1. Geckofeet
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    Geckofeet Member

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    Negation Use?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Geckofeet, Aug 27, 2011.

    Hi everyone, my word processor is telling me something I've never heard of before and don't know how to fix. The sentence is:


    No one who was about to enter into the service of their village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over, and even the villagers did not dare break this sacred silence.

    Microsoft Word is telling me :Negation Use (consider revising)

    I'm not sure what's wrong with it. I read it and it seems fine to me. Any help?

    Actually, I added another phrase into that sentence so it reads:

    No one who was about to enter into the service of their village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over, and even the villagers, who were exempt from this law, did not dare break this sacred silence.

    This one I will keep, but I'm unsure of the reason why the first one is "wrong"
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Do not attempt to learn grammar from Microsoft Word, or from any other automated gammar checker.

    Grammatical analysis is too complex for automation. Any grammar checker can only give a best5 guess. It is the writer's burden to understand grammar, and to know when to disregard the advice of an automated checker.

    The comma after law in your revised example does not belong, by the way.
     
  3. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    No comma after law? Are you quite sure?
     
  4. Geckofeet
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    Geckofeet Member

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    That, I swear, is going to be my new mantra. Microsoft Word is sometimes pretty bad with grammar checking, but this was the first time I've seen Negation Use before, so I just wanted to double-check.

    Hmm...I don't see anything wrong with the comma after law. Can you explain why? I learned that if I can take whatever is in between the commas out and the sentence can still make sense, it is ok.

    Thanks!
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I apologize. I missed the other comma after villagers. That makes who were exempt from this law a parenthetical phrase rather than a qualifying phrase, which is acceptable.

    I would recommend breaking it into two sentences, though:

    The difference between a parenthetical phrase and a qualifying phrase can be seen here:
    In the first sentence, all the villagers are exempt. In the second, certain villagers are exempt, but choose to keep their silence anyway.

    You never want to separate the subjecrt from the verb with a comma, as in:
    That is what I had thought you had written.
     
  6. Geckofeet
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    Geckofeet Member

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    Thanks. That sounds even better! :D
     
  7. Admin
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    Cogito is the best teacher ever.

    Geckofeet, I assume Word was trying to tell you that this:

    was wrong. Obviously it's not, but that's my best deduction.
     
  8. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    One thing that strikes me as odd about your sentence is why you follow up 'their' with 'her':

    No one who was about to enter into the service of their village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over, and even the villagers did not dare break this sacred silence.

    If the ones going into service are all female, why not use 'her' in both instances? It seems confusing as it is, but maybe it's just because the sentence is out of context.

    Just a thought.

    Rachel
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to ditto rachel's question...

    and the second version seems way over-crammed to me... plus, the repeat of 'this' annoys...
     
  10. Geckofeet
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    Geckofeet Member

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    Hmmm you're right. That does sound kind of strange.

    I've changed it. How does this look as the final draft?


    No one who was about to enter into the service of her village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over. Even the villagers, who were exempt from this law, did not dare break the sacred silence.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    placing a comma after 'villagers' and 'law' makes it mean that all villagers were exempt... and if so, how can the first sentence make any sense?

    you seem to have meant that only some villagers were exempt and in that case, no commas should be in that sentence at all...
     
  12. Geckofeet
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    Geckofeet Member

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    All of the villagers were exempt from the law except for the ones who were serving that particular day.

    Did I unwittingly lump the women (the ones serving) in with the rest of the villagers?

    Or should I instead write:

    No one who was about to enter into the service of her village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over. Even the other villagers, who were exempt from this law, did not dare break the sacred silence.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you did...

    your new version is still confused/confusing... exactly who is exempt and who serves?... what you've written so far doesn't make it clear to the reader...
     
  14. Xyphon
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    I think what you want to put is this:
    No one who was about to enter into the service of her village was allowed to speak until her Duty was over. Even the villagers who were exempt from this law did not dare break the sacred silence.

    Remove the commas. Without "other", it makes it seem like every single villager is exempt, with "other" it makes it downright confusing. Without the commas, it makes it seem like only certain villages are exempt, which is what I assume you wanted it to say.
     
  15. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    I'd have used "no-one" rather than "no one" which might have yielded a different response from Word. However, the Oxford English Dictionary clearly endorses "no one" rather than "no-one". At what point in the aeons of time since I was at school did the hyphen get dropped? OED cites usage of "no-one" as late as 1988.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the us i've never seen the hyphenated version considered correct...
     
  17. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    I write in UK English, not US English. No-one is not incorrect in UK English, although "no one" is more prevalent. It may be that is has become more prevalent over time through the cultural domination of the US. There are many examples of how UK English is being eroded. I start to have sympathy with the French who have fought so hard to preserve the integrity of their language.

    There are many other instances of language which are correct in UK English and incorrect in US English. I take the view that if I can make the effort to understand US English, people in the US should be able to understand my English.

    I was, inter alia, browsing through the archives of the "word a week" thread and came across "crochet" as a sort of hook. In UK English, "crochet" refers exclusively to the craft that is similar to knitting. "Crotchet" can mean a hook, a forked pole, or a musical note that is half a minim.

    Unfortunately, I don't have access to a dictionary like Webster's to look up US English words. I do have free online access to the OED (courtesy of our wonderful system of public libraries).
     
  18. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    Can "her Duty" ever be correct? I can see "the Duty" where Duty is referring to one unique and special thing, called the Duty. Here in the UK we talk about the governments of the world, but the Government refers to our one UK government.

    I see more and more use of initial capitalisationof nouns in ways that were viewed as incorrect back in the mists of time when I was taught English at school. Is this an example of incorrect English, or of language changing? Are we moving to a situation where capitilisation of a noun just means that the author wants to draw attention to the word? Will we end up capitalising all nouns, as in German?
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that depends on the sentences around it. Without seeing it in context we can't tell what the author is doing with sentence lengths overall.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In this case, I would break it into two sentences regardless of what surrounds it. It is too unwieldy.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose it's a matter of personal style. I'm used to, and comfortable with, reading sentences of that length and complexity (and I mean in popular modern fiction, not To The Lighthouse).
     
  22. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends how old you are, of course, but if you are exceedingly old - three or four hundred years perhaps - your English teacher would have taught that nouns are better capitalised.
     

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