three gunshot wounds mean that...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by navi, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. navi Banned

    armenian
    Can one use these sentences:
    1-Three gunshot wounds mean that he did not commit suicide.
    2-Three gunshot wounds prove that he did not commit suicide.

    Meaning:

    The fact that there are three gunshot wounds proves that he did not commit suicide.
    The presence of three gunshot wounds proves that he did not commit suicide.

    I think "1" and "2" can be used both in formal and in informal English, but I have doubts about them. To me it is an elliptical way of saying things.
     
  2. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Three gunshot wounds are an evidence that he did not commit a suicide.
     
  3. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    This shouldn't have "an." "Evidence" is not countable - you can't have two evidences, three evidences, and so on. It does take "an." If you want to count things, use "proof," which is countable.
     
  4. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, you are right, it should the. Of course evidence is uncountable, however, in certain situations, I am not sure whether you cannot use evidence as a countable noun meaning a piece of evidence. Like tea.
     
  5. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    No, you can't use "evidence" to mean "a piece of evidence," not in the US at least. Although I have seen it used in UK fiction to mean what we would call "testimony" - "Dr. Jones will now give his evidence." But as far as I know, the Brits don't say "they gave their evidences."

    Also, we would say "commit suicide," as the OP did, not "commit a suicide."

    I agree with navi's assessment that the original sentences are not wrong, but are a bit awkward. I think I'd recast the sentence entirely: "He couldn't have committed suicide; he has three gunshot wounds!" A false statement, of course, but one that flows better than the originals.
     
  6. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I did not mean evidence, as a testimony, but rather as a piece of material evidence. I would always say a suicide. You could say an evidence in court as a piece of material evidence.
     
  7. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    Speaking as a lawyer with twenty-three years in the courtroom, I disagree.
     
  8. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Would it vary in different regions? I am pretty sure I have heard it many times in New York.

    Why do you think we say: to commit a crime but to commit felony, perjury, suicide. Is it because of the Latin origin of those nouns? No, it is a felony, sorry, a misdemeanor, etc. Is perjury considered countless, then? What about suicide? Or are these just idiomatic expressions?
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    About 30 years ago I stayed in the O'Hare Hilton (at Chicago O'Hare Airport). When I woke up in the morning to check out the lobby was filled with both uniformed and plain clothed police officers. There must have been fifteen or twenty officers there.

    I asked one of the hotel employees what was going on and he replied, "Someone came in last night and killed a guest and cut off his head and hands and left with them. We found only the body."

    I replied, "Have they ruled out suicide?"

    Thirty years later I would use that same format:

    Three gunshot wounds prove that he did not commit suicide.

    Three gunshot wounds seems to rule out suicide [in conventional thinking].
     
  10. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    That's certainly possible.
     

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