RE: RE: Bad sentence #2

Subject: RE: RE: Bad sentence #2
From: Lynne Wright <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tritech -dot- com>
To: Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2015 19:35:42 +0000

The thing is, most tech writers (or any kind of professional writer) canât explain the grammar of what they do either. The mechanics of constructing good sentences just becomes instinctual.

Certainly if someone started talking to me about conjuctive phrases and whatnot, my brain would glaze over and leave the building.
From: Nancy Allison [mailto:maker -at- verizon -dot- net]
Sent: May-29-15 3:29 PM
To: Lynne Wright; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: RE: Bad sentence #2

Thanks, Lynn.

I'm just an old grammar nerd, and it bugs me that I can no longer explain exactly what the problem is in traditional grammatical terms. I must dig out the textbooks I used to teach from, long ago, and reacquaint myself with the correct terms! I suppose it would amuse my students to see me now . . .

--Nancy


On 05/29/15, Lynne Wright<Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tritech -dot- com<mailto:Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tritech -dot- com>> wrote:

As an editor, I personally wouldn't bother coming up with grammatical justifications for why it's a bad sentence.

The real problem is that the writer either doesn't understand what they are trying to explain; and/or they don't know the correct terminology to use (what the hedge are "USB communications"? What do they mean by "instrument"? "Device?").... Its hard to parse the sentence when I can't figure out what they're talking about.

I'd just say that its too wordy and convoluted and needs to be re-written so that its simple, clear, and in active voice.

And then provide the solution, something like:

Install the latest USB drivers for v 4.1 firmware to enable external devices, such as a wireless mouse.



-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tritech -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com<mailto:e -dot- wright=tritech -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tritech -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Nancy Allison
Sent: May-29-15 3:07 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com<mailto:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Bad sentence #2

"In order to use USB communications to control the instrument running
v. 4.1 firmware, the latest USB drivers must be installed."
No dangling participle. Just . . . what?
"In order to use USB communications to control the instrument running
v. 4.1 firmware" is an introductory phrase providing a reason. It's not
a clause because there is no subject.
Friends, give me your best grammatical analysis. Thirty years ago, when
I was teaching English as a Second Language, I could have whipped that
sentence apart and explained its construction with gimlet-eyed
precision. Now, quite literally, words fail!
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Re: RE: Bad sentence #2: From: Nancy Allison

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