1. ccppg
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    ccppg New Member

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    How to understand this phrase?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ccppg, Jan 27, 2009.

    Thanks for checking!
    I have been confused when I come acoss the sentence which is with the phrase "to the extent that".
    I don't exactely know what it means by that.So, please help me!
    eg:To the extent that these findings are correct, the norms and practices of most post-industrial societies should be moving away from the use of corpor punishment in child rearing.
     
  2. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, since 'extent' means: The point or degree to which something extends. It's kind of evident what the phrase means.

    In this case, if you replaced 'To the extent that these findings are correct' with 'Depending on how correct these findings are' it becomes clearer still.

    Hope this helped.
     
  3. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    What garmar says is quite true. In simplified and general terms, the phrase (to the extent that) will commonly indicate 'as far as'.

    eg:

    To the extent that we are aware...

    As far as we are aware....
     
  4. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    To put it another way, "To the extent that," introduces the notion of fallibility or imperfect knowledge.

    In your example, the author is saying that parents in post-industrial countries are moving away from corporal punishment, but he admits that their studies and findings might be incorrect or imperfect. By doing this, he shifts responsibility for the conclusion from himself to the findings (i.e. if it turns out this statement is wrong, don't blame me -- blame the research). I'm not trying to make that sound like a bad thing. It's just emphasizing the research over the researcher.
     
  5. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like the other said, "To the extent that..." is a qualifier phrase. It means that the accuracy of the information followint this phrase is conditioned by some other information.

    For example, take your sample sentence: "To the extent that these findings are correct, the norms and practices of most post-industrial societies should be moving away from the use of corporal punishment in child rearing." The opening phrase allows for the possibility that the "findings" supporting the subsequent conclusion might not be correct.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the phrase is actually not well-used in that sentence... but that's neither here nor there... all above are correct, more or less, in what it normally means...

    with a small but important correction to one example given... 'depending how correct' does not make sense... 'depending' does not work well on its own, so it must be 'depending on/upon'... i've found that americans are most likely to use 'on' and those in the uk, 'upon'...
     
  7. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very true. I didn't notice I forgot to include that! You have a sharp eye.

    I'll edit that, thank ya.

    Edit: I also forgot the 's' in 'findings'. Not very on the ball today, am I? :p
     
  8. ccppg
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    ccppg New Member

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    Thank you all soooo much!All the posts above are very helpful.Now I understand completely.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    To the extent that, is a sloppy phrase and should be stomped on, spat on, and tossed in the trash can. Just my opinion.

    What is wrong with if?

    If these findings are correct . . .
     
  10. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    As has already been stated, 'to the extent that' means, 'based only on how correct this may be'.

    The word 'if' is too definite, Arch. The phrase 'to the extent that' implies that there is a certain extent of correctness.
    Whereas 'if' is a definite 'we know everything' or 'we know nothing'.
     

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