may not survive, may not have survived...

sarcie

Senior Member
English - Ireland
Hello forer@s!

I am uncertain about the following phrase:

if you couldn’t hoard enough food during the warm months, you may not survive the winter

My question is about the tense of "survive" - the text is about hunter-gatherers in history. My first instinct was to write "you may not have survived the winter", but that looked wrong to me as well, as it seemed to refer to just one winter, whereas this is a general statement.

Does anyone have any idea how this should be formulated? Thanks in advance :)
 
  • french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    My first suggestion was "may not have survived, but as you mentioned, that sounds more specific. How about:
    "If you can't hoard enough food during the warm months, you may not survive the winter."
     

    sarcie

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Thanks french4beth, that's a good solution - but I can't help feel that it addresses the reader a little too directly. Fussy, I know :D

    I think I might have to go for something wordier, like:
    "For those who couldn't hoard enough food during the warm months, the danger of not surviving the winter threatened"
    I hate wordier though, so if anyone else can think of a way out... :)
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Plenty of variables you can use but how about:

    Any failing to hoard enough food during the warm months risked not surviving the winter.
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    It's definetly may not survive

    may have not survived implies that there was a possibility you didn't survive (but you did), while may not survive just lets you know what the consequences may be if you didn't gather enough supplies.

    If still you don't like it, you can always use many of the expressions that some people have quoted.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you couldn’t hoard enough food during the warm months, you may might not survive the winter.

    I don't know why it's different, but that sounds OK to me.
     

    sarcie

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I think I have it:

    not hoarding enough food during the warm months meant a danger you wouldn’t survive the winter

    Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions though! :thumbsup:
     
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