Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grammar Tip: Commas, Tenses, & Word Series


THE PROBLEM
In a recent assignment to edit an association’s member profiles, there was one error I came across consistently that I did not expect to: jumbled word series.
What I’m talking about is a list: I like candy, chocolate, and Easter eggs…or, my two favorite things to do are ski and hike. Something as straightforward as these, it’s easy to see the order of the items and the correct “word-glue.” However, sometimes, the series is not so easy to pinpoint and the correct clarifying words are forgotten. Two examples are below.
I am currently involved with the National Association of Photographers and a Freelance Photographer.
I enjoy reading, hiking, growing plants in, tending, and eating from my garden.
FIXING THE PROBLEM
If you break the sentences into simple declarative sentences, the problem becomes clear. The first one would read:
I am currently involved with the National Association of Photographers. I am currently involved with a freelance photographer.
Obviously, she means to say that she is a freelance photographer. The missing “word-glue”?Am; it alerts the reader that you are not “reusing” the implied previous verb phrase:
I am currently involved with the National Association of Photographers and am a freelance photographer.
The second one reads:
I enjoy reading. I enjoy hiking. I enjoy growing plants in, tending, and eating from my garden.
When you create a series in order to avoid repetition, an and always precedes that last item. The issue here is that the last item in the series is a series itself, which can trick writers into thinking they already have all the necessary components. You still need, however, the “word-glue” of the and inbetween the last two items in the series:
I enjoy reading, hiking, and growing plants in, tending, and eating from my garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment