than would be the case

< Previous | Next >

ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

The interlocking system of defensive alliances was structured to match strength against strength - France against Germany, for example - thereby making a prolonged war more likely than would be the case if a weak nation confronted a strong enemy.

(This comes from a English study book in Chinese. There is the only one sentence without more context. I don't find its origins.)

What is the subject of the blue part? Is something missing here?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Nothing is missing – it's good English.

    … thereby making a prolonged war more likely than it [= a prolonged war] would have been if a weak nation confronted a strong enemy.
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    … thereby making a prolonged war more likely than it [= a prolonged war] would have been if a weak nation confronted a strong enemy.
    Sorry, I find it hard to understand "making a prolonged war more likely than a prolonged war would have been if...". What does it mean? A prolonged war A (if a weak nation confronted a strong enemy) is likely to happen, but a prolonged war B is more likely to happen?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That addition was just by way of clarifying what the "it" stood for.

    The point is that if two enemies are both strong, it is likely to take a long time for one of them to defeat the other. But this would not be the case if one of the two was weak and could therefore be defeated easily and quickly.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top