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I would like to ask you a couple of questions about the sentence below which is from The Diary of a Young Girl.

I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely,

as I have never been able to do in anyone before,

and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.

Q1) What meaning does the conjunction as hold there? So eventually what does the second line mean in relation to first line?

Q2) And why was shall used in the first line instead of will? What difference does it make?

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    Remember that Anne Frank wrote in Dutch, not English. So this could also be a translator's choice to render the original words in a way that retains some of the flavor of the original language. – The Photon Jul 20 '16 at 2:07
  • @ThePhoton Yes, thank you for the advice. But anyway, how does the second line influence the meaning of the whole sentence? Does that mean that she hopes that she can confide in the diary to such a degree that she has never been able to experience before? Or does that just mean that she has not been able to confide in anyone before? What is the nuance of the second line? – Smart Humanism Jul 20 '16 at 21:59
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    I think Stoney's answer covers it. She hopes she will be able to confide in her diary more completely than she ever has in a person. – The Photon Jul 20 '16 at 22:43
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Q1: Technically, as is the preposition which introduces the back half of a comparative construction, with the front half suppressed because it's basically irrelevant. In this instance you might think of it as a such ... as ... construction:

... in such a way as I have never been able to confide in anyone [in that way] before ...

In effect, it's a way of adding a second, parenthetical clause to the sentence:

I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely
(I have never been able to confide in anyone in that way before)
and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.

Q2: In the 18th and 19th centuries (and among schoolteachers well into the 20th century) the prestige dialects of England and employed shall for will in the first person. Probably you can safely ignore this, unless English examiners in your country are at least fifty years out of date.


I must tell you that the Cambridge Grammar says this is the front half of the construction; but I find their explanation of this impenetrable.

  • But if I may, I would like to more concretely know about the nuance of the meaning of the second line in the sentence. And the reason why I asked about as is that I thought as looked like it held the key. So, does that mean the writer wants to confide in the diary to an extreme extent that she never experienced before? – Smart Humanism Jul 20 '16 at 21:55
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    @SmartHumanism More or less, though I would not necessarily characterize this as "extreme". She feels she may speak unreservedly, which she has never been able to do before. – StoneyB Jul 20 '16 at 22:23
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    @SmartHumanism No degree is implied--it is explicitly stated: completely. She hopes she will be able to confide in the diary to that degree and implies that it is through filling that role that the diary will be a great help and support. – StoneyB Jul 21 '16 at 10:01
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    @SmartHumanism In some cases as puts forward a causal relationship, but it does not do so in this case: Anne says merely that she hopes that she will be able to do something she has never been able to do before. She doesn't address why she wants or needs to do that. – StoneyB Jul 21 '16 at 20:28
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    @SmartHumanism Ah, I see! I wondered where you were getting intense from! ... Yes: there is a comparison, and you may say that it is a comparison of degree of completeness--though some authorities would protest that complete is binary, something is either complete or it's not. But what sets the journal apart from those she has confided in before is that she hopes to confide completely in the journal. – StoneyB Jul 21 '16 at 21:11

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