on trial for one's life

rightnow

Senior Member
Spanish
What is the meaning of to be on trial for one's life?
On trial for murder indicates that the charge is murdering.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "On trial for one's life" and similar expressions with other pronouns is a moderately common way of saying that a possible sentence could be death. However, in general terms, this form is relatively unusual. It might possibly be used where the punishment is imprisonment ("on trial for my liberty"), and it might also be used where the thing lost is unrelated to the legal punishment, such as "on trial for my reputation". Note that "for" is followed by the thing that might be lost.

    In this usage, I think readers already have to know what the alleged crime is, but in any case the speaker thinks the potential loss is more worthy of mention than the alleged crime.
     

    rightnow

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    So the meaning of the prepositon FOR is different from the one in on trial for murder, which indicates that the charge is murdering; am I right?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    So the meaning of the prepositon FOR is different from the one in on trial for murder, which indicates that the charge is murdering; am I right?
    Yes. Usually "on trial for" is followed by the charge of which a person stands accused. In this use, "on trial for" is followed by what a person might lose. This second use is far less common.
     
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