Better die standing than live kneeling

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
I see a sentence: Better die standing than live kneeling(no context)

I feel the complete sentence might be: it's better to die standing than to live kneeling.
Is that right please? Is it the same if we say: it's better dying standing than living kneeling, or better dying standing than living kneeling?
Thank you in advance
 
Last edited:
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The original needs a "to": Better to die standing than (to) live kneeling. (The second "to" is optional.)

    Your alternatives are not correct.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you. But I met a similar sentence "Better deny at once than promise long" where the first to is omitted.
    And just now, I searched on the Net and found: It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, rather than live kneeling.
    So does live kneeling work in my original sentence please?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The problem with starting a sentence with "Better" is that the word is often prefaced with "You'd," e.g. "You'd better stop doing that." "You'd better take the trash out." "You'd better not forget my birthday."

    So if you begin your "deny" sentence with that, it's not bad: "You'd better deny at once than promise long." But if you start a "die" sentence with it, it sounds odd: "You'd better die standing than live kneeling." It sounds like you're telling someone they'd better die, when they would prefer to live.

    With "die," then, I would suggest using the "to" – with "deny," it's not as important.

    Yes, "live kneeling" works in your original because you still have parallelism:
    It's better to die standing than to live kneeling.
    It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
     
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