the only to keep your family safe is if he stays in jail

Discussion in 'English Only' started by buttle, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. buttle Senior Member

    Nice (French Riviera)
    France French/English
    Hi everyone,

    Is the following sentence correct : ?

    "The only way to keep your family safe is if he stays in jails."


    I just heard it somewhere and I find the construction a little weird.
    I would say : "The only way of keeping your family safe is for him to stay in jail."

    How do the two sentences sound ??

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Your second version is correct. You can't be in more than one jail at a time.
     
  3. iskndarbey Senior Member

    Lima, Perú
    US, English
    Presumably the 's' at the end of the first sentence is a typo, in which case it sounds perfectly natural to me.
     
  4. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I agree with Iskndarbey, I don't think Buttle intended the "s".

    The objection I have to the statements is that to "keep your family safe" would generally require some action or precaution on your part (i.e. it is an active statement), but you have no control over whether he stays in jail, so you are passive in this situation.

    For example:
    "The only way to keep your family safe is by killing him."
    You are keeping your family safe by taking action.

    I would therefore re-write the topic statement:
    "The only way to keep your family will be safe is if he stays in jail."
     
  5. buttle Senior Member

    Nice (French Riviera)
    France French/English
    Yes, the "s" was a typo. Thank you all for helping me out.
     

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