while I'm gone

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Allegro molto, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Hello

    Don't let anybody in the house while I'm gone.
    (from Longman Language Activator)

    About 'while I'm gone':
    1. Is this phrase used irrespective of how far or how long one goes?
    2. Is the example sentence used when one goes to the bank nearby for a few hours?
    Is 'while I go' not appropriate in this case?

    Thank you
     
  2. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    In this expression, "gone" functions (adjectivally?) like the word "away". It can be for a few seconds or a few decades.
     
  3. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, JulianStuart

    Doesn't 'while I go' work though the meaning may differ?
     
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    No, it wouldn't make sense.

    Don't let anyone in the house while I'm gone. = I'm leaving; between now and the time I return (while I'm out of the house), don't let anyone in.

    Don't let anyone in the house while I go. = I'm leaving; between now and the time I arrive at where I'm going, don't let anyone in.
     
  5. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, Parla

    I'm holding the fort while my friend goes to the dentist.
    (from Harrap’s Standard Learners’ English Dictionary)

    Does the above sentence mean the following?
    My friend is leaving; between now and the time s/he arrives at the dentist, I'm holding the fort.
     
  6. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    If I say "I'm going to the dentist", I have every hope of returning home afterwards.

    Likewise, if I say "I'm holding the fort while my friend goes to the dentist", it's understood that the trip to the dentists is a round trip and I will wait till he returns.
     
  7. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    The dentist example is different. If you're holding the fort while your friend goes to the dentist, it means during the entire dentist trip. Logical? No, but not everything in language is logical. The "while my friend goes to the dentist" is idiomatic. It is casual. It may even be acceptable to some English speakers and not others. It would be a common tusage among my friends, but in a formal written context I would be more likely to say "I'm holding the fort while my friend is at the dentist."

    And don't let anyone in the house while I go to me is sufficiently odd that I would actually think you meant while you go to the bathroom!
     
  8. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, velisalius and Embonpoint

    Is the reason you think 'Don't let anyone in the house while I go' is odd because the sentence ends with 'go'?
    I suppose the sentence is not odd if it ends with e.g. 'to the bank'.
    That is, 'Don't let anyone in the house while I go to the bank'.

    Longman Language Activator gives a similar sentence.
    Can you keep the vase for me while I go to the bank?

    Please consider the above sentence.
     
  9. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Yes, now that you mention it I think the oddness is in fact because you end with the word go.

    Don't let anyone in the house while I go to the bank is fine and clear.

    The difference with don't let anyone in the house while I'm gone is simply that the latter doesn't specify where you are. This may be clear from an earlier interaction, or you may have chosen not to specify.
     
  10. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Sorry, because I can’t quite understand your explanation.

    'Don't let anyone in the house while I'm gone.' doesn’t specify 'where I'm gone'.
    'Don't let anyone in the house while I go.' doesn’t specify 'where I go', either.

    Then what is the difference between the two sentences.
     
  11. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In the first, "gone" is not a verb - it is while I am not here. We know exactly when to stop the action. The action will stop when you are here again.
    The second one is incomplete. There is no expectation of every letting anyone in the house ever again.
     
  12. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Well, as I said in post #7, not everything is logical. The bottom line is ending a sentence with "while I go" with nothing after it is just not what natives say in most cases (and I'll give a one possible exception below.)

    To give a bit more detail that might help, most of the time go is used either with another verb form or with an explanation of location: Go shopping. Go skiing. Go to the bathroom. Go out. Or it can also signify a change to a mental condition: go crazy.

    Go by itself usually means leave. It's time to go! Let's go! Sometimes go alone is used very casually to mean "go to the bathroom." For example if you have an urgent issue you might say: I gotta go bad!

    So your original sentence, "don't let anyone in the house while I go" would read to a native as "don't let anyone in the house while I leave" or even (and this is what came to mind for me) "don't let anyone in the house while I go to the bathroom."

    The one possible case in which I might possibly use that sentence is if I wanted to get a chance to get out of the house before anyone came in. I could say "don't let anyone in the house while I go." But actually, that would mean the opposite of what you intended as it would mean 'keep everyone out while I'm in the process of leaving but it's okay to let them in as soon as I'm gone." So even in this case, this would not be my preferred formulation. It would be much more natural to say "don't let anyone in the house until I'm gone."

    Does that help?
     
  13. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much for your reply (#12), Embonpoint

    Getting rid of the idea that 'while I’m gone' is in the present perfect, that is, 'gone' is an adjective here, seems to clear up my question discussed so far. This way I can think of the 'while I go' as a different problem, not a related one.
     
  14. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Yes, while I'm gone means while I'm away.
     
  15. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    while = during the time that
     

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