Yet no beggar could have said, “My God, mister, I’m starving,” but he would .....

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wjzjd2001

Senior Member
chinese
From Sisiter Carrie: Yet no beggar could have caught his eye and said, “My God, mister, I’m starving,” but he would gladly have handed out what was considered the proper portion to give beggars and thought no more about it.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If a beggar had caught his attention and said that he was starving, the man would have gladly given him the amount he thought appropriate to give to beggars and then would have thought no more about the incident.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Do you mean like this: Yet no beggar could have caught his eye and said, “My God, mister, I’m starving,” but one would gladly have handed out ...

    That would be wrong because you need agreement with the previous "his eye."
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Thank you very much for the answer.
    No, you replaced "he" with "one" while I meant inserting "one" between "but" and "he" --Yet no beggar could have caught his eye and said, “My God, mister, I’m starving,” but one he would gladly have handed out ...

    Plus, I don't see your point about the agreement with his eye; I think one refers back to no beggar.
    Am I missing something?

    Thanks a bunch.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    No, "one" should not be there to refer back to beggar (which is why it didn't occur to me that that's what you meant). Here's a different rendering that might help:

    Yet no beggar could have caught his eye and said, “My God, mister, I’m starving,” but that he would gladly have handed out ...
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I felt like inserting something there to refer back to no beggar before the subject of the new clause: "he". So we can use "that" for that purpose but not "one".

    I see, no beggar that...

    But I thought of it like this: no beggar but/except one

    Thank you very much.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I wouldn't use "that" – I was just showing what might go in there. This is quite old English, which doesn't naturally fall in the realm of what we say today:

    Then: Yet no beggar could have caught his eye, but he would gladly have handed out ...
    Now: Yet if any beggar could have caught his eye, he would gladly have handed out ...

    (Even my choice of verb tense in the beginning of that last sentence may not be quite right.)
     
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