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Hi,

1) Can 'in thrall to someone' be used when you want to say that someone is under someone else's power or is it too formal?

For instance: "Most of the politicians were in thrall to the Nazis." "Most of the politicans were under the power of the Nazis."

2) If somebody is giving an interview in French but doesn't speak the language very well and therefore combines- let's say German words with French words to salvage the situation, can I say that the person is grasping at straws?

3) If I was driving at 200 km/hour, could I say that "I squeezed 200 km/hour out of my car today." Perhaps there's a different way of saying it.

Thank you.

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1) Can 'in thrall to someone' be used when you want to say that someone is under someone else's power or is it too formal?

For instance: "Most of the politicians were in thrall to the Nazis." You can say it, but it's not a word you hear often. many people are likely not to understand it.

2) If somebody is giving an interview in French but doesn't speak the language very well and therefore combines- let's say German words with French words to salvage the situation, can I say that the person is grasping at straws?

Yes, if you mean they are experiencing desperation.

3) If I was driving at 200 km/hour, could I say that "I squeezed 200 km/hour out of my car today." Yes

Clive

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1) That's perfectly fine. I think it is high-register, but not too high.

2) Not really. Straws are expected to be ineffective when you clutch at them. German words are a little better than that. Maybe "treading water".

3) That's fine.

Thank you.

Is there perhaps a synonym to 'be in thrall to' that I could use instead? (not 'under someone's power)

One of you says that the second sentence is okay and the other disagrees. That's a tricky situation to be in.

Ann225One of you says that the second sentence is okay and the other disagrees.

To be sure, I agree with Clive if that's all you are saying. I took a stab at it as if I were writing it. It's hard to know what will work without being able to see the whole piece. A lot of factors affect such choices. Bear in mind, too, that we answerers can't always see each other's answers until after we've posted ours. I seldom can. So don't take variety as a sign of disagreement among us. And we often simply have different opinions. None of this is etched in stone.

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1. The word "thrall" is rarely used in everyday speech, and it's very difficult to use properly if you decide to use it - your example is questionable. I'm a native English speaker in the US and I've never used it in speech or writing in my life.


2. The phrase "grasping at straws" is not used like this.


3. The verb "squeezed" is not used like this.

Clive said that the second two last sentences are okay. I don't see what you problem is. You tell me that everything I wrote is wrong but you don't offer me any other options.

Besides, I looked up the phrase 'grasp at straws' and it doesn't seem to be misused in this example at all. Quite the contrary, it fits the situation I'm trying to describe perfectly.

--> = to be trying everything you can to succeed, even though the things you are doing are not likely to help or work→ straw

The person who was being interviewed tried everything he could to answer the questions. (He even combined words from two different languages.)