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"in case": Is this strictly British English?

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made of stone

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I think the general meaning of the phrase is clear, but native English speakers are not always correct as far as the real usages and syntax are concerned. (Not anyone here, I mean the person who made the sign.)

Couldn't agree more, bakaKanadajin!

The phrase 'in case there is a fire' means that at the point at which you're doing the said action, in this case 'placing a fire extinguisher in your room', the fire has already begun. The 'there is' part indicates existence. 'In case of' also carries the same literal meaning.

(My bold)

With respect, I think you've confused this bit a little. I've included a British English definition of '(just) in case' in my post #11. It does not mean that a fire has already begun. Likewise, if I say 'I'll take my credit card to the shop in case I see something nice I want to buy' I am also talking about a future possibility.

To be more precise, 'Pull alarm in case of fire' would be more effective because at the point in time where a fire is presently occuring, simply placing a fire extinguisher in the room would do nothing to stop it, you'd just have a burning room with a fire extinguisher sitting unused in the corner. Pulling the alarm would in theory activate the sprinkler system or do something to stop the fire.
As for the extinguisher and its most effective usage in relation to a fire, the sign could say 'Use extinguisher in case of fire'.

Absolutely correct again! In this case you are using the distinct phrase 'in (the) case of' - this is different from '(just) in case' and has a different meaning, which I also explained in post #11. That is, it describes what to do/what will happen if and when a certain situation actually occurs.

In post #14, Kinsao kindly and quite correctly added that 'in case of' is a contraction of 'in the case of', often to draw attention to something important and make it as clear as possible in as few words as possible.
 

Goldiegirl

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Just in case any of you were interested, I am completely confused on this subject now! :) Whew...is it really that hard to speak English?
 

Elizabeth

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Absolutely correct again! In this case you are using the distinct phrase 'in (the) case of' - this is different from '(just) in case' and has a different meaning, which I also explained in post #11. That is, it describes what to do/what will happen if and when a certain situation actually occurs.
A more reasonable interpretation would be after a fire has already occurred once in that room, place one near the first outbreak for more convenient extinguishing next time. This makes most sense in areas where fires are reasonably common and not easily contained -- such as near commercial establishment kitchens or outdoor barbeque pits, for instance.

No native English speaker is going to read "In case of a fire, place an extinguisher in the room" as the endorsement of the magical force of an extinguisher -- particularly one that that is small, handheld and isn't already known to possess hypernatural super spiritual powers. 😌
 

made of stone

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Just in case any of you were interested, I am completely confused on this subject now! :) Whew...is it really that hard to speak English?

Lol Goldiegirl, this has all become rather confusing, hasn't it?! 😌

For the record: I think the Brits on here have reached a consensus about their versions of these phrases, and I don't think anything more needs to be added on the British English side of things, so after replying to nekocat's latest question, I shall try to take my leave from this thread, and get back to the less-serious threads...

Give my child this toy in case he cries.​
Could you tell me if this sentence makes sense?
ツ鞘?「窶堋ッ窶堙??堋ュ窶堙ェ窶堙??堋?窶堙ィ窶堋ェ窶堙??堋、ツ!窶堋ィツ青「ヒ彙窶堙俄?堙遺?堙ィ窶堙懌?堋オ窶堋スツ!

There is a small problem here as Kinsao says, (again in British English, i'm not sure about American). It's a little complicated, but I will try to explain as best I can.

If the toy stops the baby crying, and you give the baby the toy now, then the baby will not cry in the near future - you have already prevented it! So, crying is no longer a possibility, and we cannot use 'in case' here (because we can only use it to talk about what is possible).

Correct sentences, with different meanings, would be:

Give my child this toy if he cries. (You give it in the future, when you need to)

Give my child this toy so he won't cry. (you give it now to prevent him crying later on)

A correct use of '(just) in case' in a similar sentence might be:

Here's a toy in case the baby cries. (He might cry, and then you can give him the toy, which should stop him.)

😌

right, my work is done here I hope! nekocat please feel free to PM me as I wrote before...

made of stone, over-and-out :)
 

EmperorHirohito

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And to further complicate matters lol, here is another interpretation of giving a child a toy in case it starts crying, you could quite easily say this "Give the child this toy to stop him crying"
Over to you mos. :)
 

made of stone

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A more reasonable interpretation would be after a fire has already occurred once in that room, place one near the first outbreak for more convenient extinguishing next time. This makes most sense in areas where fires are reasonably common and not easily contained -- such as near commercial establishment kitchens or outdoor barbeque pits, for instance.

