Ask Me a Question

If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.

Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!

If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Criminal Sentence 222: Placing Prepositional Phrases "Without Difficulty"

From the latest novel by a New York Times bestselling author:

"We found the address he gave me without difficulty."

I'm glad it wasn't difficult to give out the address. Or was it not difficult to find the address? Oops. The finding, not the giving, turned out to be easy. Let's reword:

"It wasn't hard to find the address he gave me."

Or perhaps this is better:

"It wasn't hard to find the address he had given me."

When you have a prepositional phrase, be sure to place it correctly!


Rich Philips said...

You can’t be serious about the possible ambiguity here. This is little more than grammatical nitpicking.

Please, I defy you to tell me the last time you heard someone say or write ‘he gave it without difficulty’. Sometimes, reader common sense must prevail over being finical and looking too hard for possible errors.

In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with this sentence and any normal human reader would understand perfectly well what is being said.

Rich Philips said...


In any case, what's wrong with a simple rearrangement of syntax, instead of a complete recasting?:

"We found without difficulty the address he gave us."

'Ambiguity' solved!