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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Criminal Sentence 578: Help Me, Verb. Help, Help Me, Verb.

From today's paper:

"Maybe older people have more experience and been burned a few more times."

This sentence made me sing that old Beach Boys song "Help Me, Rhonda," though I substituted the word "verb" for the lady's name. An additional helping verb, otherwise known as an auxiliary verb, would be very helpful in this sentence.

The original is not wrong, but it made me do a double take when I got to "been." I was expecting another present tense verb: "have more experience and do such and such," for example. Just add another "have" and we're set:

"Maybe older people have more experience and HAVE been burned a few more times."


Sue Downing said...

I had to read the sentence twice to discover the problem. At first my brain put in the "have" that isn't there.

Fennel Giraffe said...

I'm confused by your statement that the original isn't wrong. It seems to me that the first "have" and the missing second "have" aren't really the same word. One is a main verb denoting possession; the other is an auxiliary verb.

Anonymous said...

Is this a case of what you call syllepsis or something else?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

FG, I think you might have a point! The two cases of "have" are not being used in the same way.
Anon, not sure about that one. Anyone else know?