Submitted by jeudi2 on August 24, 2004

Two Sentences

1)”They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time they would attend postgraduate school, and scheming career plans.”

Is the tenses coordination ok? and the words appropriate?

2) “Most sold out in time and made a career of denouncing what they had worshipped.”

Does “sold out” sound very weird? Is there a better idiom to describe with contempt the way leftists-turned-capitalist-champions betrayed the ideals of their youth?

And, am I intruding here?

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"They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time they would attend postgraduate school, and scheming career plans."

Amend this to "They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time THEY ATTENDED postgraduate school ..."

Don't ask me why, it's just right!

I can't work out what "and scheming career plans" means in relation to the rest of the sentence. You'll have to explain further what you're trying to say.

"Most sold out in time and made a career of denouncing what they had worshipped."

This is fine. "Sold out" is a very good phrase in this context.

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thank you, you are being most helpful.

I believe "map out a career plan" is a common expression. I am looking for something derogatory. I thought "scheme" suggested some vile courtship of the department bosses. Have you got something better in store for me? some tidbit?

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Jeudi, if you're French (guessing from your nickname), then you would be quite familiar with the construct suggested above, as it's essentially similar to your "futur antérieur". I agree with the suggestion. It's more correct.

David

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Im not sure "sold out" works for me. When I read it, it sounded as though there was a product for sale and it sold out just in the nick of time or something, as in "Most of the teapots sold out in time... for us to close the store...." which didnt fit with the rest of the sentence. I would be more comfortable with either " Most of them sold out in time..." which still leaves "in time" sounding like there was a deadline, and they better meet it or not be considered a sell out,
or "In time, most sold out..." although I will admit, that one sounds a little "old school"

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To most native speakers, I think "Most sold out in time" is immediately understandable in this context.

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I took it the same way Heidi did it the first time. = I figured it out the second time I read it.

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-------------------------Quote-----------------------
Dave -
Amend this to "They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time THEY ATTENDED postgraduate school ..."
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Although in speech "they attended would be acceptable, when writing, attended is a past tense form of the verb "to attend." From the sentence, you know the writer is talking about the people who the sentence refers to as "they" before they went to postgraduate school. You cannot use a past tense there.
"They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time THEY ATTEND postgraduate school ..." - That is the final and correct form.
-Ben

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Just that last part of sentence 1-I could say
"...THEY ATTENDED postgraduate school, and WERE scheming career plans."

Were sounds alright. If this is an eroor however just let me know

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A few changes,

For one, "by the time they would attend" should read "by the time they attended", as was already pointed out. The expression "in time" is confusing, and Heidi's suggestion is a good one.

I always thought of "scheming" as an intransitive verb, so perhaps "scheming in anticipation of their business careers."

Sold out is a bit old, I agree. How about, "They grew up?" Perhaps put scare quotes around "grew up." There may be a paucity of derogatory expressions here because the desire to make a living is not seen as worthy of derision by many people.

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actually, "...they attended..." and "...they attend..." aren't correct either. If you really want to match tense correctly, then you should use "...they were to attend..."

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Not so sure about the "were to attend." Even if it is correct, it is terribly clunky to my ear. Of course, the construction of this particular sentence brings the writer into swampy waters. Conditionals are slippery territory.

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How about trying to match the tenses correctly by matching the tenses:

"They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time they would be attending postgraduate school, and scheming career plans."

I would use "were to attend" only if the question were a more direct conditional: "They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable if they were to attend postgraduate school." Which has a very different meaning.

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It would be "by the time they HAD attended"

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