A chill<y> wind

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Himanshu Sindhi

Senior Member
Hindi
This question was asked in an exam in India as...
Which part of the sentence has an error :-

A chill wind blew (1)/ and icy fingers of death (2)/ crept up my spine. (3)/ No error (4)

Part 1 - It should be "chilly wind" in place of "chill wind" or
Part 3 - "crept into my spine" in place of :crept up my spine" ?
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The original sentence is correct and idiomatic. "Chill" is also an adjective (generally literary), and phrases with "up (or down) one's spine" are infinitely more common than "into one's spine."
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    As Glen said, the rest is fine but there should be an article for fingers - "the icy fingers of death". It's easy to miss because we native speakers automatically read it even when it's not there. But you need to have 'articles?' on your check-list.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I do not agree with Hermione on this. I find it perfectly OK without “the”.
    The whole thing is figurative, death isn’t a human with real fingers and they are not literally creeping anywhere.

    What does the markscheme say, Himanshu? I’d say 4) no errors.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't think there's anything wrong with that sentence, either.

    I wouldn't personally put an article in front of "icy fingers..." in (2).
     

    Himanshu Sindhi

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I do not agree with Hermione on this. I find it perfectly OK without “the”.
    The whole thing is figurative, death isn’t a human with real fingers and they are not literally creeping anywhere.

    What does the markscheme say, Himanshu? I’d say 4) no errors.
    This question was asked in 2014, and the exam commission issued an answer key, in which the answer was "part 3" (they never give any explanation), so there is a contradiction among the answers of every book and site. some says part 1 (chilly wind), some says part 3 (crept into) and some says no error
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Chill and chilly are both adjectives but have different nuances:
    Chill - unpleasantly, depressingly, or harmfully cold; Now mainly poetic or figurative as unpleasantly, depressingly, or harmfully unemotional;

    Chilly seems to be constructed of "chill" + suffix "-y" which denotes a lesser effect, certainly less harmful, and is usually used literally and also more "It was a bright but chilly November morning."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's (3) no error - "icy fingers of death" - the figurative cold fingers of the condition of death.

    Agreeing with Glenfarclas, I'd say that an alternative is "the icy fingers of Death", where death is personified and fingers needs the definite article. But that doesn't make the original sentence wrong.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    If it's Death personified, that would indicate to me that it is talking about a real chance of actually dying due to a chilly wind rather than it being a mere hyperbole.
    Put me down for "No error".
     
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