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I will never chance to meet him in my life

Is this sentence correct English, if it's intended to mean:

I will never get a chance to meet this person in my life.


Update: Since ambiguities arose, in respect of the acceptance of the phrase above, I would like to clarify the specific case I was inquiring about. Can either of these two variants:

a. "I will never chance to meet the king in my whole life".

b. "I will never chance meeting the king in my whole life".

ever mean:

"I will never have a chance to meet the king in my whole life".

If you think both variants do not make much sense, what other good alternatives can be suggested? Especially when addressing a person you greatly admire, as in "In my youth I thought, I will never have a chance to meet you in my whole life". Perhaps, more elegantly phrased ...

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    To chance does not mean to have a chance, so the answer to your revised question is no. These are two different verbs with two different meanings. – Alan Carmack May 11 '16 at 20:15
11

Can I use “chance” as a future-tense verb?

Consider the following sentences:

If you should chance to meet him when you're in Oxford, please give him my regards.

If you chance to meet him when you're in Oxford, please give him my regards.

We can paraphrase it:

If you happen to meet him....

If by accident your paths should cross...

In other words, "chance to" refers to something unplanned.

For that reason, if we wish to make sense, we cannot say:

does not make good senseI will never chance to meet him.

because it is tantamount to saying:

I intend never to meet him by accident.

or

In the future our paths will never happen to cross.

It is impossible to intend what happens accidentally, and something that is intentional is not accidental; nor can we predict what might happen in the future.

Now, if you know that he has volunteered for the first manned mission to Mars, and will never return to the planet Earth, you might be able to predict that your paths will never cross by accident. But to say it in that way would be a rather odd way of stating the fact. It's like saying that you will never run into Alexander the Great at a football match.

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    Regarding "I will never chance to meet him in my life", just substitute the definition: "I will never have the fortune, good or bad to meet him in my life." Makes perfect sense. – user3169 May 10 '16 at 19:34
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    @sina: Chance to != have a chance to. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 10 '16 at 19:36
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    @TRomano It's a bit surprising to me that you accept If you should chance to meet him ... and If you chance to meet him ... but not I will never chance to meet him. – Damkerng T. May 11 '16 at 7:32
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    Your imprisoned concubine is a variant of my "manned mission to Mars" scenario which is a variant of my "meeting Alexander the Great at a football match" scenario. If your princess thinks to herself, "Locked away in this dungeon till I die, I will never bump into the prince again" the emperor may have done that prince a favor. Seriously, I don't rule out that the statement makes some sense there, but it's a very detached and egoless sense that violates the egocentric deixis of speaker-in-world. Far more commonsensical would be "I will never have the chance to see the prince again." – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 11 '16 at 12:15
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    I don't see problems with either I intend never to meet him by accident or In the future our paths will never happen to cross. The speaker could be resolving that this doesn't happen and take steps to ensure it doesn't, like move to a secluded place. – Alan Carmack May 11 '16 at 16:43
5

Yes, maybe it's a colloquialism, but in Ireland it's quite common to use 'chance' as a verb:

  • My lie is bad but I'll chance a 5-iron.

  • It looks like rain but I'll chance a quick walk.

In your example though, it doesn't make much sense as others have pointed out.

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  • Could I ask you to review the update to my question? Ty. – a_hanif May 11 '16 at 3:19
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    It's fairly common in American English as well. "I wouldn't chance it", "I'll chance it this once," etc. – Kyle Hale May 11 '16 at 5:31
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    In this sense, it's a synonym with 'risk'. – Pete Kirkham May 11 '16 at 13:02
5

No, “chance” and “get a chance” do not mean the same thing. “Get a chance” means “have an opportunity”, but the verb “chance” alone doesn't. The verb “chance” has several meanings, but none of them work here.

In the sense of something happening by luck, it's normally used in a past tense (“I never chanced to meet him” = “I was not lucky enough to meet him”) or hypothetically (“If you chance to meet him, say hello from me” = “If you luck into meeting him, say hello from me”). It doesn't make sense here since by definition chance implies that it's possible but not guaranteed.

In the sense of “risk”, the complement is normally a noun. “I will never take the risk of meeting him” = “I will never chance a meeting with him” (but that sentence sounds awkward, risk is the right word here).

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  • Gilles and @user3169 - I was worried that I was way off the charts of the English language, when I used that phrase. If two native speakers argue about it, then it couldn't have been that bad - for me! If it provides any comfort .. – a_hanif May 10 '16 at 19:10
  • @sina It can be past or hypothetical (I've amended my answer). The point is that a definite statement about luck doesn't make sense if the event is still uncertain. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 10 '16 at 20:56
2

Of course you can use chance to refer to future time... but the two sentences in your question do not mean the same thing.

