Risk + complement

 

Q:

How can the verb risk be constructed? The following sentence
from a student of mine seems odd:

We did not want to risk that the bat flew away.

My suggestions would be:

We did not want to risk that the bat would fly away.

My question: Is there another structure with risk?

We did not want to risk the bat flying away.

I did some research in my grammar books, but could not find any help apart from "risk doing something."

Marianne Suesli
[email protected]

A:

The idea of risk can be expressed in the following ways:

1. As a verb, risk can be followed by a noun:

(a) No, thanks. We don’t want to risk our money on such a speculative venture.

(b)

The fire fighter risked his life when he saved the child in the burning house.

2. As a verb, risk can be followed by the noun form of the verb, i.e., a gerund:

(c) No, thanks. We don’t want to risk losing our money on such a speculative venture.

(d)

If you don’t leave the flood area immediately, you will risk drowning.

3. With a gerund, when the subject of the gerund is different from the subject of the main clause, you can use a possessive to clarify, as in (e) and (f).

(e) Unfortunately, our daughter-in-law doesn’t like us. We try very hard to be kind to her and her children, as we don’t want to risk their moving away.
(The daughter-in-law’s moving away with her children, not the speaker’s moving away, as would be the case without the insertion of “their”.)

(f)

We did not want to risk the bat’s flying away.
(The bat’s flying away, not the speaker’s flying away, as would be the case without the insertion of “the bat’s”.)

In informal usage, but certainly not in formal writing, sentence (e) could be: “risk them moving away”; (f) could be: “risk the bat flying away.”

4. As a noun, risk is followed by an “of” phrase with a gerund as in (g), or a “that” clause as in (h):

(g) We did not want to take the risk of the bat’s flying away.

(h)

We did not want to take the risk that the bat would fly away.

5. Idiomatically, risk appears in certain expressions such as at risk of, at the risk of, at one’s own risk, run the risk of:

(i)

He’s at risk of losing his business.

(j)

At the risk of incurring your anger, I’m going to disagree with you.

(k)

The sign says “No lifeguard at this beach,” so if you swim here, it will be at your own risk.

(l)

I didn’t want to run the risk of catching Bob’s cold, so I canceled our date.