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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Criminal Sentence 18: Compound Confusion

From something I edited. The writer was discussing how he was able to lobby the Legislature successfully:

"Showing flexibility and being willing to compromise was an important step in getting this legislation passed."

"Showing flexibility" and "being willing to compromise" form a compound subject, which requires a plural verb. In addition, the writer is discussing two steps, not one. The sentence should read like this:

"Showing flexibility and being willing to compromise were important steps in getting this legislation passed."

If you use an "and," check that you're using a plural verb.

I still dislike the corrected sentence because it never states who is getting the legislation passed. Although we know "I" did it, it would be better to state that:

I showed flexibility and was willing to compromise, both pivotal qualities a lobbyist needed to get this legislation passed.

4 comments:

grammarlover said...

I disagree. I think the sentence should read like this:

I showed flexibility and willingness to compromise, both pivotal qualities a lobbyist needed to get this legislation passed.

I like consistency in the qualities. The sentence could also read like this:

I was flexible and willing to compromise, both pivotal qualities a lobbyist needed to get this legislation passed.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

There is definitely more than one way to correct the sentence. Your two other ways sound perfectly fine.
Thanks for your comment.

wordwhisperer said...

How about removing the adjective?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

wordwhisperer, what is your suggested rewrite?