Re: Grammar/Usage Question

Subject: Re: Grammar/Usage Question
From: Sandy Harris <sandy -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 12:02:44 -0500


> > ...noticed the problem and reported them (some
> > reports) as being lost...
> >
> > ...noticed the problem and reported them lost...
> >
> > ...noticed the problem and reported that they had been
> > lost...

Methinks all of these are grammatically correct but a poor
choice of wording, and all for the same reason, ambiguous
pronoun reference.

"them" or "they" are intended to refer to reports, but
can easily be mis-parsed as referring to the nearer noun
phrase "the problem". They turn up exactly where you might
have "it" or "them" in:

... noticed the problem and reported it
... noticed the problems and reported them

This is confusing.

It is difficult to say without more context, but I'd likely
write:

... noticed that some reports had been lost and
reported the problem

If you already mentioned that reports had been lost (so
that the definite phrase "the problem" has a specific
problem to refer to), then you can just write:

... noticed the problem and reported it.

Otherwise, using "the problem" is an error.

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