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Feb. 9th, 2008

The crowd on cranky_editors is too rough for me, so I'm posting this grammar question over here where it's safer.

The line being commented on is "SEE, IF YOU'RE LUCKY, I'LL BE THE GUY WHO LET YOU LIVE!"

The question is whether it should be "let you live" or "lets you live".

I feel very comfortable with the original, but I'm having trouble explaining why. Advice?

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
controuble
Feb. 9th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Let would be past tense. Lets is present tense. Both are correct - it just depends on what you are trying to say.
alicebentley
Feb. 9th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
In this case it's a reader trying to decide what the character is trying to say - while the intent of the author seemed clear to me. Giving her an example of both has hopefully cleared it up.

Thanks for answering!
daddy_guido
Feb. 10th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
I concur.
kijjohnson
Feb. 9th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
In your case, "let" is past tense. Replace the word with something and you'll see. "I'll be the guy who ate your dinner" vs. "I'll be the guy who eats your dinner." They mean different things, of course. I kind of prefer your version.
alicebentley
Feb. 9th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Being able to show the difference between the two tenses will hopefully satisfy her.
jkling
Feb. 9th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
My interpretation is: At some future time, if you're lucky, you will look back on this moment and think, 'He was was the guy who let me live.' In that case, using the past tense would make sense because the person being referred to is existing in the future and looking back at a past event.

alicebentley
Feb. 9th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
I've gone and quoted your response in my return email. Thanks for making it so clear.
dizzydava
Feb. 10th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
I send Kaja long, detailed proofreading notes every few months, but this one whizzed right under my radar. I agree with the interpretation that Agatha will look back on this and see him as the guy who let her live. I think it's correct as it stands, at least by American English standards. I'm sure some Brit is saying, "No! It should be, 'I'LL BE THE GUY WHO WILL HAVE LET YOU LIVE!'"

(Er... maybe. British grammar can be quite complicated.)
jerusha
Feb. 10th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
I would say it's correct because it's subjunctive: at the time of the statement, the speaker is indicating the matter isn't settled. (See Wikipedia's article for details.
apostle_of_eris
Feb. 10th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC)
I was going to ask who one earth would read Girl Genius with such a fine-tooth comb . . . and then I remembered Phil's genius for misspellings and malaprops.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )