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- The army of Israel is far more superior to the armies of the Palestinians; the Palestinians do not stand a chance against the military might of Israel.


1. Is the sentence above correct English?

2. What does "against" modify in the sentence? Stand? or a chance?

I think the sentence is correct English, and "against" seems to modify "stand", not "a chance".

Am I right?

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fire1- The army of Israel is far more superior to the armies of the Palestinians; the Palestinians do not stand a chance against the military might of Israel.
1. Is the sentence above correct English?

The part that you have highlighted is correct, but "far more superior to" is not. "superior" is already a comparative, so it does not also need "more". It should just say "far superior to".

fire1I think the sentence is correct English, and "against" seems to modify "stand", not "a chance".

"against" (alone) does not really "modify" anything, but I guess what you are asking is whether "against the military might of Israel" associates with "stand" or "chance". I would say neither. I would say that for these purposes we have to take the phrase "stand a chance" as one unit, almost as if it was as single-word verb.

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fire1

- The army of Israel is far more superior to the armies of the Palestinians; the Palestinians do not stand a chance against the military might of Israel.

1. Is the sentence above correct English?2. What does "against" modify in the sentence? Stand? or a chance?

I think the sentence is correct English, and "against" seems to modify "stand", not "a chance".

Am I right?

Not quite: the PP against the military might of Israel is not a modifier but a non-core complement of stand.

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GPY"against" (alone) does not really "modify" anything, but I guess what you are asking is whether "against the military might of Israel" associates with "stand" or "chance". I would say neither. I would say that for these purposes we have to take the phrase "stand a chance" as one unit, almost as if it was as single-word verb.

Thank you very much. Could you help me out with two more questions?

- B. The Palestinians do not stand a chance against the military might of Israel.

1. Then, in sentence B, is "against the military might of Israel" used to describe or modify "the Palestinians" ?

2. If I think in this way, the sentence could be also rewritten as "Against the military might of Israel, the Palestinians do not stand a chance". Could it be?

 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.
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BillJNot quite: the PP against the military might of Israel is not a modifier but a non-core complement of stand.

Wouldn't this imply that they are somehow "standing against the military might of Israel"? While this may also be true, it's not a part of the meaning of "stand a chance against ..." in the way that I understand it.

Not at all.

Against the military might of Israel clearly functions as a dependent in clause structure, and since it cannot be seen to be modifying "stand" it can only be a complement, more precisely a non-core complement.

Note that 'complement' is a syntactic function, not a semantic notion.



BillJNot at all.

I see, OK, then it need not be incompatible with the way I understand that sentence.

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My answer was based entirely on the syntax of the sentence and nothing else.

Semantically, the sentence is asserting that (in a conflict) the Palestinians have little or no prospect of success against the military might of Israel.

fire1- B. The Palestinians do not stand a chance against the military might of Israel.
1. Then, in sentence B, is "against the military might of Israel" used to describe or modify "the Palestinians" ?

If you mean in a sense like in "the Palestinians[,] who are against the military might of Israel[,] do not stand a chance", no I don't see that this interpretation is possible (even though the resulting meaning may not be vastly different).

fire12. If I think in this way, the sentence could be also rewritten as "Against the military might of Israel, the Palestinians do not stand a chance". Could it be?

Yes, you can write it that way.

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