I noticed how you <couldn't> drop everything fast enough in order to help her out

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Mulder's agreed to do his female colleague from England a favour, with whom he seems to have had relationships. He to Scully:
-- That was over ten years ago, Scully.
-- Yeah, I noticed how you couldn't drop everything fast enough in order to help her out.
-- Oh, I was merely extending her a professional courtesy.
-- Oh, is that what you were extending?
The X-Files, TV series

Scully seems to be sarcastic. I'm wondering, if she said "how you could" instead of "how you couldn't", would this work in the OP with the same meaning? Thanks.
 
  • Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    He helped her as fast as he could, but it was not possible to do it as fast as he wanted to, i.e. instantly.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Ah, I probably misunderstood the idea !

    Now I think Scully indeed means that he could not drop everything fast enough, and the reason for that is that "that" was over ten years ago.
    If "that" had been, say, two years ago, he could have dropped everything faster.
    Is that what she meant?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    No.
    We're discussing the literal meaning of the words, but I would say this is really an idiom that just means "very fast." It has nothing to do with any age-related, physical ability to drop anything. He quickly went to help her disregarding his other responsibilities.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    No.
    We're discussing the literal meaning of the words, but I would say this is really an idiom that just means "very fast." It has nothing to do with any age-related, physical ability to drop anything. He quickly went to help her disregarding his other responsibilities.
    So, she indeed was sarcastic and she meant that he could/be able to drop everything (I understand of course it's about possibility, not physical ability). She could have said "could" in the OP, in which case she would have been more literal, not sarcastic. Is that right?
    It has nothing to do with any age-related, physical ability to drop anything.
    I didn't mean that. I meant that his feelings towards her were fading away as time was passing.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    No, his feelings towards her were not fading away. As Myridon says above, "He quickly went to help her disregarding his other responsibilities". He went to help her as fast as he possibly could.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Ah! To be sure I get it right: the "could not" means here:
    He could not drop everything as fast as he wanted, so he dropped everything as fast as he could.
    Right?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, that's the basic idea, Vic.:thumbsup:

    Now you have to overlay it with the emotional message being conveyed:
    You couldn't do X fast enough!
    = You were desperate to do X really fast!
    = Your desire to do X really fast was a bit pathetic....
     
    I think 'pathetic' is possible, Loob, but it should be said this is a guess, not a solid inference as to meaning.
    I think it can be said, as you do, that the attempt was, very likely, seen as desperate.

    My re-wording of the statement would be: "You seemed in an extreme hurry to help her out!"

    Yes, that's the basic idea, Vic.:thumbsup:

    Now you have to overlay it with the emotional message being conveyed:
    You couldn't do X fast enough!
    = You were desperate to do X really fast!
    = Your desire to do X really fast was a bit pathetic....
     
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