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English Grammar question
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SuperSleeper Offline

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Post: #1
Question English Grammar question
My English grammar abilities are very lacking....

I have a question for some of you who are better at grammar. Please read the following two sentences:


"After one year, Steve moved to Washington: and the employees of the governor destroyed his house. Then he agreed to abide by the contract."



The question: In the 2nd sentence, who is the word "he" referring to? Steve or the governor?

Dont-know

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03-17-2015 01:07 PM
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AirSign Offline

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Post: #2
RE: English Grammar question
(03-17-2015 01:07 PM)SuperSleeper Wrote:  My English grammar abilities are very lacking....

I have a question for some of you who are better at grammar. Please read the following two sentences:


"After one year, Steve moved to Washington: and the employees of the governor destroyed his house. Then he agreed to abide by the contract."



The question: In the 2nd sentence, who is the word "he" referring to? Steve or the governor?

Dont-know

The overall sense, or the the train of thought, has Steve as the topic. So, unless whatever came before those two sentences makes clear that the topic is the governor, and that it was the governor's house which was destroyed, the follow-on is about Steve.

However, the use of a colon after Washington is strange. I'd prefer to see a comma, or maybe a semicolon. A colon is generally used when what follows is some sort of list.

I do some editing on the side. At the moment, working on his PhD thesis for a 90-year-old friend. He completed the Master's at age 86 with double honors. I edited that one also. SHa_biggrin5

Now if in your example it was the governor's house which was destroyed, I b'lieve I'd start over and rewrite both sentences. Oh-jeez
03-17-2015 02:20 PM
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Sleeprider Online
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Post: #3
RE: English Grammar question
In the first sentence, the use of a colon requires that the statement preceding the colon be an independent clause. The subject of the first sentence is Steve. The second sentence appears to refer to Steve. The use of a colon may be in error, since two clauses separated by a colon should each be independent and capitalized. The conjunction "and" suggest this entire phrase is a single sentence. Your sentence might work better with a comma.

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03-17-2015 02:25 PM
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SuperSleeper Offline

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Post: #4
RE: English Grammar question
Thanks to you both.. sure appreciate the help.

I'm not trying to revise the text - it's not my text. I'm just trying to interpret it correctly so I have an understanding of what happened.

I'm simply trying to figure out what the author meant to say:

1. That Steve agreed to abide by the contract

or

2. The governor agreed to abide by the contract.

Given the text "as-is", in your opinion, which is more likely to be the intent of the author?

Thinking-about


Quote:The overall sense, or the the train of thought, has Steve as the topic. So, unless whatever came before those two sentences makes clear that the topic is the governor, and that it was the governor's house which was destroyed, the follow-on is about Steve.

The sentences after these clearly indicate that it was Steve's house that was destroyed. But nowhere does it make it clear exactly "who" agreed to abide by the contract - Steve or the governor. Thinking-about

Thanks for any insight you can offer!!

Coffee

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03-17-2015 03:21 PM
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herbm Offline

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Post: #5
RE: English Grammar question
Steve. Governor is in a prepositional phrase qualifying "employees" which protects the word somewhat from being picked up as the referent for the pronoun 'he'.

Were the "employees" something singular and masculine (e.g., Fred, an employee of the Governor) it would be far more likely to confuse.

The colon is in error. A comma would work most simply, or possibly dropping the word "and". The first sentence is not very clear as to the connection between moving and destroying the house.

If they are just two closely related actions then maybe a semi-colon and dropping the 'and' would work better. Probably some re-wording is in order.

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03-17-2015 03:33 PM
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Post: #6
RE: English Grammar question
Given what Sleeprider and Herb said, I'm now going to say that because the destruction came down on Steve's house, that it was probably Steve who was bucking the contract. And that the destruction of his house was incentive to abide by said contract.

But still, unless there's other text that clarifies the nature of the contract, we can't really be certain from just these sentences.
03-17-2015 03:48 PM
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retired_guy Offline

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Post: #7
RE: English Grammar question
(03-17-2015 01:07 PM)SuperSleeper Wrote:  
"After one year, Steve moved to Washington: and the employees of the governor destroyed his house. Then he agreed to abide by the contract."

Lose the comma, lose the colon. All better....

Now then, why the heck did the Governor's employees feel it was necessary to screw around with Steve's house? Do they not have anything more important to do? They are government workers for crying out loud, so they are paid with OUR MONEY! This is really upsetting. I think someone should do something about this right away.

Secondly, why did Steve agree to abide by the contract? If it were me I would have sent a very stern email saying something like "Kiss my what? You screw up my house and you think I'm going to honor that stupid contract? Well, let me tell you, you have got another think coming!"

Hope that helps.
03-17-2015 03:52 PM
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SuperSleeper Offline

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Post: #8
RE: English Grammar question
(03-17-2015 03:48 PM)AirSign Wrote:  Given what Sleeprider and Herb said, I'm now going to say that because the destruction came down on Steve's house, that it was probably Steve who was bucking the contract. And that the destruction of his house was incentive to abide by said contract.

Or perhaps the governor decided to abide by the contract, since his employees screwed up and destroyed Steve's house (by mistake or perhaps a misunderstanding or goof-up) and the governor was trying to make amends? There's no detail about why the house was destroyed by the employees.

That's my problem... I'm not sure who agreed to abide by the contract. The text surrounding these two sentences indicates that it was Steve's house, but nothing indicates who specifically agreed to abide by the contract. Frustrating, because that little tidbit is important to me. The author died a long time ago, so I can't ask him.

Sad

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03-17-2015 04:04 PM
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Post: #9
RE: English Grammar question
The first comma is OK, but the colon is misused. If the colon is replaced with a comma, it would become what my English teacher called a comma splice.
"After one year, Steve moved to Washington" and "and the employees of the governor destroyed his house." both contain a subject and a verb and can stand alone as sentences. When splicing them together, the semicolon is appropriate.

The personal pronoun "he" is ambiguous in context. Never write a legal document with an ambiguity; it will be resolved against you.
To use precise language, the pronoun should not be used; and the subject of sentence two should be either Steve (proper noun) or governor (title.)

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03-17-2015 07:14 PM
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Post: #10
RE: English Grammar question
Agree with Mongo - it's ambiguous. On the other hand, the context implies that Steve agreed to abide the contract, but it could just as easily be taken to mean the governor. Unless there is anything else to imply the governor agreed to abide the contract then it's probably reasonable to assume it was Steve.

Who wrote this anyway?

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03-18-2015 12:13 AM
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