He drowned to save/saving the child.

< Previous | Next >

TNdaSZ

Senior Member
Chinese - China
"He drowned saving the child."
I think I understand this sentence. It could be either interpreted as
"He drowned while saving the child" or,
"He drowned for saving the child".

Is my understanding correct?

However I am not sure about this one.
"He drowned to save the child".
Does it mean " he drowned in order to save the child"?
It doesn't quite make sense to me because nobody would purposely drown in order to do anything.

So I thought of this,

"He lived to see the war end."


and find it comparable to the above.
It means "He lived and he saw the war end."

Can "He drowned to save the child." mean
"He drowned, but he saved the child."?
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It's very tricky to draw comparisons -- i.e. your examples with drowning vs. the example of "lived to" -- because differences in meaning and in what is or is not idiomatic can hinge on very subtle differences. One thing that separates the "lived" example is that it could be properly read as meaning "he lived long enough to see the war end." That would be what most readers would assume as the meaning. "To" here doesn't indicate purpose or a chain of events: His living is presumed not to have in any appreciable way helped end the war.

    "He drowned for saving the child" is both awkward and confusing. In that sense, "he drowned in order to save the child," while slightly odd, actually makes more sense, as a reader would possibly deduce that he willingly risked his life to save a child. Yes, it is not quite right, but it is a little closer, at least.

    There is a very subtle difference in meaning between "he drowned saving the child" (he may or may not have succeeded) and "he drowned while saving the child" (readers may be likelier to assume that the rescue was successful).

    "He drowned to save the child" is not the most idiomatic phrasing, but in my opinion it would be understood that the child was indeed saved.
     

    TNdaSZ

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    It's very tricky to draw comparisons -- i.e. your examples with drowning vs. the example of "lived to" -- because differences in meaning and in what is or is not idiomatic can hinge on very subtle differences. One thing that separates the "lived" example is that it could be properly read as meaning "he lived long enough to see the war end." That would be what most readers would assume as the meaning. "To" here doesn't indicate purpose or a chain of events: His living is presumed not to have in any appreciable way helped end the war.

    "He drowned for saving the child" is both awkward and confusing. In that sense, "he drowned in order to save the child," while slightly odd, actually makes more sense, as a reader would possibly deduce that he willingly risked his life to save a child. Yes, it is not quite right, but it is a little closer, at least.

    There is a very subtle difference in meaning between "he drowned saving the child" (he may or may not have succeeded) and "he drowned while saving the child" (readers may be likelier to assume that the rescue was successful).

    "He drowned to save the child" is not the most idiomatic phrasing, but in my opinion it would be understood that the child was indeed saved.
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply! It has been very helpful.


    What I didn't expect is that "He drowned for saving the child" is confusing.

    Because I thought it just meant "He drowned because of saving the child", "Saving the child is the cause of his death". Could you explain why it is confusing?

    And I am glad that you have confirmed my suspision that "drowned to save the child" is not idiomatic.
    However I found a few entries on COCA about "died to save...."

    "He bled. He died to save me."
    "She died to save me - to save the zulus."
    "A man who died to save his life"
    "he died to save us all."
    "These men died to save the National Capital"
    ......

    Are they (died to save...) better that "drowned to save..." and therefore more idiomatic? Or are they just unidiomatic and uncommon since there are less than ten of them found?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top