Run-on Sentence

catWriters who create long sentences risk losing track of what they’re doing. Here’s an example:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French, as much to practice a language he himself found fascinating as well as to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges.

Do you see the problem? The sentence veers off track at the last clause, where the writer used “as much to” with “as well as.” To be correct, it should read like this:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French, as much to practice a language he himself found fascinating as to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges.

Or this:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French, not only to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges, but also to practice a language he himself found fascinating.

Notice that in the previous two examples, Mason’s primary purpose was to teach French to Simon. In this next example, his primary purpose is to practice French himself; teaching French to Simon is secondary:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French, to practice a language he himself found fascinating as well as to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges.

The last two examples give equal importance to Mason’s two goals–to practice French and to teach French to Simon:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French, both to practice a language he himself found fascinating and to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges.

In the final example below, I have broken the original sentence into two, to illustrate that it’s easier to keep track of a short sentence than a long one:

When Simon turned twelve, Mason–who was now in his sixty-fourth year and beginning to suffer from palsey–began to teach the boy French. Mason had two purposes: to practice a language he himself found fascinating and to further cultivate Simon’s appreciation of mental challenges.

Questions? Comments?

Cheers,

Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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