Writing Glitch #152

Today’s glitch:


Look at this example for a moment. (Look at it! 🙂 ) Do you realize that, as it is currently written, the second sentence says you are opened, rather than the box? Also, there’s a serious noun-verb error in the last sentence (things are, not things is — the verb doesn’t belong with life or point).

One day, you receive a large box in the mail. When it is opened, you realize all the things you’ve lost in your entire life up to this point are in this box.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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5 Responses to Writing Glitch #152

  1. First thing I learnt about translating to english: Never, ever, miss the subject of the sentence. If it’s a he, a she, a we, an I.
    At first I used to supress them thinking in my mother language, spanish, where you can make complex sentences without naming no one. (Hice tal cosa, hizo tal otra). Our conjugation of verbes varies so much we can simply take the person about of the sentence. But in english conjugations are all the same, for a she, a he or an it.

    Crucial difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I studied Spanish for two years in high school, so I understand what you mean. I remember that it gave some of my classmates a lot of difficulty when they couldn’t tell what pronoun went with what verb.

      English DOES have a type of sentence where the subject can be left unnamed: the imperative sentence, where the speaker/writing is telling/asking someone to do something. “Don’t forget to buy flowers for your mother” is an imperative sentence. The subject of this sentence is “you,” but that word isn’t IN the sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. danaethinks says:

    Wouldn’t it be clearer if “up to this point” was set apart with em-dashes or commas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Commas aren’t necessary there, but you CAN use them if you think they make the sentence clearer. (Part of why commas are confusing is that some of the ‘rules’ just say, ‘Use a comma or not depending on which makes meaning clearer,’ and that depends somewhat on the reader/writer.) I think em-dashes are too abrupt, unless you want to draw special attention to that part of the sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • danaethinks says:

        I know I have a strange stage in my self-editing where I add commas to make the sentences clearer, only to remove a lot of them at a later stage for breaking up the flow too much. (I blame it on the Shatner effect.) On second thought, em-dashes would probably be too harsh in this case. So many choices…

        Liked by 1 person

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