My wife, T, a writer and translator, often confuses the words “choose” and “chose”. She understands the distinction perfectly well and she knows how to use each one in speech. But in writing, she’ll often say “chose” when she means ”choose” and vice versatile. To assist her with this problem, my wife created Post-It’s with pictures on them. On the Post-it with the word “choose” she put a pair of shoes, because “choose” rhymes with “shoes”. On the Post-it with “chose” she put a picture of a fire hose because “chose” rhymes with hose.

While that may work just fine for her, I decided to apply my legal expertise to the problem. As it happened we had ordered take away Chinese the night before and one of the dishes was general Tso’s chicken, which gave me an idea.

The Two Generals

Once upon a time long ago, there were two high ranking army generals, general Chu and general Tso (pronounced Cho). General Chu and General Tso were good friends and often took meals together.

General Tso’s Chicken

One day, General Tso decided to invite General Chu to dinner. General Tso chose to serve General Chu his favorite family recipe for chicken. The following day, General Chu came over to General Tso’s house at the appointed time and General Tso greeted him and served him General Tso’s chicken. So now, General Chu is at General Tso’s house. General Chu chooses to chew the chicken that General Tso chose to serve General Chu.

Put another way, General Tso chose to serve General Chu the chicken that General Chu now chooses to chew.

Let’s Consider a Hypothetical

Suppose General Chu, in appreciation of General Tso’s hospitality invited General Tso to his home for dinner the following week. General Chu liked General Tso’s chicken so much that he chose to serve the same recipe to General Tso. General Tso comes over at the appointed time and general Chu serves General Tso the chicken that General Chu chose to serve General Tso the day before. General Tso chooses to chew the chicken general Chu chose to serve to General Tso. What effect, if any does General Chu’s having chosen have on General Tso’s choosing?

My Wife’s Reaction

T thought that my solution was silly and ridiculous. That just proves that she never went to law school. You lawyers out there can clearly recognize my brilliance.



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