Saturday, March 17, 2007

Book questions

1. In a discussion of "that" and "which," the book throws out a term I don't believe we've learned; if we have, I apologize, but what is an elliptical sentence?

2. The examples our book gives on misplaced modifers seem to me, also "missing subjects." For example, the book states: "1. Watching from the wings, the orchestra played the overture." The explaination the book gives is that "Someone or something other than the orchestra is watching; it could be a soprano or a murderer [aren't the writers bright and cheery?]. Query the author unless you are certain from context you can supply the correct noun or pronoun" (134). I guess my question is, can misplaced modifers be called missing subjects?

3. The book states, "Unless the sentence is extremely short, use a comma between two independent or main clauses...joined by and" (142). I'm wondering is this "extremely" short sentence a judgement call?

4. The book does this "extremely short" business again with introductory clauses and phrases. "Unlesss the introductory phrase is very short, a comma is necessary to indicate the pause in thought" (144). Again, is this a judgement call?

5. Colons! The book gives an example of a colon used to "add" or "supplement" to a sentence. I don't believe I've seen this often in writing. I think the em-dash is more often used. Am I wrong? The example the book gives is this: ""Only one course was open to the present: to fire the secretary" (147). This seems odd to me; I'm sure it's correct, but I was wondering if this is common for a colon. Ha..ahhh..okay.


Pat said...

Some quick answers for now; detailed ones to come.

1. Yes, we did go over elliptical in class; it refers to constructions in which words are missing but understood. No. 23 on the test is an example: "James is in charge of personnel; Mark, of advertising."

2. Yes, I went over this in class. Clauses in which the subjects of modifiers are missing have dangling modifiers, not misplaced ones.

3. and 4. Yes, there are no strict definitions of short.

5. The colon is the more correct punctuation mark—i.e., the more traditional choice—in the case you cite. There are many examples of colons in the posts and comments at the blog.

Pat said...

This page from the Keables Guide will help you to understand colons better.