close enough here to see France in the distance

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Welcome to Dover Castle on the south coast of England, which for centuries played a crucial role in the defence of Britain. We’re close enough here on a clear day to see France in the distance.
BBC video

I'm doubting the word "here" (close enough here to do something:confused:, close enough to do something:tick:), and the position of "on a clear day".
Wouldn't it be better?:
We’re close enough to see France in the distance on a clear day.
Thanks.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Vik

    The original looks fine to me. I think you'd want to have "on a clear day" earlier in the sentence, keeping the end of the sentence for the important new information being conveyed - that you can see France in the distance!
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Here refers to Dover Castle. I'd have preferred: "From here we’re close enough to see France in the distance, on a clear day" or "On a clear day we’re close enough to see France in the distance from here.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you for the answers.
    But the original sounds like:
    We’re close enough here (when?) on a clear day.
    Though, I'd expect:
    We’re close enough here (to do what?) to see France.
    I mean, putting "on a clear day" breaks the pattern...
    We’re close enough here to see France in the distance. (= in all weathers)
    We’re close enough here to see France in the distance on a clear day (only).
    "On a clear day" should modify the verb "to see". If it's placed before "to see", like in the original, it doesn't modify the verb any longer and so the whole sentence sounds strange. Am I wrong?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This was spoken. When someone speaks they do not always arrange the word order in the way it would be written formally when the sentence is actually completed. They may have started intending to say the sentence "We're close enough, here, to see France in the distance" but realized, immediately after they said "here" (or while they were uttering the first part of the sentence), that they needed to add the caveat "on a clear day". So they inserted it after "here" becuase of the order in which the ideas were processed while speaking. In this case, the logic of the situation eliminates any possible ambiguity of this ad hoc word order.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    1. It's a BBC English teaching video.
    2. The text was definitely prepared in advance.
    For these reasons I don't think it was an ad hoc speech.
    When she interviewes people, then yes, those people speak impromptu, but not when she delivers her monologues.:)
    Thank you.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd say the word order was chosen for maximum impact, Vik: the speaker was trying to make things as interesting as possible for his listeners. If he'd put "on a clear day" at either the beginning or the end of the sentence, it would have given more prominence to what is, actually, the least interesting part of the message;).
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I'd say the word order was chosen for maximum impact, Vik: the speaker was trying to make things as interesting as possible for his listeners. If he'd put "on a clear day" at either the beginning or the end of the sentence, it would have given more prominence to what is, actually, the least interesting part of the message;).
    It looks like what she meant was:
    We’re close enough here, on a clear day, to see France in the distance.
    = We are here, at Dover Castle, today is a clear day, and we’re close enough to see France in the distance (in all weathers),
    like on a clear day is not an essential information. Don't you agree?
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I agree with Loob that, in such a sentence with three or more pieces of information, the first and last are likely to have the most impact. The middle part often contains, as you suggest, Vik, supplementary or secondary information. It may not be non-essential (if I'm going to Dover specially to see France in the distance, it might be essential to know that it works only on a clear day), but it's still an added condition that's secondary to the main interest: that Dover is close to France and that you can see France from there.

    I can see you're linking that to the use of commas. However, the commas aren't essential with an adverbial phrase, and they don't change the meaning (as they would with a relative clause, where they'd make it non-restrictive). With such adverbial phrases, commas generally serve the same purpose as pauses in speech. If the adverbial phrase is short, there's a fair chance it will be spoken without pauses; if it's longer, then pauses (commas) are often inserted for clarity.

    I've just noticed that my first sentence in this post happens to be an example of that. The adverbial phrase "in such a sentence ... information" is long enough that I instinctively set it off with commas. But in the sentence in question, "on a clear day" doesn't need to be set off for clarity. In fact, using commas (pauses) with such a short phrase would actually increase the emphasis, so you'd end up with all three elements of the sentence (beginning, middle and end) having much the same impact.

    Ws:)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You can only see France on a clear day. If you remove "on a clear day", the statement is not quite true. It seems pretty "essential."
    You could arrange the parts in a large number of ways. I'm too lazy to list them. The meaning is the same.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I don't disagree with wordsmith. When you said "not essential," you meant "essential?
    You said: "It seems pretty "essential."

