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Help with this sentence structure
Help needed with a sentence
JLShadowknight

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 10:17 pm on Oct 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was wondering if this sort of sentence is incorrect or not:

Dave picked up the paper, throwing it away soon afterwards.

 

Goober

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 10:50 pm on Oct 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Howdy,

It may be correct, but it sure sounds funny. Why would you need to structure the sentence that way? Is if for a paper or something?

Goober

Goober

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 10:51 pm on Oct 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Oops...

Welcome to Webmaster World.

Glad you found it.

Goober

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 3:49 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome, JLS. The structure is correct, and there is no confusion as to whether "throwing" modifies "Dave" or "paper". Nevertheless, it sounds a bit odd. I'd prefer, "Dave picked up the paper, but threw it away soon afterwards." If the discarding of the paper was not surprising, then "... and threw it away..." would work better.

georged

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 4:21 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

"Dave picked up the paper, throwing it away soon afterwards."

Soon after picking up the paper, Dave threw it away.

Dave picked up the paper, but threw it away soon after.

Dave picked upo the paper, but soon threw it away.

Shortly after picking up the paper, Dave threw it away again.

No sooner had Dave picked up the paper than....

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

oops....
sorry.

rossH

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 4:51 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the reason the sentence sounds funny is timing - "throwing" is a present participle, best used in a more descriptive way perhaps as a matter of style; following the physically active "picked up" it lacks the equivalent force of activity, and the transition is too abrupt - you could make the sentence longer, or keep it terse and make the words punchier.

So "threw" would match "picked" much better.

"Dave picked up the paper, but found it meaningless, and threw it away, thinking that the sentence could now end with finality."

.02

Hawkgirl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 10:31 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

The problem with the sentence (as it is written) is that Dave needs to learn how to recycle. ;)

Other than that, the sentence is OK. I think both rogerd and rossH explained things really well.

I've recently been tripped up with a few double-words in sentences. I've read these from writers I trust.

"I think that that course of action is not the best one to take."

"The question is, is she ready for the challenge?"

Technically correct on both (I think?) but both are awkward. They're both easily rewritten, but I guess even the best writers get lazy sometimes.

DerekH

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 12:01 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Er...

>>>"Dave picked up the paper, but found it meaningless, and threw it away"

After picking up the paper, Dave threw it away as meaningless.

Surely, the fewer the words the better :-)
DerekH

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 12:22 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Picked up is past tense and doesn't sit comfortably with "throwing" where tense is concerned.

>>Dave picked up the paper, throwing it away soon afterwards.

Dave threw away the paper shortly after having picked it up.
Dave threw the paper away shortly after picking it up.
Dave threw the paper away shortly after he had picked it up.
Dave threw the paper away shortly after having picked it up.

There's a technicality in how the tense is used, and also deciding emphasis and sequencing for which is the predominant and supportive part of the phrasing. And the formation of the word combo in the verb: where would "away" sit more comfortablly in the word sequencing.

There's past tense, and then there's past perfect tense

[web2.uvcs.uvic.ca...]

[edited by: Marcia at 12:25 am (utc) on Oct. 10, 2003]

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 12:24 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

JLShadowknight, don't keep us in suspense. What was on the paper, and why did Dave throw it away so quickly? And, as Hawkgirl might ask, what does Dave have against the environment? ;)

Bradley

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 12:36 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)


You could keep it simple: Dave picked up the paper, then threw it away.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 1:10 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>could keep it simple

Yep, and it's comfortable tense-wise.

Another thing is what the purpose of the writing is. For business writing it's best short and concise, unless there's a mental picture being created in the mind of potential customers, but if it were a "writing" site with fiction as content it could go beyond just sentence and grammatical structure, with a sentence like that being used to illustrate points that tie in with the plot and tell something about the character.

Dave could be a concerned political activist who picked up the paper and read that a section of town was being taken over by the State to put in a freeway, with multiple low income homeowners being displaced, being compensated pennies on the dollar for their property. People could be losing their homes and unable to buy others because of financial loss. Dave may be so disheartened, indignant and and angry at their plight that he'd pick up the paper, rip it to shreds and throw it away in disgust.

We then could see Dave making plans to run for the State Assembly in the next election. That could be fiction or it could be real, and if it were written up for campaign purposes, it would have to be written in a way to demonstrate his character and motivations to motivate and influence the voters.

Grammar is grammar, but how does the saying go - function precedes form?

lawboy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 3:03 pm on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dave picked up the paper, then discarded it.

Only eight words.

However, if "soon" must be in the sentence, then:

Dave grabbed the paper, but soon discarded it.

Still only eight words.

yogis

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 10:18 am on Oct 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Either of us is crazy. whether the answerer or answer seeker. Gramatically the sentence is fine but logically its unpleasant to read.

Make sure you dont use it often.

'Dave picked the paper and soon threw it away afterwards.' ---------- sounds better, ha?

moonbather

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 3:55 am on Nov 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

"moonbather found this thread, and posted soon afterwards."

GeorgeNZ

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 8:52 am on Dec 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Grammatically and structurally, the muddled tenses are incorrect.

Dave picked up the paper but soon threw it away.

Yes, I know "threw it away" is three words while "discarded it" is only two but the first example has fewer syllables.

The "afterwards" reference isn't needed because he wouldn't throw it away before he picked it up so it's redundant.

jsherrod

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 430 posted 8:10 pm on Dec 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

"...throwing it away soon afterwards."
--That seems to be a participial phrase functioning as an adjective modifying Dave. The sentence structure sounds wierd but I believe it is correct. But correct is virtually meaningless in this world. Perception rules.

[cp.org...]

cheers

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