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Monday, February 22, 2010

Poll Results 75

This was the question:

What's wrong here? "Johnson said the teen told officers he lit the fire and was arrested."

A "that" is missing.
5 (6%)
The "and was arrested" part is unclear.
5 (6%)
A pronoun is unclear.
10 (12%)
A punctuation mark is missing.
0 (0%)
Two of the above
57 (74%)

So, I was going for answer number 2. Let's break it down.

1) A "that" is missing: Well, a "that" after "said" or "officers" is optional, not required.
2) The "and was arrested" part is unclear: Well, it definitely is! When you first read the sentence, it seems as if the teen admitted two things: he lit the fire; he was arrested. The "and was arrested" part doesn't work. You need to reword it: "Johnson said the teen was arrested after he told officers he lit the fire."
3) A pronoun is unclear: It's true that two men are in this sentence, but I don't think the "he" is unclear.

Your thoughts?

OK. I admit it. If you didn't know that Johnson was a police officer, I see how the pronoun could be vague. I should have clearly said that Johnson was a cop. Shame on me!!


Anonymous said...

I think the "he" is unclear because without the context of the rest of the article, story, etc. I have no idea who Johnson is. Johnson could very well be saying, "The teen told officers I lit the fire and was arrested." This makes the "was arrested" part still completely ambiguous.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

You win, Anonymous! See revised post.