Careful as she is, she had an accident

Alex_cs_gsp

Senior Member
Russian & Ukrainian
Please, could you explain to me what this clause of concession at the beginning of the sentence means. I don't properly understand why she had an accident. Is it because she is careful or careless?

The sentence is the following: "Careful as she is, she had an accident".

Thanks in advance!
 
  • peptidoglycan

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Careful as she is, she had an accident. = Careful though she is, she had an accident. Though she is (very) careful, she had an accident.
     

    i9en

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Can I change the sentence "Careful as she is, she had an accident." to "As careful as she is, she had an accident." ?
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi i9en, yes.
    As careful as he is when selecting materials, his technique for using those materials is even more meticulous. :tick: (around.uoregon)
    Careful as he is when selecting materials, his technique for using those materials is even more meticulous. :tick:

    “Mr. Fogg's whole plan was loony. As punctual as he is, he can't keep inevitable delays from happening ... :tick: (Around the World in 80 Days)
    “Mr. Fogg's whole plan was loony. Punctual as he is, he can't keep inevitable delays from happening ... :tick:

    The second options in each case (without "as") sound marginally higher-style in today's English to my ear, so perhaps more suited to more formal literary style. But of course that's doesn't mean you can't use the version with "as" in literary style. In any case, the inversion is already literary style. In conversation we'd probably re-word it using "though" as described in #2, and therefore not use inversion.
     
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    i9en

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you. I have one more question.
    Can I use a reduced clause in this situation?

    Though careful, she had an accident. or
    Even though careful, she had an accident.
    Although careful, she had an accident.
    However careful, she had an accident.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The only one that does not work is However careful, she had an accident. :cross: This requires the fronting clause to have an adverbial complement.

    The fronting phrases are all adejctival:
    Though [she was] careful, she had an accident. or
    Even though [she was] careful, she had an accident.
    Although [she was] careful, she had an accident.

    However careful [she was] at each attempt, she had an accident
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    None of them is quite the same as 'Careful as she is ,... .' What's more they sound unnatural, like grammar transformation exercises. If the present tense aspect of the original is important, it gets lost.
     

    i9en

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Appreciate your help. I suddenly came up with another question:
    What if I use a noun instead of a subject pronoun in this sentence, do I need to invert this sentence? Here are the examples:

    Careful as is my friend, she had an accident.
    Careful as my friend is, she had an accident.

    Careful though is my friend, she had an accident.
    Careful though my friend is, she had an accident.

    However careful is my friend, she had an accident.
    However careful my friend is, she had an accident.


    Which ones will be correct?
     
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    i9en

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Why are you switching the subject and verb around suddenly? That’s wrong.
    So how should it be in my post #10? As far as I know, inversion usually does not occur when the subject is expressed by a subject pronoun.
    In "Careful as she is, she had an accident." she is a subject pronoun - thus, no inversion. Will the word order change if I put a noun "my friend " instead of "she"? Could you help?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Subject/verb inversion is not applicable to this construction at all. Whether you use a noun or a pronoun is irrelevant.

    You’re confusing subject/verb inversion (as in a question) — e.g. not only is she careful / scarcely had we arrived than — with fronting a word or phrase for emphasis. Here, what’s fronted is the word “careful”.


    She is always careful, but sometimes she has an accident anyway
    Careful as/though she is, even she has the occasional accident
     

    i9en

    Senior Member
    Russian
    lingobingo, thank you for your reply. However, I asked this question because I found this explanation in a grammar book for advanced English learners written by Russian authors (I'm not really sure about this rule, though).

    Inversion is very common in clauses of concession where the predicative is followed by the conjunction as.

    Also, there are examples on the internet:
    But, great as was his achievement, it counts for little as compared with the personality and character which inspired it. (Bibliography and Memoir of Sir Adolphus William Ward)
    Great as was his delight in freedom, a delight he revelled in from morning to night, and sometimes from night to morning, he had never had a notion of it that reached beyond the city, he never longed for larger space, for wider outlook. (
    Sir Gibbie By George MacDonald)

    Is this rule can be applied to "Careful as she is, she had an accident" (if we use a noun instead of a subject pronoun)? Or is it something different or outdated?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What can I say? I found the information you’re referring to and got the distinct impression that it had all been copied verbatim from a totally out-of-date English grammar book. Most of the examples given are quotes from classic novels from the 19th century (by Thackeray, Dickens, Charlotte Bronté, Thomas Hardy, etc.) — even the most “modern” writer quoted being someone born in 1913.
     
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