Two Sentences to Think About

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I think formal grammar is a waste of time.

There’s a widespread belief that if you know grammar well, you’ll be able to solve every writing problem. I think that’s wrong, and I have an example for you today.

Take a look at these two sentences:

1.  We need to inventory the bikes, scooters, and wagons stored in the annex.

2.  We need to inventory the bikes, the scooters, and the wagons stored in the annex.

In #1, you know that everything – bikes, scooters, and wagons – is stored in the annex. But in #2 maybe only the wagons are stored in the annex – there’s no way to know.

I often hear from writers who are looking for an easy trick that will unravel a sentence problem. “If I move the comma, will that fix it?”

Usually my answer is sorryno. Most of the time you’ll need to rewrite the sentence. Here’s my version of today’s sentence:

We need to inventory the bikes and scooters in the showroom and the wagons stored in the annex.  BETTER

A child's red wagon


5 thoughts on “Two Sentences to Think About

  1. Wah Lui

    Just because people say “Someone lost their phone” doesn’t mean they are using proper English. Most people say, “Eat healthy” instead of “Eat healthily.” “It is me who shouted” instead of “It is I who shouted.” The one that makes me cringe is “My bad”.

  2. Wah Lui

    would not say “someone lost their phone.” People who say that are afraid to say “Someone lost his phone.” I use “he” as a pronoun to represent mankind (oops, I mean personkind). Or I would say “Someone lost sheheit’s phone. Just kidding.

    I always do the political incorrect thing just to irk the elite.

    By the way, European culture is the best culture in the world in the last five hundred years. It saved many people from death and poverty, and enlightened the following generations. I am the beneficiary of European culture. I am forever grateful to Aristotle, Leonardo DaVinci, Mozart, Beethiven, Merville, Conrad, Robert Frost and James Dickey.

    Did you laugh at my previous replies?

  3. Wah Lui

    Your sentence “We need to inventory the bikes, scooters, and wagons stored in the annex.” bothers me. It’s the trend of using nouns for verbs. It should be “We need to take inventory of the bikes… ”

    The difference is two words. Don’t be lazy.

  4. ballroomdancer Post author

    The trend of turning nouns into verbs goes back to the beginnings of English. It enriches our language. My husband (an avid gardener) waters his plants regularly.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.