with

azz

Senior Member
armenian
a. Imagine a man like Fred with a wife and four kids.
b. Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.

What is the difference between a and b?
To me, it seems that in 'a' the real Fred is not married. We are imagining what he would be like if he had a wife and four kids.
In 'b', he could be married (Imagine a man like Fred, who has a wife and four kids.), but 'b' could also be used instead of 'a' if we want to stress both parts: Imagine a man like Fred, and imagine that he has a wife and four kids.
Am I right?
 
  • jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    azz said:
    a. Imagine a man like Fred with a wife and four kids.
    b. Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.

    What is the difference between a and b?
    To me, it seems that in 'a' the real Fred is not married. We are imagining what he would be like if he had a wife and four kids.
    In 'b', he could be married (Imagine a man like Fred, who has a wife and four kids.), but 'b' could also be used instead of 'a' if we want to stress both parts: Imagine a man like Fred, and imagine that he has a wife and four kids.
    Am I right?

    In both sentences I understand that we are talking about Fred and that he has a wife and two kids. It sounds more like an exclamation to me than a factual sentence.
    Imagine! A man like Fred, with a wife and two kids! You know Fred and you never imagined him being married with a family.

    Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and two kids. In this sentence, you are asking us to imagine a man like Fred or similar to Fred, who has a wife and two kids. We know that Fred has a wife and two kids and you are asking us to think about a man such as him. We are using Fred as an example.

    "Imagine a man like Fred who has two kids and a wife. How is he supposed to make a living when they cut his hours in half?"
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Hi everybody,
    The experts seem to have spoken, but with all due respect, and in order to clear things up in my head, I'd like to side with Lamante and suggest other possibilities.


    You want to know what misery looks like? Imagine a man like Fred with a wife and four kids! Now you know that Fred doesn't earn enough money to buy himself decent food. Imagine what it would be like if he had a family to take care of.

    You want to know what Jeff is like? Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.
    1) Maybe Fred has a wife and four kids
    2) Maybe: Jeff=Fred+a wife+four kids!
    I think if you take away the comma it could only mean 2.

    I am not at all sure about what I am saying! Please tell me if I am wrong!
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    azz said:
    You want to know what Jeff is like? Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.
    1) Maybe Fred has a wife and four kids
    2) Maybe: Jeff=Fred+a wife+four kids!
    I think if you take away the comma it could only mean 2.
    Hmm, I guess it could be taken either way. I don't think the comma makes a difference. Personally, I would assume that he does have a wife and kids if I was not told otherwise...


    For clarify, specify: :)
    Imagine a single man like Fred with a wife and four kids. (== the wife and kids are imaginary because Fred is not married)

    Imagine a man like Fred, only with a wife and four kids. (== to me, "only" tells us that Fred does not have a wife and he does not have four kids... do others think the same thing?)


    Not to be confused with:
    Imagine a man like Fred with only a wife and four kids. (== Fred has a wife and four kids but he has nothing else.)
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    azz said:
    Hi everybody,
    The experts seem to have spoken, but with all due respect, and in order to clear things up in my head, I'd like to side with Lamante and suggest other possibilities.


    You want to know what misery looks like? Imagine a man like Fred with a wife and four kids! Now you know that Fred doesn't earn enough money to buy himself decent food. Imagine what it would be like if he had a family to take care of.

    You want to know what Jeff is like? Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.1) Maybe Fred has a wife and four kids
    2) Maybe: Jeff=Fred+a wife+four kids!
    I think if you take away the comma it could only mean 2.

    I am not at all sure about what I am saying! Please tell me if I am wrong!
    Dear azz;

    If you were to say the first bolded sentence to me, I would think you were saying that Fred is miserable being married with four kids.

    If you were to say the second bolded sentence to me, I would think that Jeff is the same as Fred. Jeff is also married with four kids, just like Fred.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Imagine a man like Fred, with or without a wife, and with four kids. He tries to translate a sentence or phrase without the benefit of context. Fred does his best, either to find his kids' mother, determine if the kids are his own or his neighbor's, and still focus on providing a useful translation.

    When last seen, Fred was heavily sedated and was wearing a straight jacket.

    The wife and four kids were busy posting additional questions without context.

    It's nice not to be in Fred's shoes, especially now that he's barefooted.

    Best regards,
    Cuchufléte
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you all,
    Hi Cuchufléte,
    I sort of think I understand what you mean! I have to admit that your reply seems maddeningly beautiful to me! It is a good way of saying it depends on the context. But then the question was, can these sentences be used in those contexts, ie. are they context-dependant. But I have to admit that I have this tedancy to make these sentences up and then find contexts for them.
    In any case, you can never put yourself in my shoes, because I am always standing there doubting which shoes to wear.
     

    Jonegy

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    Sorry - but I just can't resist this.

    b. has a comma and a. doesn't.

    Crazy English humour.
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    cuchufléte said:
    Imagine a man like Fred, with or without a wife, and with four kids. He tries to translate a sentence or phrase without the benefit of context. Fred does his best, either to find his kids' mother, determine if the kids are his own or his neighbor's, and still focus on providing a useful translation.

    When last seen, Fred was heavily sedated and was wearing a straight jacket.

    The wife and four kids were busy posting additional questions without context.

    It's nice not to be in Fred's shoes, especially now that he's barefooted.

    Best regards,
    Cuchufléte
    It's so good to have you back! :) :D :D It's been too long!

    jacinta
     

    Oros

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I would go for a.

    That is the real case; I mean we talk such things in our day to day routines.
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    azz said:
    a. Imagine a man like Fred with a wife and four kids.
    b. Imagine a man like Fred, with a wife and four kids.

    What is the difference between a and b?
    To me, it seems that in 'a' the real Fred is not married. We are imagining what he would be like if he had a wife and four kids.
    In 'b', he could be married (Imagine a man like Fred, who has a wife and four kids.), but 'b' could also be used instead of 'a' if we want to stress both parts: Imagine a man like Fred, and imagine that he has a wife and four kids.
    Am I right?
    In my opinion, B's comma serves to tell us the next part of the sentence describes Fred. He has a wife and kids. A, without punctuation, is an imperative to us. Imagine Fred (who has no wife or kids) with a wife and kids.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    azz said:
    .... I have to admit that I have this tedancy tendency to make these sentences up and then find contexts for them.
    .
    In the future it would be a good idea if you would (1) make up a context for what you want to say, (2) try to say it, and then (3) ask the forum if you are right. It is maddening to read isolated sentences and try to figure out what they may mean. For just about any isolated sentence (especially a short one) one can find different contexts giving the sentence different meanings.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Hi Edwin,
    My apologies for the spelling mistake and for the isolated sentences.
    My question actually was which sentence corresponds to which context, but I had neglected many possibilities. There were more contexts than I had thought of, mainly because of the verb "imagine". Hence the confusion. The answers have actually helped me though.
    From now on, I'll try to provide a context for each sentence.
     
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