I saw a thing <go> slanting and fluttering up into the sky

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw a thing like a huge white butterfly go slanting and fluttering up into the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond.
(The Time Machine – H. G. Wells)

Would the meaning - in any way - change if "go" were omitted?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • Sobakus

    Senior Member
    The construction is to see smth do smth (bare infinitive). Therefore if you were to omit the verb go, the words slanting and fluttering would either have to be put into the infinitive, or would require a comma before them. Into would have to become in. In the original sentence the butterfly goes up into the sky (direction), removing it changes the meaning accordingly:

    I saw the butterfly slant and flutter up in the sky.
    I saw the butterfly, slanting and fluttering, up in the sky.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would say that go is not only "start" but also "continue".

    Because of the "up", I'm also happy with, "I .. saw a thing like a huge white butterfly, go slanting and fluttering up into the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond."

    The omission of "go" would cause an implied "that was" and, possibly, an implied "in" before circling.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    (For some reason to flutter up didn't work as a valid phrasal verb in my head)
    I don't think it is a phrasal verb, Sobakus - you'd split it flutter ... up into the sky.
    If you omit "go", you also have to do something about "disappear".
    For me, that would definitely be true if the sentence didn't have "circling" in it. But I think that, with the "circling" there, I saw a thing like a huge white butterfly slanting and fluttering up into the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond would work for me....
     
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    hackneyvi

    New Member
    English - England
    I think omitting 'go' would make a difference. 'Go' here tells us that the butterfly's motion is away from the viewer, it is going away from him. 'Go' is the direction; 'slanting and fluttering' are the way it moves as it goes.

    We know at the end of the sentence that it is is moving away because he tells us that it disappears. But because he uses 'go' at that earlier point in the sentence, we can see all of the different parts of the butterfly's movement as each new word comes.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    For me, that would definitely be true if the sentence didn't have "circling" in it. But I think that, with the "circling" there, I saw a thing like a huge white butterfly slanting and fluttering up into the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond would work for me....
    It wouldn't work for me though :). After all those participles in -ing, the "disappear" is disconnected from the "I saw", and makes me return and re-read the sentence
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I take the go as go up, the fluttering describing the movement associated with this. I don't regard flutter as a verb of motion followed by a preposition.
    Not that it really matters! :) The picture I have comes to the same thing.
     
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