hundreds of years

phiesta

Senior Member
Russian
Shall I use Present Perfect in this contex? besides i have doubts about this 'hundreds of years'

The old means of conflict resolution between human communities have scarcely been changed during many hundreds of years and nowadays they are inadequate to the weapon we possess.
 
  • gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Shall I use Present Perfect in this contex? besides i have doubts about this 'hundreds of years'

    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities has scarcely been changed during many hundreds of years and nowadays they are inadequate to the weapon we possess.

    The means has…

    I think your sentence could be improved, but perhaps someone else will have better ideas than I have at the moment… :)

    Gaer
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Shall I use Present Perfect in this contex? besides i have doubts about this 'hundreds of years'

    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities have scarcely been changed during many hundreds of years and nowadays they are inadequate to for the weapons we possess.

    Why do you have doubts about "hundreds of years", Phiesta?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Are you reading "means" as singular or plural? Now I'm not sure!
    Neither am I.

    A means to an end - means is clearly singular in this idiomatic expression.
    Yet I read the original sentence with methods in place of means - so the plural sense seemed OK.
    The OED is no help - it allows either use.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Are you reading "means" as singular or plural? Now I'm not sure!

    When I first read Gaer's correction, I was stunned. I am used to agreeing with nearly everything he writes, but my head was ringing with "But 'means' is plural!"

    Of course it can be either plural or singular. This is a case in which the reader supplies the context.

    Beginning with this:

    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities

    my head supplied war, intimidation, and negotiation as possible means to resolve conflicts. Of course there are other means, such as extortion, appeasement, flight and more.

    Now I'm unsure. If the context of the original sentence limited means to a singular usage, the sentence would work just as well or badly as with plural means.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Neither am I.

    A means to an end - means is clearly singular in this idiomatic expression.
    Yet I read the original sentence with methods in place of means - so the plural sense seemed OK.
    The OED is no help - it allows either use.
    I would definite suggest "methods" to remove ambiguity.

    My problem here is that the sentence we are discussing is rather complicated, and without more context I can't be quite sure what it means to say. :(

    Gaer
     

    fireandstone

    Member
    English, US
    Shall I use Present Perfect in this contex? besides i have doubts about this 'hundreds of years'

    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities have scarcely been changed during many hundreds of years and nowadays they are inadequate to the weapon we possess.

    I agree with Gaer on the has/have part- it's correct the way it is. People use many tactics and methods to resolve conflicts. However, I would also change the "hundreds of years" bit. Here's how I would phrase the whole thing:

    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities have changed very little over hundreds of years...

    but I'm not really sure what you're trying to say after "nowadays"- could you clarify?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    The old means of conflict resolution between human communities have scarcely been changed during many hundreds of years and nowadays they are inadequate to the weapon we possess.
    Let me explain why I misread "means"—and why I had trouble understanding the meaning of this sentence.

    Context, I think, may make it clear that by "the old means of conflict resolution" you meant "old ways of resolving conflicts", but even if this is correct, the relationship between "conflict resolution" and "warfare" is not clear to me.

    "Conflict resolution" suggests to me ways of finding peaceful solutions to situations that might lead to wars or that already have caused wars. This makes me thing of diplomacy.

    I am also confused by "the weapon we possess". Normally we talk about "weapons", plural, since we have many kinds of modern weapons that are incredibly dangerous—biological weapons, atomic weapons, etc.

    Are you saying that olds ways of resolving conflicts, ways that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, no longer work because of modern weapons?

    Does anyone else share my confusion?

    Gaer
     
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