<even ambition>

gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

"To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it; to go through intrigue spotless; and to forgo even ambition when the end is gained — who can say this is not greatness?
―William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians"

How am I supposed to understand "even"? Does it mean "small" or "fair"?

Thanks

Gil
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    No it doesn't. It is a really common use of the word "even" - it is there to introduce an idea that seems unexpected.
    These people will give up ambition when they reach their goal. The sentence works OK without it, but with it in there it suggests there is a list of things of which ambition is perhaps the most surprising.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    No it doesn't. It is a really common use of the word "even" - it is there to introduce an idea that seems unexpected.
    These people will give up ambition when they reach their goal. The sentence works OK without it, but with it in there it suggests there is a list of things of which ambition is perhaps the most surprising.
    Then how about "even to forgo ambition.." or "to even forgo ambition"? Are they the same?

    Thanks
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    The usual "rule" in English is not to split the infinitive of a verb. "To forgo" is the infinitive form of the verb so I would not expect to see it split with "even" in there.

    If you move the "even" in front of forgo it rather changes the emphasis to the action of forgoing rather than the nature of "the thing being given up" but I don't think that's a major change.
     
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