1

I want to transform

Father was too angry with us to speak.

to

Father was so ______

My answers to the questions are:

  1. Father was so angry with us (that) he couldn't speak.
  2. Father was so angry with us (that) he wouldn't speak (to us).
  3. Father was so angry with us (that) he didn't speak (to us).

Which one is correct? If all of these are acceptable, which is the best?

  • 1
    There is some semantic difference between couldn't and wouldn't. – Cascabel Feb 25 '16 at 17:50
  • And there's a semantic difference / nuance between both of those and didn't. But the question is meaningless, since Father was too angry with us to speak could apply to all three "expansions". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 25 '16 at 18:04
2

The original sentence "as is"

Father was too angry with us to speak.

means "Father was unable to speak because he was too angry with us to do so".

The pattern too {X} to {do something} means that doing {something} is impossible because of the degree of {X}.

If you paraphrase with "so {x} that...", the that-clause must express impossibility.

Father was so angry with us that he could not speak.

  • Disagree. That is the most likely, but it could be any of them. – Colin Fine Feb 25 '16 at 21:59
  • Father was too angry with us to speak [full stop]. I don't think that means father was unwilling to speak (would not speak) or that father was expressing his anger by not speaking (would not speak) but that father was incapable of speech because of the extent of his anger. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 25 '16 at 22:31
  • @TRomano That's a likely reading but it isn't the only one. – Araucaria Feb 26 '16 at 13:48
  • @Araucaria: I would be happy to have the alternative readings explained to me. For me the sentence is unambiguously a statement of incapability or impossibility: "The limo was too long to fit in the parking spot." Father found it impossible to speak, he was so angry with us. Father was so angry with us that he found it impossible to speak. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 26 '16 at 14:28
  • Well, for example, I'm to angry to speak to them can just mean that I'm too angry with them to bother to speak to them or I'm too angry to want to speak to them. It doesn't have to mean that I'm so angry that it's impossible for me to speak to to them. – Araucaria Feb 26 '16 at 14:33

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