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Friday, October 1, 2010

Criminal Sentence 456: I Don't Approve!

From a Web site:

"Simply apply today, and once approved, we'll provide you with all the tools and content you need to succeed."

This sentence makes me ask, "Who is applying and who is approving?" Not we!


Anonymous said...

I'd rewrite it like this: "Simply apply today. Once approved, we'll provide you with all the tools and content you need to succeed once."

David said...

The sentence is readable and understandable, but the writer has used ellipsis rather loosely:

Simply apply today, and once [you are/have been] approved,...

The first clause is in the active mood, the second in the passive, and the verb form changes too substantially, I think to make the sentence passable. The subject and verb should be written out and the "you with" cut in the second independent clause.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Anon, sorry, but our rewrite is still incorrect. The "we" of the sentence is not going to be approved. It could read "Once we approve you, we'll ..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for acknowledging my comment. Much as you are right in saying that my rewrite is not right, I'm a bit doubtful if you are not being extremely pedantic. In other words, I think you examine sentences too minutely whether or not it's actually necessary. To cut long story short, I'd still contend that my rewrite is right, for the two sentences are closely related; therefore, what is that needs to be approved (second sentence) is understood from 'apply today' (first sentence). The risk of meaning 'we' being approved is out of question!

Westley said...

Sorry Anon. I'll have to agree with TSS. ANYthing that interrupts the flow, ANYthing that distracts from the content, ANYthing that throws the reader out of the story, can and SHOULD be eliminated.

Yes, we can leave out details for the reader to conclude on his/her (their?) own, but it shouldn't allow the reader to be confused.

(Ah! "We can leave out details for readers to conclude on their own...")