Doubtful that

< Previous | Next >

G.Determinism

Senior Member
Persian
Greetings,

The construction in which 'doubtful' is coupled with 'that' or 'whether' normaly starts with "it is", I'm just wondering whether we can also employ a human subject to reflect a specific person's uncertainty rather than a general statement.

I'm doubtful that the painting is genuine.
VS
It's doubtful that the painting is genuine.

Thanks
 
  • G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks James,
    What about these ones?

    I'm unsure that ...
    I'm not sure that ... (seems sure and unsure just aren't used in the same way)
    I'm uncertain that ...
    I'm dubious that ...


    If the problem is "doubtful" coupled with "that", what do you think of other possible substitutions like:

    I'm doubtful whether ...
    I'm doubtful as to whether ...
    .
    .
    .

    Thanks
     
    Last edited:
    Thanks, James.
    So I was right in that "unsure" and "not sure" don't work in the same way, right?
    They can't, really, because"unsure" can mean "insecure, lacking confidence to venture an opinion" (You know what? I just really don't know and I'd better not even pretend that I do) whereas "not sure" can mean "not yet ready to declare something one way or the other with a final certainty." (I'm still thinking about this.)

    So we've got self-doubt unsure as opposed to self-examination, practical consideration not sure.

    At least, those are my feelings about the nuance-distinction between these two.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "I'm/It's doubtful that..." sounds OK in BE.

    It is usually "I am uncertain of + noun phrase." - "I am uncertain of the painting's authenticity.")
    "I am dubious about + noun phrase - "I am dubious about the painting's authenticity."
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    "I'm/It's doubtful that..." sounds OK in BE."
    Thank you PaulQ for your inspiring answers. Thanks for the OP too. This made me think of giving more attention to the particles.

    The British English version of Cambridge doesn't list "I'm doubtful + that clause" but rather "It's doubtful that" and "I'm doubful about"
    Could you take a moment and check this link.
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/doubtful

    Edit: As in your answer, with I for example it takes "about"
    doubtful about
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would not take to much notice of the dictionary.

    A: "Do you think John has painted his house yet?
    B(i): "I am doubtful that he has had the time to paint his house, he has been very busy recently."
    B(ii): "I am doubtful about his ability to paint it, he is quite old and not very well."

    B(i) can be supported because of

    A: "Do you think John has painted his house yet?
    B(i): "I'm certain that he has." :tick:-> I see no difference.
     
    Last edited:

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I would not take to much notice of the dictionary.

    A: "Do you think John has painted his house yet?
    B(i): "I am doubtful that he has had the time to paint his house, he has been very busy recently."
    B(ii): "I am doubtful about his ability to paint it, he is quite old and not very well."

    B(i) can be supported because of

    A: "Do you think John has painted his house yet?
    B(i): "I'm certain that he has." :tick:-> I see no difference.
    Well, comparing certain with doubtful was a clever thing to do. However, some could say wittingly who said English makes sense!
    As for dictionaries, unfortunately I'm at disadvantage because I'm still a learner. However, it's agreed that modern dictionaries reflect usage and so even if logic supports a point, it still needs to be back up by real usage.

    Your being a knowledgeable native speaker would make me think of that construct as informally acceptable but would it be formally acceptable?

    I've done a quick search on COCA which is a North American English corpus, and here are the results with <be> meaning all forms of verb to be, present or past, and the numbers represent the frequency of that sentence with its pronoun:

    it <be> doubtful that 326
    I <be> doubtful that 4
    We <be> doubtful that 1
    they <be> doubtful that 1
    she <be> doubtful that 1
    The search string was:
    [p*] [vb*] doubtful that
    That is all I can do, and I'm pleased that I've learned something new, and hopefully will stick!
    Thank you PaulQ
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I looked at the BNC - the it version outnumbers each the others by a factor of about 20. However, one thing that strikes me is that searching for the construction with a subject (it/I, etc) precludes all cases such as "The president is doubtful that/Mr Smith is doubtful that/police officers are doubtful that, etc. I can see no reason not to use it but - as you hint - for you, use it colloquially
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I agree with you. Including that would take quite some time as I need to learn how to include nouns which is not a big deal but making sure only the relevant ones are counted is.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top