Syntax Mysteries

dogSyntax-challenged sentences are likely to irritate readers, either because they raise questions or make for bumpy reading. Following are three examples.

That’s the kind of parallel that now needs to be discussed between Vietnam and Iraq.

A slight change in word order clarifies the meaning:

That’s the kind of parallel between Vietnam and Iraq that now needs to be discussed

Sometimes, a syntax-challenged sentence is easy enough to understand; but it’s choppy:

“We have a long history,” said Ken Fields, “of complying with those extensive and thorough examinations of voting technology.”

This is a smoother way to say the same thing:

“We have a long history of complying with those extensive and thorough examinations of voting technology,” said Ken Fields.

Notice how the word order in the last clause of the sentence below creates unnecessary confusion:

The company that sold San Francisco $3.8 million worth of electronic voting equipment is being scrutinized by California’s secretary of state, who said the machines delivered might be different, and thus uncertified, than those ordered.

A simple change in syntax increases clarity:

The company that sold San Francisco $3.8 million worth of electronic voting equipment is being scrutinized by California’s secretary of state, who said the machines delivered might be different from those ordered, and therefore uncertified.

Cheers,

Tara Treasurefield

Treasurefield Communications

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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