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    #1

    correct choice of words

    I didn't care for my family. I was always enjoying myself during my free time. Of course, my wife was sad. In the circumstances, my family could/would have (been) broken up if I had not realized my selfish ways in time and make amends.

    Should I use 'could' or 'would'? Is 'been' needed? Are there any other errors?

    Many thanks.


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394
    #2

    Re: correct choice of words

    I didn't care for my family. I was always enjoying myself during my free time. Of course, my wife was sad. In the circumstances, my family could/would have (been) broken up if I had not realized my selfish ways in time and make amends.

    Should I use 'could' or 'would'? Is 'been' needed? Are there any other errors?
    You could use either could or would here and have a sensible sentence. It depends on the degree of certainty the speaker feels. If he uses would, he sounds as though he is certain that his family would have broken up. Could suggests he is not as certain.

    Been makes no sense. When we say someone's family breaks up, it just breaks up. It's virtually always intransitive. The only way I might use this phrase in a transitive way is if I wanted to place special emphasis on the thing that broke it up. For example:

    Tom's drinking and gambling finally broke up his family.

    This is OK, but it's still not the way I would normally write it. I would be more inclined to say something like this:

    Tom's drinking and gambling finally caused the breakup of his family.

    As for actual grammatical errors, I would strongly suggest saying under the circumstances rather than in the circumstances. Also, if you don't care for something. it means you aren't especially fond of it. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you really mean take care of. Also, you need to say made amends, not make amends. Other than that, it just needs a rewrite.

    Greg

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