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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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      • China
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    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 1,618

    at these words his face...

    This sentence is taken from my textbook:
    At these words, Mr Darcy's face changed colour but he listened...

    I would think this sentence is not grammatically correct for how could Darcy's face hear these words? Would it be better to say 'When he heard these words..."?

    Could I ask native speakers to help me please? Thank you in advance.

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: at these words his face...

    What about if the sentence was:
    "At this point in the conversation, Mr. Darcy's face..."

    Note uses of 'at':
    Life begins at forty.
    At 14, I was already working part-time for my own pocket money.
    The price of a new car here starts at £50,000.
    He was driving at 60 m.p.h.

    'at' has the meaning of denoting a point in time, on a scale, in a sequence of events, a point in someone's life...and in the sentence you quote, a point in the conversation, the point being reached when certain words were spoken, and:
    "At these words (at this point in the conversation; on hearing these words; when these words were spoken; when he heard these words spoken), Mr. Darcy's face..."

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