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Friday, September 10, 2010

Coordinated Prepositions

I am not fond of coordinated prepositions, like "He drew from, and wrote about, the tradition of American Indian poetry" (invented example). They are grammatically impeccable, because you need those two prepositions to avoid a grammatical faux pas, but they are stylistically inelegant. I reviewed a book once that used several constructions like this in every paragraph (or so it seemed.) They started to weary me. To me they sound awkward and a bit fussy.

Every writer develops a set of preferences. I tend to avoid this construction, although I'm sure I might have other mannerisms in my prose that might annoy you. I get the feeling with some writers, though, that they don't even have stylistic preferences at all. They haven't even thought about their approach.

So the point of this post is not that you should avoid writing things like "She came upon, and remarked about..." but that you should have a well-thought out approach to your style and your individual preferences.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

That one, like the "the former ... the latter" (referring back to the previous sentence), can indeed become tiresome. They shouldn't be necessary. "Respectively" is also sometimes overused (and imprecisely used). In all cases, one is expecting the reader to coordinate materials "the hard way" (i.e., in their minds), that could (often) better be coordinated on the page.