even injured

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even injured

Post by navi » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:38 am

Are these sentences correct:

1) John can do that, even injured.
2) John, even injured, can do that.
These sentences are supposed to mean: John can do that even if he is injured.


3) John can do that, injured.
4) John can do that injured.
These two are supposed to be replies to someone who says: "John can't do it. He is injured."

I don't think '3' works. There is no reason for the comma.
I think '1' and '2' could also be used in this context.


Re: even injured

Post by Phil White » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:21 pm

If you front "even injured", it works in all cases and would be the most natural sequence for me:

"Even injured, John can do that."

As far as the comma in the above sentence is concerned, it is always my preference to use a comma after fronted material. Other good linguists disagree with me, but the comma does not affect the meaning.

As a general statement, meaning that John is capable of doing it under any circumstances, I would prefer "could" to "can".

"Even injured, John could do it." (But I have no reason to believe that he actually is injured.)
"Even injured, John can do it." (John is injured.)

But a pragmatic consideration suggests that we probably wouldn't use any of these options.

If the preceding discourse has not mentioned any injury to John, we are unlikely to use an ellipted form of "even if John were injured". The ellipsis follows from something that has gone before. If there has been no mention of an injury, we would almost certainly use a full clause: "Even if he were injured, John could do it."

If, on the other hand, the discourse mentions an injury, it is likely that the ellipsis would include mention of the injury as well:
"Have John clear the loft out."
"He's injured."
"Even so, he can do it."

Once again, pragmatics is crucial in determining the appropriateness of a construction. (Note "appropriateness", not "correctness"!)
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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