As for your first sentence, it is fine, with the following two things in mind:

a) it works fine if you use chance to mean risk and this is certainly a valid form when talking about future time. Examples include

Let's chance it!

I'll not chance my money at poker.

She's going to chance everything if she does that.

b) It is probably more idiomatic to use the to infinitive rather than the gerund in your first sentence, thus:

I will never chance meeting him in my life (even if that means my moving to Tahiti).

Again, chance means risk here. See, The Free Dictionary, definition 1 as transitive verb:

To take the risk or hazard of: We thought we could jump over the puddle, but we were not willing to chance it.

Notice that it is the phrasal verb chance on/upon that means

to find or meet accidentally

So it is the following that might be more unusual to use:

? I will never chance upon meeting him in my life.

It could probably be used as a declaration of intention, even if it refers to an accidental encounter. People make strange declarations of intention all the time, and I don't see this sentence as being problematic.

Having said this, the usage of chance on/upon is called somewhat archaic by Oxford English Dictionary, so keep that in mind.

Your second sentence

I will never get a chance to meet this person in my life.

is okay. You could also say the chance, and this might be the more frequent version.

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  • Could I ask you to review my updated question? Ty. – a_hanif May 11 '16 at 3:18
2

In response to your updated question:

a. "I will never chance to meet the king in my whole life".

b. "I will never chance meeting the king in my whole life".

c. "I will never have a chance to meet the king in my whole life."

In other words:

a. "I will never meet the king by accident in my whole life."

b. "I will never risk meeting the king in my whole life."

c. "I will never have an opportunity to meet the king in my whole life."

a is closest in meaning to c, but there is a difference in implication:

a implies that you are making no particular effort to meet the king, but think that there is no chance of you ever meeting him by accident. This sentence sounds awkward.

b implies that there is some risk attached to meeting the king, and you are not willing to take ("chance") that risk.

c implies that an opportunity will never arise for you to meet the king. It therefore also means that you will never meet him. However, imagining that an opportunity did arise, you would not have to take advantage of it. That is to say, you could have an opportunity to meet the king, but never actually meet him.

Note that both a and b are slightly archaic forms (particularly b in the sense of "risking").

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    Well done, @Σωκράτης! The word 'opportunity' is dubious in this sentence, I will change it to 'chance'. The bottom line is, I've learned that using the verb 'chance' is not appropriate for this sentence's meaning. – a_hanif May 11 '16 at 11:30
  • @a_hanif Even if you change 'opportunity' to 'chance', it still means pretty much the same thing. In other words, even your new 'c' is not the same as a or b. – Σωκράτης May 11 '16 at 14:50
  • Why can't the word 'opportunity' mean its "face value", i.e. the opportunity will never arise? I seem to not have quite understood the sentences: "However, imagining that an opportunity did arise, you would not have to take advantage of it. That is to say, you could have an opportunity to meet the king, but never actually meet him." Would you elaborate a bit, please? Ty. – a_hanif May 11 '16 at 15:48
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    @a_hanif I have just looked up the definitions of 'chance' and 'opportunity' on Google. One of the definitions for chance is 'an opportunity to do or achieve something.' (in other words, exactly the same as 'opportunity'). What I mean by those sentences is this: Having an opportunity just means that there is a situation in which you could, if you wanted to, meet the king. But what if you didn't want to meet the king? You could have the opportunity to meet him, but not want to, and so never actually meet him. – Σωκράτης May 11 '16 at 16:44
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"I will never chance to meet him in my life." and "I will never get a chance to meet this person in my life." are both grammatically correct but mean virtually the opposite things.

"I will chance to meet him" means that you will accidentally encounter him; "I will get a chance to meet him" means that the opportunity to meet him will arise. You won't necessarily take advantage of that opportunity, but it'll be there.

Coincidentally, chance upon means "to encounter accidentally", so you could also write "I will never chance upon him again in my life".

Edit:

"I will never chance to meet the king in my whole life".

is a prediction about the future: the coincidence of you and the king being in the same place at the same time will just never occur.

"I will never chance meeting the king in my whole life".

means you are resolving to never take the risk that meeting the king would entail. Neither means that you will never get a chance.

It might be more obvious in a conditional clause:

If I chance to meet the king, I will bow.

(That is, if that event occurs, I have a plan)

If I change meeting the king, I might end up in the dungeon.

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  • Could I ask you to review my updated question? Ty. – a_hanif May 11 '16 at 3:18

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