Monday, September 17, 2012

Epic Sentence Fail: That Was Awkward!



Joe sent in a screengrab of an Associated Press story that was plucked from TheNewsTribune.com. His message was short but sweet:
Ha ha! Airports are making arrests!
Amanda Bynes had another run-in with the law when she was pulled over for driving on a suspended license by a Southern California airport.
Wow! That is one spectacularly awkward sentence.

So where does the AP reporter go wrong? Using the passive voice is rarely a good idea when you have a sentence that's particularly long and unwieldy. Who pulled over Amanda Bynes? This sentence seems to say that an airport did.

Of course, we know that the police pulled over Bynes. Except we don't see the word 'police'. In a short sentence, using the passive voice might not be such a big deal. But this sentence has a string of prepositional phrases.  She was pulled over (1) for driving (2) on a suspended license (3) by a Southern California airport. For clarity's sake, the order of prepositional phrases matters. And finally, the preposition 'by' is particularly confusing—again, because there is no evident subject. It would have been clearer to say 'near a Southern California airport'.

Correction:
  • Amanda Bynes had another run-in with the law when police pulled her over near a Southern California airport for driving on a suspended license.

4 comments:

  1. driving on a suspended license??? (How can one drive on a license?)

    driving with a suspended license.(Isn't this better?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course 'driving with a suspended license' is better. I'm surprised this made it past a senior editor's eye, especially since it's in the lede.

      Delete
  2. We have been able to understand all those sufficient programs of either importance and hopefully we will be able to substantiate sufficient details in this regard.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I will suggest that we should use rewrite sentence generator because it is easy to use and also available online.

    ReplyDelete