before it could hit the window

azz

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Can one say
a. John killed the hired killer before he killed John.
b. John killed the hired killer before he could kill John.

c. I caught the tennis ball before it hit the window.
d. I caught the tennis ball before it could hit the window.

?

The assumption is that John was not killed by the hired killer and the tennis ball did not hit the window.

Many thanks.
 

andrewg927

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A and B are not okay. They are very confusing because of kill, kill and kill. C and D are okay. I don't like D because of the extra word "could".
 

azz

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Thank you so much,

How about
e. She killed him before he killed her.
?

Would you consider that acceptable. (She wasn't killed because she killed him.)

Many thanks.
 

emsr2d2

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Thank you so much.

How about this?

e. She killed him before he killed her.

Would you consider that acceptable? (She wasn't killed because she killed him.)

Many thanks.

That's OK.

For your first sentence, try using some synonyms.

John killed the hitman who had been hired to murder him.
 
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