2

Examples from Quirk:

1. They found him worn out by travel and exertion.

2. They discovered him worn out by travel and exertion.


My remade sentences with "to be":

1a. They found him to be worn out by travel and exertion.

2a. They discovered him to be worn out by travel and exertion.


What is the difference between 1. and 1a.?

What is the difference between 2. and 2a.?

Thanks!


My thoughts:

"find" + object + to infinitive (oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com):

to find - to discover that something is true after you have tried it, tested it or experienced it:

They found him to be charming.


"discover" + object + to infinitive (thefreedictionary.com):

to discover - to learn something about:

discovered him to be an impostor

discovered the brake to be defective


My sentences with "that":

1b. They found (that) he was worn out by travel and exertion.

2b. They discovered (that) he was worn out by travel and exertion.


I conclude that:

1. = 1.a = 1.b = 2. = 2.a = 2.b

What mistakes do my thoughts have?

Thanks!

1

For me, this depends on what they were actively doing.

If they were looking for him (i.e. because he was lost/missing), then both sentences 1 and 2 describe two facts:

  1. that they were successful in their search
  2. that he was worn out (fatigued) from travel and exertion

If they were studying him (e.g. because he reported feeling unwell), then the sentences describe two different facts:

  1. that they determined the reason
  2. the reason was that he was worn out (fatigued) from travel and exertion.

Compare and contrast some of the dictionary definitions:

Find (v)

  1. to come upon by searching or effort
  2. to discover by study or experiment
  3. to determine and make a statement about

with:

Find out (v)

  1. to learn by study, observation, or search
  2. to ascertain the true character or identity of

The use of that and to be in your sentences (1a, 1b, 2a and 2b) align more with the notion of study and experiment, and that their finding was that he was worn out.

While sentences 1 and 2 could refer to either action (both searching and studying are referenced in the definitions for find), I am inclined to read them as the meaning first action (that they were looking for him); while sentences 1a, 1b, 2a and 2b all lead me to the second action (that they were studying him).

As such, I would suggest that 1 = 2, and that 1a = 1b = 2a = 2b, but not necessarily that 1 = 1a or 1b, nor that 2 = 2a or 2b.

That said, if I were writing these sentences, I would also deploy a comma in sentences 1 and 2, to make it less ambiguous:

  1. They found him, worn out by travel and exertion.
  2. They discovered him, worn out by travel and exertion.
  • You have a good logic and ability to explain. Thank you very much. I wish I could vote up your answer, but my reputation score is not enough. – Loviii Jul 9 at 20:42

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