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...he could have dwelt for a long time yet in that soft, well-upholstered hell, if this had not happened, this moment of complete hopelessness and despair and the tense moment when he had bent over the flowing water, ready to commit suicide. — source

I am wondering what the adverb yet could meant, or would you learn me the construction of such a usage of yet in grammar?

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    Using yet there is a dated/literary alternative to what would normally be expressed as "he could still have dwelt for a long time in that soft, well-upholstered hell". But it's translated from Hermann Hesse Siddhartha - and as that link shows, there are many alternative renditions. Personally, I don't think analysing the minutiae of translations is a very good way of getting to grips with English. Nov 28, 2014 at 13:57
  • @FumbleFingers I think that "yet" means "still", and it's a bad example for English learners would make a fine answer to this question. Nov 28, 2014 at 17:54

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Using yet there is a dated/literary alternative to what would normally be expressed as "he could still have dwelt for a long time in that soft, well-upholstered hell".

As @200_success comments, it's a bad example for English learners. That could still be contested, of course, but I think this chart shows which way the linguistic wind is blowing...


That's not to imply yet should be avoided in general. Where it means [from some time in the past] up until now, it's perfectly normal ("I haven't finished writing this answer yet"). It's just not such a good choice these days where it references [some time in the future] after now, such as "I could yet finish soon". 1

It's also perfectly standard to use yet as a conjunction similar to but, but even that usage has at least faint overtones of "dated/literary/formal" to some.


1 Noting archaic/literary usages such as "I met him many years ago, when he was yet a young man", that should perhaps be "narrative reference time", rather than "now".

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  • So, would be these a better choice? such as "I could still finish soon". I met him many years ago, when he was still a young man",
    – nima
    Dec 1, 2014 at 17:16
  • @nima: Many competent native speakers (and more particularly, writers) still use yet to reference a future time, so for them it's not really appropriate to say still is "better". But for learners I think it's probably easier (and "safer") to avoid yet in any context where either still or but would also be valid. Dec 1, 2014 at 17:29
  • I have to follow my question into another thread. I am looking forward for your invaluable explanations. Thanks inadvance
    – nima
    Dec 1, 2014 at 17:45

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