    I said:
    It looks like (.........)like on a clear day is not an essential information.
    = it looks like on a clear day is not an essential information, though actually it's essential.
    I don't think so. WS said the same thing:

    [/COLOR]
    Ws said:
    it might be essential to know that it works only on a clear day), but it's still an added condition that's secondary to the main interest: that Dover is close to France and that you can see France from there.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The first order of adpositional phrases in English sentences in which the subject is the first element is Subject-Verb, Place–Manner–Time. However, in the example there is a sentence and a phrase

    We’re close enough.........here..........on a clear day..{......to see France.......in the distance.}
    We’re close enough...in this castle....on a clear day..[......to see France]......in the distance.
    S....V................................place…...........time…...............[ to see France]…...........manner.

    The first part is correct but has no adpositional phrase of manner [e.g. at a sufficient height] and the second part is correct as it only has an adpositional phrase of manner.

    However, to emphasise the time element, English may use:

    Time,................... subject, verb..............place,..................................... manner.
    On a clear day,....we’re close enough.........here [......to see France]......in the distance.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thanks, Paul but I'm not sure I understand all you wrote.
    James, the point is that Ws and Loob said that the on a clear day part is not so essential and so was placed in the middle with no commas, I had claimed it's essential and so did Myridon. And it seems Ws used non-essential as a synonym for secondary (if I got it right).
    It may not be non-essential (if I'm going to Dover specially to see France in the distance, it might be essential to know that it works only on a clear day),
    but
    it's still an added condition that's secondary to the main interest: that Dover is close to France and that you can see France from there.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    This is my last comment on this... WS said "It may not be non-essential", a valid double negative. It means "It may be essential but it is also secondary." And, as I said, secondary does not mean non-essential.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    VikNikSor: In addition to James's comment: when someone says "He may have gone to the hospital", he also implies "He may not have gone to the hospital." "May" give the choice of the following verb being positive or negative. "May" expresses only a probability, and that also implies an improbability.

    "It may not be non-essential" = "It may or may not be non-essential."

    VikNikSor said:
    Paul I'm not sure I understand all you wrote.
    I was explaining how to place prepositional (and other) descriptive phrases in sentences.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    "On a clear day" is meant to modify "see". The only place to put it in ther sentence that makes this clear enough without sounding awkward is right where it is.

    "... distance on a clear day":cross:
    "... France on a clear day ...":cross:
    "... see on a clear day France ..."?
    "... to on a clear day see ..."?

    Here is the meaning "spelled out":

    "We're close enough here that on a clear day we can see France in the distance."

    There is still no good place to put "from here", but apparently it is not needed.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Vik, I know you've said you see it now, and others have done a good job of explaining what I said previously, but I'll just add a couple of comments in support of that.
    James, the point is that Ws and Loob said that the on a clear day part is not so essential and so was placed in the middle with no commas, I had claimed it's essential and so did Myridon. And it seems Ws used non-essential as a synonym for secondary (if I got it right). [...]
    Loob didn't actually mention "essential" at all, but talked about impact, interest and prominence. I picked up on that aspect. The discussion of "essential" (on which Myridon and I didn't disagree) was a separate matter, and only in response to your mention of it. So I wasn't using "non-essential" as a synonym for "secondary": as James explained, they're two different things.

    Imagine you're creating a publicity brochure for a new model of car. You decide that the primary selling points will be comfort and fuel economy, so you put those aspects in prominent positions in the brochure. The car also has brakes: they're absolutely essential, but as a marketing feature they're secondary (or even further down the scale!;)), so you don't highlight them. It can be the same with sentences.

    "On a clear day" is meant to modify "see". The only place to put it in ther sentence that makes this clear enough without sounding awkward is right where it is. [...]
    I'm not entirely convinced, Forero. I think there's a strong case for the adverbial phrase, "on a clear day", being a sentence modifier. In that case it could, as Loob mentioned in #10, be put at the beginning or the end of the sentence (possibly separated with a comma). Neither of those sounds awkward to me, but they do change the emphasis slightly.

    Ws:)
     
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