for fear that

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wizard8451, Sep 29, 2007.

  1. wizard8451 Senior Member

    Mexico, Spanish
    Is the following sentence correct?

    I’m not about to let some dude who is a master of slang stop me, for fear that I will never be as good as he is.
  2. Mzpean55 Senior Member

    Haiti, French
    Sounds great to me... but I would not use the world "dude" which is a bit colloquial :)

  3. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    The phrase "for fear that" is usually used to mean "because I fear (the bad consequences of an action) I will not do something": E.g. "He didn't want to enter the lion's cage for fear that it would bite him".

    In this case I think the meaning is a little ambiguous, however, I would take it to mean "I didn't want to let this person stop me just because I was afraid of never being as good as he". In other words, I don't want the fear to stop me". In this case, I think the comma should not be there, otherwise the sentence might mean the opposite: "The reason I'm not going to let him stop me is that I'm afraid I will never be as good as he is".
  4. Nisñaoo Senior Member

    Belfast, Ireland
    English (Ireland)
    Sounds good, but I would note what Matching Mole has written. Another thing is that 'master of slang' sounds a bit weird. Maybe it's a well-known phrase, but I've never heard of it. SALUDOS.
  5. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    For fear that = lest.
  6. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I agree with Matching Mole, and I wonder what wizard's actual intended meaning is.
  7. mpatricksweeney Senior Member

    New Orleans, LA
    US (English)
    Even though it sounds acceptable and the meaning is very clear, is 'for fear that' gramatically/semantically correct? Is 'for' a good preposition?

    I can only think that we wouldn't say:

    He packed his bag a week in advance for excitement about his upcoming trip.


    She trembled for anticipation of his arrival.

    We would say 'out of excitement' and 'out of anticipation.' And we would say 'out of fear' as well. Is 'out of fear' more correct than 'for fear,' or are they equivalent variants?

    Can anyone explain?

  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The collocation for fear that is idiomatic English, with the meaning SwissPete gave above.
  9. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    "For" has many meanings. The "because of" meaning is more common in stock Anglo-Saxon phrases and sounds really strange with Latin nouns, and there is a lot of "wiggle room" between the extremes. "For fear that" is ambiguous, and we still don't know the original poster's intent, but my best guess for "for fear that" in the original sentence is that the meaning is "lest" and that the comma should be omitted.
  10. Hector1 New Member

    English - England
    According to a certain textbook, it is wrong to say - "I'll call him for fear that he forgets to come". I believe this is due to the use of pronouns. (I'll -he)Any comments?
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2008
  11. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I believe the problem is simply that the second half of the sentence needs to be in the future:

    "I will call him for fear that he will forget to come."

    It seems like an odd use of "for fear that" to me, but I am too tired to pinpoint the reason.
  12. Hector1 New Member

    English - England
    Yes, I think you have it.

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