then: possible two meanings

cheshire

Senior Member
Japanese
He solved that crisis by tying the tent to a couple of trees, but then he learned that you can never rely on the weather forecast.

Which instance does the "then" refer to, (1) when he solved the problem, or (2) after he solved the problem?
 
  • badgrammar

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'd say 2, because if action A and action B were simultaneous, it might read:

    He solved that crisis by tying the tent to a couple of trees and he learned that you can never rely on the weather forecast.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I don't think that "then" is ideally used in that situation. Normally the use of "then" implies some connection (however vague) with the previous statement, but in this case, even if he hadn't tied the tent to the trees (I presume he had planned on camping and found himself without usable tent-poles) he would have found that one can never rely on the weather forecast.

    The normal use of "then" is not so much "subsequent to", but more "consequent to".
     

    Giordano Bruno

    Senior Member
    English, England
    "Then" may mean, "at that moment" or "following". For example, "I did it then and there." "First I knocked on the door, then I rang the bell."
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Which instance does the "then" refer to, (1) when he solved the problem, or (2) after he solved the problem?
    This is a mistake often made by novice campers.
    He solved the problem of a missing tent pole by tying the tent to a tree after checking the weather forcast and being told that there would be little or no wind.
    Then after tying the tent to the tree he discovered what happens to tents tied to trees when a high wind hits the area. The tree shakes and sways and can completely tear the tent from the ground.

    .,,
     

    Mariaguadalupe

    Senior Member
    Mexico, Spanish-English
    Maxiogee I'm with you in this one. I believe in this example, then is not really showing any time frame, it is being used as more importantly, in fact, etc.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I long since lot track of the score, but I vote with "consequently" as the meaning of "then" in this sentence, rather than "subsequently".
     

    badgrammar

    Senior Member
    American English
    But it was only after tying the tent that he learned the forecast can't be trusted. Aaaah, simple sentences are not always so simple, are they?:)

    I picture a man tying the tent and later on, a storm hits, at which point, he learns the forecast was wrong...
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is history here, that needs to be taken into account in interpreting this sentence. It does not stand alone. The use of "... that crisis ..." implies that wider context.

    First of all, Bill was rowing across a lake when he was attacked by a passing swarm of bees, forcing him to wave his arms in the air protectively so that he dropped one of his oars into the lake.

    In order to continue his crossing, he rigged the remaining oar as a makeshift mast and using his tent as a sail managed to make some considerable progress through the afternoon.

    As evening fell the wind dropped and he realised that there was no chance that he might reach the other side of the lake that day. Fortunately, there was a small island nearby that he was able to reach, using the single oar as a paddle.

    As he landed on the small island, he was attached by marauding alligators. Seizing the oar from the boat, he set about the alligators with a will and managed to beat them off. In the process the alligators managed to chomp the oar down to a short stump.

    Carrying the tent and a few essential possessions, Bill ran furiously from the shoreline and into the forest. There he set about preparing himself for the night. He unpacked his satellite phone, checked for the latest posts in WordReference on his laptop, and listened to the BBC World Service to check the weather forecast for his small island. Good, he thought, it's going to be a fine evening for sleeping under the stars.

    Fate had in store for him yet one more crisis. In his haste, Bill had forgotten to pack his camp bed. What was he to do? Bill looked around in fear and foreboding, terrified at the prospect of a night spent feeding the hunger of the inevitable ground-based creepy-crawlies. Suddenly inspiration struck. What he needed was a hammock. He solved that crisis by tying the tent to a couple of trees, but then he learned that you can never rely on the weather forecast.

    Just as he settled himself for a gentle night's suspension and sleep he felt the first huge splashes of a tropical rainstorm .....
     

    badgrammar

    Senior Member
    American English
    Ah-hah! Then it is as I suspected, it the the next event in a long list of events that happened to poor Bill. It is a time marker, of sorts!
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    The way I see it "then" is always a time marker "of sorts". Sometimes it's a simple time marker other times it also carries the meaning of "consequently".

    In this case it of course depends on the rest of the story. If it's a case such as Panjandrum's wonderful story described, I'd say "then" means just "afterwards". Just like in a case of "pour the flour and stir till the mixture is smooth and then add the eggs".

    If however it's a case of Bill not being able to find that blasted pole and, having heard the forecast, deciding to use a couple of trees as a substitute which resulted in finding out you can't trust the whether forecast when/by his tent was/being shredded to pieces I'd say it's a case of ""consequently". The time element is still there but is of secondary importance so so speak.

    P.S. Since I have never gone camping I have to note that scenario #2 is "courtesy of ,,." although I didn't have the courtesy to ask him if I could use it, so scenario #2 is nicked from ,,.
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Mr DotCom, I thought your post was your usual display of your sense of humor. If you were trying to help, then I should have purred :eek:

    Judging from this thread, "then" in what I quoted was used with the sense of "afterwards." Thank you very much all of you for the help!
    P.S. Since I have never gone camping I have to note that scenario #2 is "courtesy of ,,." although I didn't have the courtesy to ask him if I could use it, so scenario #2 is nicked from ,,.
    What do you mean?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Mr DotCom, I thought your post was your usual display of your sense of humor. If you were trying to help, then I should have purred :eek:

    Judging from this thread, "then" in what I quoted was used with the sense of "afterwards." Thank you very much all of you for the help!
    That was the point that I was trying to make.
    I do not have the language to give you the technical terms as Ireney and many others are able to so I have to give you what I know by way of an illustrative story.
    My story was intended to use the word then as was more succinctly done by Ireney.
    I was most definitely not having a go at you on this thread.

    .,,
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    P.S. Since I have never gone camping I have to note that scenario #2 is "courtesy of ,,." although I didn't have the courtesy to ask him if I could use it, so scenario #2 is nicked from ,,.

    What do you mean?

    Example:
    When someone uses some music in a CD recorded in/for another recording company or, in a movie you see scenes from another movies shot by another studio.

    In any case where someone uses something belonging in way or another to someone else (by copyright or otherwise) after asking and being granted permission to use that something, he/she must say that "this something is courtesy of XYZ", meaning that XYZ was courteous enough to allow me to use it".

    In this case however I couldn't really say that the situation I described (the second one) was "courtesy of ,,." since I wasn't polite enough to ask him if I could use it. I just used it "illegally", without asking permission. I nicked/stoled it. Awful pun if you ask me; it's best if it gets wrapped in multiple layers of oblivion.

    ,,. you are very kind. I wish I could really write better than you do since that would mean a new level of excellence :)
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    In this case however I couldn't really say that the situation I described (the second one) was "courtesy of ,,." since I wasn't polite enough to ask him if I could use it.
    Who did you take the scenario from? I still can't get what you are saying, but understand that I like you still.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    He solved that crisis by tying the tent to a couple of trees, but then he learned that you can never rely on the weather forecast.
    Is there no possibility that "but then" should be read together in this sentence? Similar to "then again" usage? (as was commented in this FR-EN thread - I'm sure I've read a thread on this usage of "but then" but I can't find it)

    Or should it then read "but then he had learnt"?
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    chesire from ,,.

    Geve I don't think so. "But then" means "come to think of it doesn't apply to you" or "on the other hand" more or less .
    (What can we do, what can we do? I could tell you about the new, exciting discoveries in quantum physics but then you are 10 so you probably won't understand a thing. I could start playing some board game with you but then I am really bad at board games so I will probably lose and I feel rotten, so I think I should just go away)

    In this case "but" can be replaced with "and" without any significant change of meaning as I see it
     
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