1. nothinglikethesun9
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    nothinglikethesun9 New Member

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    Sentence Help

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by nothinglikethesun9, Nov 21, 2011.

    Hello,

    My advisor states that this sentence is grammatically incorrect, yet I can't see where.

    Library staff was forced to—not only adapt themselves to the digital world—but also help patrons critically evaluate and use it.

    Can anyone help me? Thank-you.
     
  2. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess your advisor's principal objection is to the use of 'was' which should be 'were' . Your dashes don't really work either. I would drop them.
     
  3. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Agreed!

    The dashes look like em dashes. Intrigued?


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash#Em_dash


    Worth a look if you don't know what an em dash is. Info on en dashes and the swung dash as well, to keep you out of trouble for a while.

    Dash heaven, really!
     
  4. nothinglikethesun9
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    nothinglikethesun9 New Member

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    So what I used was not em dashes?
     
  5. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    You could get rid of the em dashes. The problem is the em dashes are putting an aside into the sentence. You need to be able to remove the aside and the sentence should stand on its own. Your sentence can't function that way, though:

    Library staff was forced to but also help patrons critically evaluate and use it.

    Get rid of the em dashes or rewrite the sentence.
     
  6. nothinglikethesun9
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    nothinglikethesun9 New Member

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    Now I see. Thank-you!!!
     
  7. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Library staff were forced to not only adapt themselves to the digital world, but also help patrons critically evaluate and use it.
     
  8. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I would say:

    libray staff were forced to adapt themselves to the digital world and help patrons critically evaluate and use it.

    my question
    :

    do you need to use ''not only'' ??
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ I agree with Jhunter.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as do i!

    in re the need for 'not only' i see it as necessary, in order to make it clear that the second part of the sentence describes a further imposition on the staff...
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would go for "Library staff were forced not only to adapt themselves to the digital world, but also to help patrons critically evaluate and use it."

    I'm happy to split an infinitive when it helps the sentence, but here I think the extra clarity produced by keeping the infinitives together is worth the repetition of a two-letter word.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends. The meaning of the sentence is changed if you omit it. With it the sentence implies "as well as the expected thing there was something else". Without it there are just two things, with no comment on whether they were expected or not. All too often the "not only ... but also" form is just padding and the simpler form is actually what's meant. But if the "and also" bit really is an extra then the sentence needs the "not only ... but also".
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you wrote 'the library staff' then it would be 'was'... without 'the' it's 'were'...
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The questioner doesn't show a location. What you say is correct (as I understand it) for US English. In British English the former could be 'was' or 'were'.
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your advisor is right. There is a split infinitive, and lack of verb/subject agreement:
    Library staff were forced not only to adapt themselves to the digital world, but also to help patrons critically evaluate and use it.
    If you have 'not only...but also' for emphasis, it becomes unnecessary to have the em dashes as well. Also, em dashes should be used very sparingly in formal academic English writing.
    Ditto digitig's observation that outside the US, staff (and family, company and a few others) can be either singular or plural are right. However, as you put 'themselves' you must have 'were' after staff.
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether a split infinitive is actually a grammatical mistake, though, is a rather controversial issue.
     
  17. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    In reference to the "was" versus "were" issue, I tend to agree that "was" is more correct than "were". If you view a staff as several people, which it is, then "were" seems correct. However, if it's a staff viewed as one entity, than I would think "was" is more correct. What say you?
     

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