Thursday, July 30, 2009

Funky Prepositional Phrase Placement du Jour

I'm not sure how I feel about this edit I just did. I changed:
German auto sales hit their highest mark since 1992 in March.

German auto sales in March hit their highest mark since 1992.

I just didn't like that "since 1992 in March." (Today I'm copy editing under the influence of too little sleep. So I'm none too confident in my abilities today. But I think this was an obvious choice and a clear improvement. Or maybe that "in March" should have kicked off the whole sentence ...)

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Faldone said...

Unless they're limiting the record to sales in March only, I'd say you did the right thing. Even if they are saying that this was the lowest March sales figure since 1992 there should be a clearer way to say it.

June Casagrande said...

My favorite really-found-it example of one of these is: Wilson took a three-year hiatus in July.

Order me up some of whatever he's having.

MichaelRabkin said...

Yea, when I see wording like that I usually make it "In March, auto sales ..." to get that annoying time element out of the way of the rest of the sentence.

June Casagrande said...

It's frustrating because it's so easily to let these slip into your writing (for me, at least).

As a reader, I notice 'em right away, but when I'm working out of that other part of the brain, I just know what I want to say and can't imagine it's not crystal clear to others.

MichaelRabkin said...

I hear ya - that's why I always try to make it a point (whether it's in an e-mail, a comment posting, a Facebook update or any other writing that I do) to read over my own words at least once, preferably twice, to make sure all sides of my brain are in agreement.

Unknown said...

I would have chosen to start off with "In March, auto sales". Aside from the grammatical issue, it helps the sentence flow better.

June Casagrande said...

Usually, I try to avoid starting a sentence (or esp. a paragraph) with a time element. I prefer to get straight to the "when" and then mention the "when."

But that only works when you have another place where the time element fits. In this case, I'd agree that starting with "In March" is as good a choice as any.

Faldone said...

We are our own worst proofreaders. June's post above is a good example.

I prefer to get straight to the "when" and then mention the "when." (emphasis added)

The problem is we know what we mean and don't see the problem.

June Casagrande said...


True, I am my own worst proofreader.

(That made me laugh out loud.)


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