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"Bentham, you will remember, says that all that counts are pleasurable experiences, no matter how they are produced. Mill disagreed"

I don't know what "you will remember" means there. I don't know why the author put it between commas. I think the word "will" in "you will remember" is "used to refer to what is likely"(http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/will).

Is it correct if I rewrite the sentence like this?

"You will remember that Bentham says that all that counts are pleasurable experiences, no matter how they are produced. Mill disagreed."

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    "You will remember" refers to an earlier discussion in the book about Bentham's views (utilitarian, as I recall).
    – Xanne
    Oct 10, 2017 at 16:27
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    Yes, your rewrite is correct. You could also understand it as the speaker saying "you may remember", but substituting "will" on the assumption that the listener in the conversation remembers the content of an earlier discussion.
    – Mick
    Oct 11, 2017 at 0:51
  • "Will" here means about the same as it does when a mother tells a child "You WILL eat your vegetables."
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 26, 2017 at 14:23
  • Your rewrite is correct but is less easy than the original to parse due to the that ... that ... construction. The original more clearly demarcates the less-important remember clause from the main body of the sentence. May 22, 2019 at 16:01

3 Answers 3

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There is a thing called sub-ordinate clauses in English. It is used to provide information that is slightly off topic, and you could pretend the sentence is without it and it will mean the same thing

For example:

John, who was tall, touched the ceiling

is the same as:

John touched the ceiling

In this scenario, the author is saying that you will remember that Bentham says this and that. You can rearrange it as "Bentham says this and that", but the author has decided to add in "you will remember" as a sub-ordinate clause for his own reasons.

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Your rearrangement of the sentence is correct. The author inverted the sentence by starting with the subject of the sub-clause and added the main clause in commas (hence the commas). This avoids the double "that" resulting from the sub-clause and the reported speech ("B. said that...) within it. It also places more emphasis on Bentham as the subject, since the main clause ("You will remember") is only parenthetical (i.e., not so important).

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    also, "and if you did not remember, you need to read more carefully" Oct 10, 2017 at 21:51
  • @Sven the author started with the subject of the main clause and inserted a subordinate clause in commas. A main clause can generally stand alone, "Bentham says that all that counts are pleasurable experiences..." whereas a subordinate clause cannot.
    – Mick
    Oct 11, 2017 at 0:47
  • @Mick I eat humble pie.
    – Sven
    Oct 11, 2017 at 5:29
  • @Sven just edit and nobody will ever know ;-)
    – Mick
    Oct 11, 2017 at 6:17
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This author is a bit long-winded, but this is an acceptable construction. Alternatives include "Bentham, remember, says..." or just plain "Bentham says..." . These subordinate clauses are common in speech as a way to give either the speaker time to organize his thoughts or the listener to absorb them.

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