What's the meaning of "it could just as easy be us"?

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I have searched many online dictionaries but I cannot find structure like this:

I remembered Dad saying it could just as easy be us.

So, Could you explain to me what the meaning is?

The full text is here:

There was one thing I still didn’t understand: Why had federal agents surrounded Randy Weaver’s cabin in the first place? Why had Randy been targeted? I remembered Dad saying it could just as easy be us. Dad was always saying that one day the Government would come after folks who resisted its brainwashing, who didn’t put their kids in school. For thirteen years, I’d assumed that this was why the Government had come for Randy: to force his children into school.

Educated by Tara Westover

Peace

Posted 2018-06-04T09:05:15.880

Reputation: 4 816

Answers

21

The correct expression is:

It could just as easily be us.

If you are sure you read/heard it said as "easy" then this is probably an example of an eggcorn.

The expression "could just as easily" means that another possibility is just, or almost as likely as the actual outcome.

For example, if you saw a car accident happen to somebody else just a few cars ahead of you, you might well say "that could so easily have been us", because had circumstances been ever so slightly different that really might have been you in front instead.

Sometimes though, people use the expression to make "vain" claims - for example if somebody you knew from school became a famous singer and you said "that could so easily have been me" you would have had to have the same talent, opportunities and ambition to achieve that, and that isn't "easy".

Astralbee

Posted 2018-06-04T09:05:15.880

Reputation: 41 381

The events the author is referring to are past tense, so a more grammatically accurate version would be "It could just as easily have been us." Informal English is pretty flexible about this, of course. – Graham – 2018-06-04T12:37:02.400

3@Graham You would be correct if you were making the statement now and referring to the past. But in the passage the author is actually quoting the past. – Astralbee – 2018-06-04T13:11:19.127

@Astralbee actually either works. It's hard to tell whether this is a direct or an indirect quote, and indirect quotes are routinely backshifted. Either way I agree it's an "eggcorn" for something. – Andrew – 2018-06-04T14:59:16.217

1@Andrew They are both grammatically correct, but the writer "remembered Dad saying" it, and if Dad said it in the present tense ("that could be us") then that is what he would recall in the present. In both the examples I created I used "could have been", but look at the context of the OP's example. They were looking at someone else's house being surrounded/raided. It was ongoing, so at the time they would have said "it could just as easily be us [getting raided]". – Astralbee – 2018-06-04T15:18:47.497

2@Astralbee ah, well see that's the kind of sound logical thinking that makes perfect sense ... and yet native speakers ignore it time and again. *"I remembered Dad saying it could have been us"* would pass completely unremarked as a standard, backshifted, indirect quote. – Andrew – 2018-06-04T15:28:30.707

Unfortunately, the adverb seems to be dead. Too many times people will use adjectives when adverbs ought to be used. – Octopus – 2018-06-04T15:35:16.827

1@Astralbee If it was a direct quote, it would have quote marks around it. If it doesn't, these aren't the exact words spoken by Da, so the author is (now) summarising something about the past in their own words. So past tense would be more formally correct. Informally of course it's no big deal either way - and the OP's quote is clearly written informally enough to include a colloquial misuse of "easy"/"easily". (Whether that misuse itself is a direct quote from Dad or how the author talks, of course we can't know from this.) – Graham – 2018-06-04T15:38:04.153

@Andrew On further consideration I think there is a marked difference. In any tense, "could have been us" would imply that there was some decision or choice made in the past that led to the event happening to somebody else instead; whereas "could be us" has the possibility that it could yet happen to us. That isn't what the OP was about, it was understanding the phrase and I think we've covered that. – Astralbee – 2018-06-04T15:39:07.357

1@Graham I didn't say it was a "direct quote". I don't need quotes to say that I remember my dad telling me that his childhood pet was a dog. And I wouldn't say that his childhood pet is a dog, nor would my dad have used "is" because the dog was long dead. Whether quoting directly or referring to something you were told, the tense of their statement would remain as it was told once you have established that you are quoting from the past. – Astralbee – 2018-06-04T15:41:01.730

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I remembered Dad saying it could just as easy be us.

This seems to be saying "I remembered Dad saying it could just as easily have been us."

In other words, the Government could have come to our house (instead of coming to Randy's house) and that would have been just as easy for the Government.

Carl

Posted 2018-06-04T09:05:15.880

Reputation: 101

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I think this is the same as the phrase I use (and which has a wiki article) https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/there_but_for_the_grace_of_God_go_I

Proverb: there but for the grace of God go I

A recognition that others' misfortune could be one's own, if it weren't for the blessing of the Divine, or for one's luck.

Humankind's fate is in God's hands.

More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.

he is using the last meaning, the govt. have come for Randy today it could be us next week.

WendyG

Posted 2018-06-04T09:05:15.880

Reputation: 1 873

Eh? How this have anything to do with OP question? – RubioRic – 2018-06-04T11:20:35.337

@RubioRic because it is another phrase that means exactly the same thing. But focuses more on the luck/fate aspect than other answers. – WendyG – 2018-06-04T11:55:52.433

But OP has not asked about similar phrases, she has asked about the meaning of an specific one. And the original phrase is not talking about fate or destiny, Goverment can easily go against the protagonist's family because their children didn't go to school. – RubioRic – 2018-06-04T12:02:07.373

@RubioRic isn't English lovely I read the sentence differently to you. – WendyG – 2018-06-04T12:05:09.583

English may be lovely but I read the full text not just the sentence. So I can offer a better help understanding it to others. – RubioRic – 2018-06-04T12:07:26.850

@RubioRic you have read the book "Educated"? or the section provided in the question? – WendyG – 2018-06-04T12:15:26.790

I've read multiple excerpts (including the one present in this post) published by @Peace. I think that it's not my type of book. I don't think that is a religious book but I may be wrong. – RubioRic – 2018-06-04T12:21:23.113

This is not really a religious saying, so the religiousness or not of the book is irrelevant. – WendyG – 2018-06-04T12:24:40.377

I agree that the two phrases are related and I'm sorry you deleted this answer. Had it stuck around a little longer, you and I could have taught RubioRic a lesson in English as well as a lesson in tactfulness. – J.R. – 2018-06-05T10:32:25.183