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Dr Grammar

sentence structure

Posted by peter   3 Aug 2014 1 20 am

Hi Alex,

I have problems with understanding this sentence when I first read it...
"You have only got to go into a bank when their main computer is broken to appreciate the chaos that would occur if computers were suddenly removed world-wide."

Can I read it like this:
case 1: You have only got (1) to go into a bank when their main computer is broken to appreciate the chaos (2) that would occur if computers were suddenly removed world-wide.
OR
case 2: You have (1) only got to go into a bank when their main computer is broken to appreciate the chaos (2) that would occur if computers were suddenly removed world-wide.

If I simplify the sentence, it becomes:
case 1: You have only got something to appreciate the chaos.
case 2: You have something to appreciate the chaos.
(1) is a phrase meaning "something"
(2) is a relative clause where 2nd conditional is used

Am I correct?

Thanks in advance!
Peter

 
 

Teacher
Posted by alex stringer   18 Aug 2014 3 04 pm

Hi Peter

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you; I've been in the UK on holiday.

The basic sentence structure is subject + has to do [sthg] (in order) to do [sthg]
You have to buy a ticket to ride on the MTR.

The form 'have got to do [sthg]' is slightly less formal than 'have to do [sthg]' but the meaning is the same.

A simpler way to express the idea in your example would be this: If you go into a bank when the main computer has broken down, you will appreciate the chaos that would occur if computers were suddenly removed worldwide.

The form 'you only have to do [sthg] to understand / realise / appreciate [sthg] is quite common.
It means that you only have to see or experience a little of something to understand something important about it.


You've only got to look at the characters to see that Chinese is difficult for Europeans to learn.
You only have to meet my boss once to see that he's an idiot.


You are right in that (2) refers to an imaginary situation.

Hope this helps.

Alex
 
 
Posted by peter   22 Aug 2014 1 04 am

Alex,

Thank you for the detailed and clear explanation. I didn't realize and aware of this pattern at all before you told me.

Thanks,
Peter
 
 

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