I'm getting rather tired Elizabeth san, so please excuse my brevity and frankness, but I must make myself clear. I cannot agree with a single word of this, I can only think you are trying to pull me leg!!! 😌

No native English speaker is going to read "In case of a fire, place an extinguisher in the room" as the endorsement of the magical force of an extinguisher -- particularly one that that is small, handheld and isn't already known to possess hypernatural super spiritual powers. 😌

Again, clearly there is a lot of humour here, I must admit I had a good chuckle at the last part!! :) But as for the sentence 'In case of a fire, place an extinguisher in the room' this goes against everything i've been trying to explain in this thread - we would never see this in Britain, and i'm rather confused as to how you might have deduced this from what i've written...

Once again, I hope not to debate these points any more on this thread. I think i've provided (with a very important interjection from Kinsao san!) a more-or-less definitive British English version of what these two, distinct phrases mean and how they can be used.

I started with my own thoughts on the matters-at-hand, then consulted the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries, and now i've confirmed things with Michael Swan's Practical English Usage. This last one is a kind of Bible to a great many teachers of English to foreigners around the world, (including many teachers from the States, Canada, Oz and NZ that I worked alongside in Japan).

Practical English Usage largely confirms what i've previously written, just adding some extra points:

in British English, in case and if are normally used in quite different ways.

'I do A in case B happens' usually means 'I do A first because B might happen later'. A is first.

'I do A if B happens' means 'I do A if B has already happened'. B is first.

Compare:
- Let's buy a bottle of wine in case Roger comes.
(=Let's buy some wine now because Roger might come later.)

- Let's buy a bottle of wine if Roger comes. (=We'll wait and see. If Roger comes, then we'll buy the wine. If he doesn't, we won't.)

In American English, in case can sometimes be used in the same way as if.
In case the house burns down, we'll get the insurance money. (GB If...)

Practical English Usage also identifies (just) in case as a conjunction, while in case of is a prepositional phrase - another reason not to mix them/mix them up!

These are probably* my final words on this thread! Imvho, the British English side of things is all present and correct. Again, anybody should feel free to PM me about all this if you'd like to discuss things further. I don't see the value of complicating things more on a thread that should be centred on the OP's valid questions about just one small point of international English usage (albeit quite a tricky one!)

And to further complicate matters lol, here is another interpretation of giving a child a toy in case it starts crying, you could quite easily say this "Give the child this toy to stop him crying"
Over to you mos. :)

The gentleman that rests within my soul would like to say to you, dear EH:

'thank you kindly Sir for your input. You are quite right, there are a very many possible variations on the theme, and I did not mean to suggest otherwise, or that my examples were in any way comprehensive. Nevertheless, here you have generously provided, for our delectation, yet another equally-valid sentence (albeit without an in-depth explanation, but that is by-the-by).'

Unfortunately, what i'm actually thinking is:

'Don't you bl00dy start as well!!

lol, j/ks sir ;)

made of stone, OVER AND OUT







* I do still reserve the right to reply just in case someone adds something worth replying to!! :D :smoke:
 

Elizabeth

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I'm getting rather tired Elizabeth san, so please excuse my brevity and frankness, but I must make myself clear. I cannot agree with a single word of this, I can only think you are trying to pull me leg!!! 😌
Again, clearly there is a lot of humour here, I must admit I had a good chuckle at the last part!! :) But as for the sentence 'In case of a fire, place an extinguisher in the room' this goes against everything i've been trying to explain in this thread - we would never see this in Britain, and i'm rather confused as to how you might have deduced this from what i've written...
Yes, of course you are right. It's totally unacceptable to me as well I can assure you. :) The only place you might officially see it would be from a non-native speaker such as the OP. In that capacity, were it ever to appear in one of our hotel rooms, kitchens etc a more natural conjecture to me than the idea of the extinguisher as a "protective force" is to interpret "in the case" to mean if there is ANOTHER fire, prepare for NEXT time by please placing an extinguisher in the room. It all implies of course, all in fun, taking the sentence at face value from a foreigner when you know very well that "just in case" what was intended. 😊


Totally off the point and for that I apologize....but it wasn't me that started this line of discussion...:p
 

EmperorHirohito

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Roger on that mos, too tired at end of week to start arguing bout english language lol.
I have enough problems trying to write it!! :)
 

nekocat

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(1) Place a fire extinguisher in your room in case of a fire.

