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Keeping subject and verb together

Writing tipsThe English language can be too flexible for its own good. Many structures are allowed in English, even if this obscures meaning to the point of incoherence. Clause upon clause can be inflicted on the reader, before they reach the crucial verb that explains everything. As a writing tutor, I advise students to identify the active verb in their labyrinthine sentences. Very often, this verb is miles away from its subject, to baffling effect. Here’s a short example:

BEFORE: The boy, feeling embarrassed because it was not a very cool thing to do,
gave his mother a hug.

Reducing the gap between the subject and the verb improves the clarity of the sentence:
AFTER: The boy gave his mother a hug, feeling embarrassed because it was not a very cool thing to do.

Why not check your own writing and try this for yourself?

Deborah Chancellor

31 May 2017


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