation Dictionary and could only find "for (this) reason", "for reasons of" and "by reason of". Is it that the two dictionaries are not exhaustive? I have never been bold enough to use "due to this/that reason" and "because of this/that reason" and this may be due to the fact that I have a limited English vocabulary. Besides, is there the possibility that when you native speakers explain things, you use collocations which you do not use under normal circumstances? For example, we can say "Neither the CEO nor his assistants were in their office". But I doubt whether we will say "Neither the CEO was in his office nor his assistant were in their office" in daily normal speaking or writing situations unless we are analyzing it or explaining the underlying structure of the orginal sentence?
The more discussion we have, the more questions I will think of. Forgive me for giving you so much trouble, but I look forward to your answer. Thanks.
Last edited by ohmyrichard; 18-Nov-2014 at 15:02.
"Anyway, do you native speakers of English use "for this/that reason", "due to this/that reason" and "because of this/that reason" interchangeably? "
No, sometimes there’s an obvious reason for using one or the other.
1. "I am not well. For this reason I am unable to work today."
2. "He said he wasn't well. It was for that reason that he didn't come to work today."
In 1, the reason has just been given. It's proximate; we can use 'this'.
In 2, the reason given is removed from the present situation by being given hours later by a different person.
Usually, you can use either.
Your reply reminds me of a long comment of four paragraphs I wrote under a Youtube video in answer to the question about the use of magic words like "Thank you" and "Excuse me" raised by the American who uploaded the video. When I came to the first sentence of the second paragraph, I was confused about which one of "This" and "That" to use as the first word of the first sentence to refer back to what I discussed in the last two sentences in the previous paragraph. Finally I used "That", but I still doubt whether I have made a mistake. In this writing situation, which do you think should be used, "this" or "that"? Or will either do? I vaguely remember I have read an article in a thick English writing coursebook which has "this" or "that" used at the beginning of several paragraphs, but unfortunately just now I failed to locate this article.
To repeat, which do you think should be used at the beginning of a new paragraph to refer back to what you have just discussed in the last one or two sentences of the previous paragraph, "this" or "that" or either? Thanks.
Along this line of thinking in the last part of post # 5, I asked whether you native speakers say "Neither the CEO was in his office nor his assistants were in their office" to explain the underlying structure of "Neither the CEO nor his assistants were in their office" while in normal daily situations you never say "Neither Statement A nor Statement B."
I am indeed eagerly looking forward to your answer, which I am sure will be very helpful to my deeper understanding of how English actually works. Thanks.
Last edited by ohmyrichard; 21-Nov-2014 at 07:05.
1. Yes, native speakers do say "due to this reason" and "because of this reason".
2. I asked whether you native speakers say "Neither the CEO was in his office nor his assistants were in their office" to explain the underlying structure of "Neither the CEO nor his assistants were in their office"
I would explain it by saying "The CEO was not in his office, nor were his assistants in their offices." if that is the meaning. There is some question in the original about whose offices the CEO and his assistants are not in. Depending on the context, it could mean "Neither the CEO nor his assistants were in some other unnamed people's office."