its belly was slit open <as if> <as> with a savage claw

< Previous | Next >

Makel Leki

Senior Member
Russian
From Dracula, from a newspaper article:
Early this morning a large dog, a half-bred mastiff belonging to a coal merchant close to Tate Hill Pier, was found dead in the roadway opposite to its master’s yard. It had been fighting, and manifestly had had a savage opponent, for its throat was torn away, and its belly was slit open as if with a savage claw.
What is the difference between "as if with" and "as with" in this case? Is the latter correct?
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    its belly was slit open as if with a savage claw -> its belly was slit open as if it were done by a savage claw. The if creates a subjunctive, and thus creates a broader effect. The speaker is not suggesting a savage claw were involved – merely that the effect would be similar.

    its belly was slit open as with a savage claw. = its belly was slit open in the manner that one would slit something open with a savage claw. The lack of an if causes the sentence to mean that the speaker thinks that a savage claw was a probable cause.

    Compare:
    They were in the desert when they came across a body. The body had not been dead for more than 24 hours and bore huge bite mark, as if done by a shark, on the front and rear of the chest.

    They were on the beach when they came across a body. The body had not been dead for more than 24 hours and bore huge bite mark, as done by a shark, on the front and rear of the chest.

    However, in practical terms, few people make the distinction.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top