They might have never imagined the experiences they were to undergo

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Magg, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Hi all,

    Considering the following (a creation of mine):

    They might have never imagined the experiences they were to undergo when they first left the town in quest of adventure.

    1. Would you replace 'might' with 'could'?

    2. ...they were to undergo... or ... they were going to undergo...

    3. If I were asked to change 'to undergo' for 'to come over', would the sentence go like this?:

    They might have never imagined the experiences to come over them when they first left the town in quest of adventure.

  2. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    UK (Scotland) English
    Hello, Magg !
  3. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    I believe the same is true in AE. I have never heard of someone being "come over" by experiences.

    I have heard of someone being "overcome" by emotions, or that emotions came over, or "overcame" them. The meaning here is that they were suddenly overwhelmed by emotion.
  4. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish

    First of all thanks for your long and explanatory reply.

    Actually, I wanted to use 'to come over' in the way I recently learnt from a reading comprehension activity. The story dealt with a teenager who had had a fight with another guy and had become withdrawn since then, and his mother didn't know what had come over him.
    That´s why I tried to use it that way.

    I like your suggestion about changing the order, even using 'as'.

    As for the word 'first', I think you´re right. It does not add extra information. It does no role in the sentence. Maybe I didn´t express myself properly; maybe I could have used 'finally' instead.

    BTW, I´m sorry to tell you that the sentence doesn´t belong to a story. I´m just learning new vocabulary, and I try to put it in use by creating sentences and situations other than the ones in which it appeared so that I get used to it. That´s why.

    Many thanks,
    Magg :)
  5. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    UK (Scotland) English
    It is interesting to consider whether the sentence is written as they set out from the town or after they have encountered their experiences. That might make the word "first" appropriate after all, especially if looking back.
  6. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hola Magg,

    There is something else about the sentence which is bothering me...but then I'm easily bothered by long sentences..

    They might have never imagined
    the experiences they were to undergo when they first left the town in quest of adventure.

    What if you were to change it slightly...

    They might never have imagined...

    I cannot give you any grammatical reason for this, but it sounds more natural to me with this word order.

    Un saludo,
  7. Eugens

    Eugens Senior Member

    Argentina Spanish
    Hi! :) Isn't the reason why that reorder sounds more natural that "never" is making the sentence negative and thus, it is fulfilling the same function of a "not"? Like this:

    They might not have imagined= They mightn't have imagined

    But if you say "They might have never imagined...", it is like saying:

    "They might have not imagined"

    Which is not very natural because it would be like saying:

    "They might haven't imagined"--> And I think you can't put a "haven't" after a modal verb, can you? :confused:
    I think that, if they appear in a sentence, the "not" and the "never" have a fixed position immediately after the modal verb.

    Please correct anything I have written wrong! :)
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    "... first left the town in quest of adventure."
    I would prefer to say:
    "... first left the town in search of adventure."
    or if quest is a word you want to used, perhaps:
    "... first left the town on a quest for adventure."
  9. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I was bemused by the impulse behind some of the editorial suggestions, to make the sentence more exotic or archaic. "Might never have" instead of "might have never," and "adventures" for "experiences"-- even "quest," for cryin out loud.

    I think this was drawn out by the magnetism of "they were to undergo," which is an archaic, indelibly cobwebby formation. It's not only a relic of the dreaded subjunctive, but it comes from the darkest least-swept corner of that attic that is/was the subjunctive in English-- it's a form of future subjunctive. The concept being, "that which is to be done." The subjunctive overlays futurity with connotations of the imperative. Something that "is to be done" in effect must be done. You can't imagine (or should I say "can little imagine") the "adventures you are to undergo" because you aren't privy to what is destined, in a sense what is already "written."

    If you use the conditional in the sense that implies futurity, "the things they would undergo," you are being more modern, and futurity is a concept more tinged with contingency than inevitability. You can't go in "quest" of what might happen. But this sentence about striking out into the Future had the trappings of an older world, a more mythic mindset-- and more venerable language forms. And this came out in the editorial suggestions.

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