Too Much Work for One Sentence

The other evening, I came across this sentence and got stuck on the questions it raised for me. It’s a good example of how asking a sentence to do too much work can interrupt the reader’s flow:

A middle-aged man came through the crowded room and Marsha introduced me to the owner, who led us outside.

Who is the middle-aged man? Is he the owner? Apparently, since there doesn’t appear to be any other reason to mention him, so no harm done; except that it would be better if the questions didn’t arise in the first place. Here are a couple of alternatives. Note that both of them divide the work into two sentences, instead of leaving it all to one:

The owner, a middle-aged man, came through the crowded room to greet us. Marsha introduced me to him, and he led us outside.

A middle aged man who turned out to be the owner came through the crowded room. Marsha introduced me to him, and he led us outside.

Questions and comments welcome.

Cheers,

Tara Treasurefield
Treasurefield Communications.

Advertisements

About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
This entry was posted in sentence structure. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s