Thursday, February 12, 2015

spot the grammar error

From an AP News article by Youkyung Lee about the sentencing of "nut-rage" conglomerate queen Heather Cho, 41, who famously went postal aboard an aircraft when she was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate or in a bowl:

If she could have controlled her emotion, this case would not have happened.

The above is part of a quote (presumably translated from Korean into English) by Judge Oh Seong-woo, who presided over Cho's case.

Did you spot the grammar error? I think you can blame this one on the translator. And a follow-up question: can you rewrite the sentence to make it better?


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5 comments:

Hyoon-dae Cheon said...

I posit that the following might be better:

"Had she controlled her emotions, this case would not have happened."

Or:

"Had she controlled her emotions, this case would not have started."

Kevin Kim said...

Bravo! You caught the error in tense, which is in the "if" clause, and your improvements both sound good.

My own take would be:

Had she been able to control her emotions, this incident would not have occurred.

In English, we don't normally speak of a "case" as "happening." That's a bit awkward and unnatural. The word "case" might be appropriate for a courtroom context (e.g., a court case, a legal case), but the judge was referring to the events before this became a legal case, which is why I've replaced "case" with "incident."

I also use the locution "had been able to" because the original sentence used "could have"—a form of the modal verb "can." So to retain the notion of ability, I changed "could have" to "had been able to."

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"If she could have controlled her emotion, this case would not have happened."

The real error above is the misspelled preposition, which I've now corrected:

"If she could of controlled her emotion, this case would not have happened."

Jeffery Hodges

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John from Daejeon said...

I'm with Jeffery Hodges on this one as she only had to control one emotion (anger). Her arrogance and stupidity aren't emotions.

Lee Farrand said...

Y'all speakin' like you was born in a barn.

"Assuming a greater level of emotional control in a repeat scenario, it would not be unreasonable to expect a more favorable outcome."