Thoughts About Writing

We have looked in the past at what is called a balanced sentence (see an earlier post entitled Balanced and Parallel), and I recently came upon an example of one that can remind us about an important use of the semicolon. Here are two sentences from Percy W. Blandford’s The Art of Sailing (St. Martin’s Press, 1972). I have included the first sentence for context, but it’s the second one, with that comma before the conjunction but, which is of interest to us here: It is possible to get very scientific about sailing and there are books devoted to the
It is often the case that the commonest of sentences in English pose a challenge when we try to understand how they work grammatically. Imagine, for example, two friends arguing, one a bit impatient with the other: I don’t know what you’re talking about. He did what you told him to do. How do these two sentences convey their ideas? Or to ask the same question another way, what’s what doing? Finding the answer can sharpen our analytical skills. The first step in analysis is always to identify the number of clauses a sentence has. Every clause, every combination of
H. H. Munro’s short story “The Schartz-Metterklume Method” has an interesting sentence worth examining for its grammar. A young woman is standing on a platform, waiting for her train to depart, when she is approached by someone who quickly takes her for the new governess she is there to meet. The young woman decides such a game of mistaken identity might be worth the fun of it, and so the tale unfolds. Munro, who also wrote under the pen name Saki, was an acclaimed British writer of the late nineteenth-century, known for his intelligently disdainful and witty style. The mistaken

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