Distancing Devices

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  Distancing expressions Distancing expressions are often used when the speaker or writer wants to stress that the information is second-hand and comes from a specific source or sources, rather than being their own knowledge or opinion. COMPARE:  John Knox robbed the National Bank.   It is said that John Knox robbed the bank . These expressions are also often used where a writer is not sure of the sources, and by using these expressions they can avoid the possibility of libel. 1.   seem/appear We often use seem  and appear   to give information without stating that we definitely know it is true, and in this way distancing ourselves from the information. It seems/appears (that) there is a direct relation between your position in the family and your personality. The new head of department seems/appears to be  quite friendly. Excuse me. There seems to be a mistake with the bill. We use It would seem / appear   + that  + clause to distance us even further from the information, and to make it sound less sure. This is more formal than It seems / appears …   It would seem/appear (that) Mr Young had been using the company’s assets to pay off his  private debts.   2.   the passive with verbs of saying and reporting (1) Another way of distancing ourselves from the facts, especially in formal written English, is to use the passive form of verbs like say  , think , etc. to introduce them. We can use: It  + passive verb + that  + clause. It is said that using a washing machine saves people on average 47 minutes a day. It has been announced by a White House spokesman that  the President has been taken to hospital. Verbs commonly used in this pattern are: agree , announce , believe , expect , hope , report , say  , suggest , think , and understand  . 3.   Passive of reporting verbs (2) Sometimes when you are reporting what people say or believe, you d on’ t know, or you don’t want to say, who exactly the “people” are. So you use an impersonal construction: People believe that thousands of birds died. The same idea can be expressed by using the passive in two different ways: a) subject + passive of reporting verb + to-infinitive Hundreds of thousands of birds are believed to have died. b) It + passive of reporting verb + that + clause It is believed that hundreds of thousands of birds died. Some other reporting verbs that can be used in this way are: calculate, claim, consider, discover, estimate, expect, feel, hope, know, prove, report,say, show, think, understand, etc.    With present reference, the passive is followed by the present infinitive: People think that Johnson is in Cardiff.   Johnson is thought to be in Cardiff.    With past reference, the passive is followed by the past infinitive: People believe that Johnson left Cardiff last month.  Johnson is believed to have left Cardiff last month.    Present and past continuous infinitives are also used: They think that the forger is living in Florence. The forger is thought to be living in Florence. People know that the suspect has been dealing with drugs. The suspect is known to have been dealing with drugs.    Passive infinitives can also appear: People believe that the portrait was painted by Vermeer. The portrait is believed to have been painted by Vermeer. They think that the staff are given a bonus whenever they have to work overtime. The staff are thought to be given a bonus whenever they have to work overtime.    The reporting verb can also be past: People considered the government had spent too much. The government was considered to have paid too much. 4.   other distancing expressions:    We can use apparently   (usually either at the beginning or the end of a phrase) to mean that we have heard/read something, but that it may not be true. This is very common in informal conversation.  Apparently, Maurice and Yvette have separated.      We can use according to  to specify where information has come from. We use it to attribute opinions to somebody else NOT According to me … .  According to new research, the idea that we have to drink two litres of water a day is a myth.    Using may/might  also suggests that something is a possibility, but not necessarily true. Dinosaurs may have died out due to extremely rapid climate change. There are rumours that the band, who disbanded in the late 80s, might be planning to re-form and record a new album.


Jul 23, 2017

Market Visit Plan

Jul 23, 2017
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