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“Suddenly he heard something that was not imagination.”
If I add “could hear” to this sentence instead of “heard”, how do you feel? Is it strange? I would like to ask your opinions and reasons.
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Both ways sound fine. "Could hear" may imply that the sound was going on before, but he just didn't hear it. "Imagination" by itself is OK but sounds a little strange. Maybe you could try "his imagination" or "in his imagination" or "an imagination" or even "imagined". You could stick a "just" before that as well if you want to infer that he was imagining sounds previously, ne?
i would also say "suddenly he heard something that was not his imagination"
IngisKahn covered the heard/could hear distiction perfectly.
Imagination as it is in the original sentence is very odd. As written, imagination is some sort of impersonal force that exists outside of the subject of the sentence.
I agree with others that you must give ownership to imagination. It must say "his imagination." Imagination cannot exist without a person, when you are referring to something sensed, whether heard, seen, felt, etc. I would like to add that the sentence doesn't quite make sense, no matter if you say "heard" or "could hear". Given the sentence, "Suddenly he heard/could hear something that was not his imagination," the sentence does not stand on its own. How is a person to know whether they are imagining something or not. I guess if you are writing a paragraph that explains that he was hearing something that was very faint, and that he had ascribed to his imagination, then this sentence would make sense, as long as he now heard something that was fairly loud and distinct.
as i see it not using the "his" for imagination adds a sort of, artsyness to it. It actually seems to make the sentence attractive, while being maybe improper, i like it better without.
The "artsyness" could be amplified by typing it "... something that was not Imagination".
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