1. WritingNoob
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    WritingNoob Member

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    How does a sentence like this look?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by WritingNoob, Feb 8, 2010.

    What do you guys think about a sentence like this:

    It is crucial the heritage of Tibet is preserved; it is something extremely unique in the world. Its beauty is something not seen in the rest of the world: its own special brand of humanity, its unique heritage and of course, its unique culture. Tibet, as we know it – may cease to exist in the near future.

    Is it more appropriate to use 'It is' instead of 'it's' ?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First off, it isn't just one sentence. It's a pararagraph, and in my opinion, a mess.

    As to your specific question, It is is slightly more formal in tone than It's. Either would do, depending on the tone you wantr to convey.

    The paragraph is stiff and passive, with many "filler words" like something, and redundancy in general.

    I would rewrite it entirely to trim the fluff:

    We must preseve the heritage of Tibet. Its beauty, its own special band of humanity, its history, and its culture are unique in the world. Tibet as we know it may soon cease to exist.

    Beware of it is. That pair of words often signals passive voice, which can make writing sound flat and indecisive, or pretentiously aloof, depending on what surrounds it. Try to use more active verbs.

    This isn't really a Spelling, Punctuation and Grammarr (SPaG) issue. It has more to do with clear, concise writing. Don't fear the simple declarative sentence: Subject verb object. The simple declarative sentence can explode with power, or state a simple fact, but it gets straight to the point.
     
  3. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    As Cog points out (and surely you're aware), this is not a single sentence, but a bunch of stuff that has lots of flaws and weaknesses ...

    It's hard to know what you mean in the first clause: "It is crucial the heritage of Tibet is preserved." I think you mean something like "Preserving Tibet's heritage is crucial." But your clause is worded awkwardly at best. The "it" that follows your semicolon is not clear as to its antecedent. If you mean "Tibet is extremely unique," then I'd suggest you say exactly that. Otherwise, there is confusion as to how the two it's relate to one another, coming as they do on either side of a semicolon, where the suggestion is some parallel--perhaps structural. In addition to confusion, the ensuing repetitive use of "it" becomes distracting.

    The colon suggests a series to follow, and that's okay (although I think these points could be made more optimally clear in other ways). But when you have a series (following a colon), which includes a phrase that itself contains a comma (as you do), then each phrase or item should be separated by a semicolon. So ...

    "Its [I'd say "Tibet's"] beauty is something not seen in the rest of the world: its own special brand of humanity;[semicolon] its unique heritage;[semicolon] and,[comma] of course ["of course" requires commas on both sides], its unique culture.

    Tibet, as we know it – may cease to exist in the near future. In this sentence, you should use the same punctuation on either side of the "as we know it" clause. Could be parentheses, commas, or em-dashes (--) depending upon the significance of "as we know it." You wouldn't use one kind of punctuation on one side and another on the other. By using what I think you intend to be a single em dash where you have it, you have virtually cancelled out the entire predicate of the sentence you began (or the subject of the clause you're ending with). This renders incomplete (and therefore meaningless) both what comes before and after the (em) dash.

    Heed Cog's advice on concise writing--straightforward subject/predicate sentences. Then, if you want to connect a thought or two for any reason, each thought will be at least intact and likely clearer in the final version.
     
  4. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would have to agree with the consensus. The paragraph sounds stilted and not a comfortable read.

    Most especially, take Cog's last paragraph to heart:
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto to all of that!

    here's a corrected version of that poorly phrased/constructed paragraph:

     
  6. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Modifying the word "unique" by using "extremely" is bound to cause many readers to sneer. They'll argue that there are no degrees of uniqueness. Play safe and delete the word "extremely.”
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Something that helped me, and continues to help me, is to break up your ideas into basic sentences. Then see what information can be subordinated, contrasted, etc.

    Tibet needs to be preserved. Tibet is a unique country. Tibet's beauty is not seen elsewhere in the word, beauty such as heritage and culture. The Tibet we know may cease to exist in the near future.

    If we then figure out what information can be subordinated, contrasted and such, we can write new sentences.

    Tibet needs to be preserved because she is a unique country. Her beauty, such as heritage and culture, cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. If we don't do all we can to protect her, then the Tibet we know will become but a memory, memories only to be enhanced by photos and videos of what once was a beautiful country.
     

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