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  1. Chip

    Chip Member

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    too many "is"?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Chip, Oct 31, 2019.

    The original sentence:
    MS Word tells me to insert "is" after Richard, like this:
    I don't like the way it reads, correct or not, it seems that extra "is" is one too many.

    What do you think?
     
    jannert and Seven Crowns like this.
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with you about the second "is" but the sentence really needs a little more. I'd have it as "Mary is five years younger than Richard, and much smaller than he is, so much so that she can barely touch her fingers together when she hugs him around his waist."

    Seems to flow a little better, IMO.
     
  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Personally, I would write:
    Mary is five years younger than Richard and much smaller
     
  4. Chip

    Chip Member

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    Thanks guys, the problem I have with the suggestion from Naomasa is this: leaving off the "than him" forces the reader to assume the comparison goes back to Richard. I believe if you leave the readers making assumptions they will have to slow down their reading, and possibly lose the enjoyment of the story, or at least, it might be hindered. I don't think that is a good thing to do to your readers. I suppose this might be okay "Mary is five years younger than Richard, and much smaller." I'm sure Grammarly and other grammar checkers will complain about the comma being unnecessary. And yes, Grammarly just now does exactly that. (It also says I should change "being" to "is", seriously?)
     
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You don't need the extra "is." The sentence is fine without it. If you want to take out another is, you could change it to "Mary's five years..."
     
  6. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    I agree with the other posters about MS Word's suggestion being unnecessary. My own suggestion for removing 'is' even more from your sentence, if you like, is this:

    'Mary is five years younger than Richard and she is much smaller than him, so much so she can barely touch her fingers together when she hugs him around his waist.'
     
  7. bparker

    bparker New Member

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    I think adding a comma in place of "is" will fix that:
    Mary is five years younger than Richard, and she is much smaller than him, so much so she can barely touch her fingers together when she hugs him around his waist.

    However, I was taught to "kill 'be's" in writing, so any word that means "to be", like am, was, is, be, etc., almost always indicates the passive structure and should be written. Usually when you do this, the sentence reads much quicker and comes across more clearly. In narrative, more be's are permissible, especially to moderate flow, so having some in your sentence would make it sound better.

    Want to try something a little more awkward but with a touch of creativity? Try this:

    Five years younger and much smaller than Richard, Mary can barely touch her fingers together when hugging his waist.
     
  8. Chip

    Chip Member

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    Excellent suggestions, thanks. I think this is nice -
    When I give a hug I'm not thinking of hugging a waist, I'm thinking of hugging a person.
     
  9. bparker

    bparker New Member

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    Cool! It's neat to see how sentences can form and change to be better even when they seem pretty good from the start.

    If you're going to say "when giving him a hug," I might suggest trying these:

    ...when hugging him. (like your original but better for brevity, reads well)
    ...when greeting him with a hug. (offers something more than just 'giving' him one)
    ...when she hugs him. (better flow, feels more natural, especially when read out loud)

    Or get rid of the hug altogether:
    ...when she excitedly throws her arms around him as he returns from a long school day.

    Just something to think about.
     
    Chip likes this.
  10. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    You're stylistically omitting parts of the sentence, which is fine. I'd omit even more, but probably add "that" back in just for separation.

    Mary is five years younger than Richard and much smaller too, so much so [that] she can barely touch her fingers together when she hugs his waist.​

    I'd probably stretch that last part out, mixing in setting and sensation and sorting it all by cause/effect. There's all kind of tricks you can do when you clear-cut the grammar, which is what your ear wants to do. I think you're on the right track.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    My instinct would be to split the original sentence into two and juggle it a bit ...depending, of course, on what the other sentences around it are like.

    Mary is five years younger than Richard, and she is much smaller than he is. She can barely touch her fingers together when she hugs him around his waist.
     

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