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Is it better to say:

'No matter how hard she tried to get out of the chair without help, she was too weak.'

Or:

'No matter how hard she tried, she was too weak to get out of the chair without help.'

Is there a difference? Thanks.

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    Obviously there's a difference! In the first version we know for sure no-one was trying to help her. With the second version, it's at least feasible someone was trying to help her, but she still couldn't get up. Perhaps because the helper was holding his hands out thinking she could grab them and pull herself up, but her grip was too weak to do so. – FumbleFingers Jul 21 '17 at 16:59
  • I'm so sorry I forgot to include the words 'without help' in the second sentence. Is there still a difference now? – Faith Jul 21 '17 at 17:06
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    It's really a matter of opinion whether people think they can conceptualise a slight difference in nuance implied by placing without help closer to the relevant action (trying to get out of the chair). If you can do that, you might be inclined to suppose that in your first version she was doggedly refusing offers of help, as opposed to the second version where there might not be even a possibility of anyone helping. But most people in most contexts wouldn't even be looking for any such distinction, even if they were in principle capable of making it. – FumbleFingers Jul 21 '17 at 17:15
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    To the close-voter who chose "...should be answered using a dictionary": what word(s), pray tell, might the OP have looked up to answer this question? Sign me "Baffled but Willing". – P. E. Dant Jul 22 '17 at 0:11
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It comes down to your assessment of what is the more important fact:

a) that she made attempts to get out of the chair unaided or b) that she was too weak to get out of the chair unaided

The first sentence indicates with its "no matter" clause that she she had tried to get out of the chair without help, and states that she was too weak which we expand to "to get out of the chair without help".

The second sentence states she was too weak to get out of the chair without help and indicates with its "no matter clause" that she tried which we expand (semantically) to "to do so".

So the difference between them is what is left for the listener/reader to expand, and in the manner in which the fact is expressed. In the first, the fact of her attempts is expressed in the no-matter clause. In the second the fact of her inability is expressed in the matrix clause in declarative mode.

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