Help me with my grammar

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  • #26
arildno
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Come to think of it, I prefer even more:
"Several months earlier Edmund Pope, an American businessman and retired US Naval Intelligence officer who had been trying to buy the plans for an ultrahigh-speed torpedo, was arrested in Moscow on charges of espionage."
 
  • #27
Moonbear
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arildno said:
For some reason, the sentence construction bothers me.
I would have chosen:

"Several months earlier, American businessman and retired US Naval
Intelligence officer Edmond Pope, who had been trying to buy the plans for an ultrahigh-speed torpedo, was arrested in Moscow on charges of espionage."

I'm not sure why I prefer this construction, though.

(Might have something to do with placing the attempted crime and the societal reaction to it in the "correct" time line.)

Possibly, the info about the attempted crime should stand in parentheses.

No, I don't think parentheses are needed, they tend to be used incorrectly too (I'm often guilty of it myself :tongue:). Your suggested wording is very good. As I said before, it's a stylistic choice. A sentence can be perfectly grammatically correct, but still not be the best choice to convey the point you want to make with full clarity.

From the way it is constructed in the original post, you can't be certain of the cause and effect relationship. Most readers will assume that relationship to exist, but it doesn't explicitly state it. That second clause could be historical information about the person arrested. Maybe his role in purchasing plans for a torpedo was all official, and that statement is reminding us of that so we know who he is, and the espionage charge is due to something else he did on the side that has not yet been disclosed. The entire point could be to say, "Look what sort of untrustworthy person the US has entrusted with the security of an important negotiation!"

Stylistically, I think this grammatical use of the semicolon is best applied to situations when you want to make a side point that would disrupt the logical flow of your argument if you gave it a whole sentence of its own, but that you do think is important information for context or emphasis. Here's an example of how you might use a semicolon:

"Several months earlier, American businessman and retired US Naval Intelligence officer Edmond Pope was arrested in Moscow on charges of espionage; he retired from US Naval Intelligence in 19--. The espionage charges followed discovery that he had been trying to buy the plans for an ultrahigh-speed torpedo."
 
  • #28
BobG
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Moonbear said:
No, I don't think parentheses are needed, they tend to be used incorrectly too (I'm often guilty of it myself :tongue:).
Nooooo!!!!!!!! :eek: :surprised (the smilies symbolize a growing shock and horror the more I think about it)

It's impossible to use parenthesis incorrectly (they're just too versatile). Every paragraph should use parentheses at least once (and every other line, if possible).
 
  • #29
Moonbear
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BobG said:
Nooooo!!!!!!!! :eek: :surprised (the smilies symbolize a growing shock and horror the more I think about it)
Did you notice the missing semicolon too? :devil:

It's impossible to use parenthesis incorrectly (they're just too versatile). Every paragraph should use parentheses at least once (and every other line, if possible).
:rofl: I love parentheses (they're just so fun), but unfortunately (so I've been told), they are often over used (as hard as that is to imagine).
 

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