The Power of Exaggeration in Eglish (2)

2013/05/22

No, of course there weren't really hundreds of people in line.  There may have been 10 or 12.  The real number isn't important.  The speaker wants to indicate that the bank was very busy.

In this sentence, the word "about" is used before the imaginary number.  This is often done as a qualifier so that the listener realizies it's exaggeration.  It's not used every time, but quite often.

A few other examples: "I went to her apartment.  She must have 80 cats in there !"

"Man, it was hot in that office!  Seemed like it was about 200 degrees !"

How can a non-native speaker know if a native English speaker is exaggerating or giving true information ?

The tone of the speaker's voice is a good indication, or if you think about what they're saying, you might realize that (for example) the lady cant't have possibly have 80 cats in her apartment.  Unless she's very strange !          (G.K)

お役立ち英会話表現 69
may have been 〜   〜だったかもしれない
imaginary        架空の、想像上の
qualifier        修飾語
seemed like 〜    〜みたいだった
unless 〜     〜でなければ

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