but even if I had forgotten myself totally I would never have killed him

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
“In anger I forgot myself, but even if I had forgotten myself totally I would never have killed him. ”
I make this sentence.
Hi, can this sentence be said in such context?

The speaker is having a heated quarrel with another guy. That guy has said something that makes the speaker so angry that the speaker lashes out at him. Unexpectedly, the speaker has hit the vital part and accidentally killed that guy.
Afterwards when he is interrogated by the police, he says “In anger I forgot myself, but even if I had forgotten myself totally I would never have killed him.”

Is it possible?
Thank you.
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I understand what you mean because of your explanation but it wouldn't sound very clear to the police.
    but even if I had forgotten myself totally I would never have killed him.”
    But he did.

    I think you mean to say something like: But I'd never have thought of killing him or But I'd never have wanted to kill him.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think "forget yourself" works in that context. "I lost it" would make much more sense.

    Historically, the term "forget yourself" was used as a rather arrogant put-down if you spoke out of turn:
    "That's not the way to speak to your master; — you forget yourself, young man!"
    "You forget yourself, young man! Do you realize to whom you are speaking?"
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, I agree. Perhaps: I didn't know what I was doing. (Or I lost it, as lingobingo says.)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I see no problem with 'forgot myself'. It means '[I admit that I] forgot my usual standard of behaviour'. Here the speaker is accusing himself.

    However, the rest of the sentence is not properly expressed. The intended meaning seems to be:
    'Even if I had forgotten myself totally, I would never have meant to kill him'. Here the speaker is excusing himself.

    I agree that even in this form, the excuse is unlikely to satisfy the police.
     
    Last edited:

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you. So this topic sentence is usually said when the speaker didn't kill the guy? But if the guy has actually been killed, it is unlikely to say the topic sentence?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    So this topic sentence is usually said when the speaker didn't kill the guy?
    Possible, depending on context.
    But if the guy has actually been killed, it is unlikely to say the topic sentence?
    Again, possible, depending on context.

    What were saying is that the sentence doesn't fit the context of the OP. You need to fit the sentence to the context, not the other way round.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It isn't because of just one phrase that it doesn't work. It's the entire sentence. It sounds as if he didn't kill him (but maybe someone else did). But he did.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So the original sentence doesn't work mainly because the use of "even if ..."?
    No, that's not it. The reason it doesn't work is that you're saying, in effect: "I would never have killed him, however angry I became." The most logical way to read that is that you're saying you didn't kill him.

    Hence my suggestion of changing it to "I would never have intentionally killed him", which switches the implication to the fact that you did kill him, but it was by accident.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all. I see.
    So can I generalize?
    This structure "even if + would/could/might/should not have done X" usually implies X didn't really happen in the actual world?
    I know I have asked this question in my earlier thread but I am wondering what others think.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    So can I generalize?
    No.:)
    This structure "even if + would/could/might/should not have done X" usually implies X didn't really happen in the actual world?
    Not necessarily. There's a large number of sentences you could make with that structure and I'd hesitate to give you such a definite answer.

    Also, such a sentence could mean that the speaker didn't cause X to happen but someone else did. For example, your OP sentence could possibly be used if the speaker was saying that yes, he had lost his temper and assaulted the other person but he hadn't killed him, and if he was dead, someone else must have.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So can I generalize?
    This structure "even if + would/could/might/should not have done X" usually implies X didn't really happen in the actual world?
    Whether or not it's accompanied by an "even if" subordinate clause, any sentence in which the main clause says someone would/could/might/should not have done something is by definition about something that didn't actually happen or doesn't apply.

    If there's any kind of generalisation to be made, it's probably that if the main clause is a negative statement, the "even if" clause is a positive one — and vice versa.

    EVEN IF: whether or not
    He couldn't come with you on Saturday, even if he wanted to
    Even if the damage was repairable, I wouldn't want to drive that car again

    EVEN IF: although / despite [the fact that]
    I wouldn't want to go there, even if it's considered a must-see destination
    Even if fitter than most women of her age, she couldn't walk far without a stick
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you, lingobingo and Barque.
    Whether or not it's accompanied by an "even if" subordinate clause, any sentence in which the main clause says someone would/could/might/should not have done something is by definition about something that didn't actually happen or doesn't apply.
    I am familiar with this point. But I find it is more accurate to say "... is by definition about something that didn't actually happen (either was contrary to facts or doesn't apply)"
    If there's any kind of generalisation to be made, it's probably that if the main clause is a negative statement, the "even if" clause is a positive one — and vice versa.
    That's not the conclusion I intend to draw.:(
    I still think my "rule" is correct. My topic sentence is an example. Just pick another randomly:
    "but there were men in the pot-shops who wouldn’t have been scared off if she’d had a battle-axe"
    This implies in actual world, the men were not scared off.

    EVEN IF: whether or not
    He couldn't come with you on Saturday, even if he wanted to
    Even if the damage was repairable, I wouldn't want to drive that car again

    EVEN IF: although / despite [the fact that]
    I wouldn't want to go there, even if it's considered a must-see destination
    Even if fitter than most women of her age, she couldn't walk far without a stick
    Can we omit the "even"s in these examples?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, you can't omit the "even" in my "even if" examples. If you did, those definitions would no longer apply. The point of my giving those examples was to show that "even if" is used in different ways.

    Your new example doesn't include "even", although it is implied: "but there were men in the pot-shops who wouldn’t have been scared off even if she’d had a battle-axe". I agree that this example is different from mine and fits better with Merriam-Webster's definition of "even if": used to stress that something will happen despite something else that might prevent it. But this is all getting a bit muddled.

    If you're so sure that you've identified a rule, perhaps you should start a new thread about it, clearly explaining how it works and giving examples to prove it?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top