Although there are two possible usages in American usage for "in case," you would only interpret Sentence (1) as "in the event of"? Would you never take it as "precaution"?

(2)Give my child this toy in case he cries.

Thanks MOS, I understand the logic thanks to you☝
But I don't get why English speaking people assume "giving a child a toy" a perfect hitter (1.00)?

I mean, an ordinary good pro baseball player is at .333 at best.
Do you know what I mean?
The success rate of "Giving a toy to a baby" taking effect would be far less than 100%. Still, such a logic?😌

Thanks infiitely, everyone! MOS, your one of our greatest assets, for those who learn English!:) Sorry for my poor English.
 

Kinsao

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Ummm, I hadn't bothered coming back to this thread for a long time, and now, I find it's even more confusing! lol! :mad:

I don't know that I said anything particularly helpful, or just added to the general confusion! :giggle:

Anyway Nekocat, about your last post... 😌 .........

I don't get why English speaking people assume "giving a child a toy" a perfect hitter (1.00)? I mean, an ordinary good pro baseball player is at .333 at best. Do you know what I mean? The success rate of "Giving a toy to a baby" taking effect would be far less than 100%.

Are you trying to say that the sentence isn't fully logical because the toy might not necessarily stop the baby crying? :?

I assure you it makes sense in British English! 😊

If I (as a British English speaker) read that sentence, it means to me: "Give the baby the toy now, because he might start crying. It's not guaranteed to stop him crying, but he's less likely to cry, and would be more easily calmed, if he has the toy."

I don't know if anyone else British has an interpretation of that...?
 

EmperorHirohito

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Wonders where baseball terminology fits in when giving a child a toy just in case it cries?
Now Im confused lol :)
 

nekocat

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Thank you very much for coming again and joining here👍
Kinsao, of course your posts' are helpful! Every post counts immensely to me!

Give my child this toy in case he cries.

MOS said:
If the toy stops the baby crying, and you give the baby the toy now, then the baby will not cry in the near future - you have already prevented it! So, crying is no longer a possibility, and we cannot use 'in case' here (because we can only use it to talk about what is possible).
Here MOS explains why the sentence sounds very strange in BrEn. The reason he gave is that "giving the toy" will (100%, theoretically) prevent the possibility of "he cries." It's hypothesizing for a thing that won't happen.

But what if "giving the toy" prevents the possibility at 30%? From a Japanese perspective, using "giving the toy" in the sentence seems logically correct (0.30 batter in baseball), but for you (English speakers), the logic requires that it's theoretically 100% of prevention rate (a perfect hitter, at 1.00).

I hope you know what I'm trying to make out by way of the baseball analogy. If most of you think that sentence is strange because of the logic (needing a 100% hitter), I'm stuck in a deadlock. In similar Japanese sentences, it doesn't have to be a perfect hitter!

もし子供が泣くようだったら、今おもちゃをあげておいてください。

If the child will cry, give him some toys now.
*In case..., give him some toys now.

In Japanese, もし...sentence above is very natural.

Could it be that the X in "in case X" hast to be very likely situation?
 

Elizabeth

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(1) Place a fire extinguisher in your room in case of a fire.
Although there are two possible usages in American usage for "in case," you would only interpret Sentence (1) as "in the event of"? Would you never take it as "precaution"?
The point should have been brought up from the outset, but for those that aren't native speakers, the differences between American and British English tend to be extremely superficial issues of spelling, some terminology and slang usages. They are not ever, that I am aware, syntactical and certainly don't involve the underlying structure of a sentence that conveys the meaning of that utterance.

This should help to clarify matters considerably. In brief, there are also absolutely not two possibly correct uses of "in case" in American English. It is "if" or and only "if it happens that." Period. The end of story. :)

Whether it is hypothesizing about a fire extinguisher that has a 0% probability of preventing a fire or a toy that has a 33% of keeping a kid quiet the principle of "in case" not being applicable to strictly precautionary or advance measures is the same.


もし子供が泣くようだったら、今おもちゃをあげておいてください。

Isn't this closer to the English "If it appears that the child will cry (is about to cry), give them a toy now." Isn't' it also different from the Japanese use of "in case" as a purely futuristic conditional or possibility ?
Correct any grammar missteps in the below examples, but I'm sure you get my point that those are examples I would read of as "in case" or "in the event of" the child crying.

子どもが泣いた場合には、?(泣いたとき のために?)(泣くといけないばか。。。?)、 今おもちゃをやっておいてください。
 
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