(...) great would have been their dismay.

Krybro

Senior Member
Polish
Had they known what sort of adult Elizabeth had become, great would have been their dismay.

This is a sentence from one of the texts in my coursebook.

Is it possible to say the second part of the sentence as:
1) great would their dismay have been
2) their dismay would have been great

I am pretty sure that 2 would be OK, but I am not convinced of the correctness of 1. Thanks :)
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Number 2 would be the most natural in contemporary English. Number 1 might be confusing to people, but it would still be acceptable in literary writing (as opposed to either everyday conversation or academic or business writing). It might make the reader think of Yoda from Star Wars, though. :)
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I wouldn't call it "literary" so much as I would call it very old fashioned. It sounds like something that would be more commonly written 150 or 200 years ago.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I would say that the original is poetic, or at least meant to sound so, or old-fashioned, as suggested above. It is not "neutral" in the sense that it would sound natural in most contemporary contexts. A slightly more natural way to write or say this in contemporary American English might be: "If they had known what sort of adult Elizabeth had become, their dismay would have been great."
     
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