How have we the impertinence to make these wild creatures forego their nature for ours, which at best they can but imitate?

Does Virginia Woolf mean “How can we be so impertinent to make..”? Or “How can we have the impertinence to make..”?

I do not understand why she wrote like this, because it sounds poetic??

  • 3
    But “How can we be so impertinent to make..” and “How can we have the impertinence to make..” mean the same thing. Except that the first one should have as between impertinent and to. Note that "How have we the impertinence..." is just a formal, literary way of saying "How can we have the impertinence..." (there will rarely if ever be a context where you should use that construction yourself! :) Jul 13 at 17:03
  • Thanks for your reply. Could you tell me more about why I may not use the construction myself? I don't quite understand. Is it because it’s a strange construction?
    – Angyang
    Jul 13 at 22:59
  • It's not that strange to me - but I'm a pensioner with a degree in literature. And literature from a century or two ago is where I'd normally expect to come across it! I'm sure I've never actually uttered that construction in my life, though i may once or twice have used it in writing if I was feeling a bit "high and mighty, imperious, pretentious". Jul 13 at 23:38
  • Gotcha, thanks!
    – Angyang
    Jul 14 at 7:01


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