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How would you rephrase these expessions to the effect that…, to this/that effect?

In this sentence:''He left a note to the effect that he would not be coming back.'' Would it be correct to use 'in case' instead?

  • What would the new sentence be? I'm not sure where you're thinking of putting "in case." – Maverick Nov 26 '15 at 17:36
  • In this sentence: ''He left a note to the effect that he would not be coming back.'' Instead of '' to the effect that''. – Nina Nov 26 '15 at 17:38
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Replacing "to the effect that" with "in case" would change the meaning.

"He left a note to the effect that he would not be coming back" means that the note indicates that the person in question won't be coming back. By using "to the effect that" rather than "saying that," the author leaves it unclear whether the fact that the person won't be coming back is stated or merely implied by the note. But the effect of the note is that a careful reader will conclude that the person leaving the note won't be coming back.

"He left a note in case he would not be coming back" tells you nothing about the contents or effect of the note except that (at least in the mind of the person leaving the note) these contents would be in some way important if the person who left the note did not return. That is, in the case that the person leaving the note doesn't come back, the person expects the note to fulfill some function. The verb in this sentence would also probably be changed so that the new sentence would read: "He left a note in case he could not come back" or "He left a note in case he did not come back." Probably, other verb changes are also possible.

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  • 'to the effect that' note reads "I'm leaving for my new job tomorrow." ; 'in case' note reads: "My last will and testament is in the top drawer." – rivimey Nov 26 '15 at 18:47
  • Is there a difference, though subtle, between "... a note to the effect that ..." and "... a note to that effect ..."? I thought there might be, but now I'm not sure. – rivimey Nov 26 '15 at 18:57
  • Thank you, SAG for your reply. Now I understand the difference. You mentioned another expression; ''saying that'', if I used it in the orriginal sentence, I would have to change the sentence completely, I think. – Nina Nov 27 '15 at 11:31
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    The expression is used in different situations... It is a little confusing. 1.She said she was ​unhappy, or words to that effect. 2.He never says anything to the effect of having any affection for me. 3.Special attention is paid below to the effect of the crisis on children and education. 4.He said something to the effect that he would have to ​change ​jobs if the ​situation ​continued. – Nina Nov 27 '15 at 11:38
  • Or here: 1.Harry murmured something to the effect that they would all meet Margaret soon enough.2.Then Sally said, ‘Who is this then?’ or words to that effect. – Nina Nov 27 '15 at 11:46
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I'm not sure what the objective of rephrasing would be. I think SAG has well-answered the difference between 'effect' and 'case', so I'll just suggest a couple of rewrites on the assumption that the original sentence was considered too formal.

'He left a note to the effect that he would not be coming back.'

might become:

=> "The gist of his note was that he wasn't returning."

=> "I understood from the note that he wouldn't be back."

=> "The note on the table left me in no doubt that he had gone."

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  • Nina, it would be good if you could 'accept' an answer; that's the way the site works. If you like both answers, perhaps accept one & upvote the other. – rivimey Nov 28 '15 at 17:32
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    I tried, but it says I don't have enough reputations. Sorry. – Nina Nov 28 '15 at 19:47

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