1. eden baylee
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    eden baylee Member

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    Long-winded sentence?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by eden baylee, Oct 22, 2010.

    Hi all,
    This appears to be a long-winded sentence, but I'm not sure it's incorrect. I suspect a comma would help somewhere - perhaps before "or?"

    Even though it seemed he wanted to see her again, she couldn’t determine whether he was serious about pursuing a relationship with her or only extending an invitation to her for another visit.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No comma needed. Also, the sentence is long, but it holds together well enough. However, I would put a was before only extending an invitation.
     
  3. eden baylee
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    eden baylee Member

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    Hi Cogito,

    Can you explain why you need the "was" as per your note?

    Would the "was" before the word serious not also apply to the second part of the sentence?
    Secondly, if I were to remove "to her," would the sentence still be complete and have the same meaning?

    Thanks
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You don't need it, but it connects the two alternatives better in parallelism:
    It anchors the alternatives more clearly.
     
  5. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can get away with removing 'to her' without losing sense, but whether the excision would be benficial is diffcult to say. More clearly, I think, you can certainly lose 'with her' without risk of losing sense and making the thing a little cleaner.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you just don't like the sentence and feel that it don't fit somehow, change it no matter if its correct or not.
     
  7. eden baylee
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    eden baylee Member

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    Thanks Cogito

    Anchoring parallel thoughts, perfect, thank you.

    Art, thanks for your comment.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Cog says, the sentence holds up well enough. Generally, tagging ideas onto the end of a sentence is not as bad as burying them in the middle because the reader doesn't have to keep as much in their head to make sense of the sentence.

    What I wondered, though, was whether you were deliberately trying for a 19th century style? "determine", "pursuing a relationship", "extending an invitation" all seem rather formal and dated. If you are trying for a 19th century style then you don't need to worry so much about long sentences, as they were more the fashion then.
     
  9. eden baylee
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    eden baylee Member

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    Digitig, You raise an interesting point as I had not intended this to sound formal, only that it should be grammatically correct. The line is from a contemporary book I have written. It takes place in late 1980. In thinking about what you said, however, I did go back over the story and concluded the formality works, though I confess I do sometimes compromise my voice in the pursuit of proper grammar.

    The main character—an Asian-Canadian female is pining for her Austrian man. They have been exchanging letters for over a year after their brief romance in Austria. She is trying to decide if there is any future for them based on his letters. There is also a language barrier between them, so his letters are written in formal English. At this point in the story, she decides to leave him given she cannot conclude, with any certainty, that he wants a future with her.

    Thanks for your comment. It made me think about my writing, which is always a good thing.
     

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