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julia92's avatar

Is my 200 word sentence grammatical?

Asked by julia92 (7points) December 10th, 2013

Please help! For my class ‘Grammar & Proofreading’, we have to write a 200 word grammatical sentence that includes at least one of each of the following elements. I numbered one of each element, but I am not sure if my punctuations are correct.

1) Absolute Phrase
2) Parallel Construction
3) Sentence Modifier
4) Restrictive Modifier
5) conjunctive adverb
6) Correlative Conjunction
7) Subordinator

here is my sentence:

There was no cars in sight and Oles, his head held up high and his hands firmly jammed in his coat pockets,(1) continued walking along the mortmain road; provided that the inchoate moon would light his way,(4) Oles, thithered towards the gloomy outline of a house; walking over the river and through the fields,(6) zephyr gust swaying the tall grass, a silhouette of an elderly lady, wearing a snood,(5) was surprisingly clear in the distance; as Oles approached closer the candles on the porch light the surroundings; however, the woman’s dour face remained in the darkness;(3) the smell of stew, delicious and inviting,(7) wafted in the air making only the next couple seconds all the longer;(2) finally, the silence was broken by the quivering sound of the front door, musical notes from the Oud drifted smoothly through the small opening followed by rays of bright light; slowly and smoothly the light devoured the woman revealing her true age, attention fully on the young girl, Oles, didn’t notice the man at the door way, his mouth gaping in a kind of rictus that would startle any trespasser; the man marched over and gripped the lady’s shoulder forcing her into the house; the solid door closed with a loud thump and Oles was left to be consumed by the darkness of his pondering fear.

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8 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

First of all, welcome to Fluther.

There are some problems with the sentence. To begin “There were no cars in sight”. The word “cars”, being plural, requires a plural form of the verb.

I would not repeat Oles’ name so often in the sentence. While that may be a stylistic complaint and not a formal one, the needless repetition is not poetic and is uncalled-for. ”...moon would light his way, thithered towards the gloomy outline…”. We had already been introduced to Oles, and he was already the subject of the sentence.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. A sentence this complex will take some time. I sense a pending complaint on overuse of semicolons (usually underused!), but I’ll get to that later.

I would try to avoid using uncommon English words. “Mortmain” is brand new to me, as is “thithered”, and I had to look up “inchoate”. I doubt if many English-speaking people will know what a snood is, either.

EDIT: Ah, “thithered” is new to me because it is not a verb! “Thither” is an adjective to describe “toward a place or in a general direction”. So there’s a problem, though it’s a usage problem more than grammar.

dxs's avatar

I don’t think wearing a snood needs to be separated by commas. All the phrases united by semicolons seem pretty unrelated to be joined by a semicolon, but maybe I’m just skeptical. I’m not sure if it’s technically grammatically incorrect, though.

Strauss's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

The sentence has some grammatical errors, but I believe you have used all the required elements correctly.

I would call this a run-on sentence, but I suppose that is to be expected with a requirement of 200 words in one sentence. I think that also adds to the need to use so many semicolons

The first thing that struck me was the opening, “There was no cars in sight” should use the plural were as @CWOTUS mentioned.

In the phrase __“Oles, thithered towards the gloomy outline of a house;“__ the comma after “Oles” should be omitted, since “Oles” is the subject of the verb “thithered”. (Creative use of noun-as-a-verb, by the way!) The semicolon at the end of the phrase lends confusion as to what the next phrase is modifying. I would replace it with a comma, and replace the comma after “tall grass” with a semicolon.

For continuity of thought, I would insert “he noticed,” or a verb of similar meaning, before “a silhouette”, dropping the later “was”.
...he noticed a silhouette of an elderly lady, wearing a snood, was surprisingly clear in the distance
However that’s stylistic, not grammatical. Grammatically, I believe it is correct.

The verb “light” is present tense; to maintain continuity of tense, it should be either “lighted” or “lit”.

…the woman’s dour face remained in the darkness… How would one know the face was dour if it was in darkness? (Again, a stylistic comment, grammatically correct).

…revealing her true age, attention fully on the young girl…
Again, a colon after age would solidly set the difference between the two modifying phrases.

whitenoise's avatar

There was were no cars in sight and Oles,

[…] provided that the inchoate moon would light his way,(4) Oles, thithered towards the gloomy outline of a house
The first part of this fragment indicates a condition, it should be followed be a consequence. For instance: provided that the inchoate moon would light his way,(4) Oles, would thither towards the gloomy outline of a house In this context ‘a house’ seems strange.
Did you mean: with the inchoate moon lighting his way, Oles, thithered towards the gloomy outline of a house

[…] zephyr gust

What is zephyr gust? Should that be a zephyr gust?

a silhouette of an elderly lady, was surprisingly clear in the distance;
The silhouette wasn’t doing anything or affected by Oles going over the river and through the fields. I think you meant became

[…] light *lit

[…] the darkness -> just darkness or the dark

[…] air *,*r making only the next couple seconds all the longer;

running out of time…

Just some initial remarks. For what it’s worth…

CWOTUS's avatar

Since the class is on Grammar and Proofreading, I would, if I were you, write a sentence that scathingly and unambiguously castigates the “teacher” who would give such a counter-logical assignment, and the assignment itself. No reader wants to attempt to navigate a 200-word sentence in the first place. Your aim from an editorial stance (a grammar checker or proofreader being at the lower rung of editorial management) should always be to help writers strive for clarity, brevity and comprehension, not to sow a minefield for readers. Training you against this objective is like teaching lifeguards at a beach how to drown people.

The more I read your sentence, the less well I understand it and the more errors I see. I hate your sentence, to be honest, as it is riddled with large and small errors (zephyrs and gusts are contradictory, for example, but that’s one of the smallest errors that you’ve included in this farce of an exercise) and other contradictions and misunderstandings. All of that is on top of the punctuation issues, verb tenses and forms, overuse and underuse of names and pronouns, and so on. It’s a verbal minefield.

I hope that you will abandon this sentence and write a clearer, less “dramatic” and “poetic” sentence – and with simpler words, too.

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS; You took the words right out of my mouth (happily since your answer is clear and to-the-point and illustrates your criticism brilliantly..a meta-response.)

Rarely can one get away with such a concept…check out the last chapter of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (Molly Bloom’s soliloquy) and Wm Faulkner’s opening sentence (sic) in “The Sound and the Fury.” Everyone else should be put on starvation rations for even thinking about it, and that includes your teacher. HIs/her assignment obviates normal clear grammar and proofreading.

CWOTUS's avatar

Here’s a sentence that you could build upon, from Writer’s Web.

When readers consider how long some sentences can be and see that some writers never really worry about using proper punctuation or writers forget that humans only have so much breath in our lungs when we to read a sentence aloud, readers and writers would both recognize the nature of the problem posed by long sentences.

That’s a good start, with 56 words (according to MS Word; I didn’t count them myself). You could perhaps give attribution for the source of this sentence, and still modify it enough to make it unrecognizable. Still, that your actual assignment is to nearly quadruple that length is astonishing.

Strauss's avatar

I think the OP’s instructor was deliberate in the requirement for a 200-word sentence. Since the title of the course is “Grammar and Proofreading”, it makes sense to me that by working to construct one sentence, grammatically correct (saying nothing about style) that contains the eleven mentioned elements, would give students the opportunity to recognize in advance the pitfalls and obstacles of Joyceian or Faulknerian stream-of-consciousness style.

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