At 16, Brian Banks, a star football player on his way to USC, had his life destroyed when he was arrested and charged with rape.

Wanetta Gibson, his classmate, falsely accused him of dragging her into a stairway and raping her. Gibson then sued the Long Beach Unified School District, claiming the school’s lax security provided an unsafe environment that led to the fraudulent rape. She would eventually receive a settlement of 1.5 million dollars.

What is the synonym of "had" in the "had his life destroyed when he was arrested" sentence? and why the writer did not simply say "his life destroyed when he was arrested and charged with rape."?

Another question is belonging to the sentence "She would eventually receive a settlement of 1.5 million dollars." Did the girl receive the settlement? If "would receive is the past tense of receive then why did not the writer simply say "She received"?


Your suggested change would not be correct grammar. The first sentence has some extra phrases. The phrase "a star football ... USC" is a parenthetical phrase, and there are two parts that tell us when something happened: "At 16", and "when ... with rape". If I remove all these extra parts I am left with the core of the sentence

Brian Banks had his life destroyed.

Here you can see "Brian Banks" is the subject, "had" is the verb. Saying "Brian Banks his life destroyed" would not be grammatical, as there is no verb.

The meaning of the core sentence is idiomatic and may be hard to guess. It means

Something destroyed Brian Banks's life.

The "something " is made clear by the part of the sentence that I removed. It is the arrest and rape charges when he was 16.

The second sentence is different, it is a future in the past. The writer is describing events long ago (for example in 1990). But the girl received the money after that (for example in 2010) From the perspective of the time he is describing, that is the future. But from our perspective, it is the past, so the writer use the past tense of "will", which is "would". This avoids sudden time jumps in the description, which is good writing.

  • Thank you James. So clear now. Nov 3 '19 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.