depend his life on her flying skills

  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi PfI, this sounds odd to me, and non-standard. "Depend" is considered to be an intransitive verb, so it can't take an object.

    "Depend his life on" gets 61 hits for me on Google, most of them from people whose first language evidently is not English, or a regional variety of English, such as English spoken in India or the Philippines.
     
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    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It's wrong. The writer, who was clearly unfamiliar with English, meant EITHER . . . making sure he could trust his life to her flying skills OR . . . wondering if he could trust his life to her flying skills.
     

    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    I agree the structure is unusual, but I feel uncomfortable when a poster on this public forum asserts that something written by someone who is not here to defend himself or herself is "wrong". This is particularly so when the person criticised is (a) a native English speaker, and/or (b) a professional writer.

    In my opinion, it's fine to say something "sounds odd" or "is not how I would say it" or even "I've never heard this before." But to say it's wrong? That's harsh - maybe even defamatory.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    It's wrong. The writer, who was clearly unfamiliar with English, meant EITHER . . . making sure he could trust his life to her flying skills OR . . . wondering if he could trust his life to her flying skills.
    Thank you.
    The meaning is clear, I was just surprised to see a native speaker use an intransitive verb with a direct object, so I thought it might be a very informal use of "depend".

    I agree the structure is unusual, but I feel uncomfortable when a poster on this public forum asserts that something written by someone who is not here to defend himself or herself is "wrong". This is particularly so when the person criticised is (a) a native English speaker, and/or (b) a professional writer.

    In my opinion, it's fine to say something "sounds odd" or "is not how I would say it" or even "I've never heard this before." But to say it's wrong? That's harsh - maybe even defamatory.
    I'm not an English speaker so I'd rather not go to the extent of saying that a native speaker is wrong, although that sentence structure actually left me quite baffled.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree the structure is unusual, but I feel uncomfortable when a poster on this public forum asserts that something written by someone who is not here to defend himself or herself is "wrong". This is particularly so when the person criticised is (a) a native English speaker, and/or (b) a professional writer.

    In my opinion, it's fine to say something "sounds odd" or "is not how I would say it" or even "I've never heard this before." But to say it's wrong? That's harsh - maybe even defamatory.
    If you do a little research, you will find that the writer is not a professional, but apparently a self-published one-timer. And, you will find that the entire style of the writing, i.e. the narrative, is stilted and boring. It's no wonder than many of our members assumed it was a non-native speaker at work.

    Various entries on the Internet show the 2003 book as "Part 1" I found no reference to any Part 2

    The book appears to be self-published through iUniverse, a firm that advertises on its web site:

    With iUniverse, you can publish your book, your way—today!

    ( Note the "your way," which might inspire speculation)

    In my professional opinion, of course.

    Moreover, it is not defamatory to criticize a person's writing. It's also possible that the writer has fallen prey to a clueless editor.
     
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    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    I get the impression that "he could depend his life on her flying skills" is poor English regardless of whether the writer is a professional or not.
    The fact he is a wannabe writer makes it even worse.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    The Oxford dictionary says that "depend" is intransitive.

    That is probably why the phrase "sounds odd" to you.

    How about:

    ... if he could let his life depend on her flying skills ... ?

    That changes "life" from the role as the object to the subject.

    (just to stay a bit closer to the original phrase than the other excellent examples already mentioned).
     
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