Monday, May 17, 2004

Grammar: There is and There was

Try not to start sentences with "There is" or "There was." Look at this sentence: There was once a man who ran a mile. "There was" is not needed in the sentence. Just write: Once a man ran a mile.

Generally, go through each sentence and see how many words you can get rid of without making the sentence ridiculously tight.

You do not want to write: Study hard.
But then you don't want to write: The thing I think you should do is study hard.

The first sentence has too few words. The last sentence has too many words. In fact, it is good to get into the habit of thinking of important and unimportant words. The best way to do this is to look at each sentence you write and first try to find the subject and the verb. In the last sentence, you is the subject and study is the verb. Hard is an important word because it tells us something about study. The three key words, then, are (1) you, (2) hard, and (3) study. These words constitute the essence of what you want to write. Write: You should study hard.

Quiz
Identify the key words in the following sentences.
1. The person who is mostly likely to do well is Harry.
2. The mountain looks to me a lot like a big hill.
3. Scientific research should be done, if it done at all, by experienced people.

Answers
1. person, Harry, do well
2. mountain, looks, big hill
3. Scientific research, experienced people

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