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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Criminal Sentence 309: Where there's a "will" there's a way

From today's forecast in the paper:

"Day will start cool but warm up by afternoon"

Sounds a bit odd, doesn't it? I think it will sound much better with an extra "will":

"Day will start cool but will warm up by afternoon"

There was definitely space on the line.

Now that's a sunny forecast.


David said...

How about, "The day will start out cool, but warm up in the afternoon"? Add an article and match up the particles.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Sorry but that looks naked without the "will," and the comma makes me think two complete sentences are being joined together (which is not the case).

David said...

I don't know why this sentence bothers me so much, but I think I can now explain why it appears awkward, at least to me anyway. The sentence is really not parallel at all.

The day will start cool.

The day will warm up in the afternoon.

Now cool is either an adjective or an adverb. I think it describes how the day will be in the morning and not necessarily how it starts, so an adjective then. The word that should parallel cool, however, is the verb "warm up," and I think that shift is what spins the equilibrium a little and has you feeling the sentence needs the modal "will" repeated to bring it into balance.

Also there may not be any actual contrast in this sentence and therefore no need for a "but," but rather an "and" or even a subordination of the first part to the second.

Here's a possible fix:

The day will start cool, and become warmer in the afternoon.

Though the day starts cool, it will warm up in the afternoon.

Not the snappiest sentences, but there you have it.