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

... 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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