A small mistake _happened_ to result in a catastrophic disaster.

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esperansa

Senior Member
Russian
Hi everyone!
The Longman Dictionary states that the structure "happen to do something" means that a person does something by chance.
Can we use this structure in relation to inanimate things?

A small mistake happened to result in a catastrophic disaster.

The sentence is mine.
 
  • esperansa

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It is not ungrammatical, but it is illogical.
    Are you saying that my sentence is grammatical and illogical at the same time? A native speaker of English would not use the inanimate as a subject of a sentence,saying "happened to do something"? Did I get it right?
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by "inanimate." One could say "the rock happened to fall," but you can't say that it had made a mistake--unless the author of the sentence has previously attributed consciousness to the rock.
    English grammar is often innocent of logic.
     

    vayatalaya

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain).
    Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by "inanimate." One could say "the rock happened to fall," but you can't say that it had made a mistake--unless the author of the sentence has previously attributed consciousness to the rock.
    English grammar is often innocent of logic.
    And that's how the poetry works :) and it is not only on the books of poems it appears in every corner! :thumbsup:
     

    tehtmc

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    A small mistake happened to result in a catastrophic disaster.
    Somebody made a small mistake. The small mistake resulted in a catastrophic disaster.

    What is the inanimate object? Mistakes are made humans anyway.
     
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