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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poll Results 122

Here was the question:

Is this right? "He died, leaving behind a widow and four children."

52 (71%)
21 (28%)

I think this is not correct. I think it should be "He died, leaving behind a wife and four children." She became a widow after he died, right?

Those who thought it was correct: What is your thinking?


ChildsPlay said...

I figured his wife became a widow when he died.

Dawa Tshering said...

I'm happy I was right.

Anonymous said...

I figured since he had died she was now a widow.

Anonymous said...

Since the action, "he died," took place first in the sentence, the "leaving behind" indicated a subsequent action, by which time she was a widow. However, on reflection, I think your version is correct.

Anonymous said...

The conventional definition of a widow is a woman who has lost her husband and not remarried. So, to refer to her as a widow so soon after her husbands death may be jumping the gun.

Anonymous said...

Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says that "wife" is the most common descriptive term, but that "widow" is also acceptable and seen in some publications. The use of widower for a husband is apparently rarely seen. The complaint against "widow" in this case would be redundancy. The husbands death has already been established and need not be referenced again to describe the wife's state; however, that is a view supported by some but not all grammar critics.

And since "widower" is rarely used to describe a husband of a deceased wife, "widow" may carry with it a degree of sexism, another reason perhaps to go with "wife" instead

With all that said: one could say that "wife" is more correct, but that "widow" is not necessarily wrong; it is discretionary.

CarPilot said...

He left (as he died) a wife. He left behind (after dead) a widow.

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer "he died, leaving his wife and four children."

First, "leaving behind" implies physical distance, which isn't the case here; his death only created metaphorical distance. Second, "a wife" sounds impersonal so I'd prefer "his wife." As for using the word "widow," I could go either way but I prefer "wife" in this context where the death seems to have just occurred.

Anonymous said...

wThe person he "left behind" was a widow. She his leaving made her into one.

Anonymous said...

Either "widow" or "wife" is acceptable. The preferred usage appears to be simply "wife." You can read the complete explanation in Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

This seems to be another lively discussion. It's interesting how so many people can have different interpretations! Maybe the woman should have been referred to as Mrs. Whatever-her-name-was!