we need to plan for the possibility containment of this epidemic isn’t possible

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goophy

Senior Member
Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
Hi,

I just read an article about 2019 coronavirus on Scientific American, and there's a sentence which baffled me.
“Despite the enormous and admirable efforts in China and around the world, we need to plan for the possibility containment of this epidemic isn’t possible,”
I don't quite understand the 'we need to...' part. "We" is the subject of the sentence, and "need" is the verb. The grammar of the whole sentence is awkward, am I right? I can't understand what it meant to express. Is 'that' which should be placed before the word 'containment' omitted? If it is not grammatical problem, could you please explain "we need to plan for..." part. I don't understand what the author tried to say.

Thank you for your help!

goophy
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your example (and the original) has errors of omission. It should be
    “Despite the enormous and admirable efforts in China and around the world, we need to plan for the possibility that the containment of this epidemic isn’t possible,”
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I wouldn't say it's an error to leave out 'that', but it certainly makes it harder to read. I didn't understand the sentence's grammar the first time I read it. But nouns (and adjectives) can be followed directly by a that-clause without 'that':

    It is possible they will succeed.
    the possibility they will succeed

    'Possibility containment' made me misread it as 'possible containment', and then the rest doesn't make sense. In more complicated or formal writing, 'that' is very helpful because it shows the beginning of the clause.
     

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    I wouldn't say it's an error to leave out 'that', but it certainly makes it harder to read. I didn't understand the sentence's grammar the first time I read it. But nouns (and adjectives) can be followed directly by a that-clause without 'that':

    It is possible they will succeed.
    the possibility they will succeed

    'Possibility containment' made me misread it as 'possible containment', and then the rest doesn't make sense. In more complicated or formal writing, 'that' is very helpful because it shows the beginning of the clause.
    Thank you, entagledbank!

    What is 'possibility containment'? Even it is a compound noun, the meaning is baffling. I don't think 'that' should be omitted.
    Using your first sentence as an example, I think I will write as:
    That they will succeed is possible. Or, It is possible that they will succeed. To me, 'that' cannot be omitted in this case.
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I had no problem reading it the first time but I don't object to adding "that" for additional clarity.

    However, I don't think "the" is necessary at all. Containment is a general concept.
     
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