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I was looking at sentences in COCA. I was confused by this one:

Was it a fall into real time? That last year, when life became so intensified by the prospect of losing it that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does?

I could hardly get the meaning of the "lose it that" clause. Could anyone tell me the meaning?

Thanks in advance.

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  • Welcome to ELL Stack Exchange! I had to look up COCA. If the text you're asking about is online, it's usually good to link to it to help answerers.
    – DCShannon
    May 16, 2015 at 2:25
  • Oh I see. I haven't thought about that.
    – Rok Sim
    May 16, 2015 at 2:27
  • That's actually a hard one to link. I did the best I could in my answer.
    – DCShannon
    May 16, 2015 at 2:33
  • Its not a clause, it is part of two clauses (...life became so intensified by the prospect of losing it) and (that she would once again experience the beauty...)
    – user3169
    May 16, 2015 at 3:11

2 Answers 2

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More Context

I found the original text at the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), but couldn't find a way to link directly to it. Here's more context:

Life had never been so good. They took Ingrid off her heart medication and suddenly, there had been heart failure ... A last visit. How would she have known? Was it a fall into real time? That last year, when life became so intensified by the prospect of losing it that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does? The wild beauty? # And why did she have to die? Perhaps she did not love God enough...

So someone close died. The section goes on to mention more death.

Break it Down

Let me break up this sentence

That last year, when life became so intensified by the prospect of losing it that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does?

like so

(That last year), when (life became so intensified) (by the prospect of losing it) (that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does)?

Life became intensified. The thing that intensified life was the prospect of losing it, where 'it' is life.

You could drop the "by the prospect of losing it" clause entirely and not change the meaning of rest of the sentence:

That last year, when life became so intensified that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does?

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  • +1 for the research. Without that added context 'losing it' was looking more like 'losing control' or 'losing her mind/cool' etc in the more idiomatic meaning. May 16, 2015 at 15:39
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Was it a fall into real time? That last year, when life became so intensified by the prospect of losing it that she would once again experience the beauty of the world as a child does?

The clue to understanding the syntax of this passage is in the word "so".

Also, "losing it" there means "losing life (dying)".

Compare:

The hedge was so high that the horse could not jump over it.

Life became so intensified...that she would...experience the beauty...as a child.

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