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Dr Grammar

Drink or Drunk

Posted by Bouncing Bee   23 Jul 2014 10 18 am

Dear Dr Grammer,

I have read an article in SCMP containing a sentence " Police said they had been told the pair and their 73-year-old mother got into a dispute after the younger sibling, who appeared to have been drinking, kicked the door of the 14th-floor flat in Kui On House..." I wonder whether I could use “to be drunk” instead of “to have been drinking”?
Thanks a lot.
Bouncing Bee

 
 

Teacher
Posted by alex stringer   23 Jul 2014 3 56 pm

Hello Bee

You could indeed say 'appeared to be drunk' and the meaning would be similar. However 'drunk' means definitely intoxicated - having drunk too much - and one would expect signs of this such as an unsteady walk, slurred speech, singing or possibly outrageous behaviour.

On the other hand, 'appeared to have been drinking' could mean anything from having had one or two drinks to being actually drunk.

Best regards

Dr G
 
 
Posted by Bouncing Bee   30 Jul 2014 11 26 am

Dear Dr Grammar,

The difference of these two phrases is really subtle. Thank you for your enlightenment.

Cheers,
Bouncing Bee
 
 

Teacher
Posted by alex stringer   31 Jul 2014 11 08 am

Yes. That's the richness of language.
 
 

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