5

Can one say

  1. He accidentally opened the door enough that they could see inside the office.

  2. He accidentally opened the door enough so they could see inside the office.

  3. He accidentally opened the door enough so that they could see inside the office.

  4. He accidentally opened the door enough for them to see inside the office.

?

He didn't intend them to see inside the office... It was an accident...

Many thanks.

1
  • 1
    I'd stick to the 4th example. Sounds perfect to my non-native ear. Commented May 4, 2017 at 6:45

4 Answers 4

1

Yes. They're all correct and have your intended meaning.

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  • 1
    2nd and 3rd examples sound unnatural and wrong to me. so and so that just can't be there side by side with accidentally and enough. Commented May 4, 2017 at 6:48
  • No. It's incorrect to say that they can't be there. Read the comments to @BerryHolmes' question. The question was whether one could say it in these 4 ways and since they're technically correct, my answer stands.
    – Ash
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 6:51
  • Regarding #2, it reads: He accidentally opened the door enough, so [therefore] they could see inside the office. Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:15
  • Yes @LucianSava, it was because He accidentally opened the door enough. Why would you think it's intentional?
    – Ash
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:25
  • 1
    No, I wouldn't. +1. Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:52
12

The first and the fourth sentences are the most correct. The fourth seems the most natural to me.

The problem with the second and third sentences is that the use of so implies that the man intentionally opened the door to let people see inside, which contradicts the use of accidentally to describe the action.

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  • Indeed. Further, the only way to make the "so" even valid is to have a comma before it, which results in the meaning you describe; otherwise it's actually entirely misplaced. Commented May 4, 2017 at 10:19
  • Why imply intent at all? He accidentally opened the door enough that they saw into the office, keep it factual.
    – flith
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 12:40
  • @BoundaryImposition In #2, if you add the comma, it doesn't imply intent, it's similar to saying "and as a result".
    – Barmar
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 19:18
  • @Barmar: It acts in concert with the "enough". Commented May 4, 2017 at 19:30
  • @flith: Perfect. Commented May 4, 2017 at 19:30
3

He accidentally opened the door enough for them to see inside the office.

Seems to me the best possible way this sentence can be put. Saying "so that they could see inside the office" would imply that the door opening was intentional when it wasn't.

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  • It would appear intentional if not for the word 'accidentally'.
    – Ash
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 5:39
  • @Ash True, but isn't "so that" used for giving a reason for an action? As in – "I bought a raincoat so that I can avoid getting drenched." Commented May 4, 2017 at 5:42
  • The word 'enough' in front of the 'so that' changes the usage of the rule you mentioned. In this case, the 'reason' was that door was opened enough for the action of them seeing inside the office to take place.
    – Ash
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 5:46
  • Without the word 'enough', what you suggested would apply, implying the word 'accidentally' was used sarcastically or that it was used incorrectly.
    – Ash
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 5:55
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    @Ash The usage of 'accidentally' sarcastically was the part where I was a little confused. Thanks for clearing it up. Commented May 4, 2017 at 5:59
2

Of your options, (1) and (4) would be readily understood without problem.

But the clearest way to put it is:

He accidentally opened the door too wide, enough for them to see inside the office.

This precisely conveys the scope of the accident (opening the door too wide) and the consequence (it was wide enough for ...).

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  • +1 I'd use this version. Even if it requires two sentences, the meaning is very clear. Commented May 4, 2017 at 14:04
  • 1
    @MikkoRantalainen: Technically, it's still one sentence, and can't be split neatly into two sentences without losing the continuity and cadence.
    – user21820
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 14:10

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