1. LittleGirlWithBlueEyes
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    LittleGirlWithBlueEyes Member

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    Is this sentence correct?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by LittleGirlWithBlueEyes, Mar 12, 2008.

    "he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking him to the morgue."

    It sounds a little syntactically awkward to my ear, but that might just be me. Any opinion?
     
  2. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    it does sound a bit weird but you could put it like this
    "he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was take him to the morgue."

    wow thats still sounds reasonably weird, its a tricky one.???i have to confess im not completely sure about this one???um...must you really have this sentence in your story:D
     
  3. LittleGirlWithBlueEyes
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    LittleGirlWithBlueEyes Member

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    I need this sentence, or one very similar to it, in the story. The narrator is holding his best friend while he (his best friend) is dying--he's been shot. The narrator knows that the ambulance isn't going to save him, but he called for it anyway so he could say that, in spite of the fact that he couldn't possibly save him, he had tried.
     
  4. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    how about,
    "He knew that the only place the ambulance was going was to the morgue."?
     
  5. LittleGirlWithBlueEyes
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    LittleGirlWithBlueEyes Member

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    Oh, that's fantastic! I had just substituted the pronoun:
    'he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking Carl to the morgue' but that's even better. Thanks.
     
  6. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    happy i helped. have a nice day:)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the main technical prob with that is the muddle of tenses... knew/would be doing/was taking...

    the suggested rewrite is better, but can be better still, without that unnecessary 'that'...

     
  8. Wordhacker
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    Wordhacker Contributing Member

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    Another version:
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    simpler and simpler!
     
  10. jumbowumbo
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    jumbowumbo Member

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    A) The place in which the ambulance would be taking him to was only the morgue
    B) Having been taken to only the morgue the boy knew it was the ambulance
    C) He was taken only to the morgue
    D) The boy knew that he had been only taken or was only going to and no other place but the morgue by an ambulance which is what it was currently doing which he knew


    Reminds me of the SATs...
     
  11. Raffles
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    Raffles Member

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    QUOTE: 'he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking Carl to the morgue' but that's even better. Thanks.

    It's confusing because we didn't have a name before, that's why the sentence seems to switch POV. How does this person know the ambulance will be going to the morgue? Do ambulances go straight to the morgue? Don't they have to be declared dead by a doctor first? Not sure about that.

    Perhaps:

    Name? knew the only place the ambulance would be going was the morgue.

    I'm also not sure if the unamed person in red is going to the morgue, or if Carl is.
     
  12. Raffles
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    Raffles Member

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    Actually I've got a better idea. Why not make it dialogue?

    "The only place that ambulance is going is straight to the morgue," said ?. Either out loud or to himself, or muttered or something.
     
  13. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    He knew he was going to the morgue, as the ambulance careened out of fifth and whilsire.
     
  14. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    The real subject of this sentence is "the ambulence." The ambulance will take him to the morgue. You have to make this clear instead of burying it in prepositional phrases. When in doubt, begin by finding the subject of the sentence and the action the subject is doing. They should be close together and their relationship should be clear. The flaw in this sentence: you pushed the subject and action apart, and made the sentence passive in the process. You need as few verbs as possible--especially "to be" verbs--if you want this sentence to be clear.

    [He knew] (that [the ambulance] [may soon take] [him] [to the morgue]).
    Notice how clear the sentence is now. Everything's in order. There are no extraneous verbs or complex prepositional phrases
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but what you're missing in that is the irony... and i think the ironic twist to the whole thing is what the poster wants to retain, while simplifying the sentence as much as it can be without losing that... to simplify it down to its most basic components as you've done, does lose that...
     
  16. LittleGirlWithBlueEyes
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    LittleGirlWithBlueEyes Member

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    mammamaia is right. All of those suggestions are great, but they wouldn't've worked for that reason.

    The story has been done for quite some time--almost three weeks--and after much agonising i decided on "he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking Carl to the morgue." with the full bit being: "Outside the window he could hear the ambulance wailing. He’d rung for it nearly half an hour before, and later, in the quiet of the days that followed, he would blame the ambulance for Carl’s death because it didn’t come soon enough. But even as he called for it, cradling Carl in one arm and the phone in the other, he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking Carl to the morgue."
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i rest my case! ;-)
     
  18. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Well, it's better to have a simple and sensical sentence than a confusing one. You can certainly build that irony into another sentence. Sometimes sentences fail because you try to do too much.
     
  19. LittleGirlWithBlueEyes
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    LittleGirlWithBlueEyes Member

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    Well, as you can see--my sentence didn't fail. It was quite effective, and got the point (which was not the point any of the suggested sentences were going to make--the sentence wasn't jokey or to be taken lightly. His best friend was dying.) across.
     
  20. witch wyzwurd
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    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

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    Upon inspecting the sentence in question, I've realized another reason why the sentence is awkward.

    But even as he called for it, cradling Carl in one arm and the phone in the other, he knew that the only thing the ambulance would be doing was taking Carl to the morgue."

    I find the bolded text confusing, because Carl is being held in his friend's arm, and while the friend is doing that, the sentence suggests that the ambulence is taking Carl to the morgue.

    I don't think this sentence has been corrected yet. My suggestion is this...

    But even though he called for it, cradling Carl in one arm and the phone in the other, he knew that the only thing the ambulance would do is take Carl to the morgue.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, that 'was' was a major flaw in the original sentence... i'd also change 'though' to 'as' for even better sense...
     

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