They must have been ghost, I wonder whence they dated.

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nemo eve walle

Senior Member
chinese
They must have been ghost, I wonder whence they dated. From Time Machine. How do I understand this sentence: 1)What is the meaning of ''must have been ghost''? I think it is usually past participle verb after the ''have been''. 2)What is the meaning of ''whence they dated''?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Don't change quotations: it can make them incorrect, and hide information we need. It actually says this: 'They must have been ghosts,' I said; 'I wonder whence they dated.' (Or if your version says what you wrote - get a better version!)

    So the first part just means "surely they were ghosts". 'Whence' is archaic for "from where", but here it means closer to "from when". In the next sentences he explains the idea that when people die they become ghosts, so as time passes, there are more and more ghosts on earth from different times. So he wonders from what time these ghosts (if they are that) date - what date they come from.
     
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