Jan 25, 2010

Bonus Tiger Woods post

Because grammar stuff is funny even when I'm supposed to be taking a break, here's an important syntax lesson, brought to you by the Superficial's blog post about Today's interview with the Daily Beast's Gerald Posner regarding anonymous sources speaking about the Tiger Woods Crash. Because if you're not six degrees separated from your celebrity gossip, life isn't really worth living.

So. Tiger and Elin have a fight. Tiger takes some sleeping pills and conks out, because apparently this is a valid way for husbands to end fights now. What happens then? You might well ask!

"While asleep, Elin looked through Woods' cellphone, both sources tell Posner."

Barring the possibility that sleep-snooping is a Nordic model superpower, this sentence fails. I see a surprising number of sentences that make this error in my line of work, and it never fails to confound me. So here's the thing: In a sentence of the form "While [QUALITY], [NAME(SUBJECT)][ACTION]", the subject of the action is also the one with the quality. To give the quality to somebody else, you gotta do "While Tiger was asleep/While Tiger slept, Elin looked..."

I know it's a couple extra words, but one of the times you're allowed to add more words is when the additional words change the sentence from one that doesn't mean what you're trying to say into one that does.


Anonymous said...

That's hilarious!

So she was looking through his cell phone while he was sleeping? Clever woman.

Anonymous said...


(Also, I just got this notice in another tab. How fitting: "This page does not contain any links, to protect you from phishing.")