1. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England

    Prepositions - what's wrong with them?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 14, 2015.

    Just searching the net for 'common mistakes by amateur writers' and found a site that lists overuse of prepositions as one.
    • Extra prepositions. If your writing feels choppy, count the number of prepositions you’ve got in a sentence, and then try to cut the number nearly in half, Yagoda advises. Prepositions are a weak part of speech, and the more they clutter up the sentence, the duller it is to read.
    Annoyingly the website presumes we all know what a preposition is. I didn't and had to look it up. On doing so I discovered a whole plethora of words which are classed as prepositions. See here: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/examples-of-prepositions.html

    What I've been unable to find, however, is why their use is considered the sign of an amateur writer. Ideally, I need a list of sentences that use prepositions, and then the same sentence written in such a way that it omits them and still makes sense.[/quote]
     
  2. daemon
    Offline

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    982
    I am honestly baffled by that advice. I mean, the quoted part alone has 4 prepositions:
    Here, I will try to write it without prepositions (or should I say, "I will try to write it and not include prepositions"):

    "Extra prepositions. If your writing feels choppy, count how many prepositions a sentence contains and try almost to halve them, Yagoda advises. Prepositions are a weak speech-part, and the more they clutter up the sentence, the duller it is to read."

    Yeah, not seeing how that is supposed to help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
    jannert likes this.
  3. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,890
    Likes Received:
    10,073
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I have to agree with @daemon. This advice is ridiculous. I have a feeling that the writer is actually referring to something else and pointing at prepositions as some lazy sort of marker for Thing X*. Maybe he means sentences that are overly or clumsily clause heavy, which would have a lot of prepositions as a correlative, but the prepositions themselves aren't the problem.

    * The same way many people tell you to look for the word was as a marker for passive voice. Yes, sometimes, but passive can exist without it and active can exist with it, so.... lazy way of defining it.
     
    jannert, Sifunkle and ChickenFreak like this.
  4. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Just chiming in to agree that this advice makes no sense at all. It sounds like "recipe" advice--advice given without offering, and I suspect without possessing, any background or understanding.
     
    jannert likes this.
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Wreybies likes this.
  6. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,890
    Likes Received:
    10,073
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Agreed, and the examples given.... Ok, yes, they all consist of unneeded prepositions, but more than this, they feel like a small facet of a larger issue: idiomatically sloppy speech invading narrative. Again, as you stated, without explaining the why, the advice is nonsensical.
     
  7. daemon
    Offline

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    982
    From that page:
    The author incorrectly says the bold words are unnecessary prepositions, but they are in fact adverbs. And I agree they are verbal clutter and removing them would improve the sentences. Not because they are adverbs and adverbs are bad, but because they do not add any meaning to those particular sentences. (I would also remove the preposition "with" from the fourth sentence. He joined the resistance.)

    Which reminds me of the famous quip about not ending a sentence with a preposition:

    "This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."

    It should really be:

    "This is the kind of arrant pedantry with which I will not put up."

    because "up" is an adverb.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
    jannert likes this.
  8. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    I'm glad the advice didn't make sense to others, too.

    So that said, can anyone do a better job of showing prepositions and how they can be removed to improve a sentence or paragraph?

    Although I still don't fully understand prepositions, I have a sneaky suspicion from that link posted by ChickenFreak, that I'm not guilty of their over-use, even if not by design.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  9. NiallRoach
    Offline

    NiallRoach Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2015
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    276
    Location:
    The middle of the UK
    Oh my god, finally someone else who sees that wrote for the arse gravy it is.
     
  10. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    I must admit I'm very prone to False Authority Syndrome. I'm getting better now, but I still fall for it at times.
     
  11. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    It never ceases to amaze me ...well, no, actually, it DOES cease to amaze me after the umpteenth instance rears its stupid head ...how many people out there dispensing 'advice' about creative writing seem to think there is a shortcut to excellence. Never do this. Always do that. Cut out all instances of whatever. Bizarre.
     
  12. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,216
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Oh my God, I'm the same way. My mind says 'If an authority figure said it, it must be true.' I'm getting better at not falling for it though.

    The advice I give myself is, in regards to prepositions: "Don't make it sound like Yoda wrote it." :p
     
    OurJud and jannert like this.
  13. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    Unless you want it to sound like Yoda wrote it! :)
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  14. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,216
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Mmm! The best of times the day was, or worst of it was it? The hour of darkness or light, yes? Or the despair of the hour, hmmm? Deceit or truth, ponder this I must.

    ...

    "More, can I have, sir?" Said Oliver.
    "More do you? A selfish rat, you are!" the man snarled. "Hungry are the children, yet take everything for yourself do you? The Dark Side, I sense in you. Come, to the Master we will see."
    Grabbed the boy's arm did he and haul him up the stairs. Grumbled did the boy's stomach. The door burst open. "Asked for more, the boy did!"
    The Master looked up, dripping with boredom his eyes were. "More, says he?"
    "Aye."
    To the boy the Master's attention turned to. "Much to learn, you still have my Padawan. Selfishness, self-serving, gluttony are the ways of the Sith, yes? Hmm... Mediate we must." Get on the floor and crossed his legs he did, long ears lowering as did his head. Closed his eyes he did. The boy made to follow suit he was. "Join me, will you. This exercise, we will repeat."
     
    jannert likes this.

Share This Page