Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela Fenton, Terry Gross discussed on Fresh Air


Yeah. If I said we sat down to breakfast, and we had French toast, comma, ham, and eggs karma. I said, yes, oatmeal cry right? And and and then and then you have very clear list. And you know, what belongs to what what doesn't want. Okay. You have a great sentence in here that I'm gonna read also displaying why the serial comma or the series, comma might be very helpful. So this is the Nelson Mandela sentence the famous Nelson Mandela Fenton famous sentence. Everybody drags it out in conversations about the use of the series. Calm. I can't remember the first time I encountered it. And and and I was trying very hard not to use it in in my book because I've seen it so frequently, but I thought, oh, you know, let's just drag it out one more time. Okay. I'm dragon. Okay. Let's drag here haircuts highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, comma, an eight hundred year old demi-god and a dildo collector. Okay. So the only comma we have there as after Nelson Mandela, okay, what's confusing about that sentence? Well, the way the sentences constructed with just that one calm. I it suggests that you are identifying beyond the comma after Nelson Mandela that he is the next two things you are you are mentioning so Nelson Mandela is indeed a demi-god and a dildo collector, guess if you change to highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, comma and eight hundred year old demi-god, comma and a dildo collector has act it's almost better. And it's one of the reasons I will say this sentence is not a good defense of the series, comma, because adding the series comet does not entirely clarify, it some sentences can't simply be repopulated. They need to be reordered or reconstructed. So that they can make better sense. And I think that if you for instance, change that. Highlights of his tour included encounters with an eight hundred year old demi-god karma. A dildo collector Kalma and Nelson Mandela at long last. I think we can be pretty certain. We all understand that. We are speaking about three different things. Okay. Is there a? Yeah. This is why this is what I do all day. You have a chapter of rules not to take too seriously. So one of those is like never use the passive tense. So before you explain why sometimes okay to use the passive tense. Explain what the passive has the passive voice is too disinclined. The thing that is performing the action in the sentence. As for instance, can I give you my favorite example of the passive tense. Does exactly what you're saying all of well, at least many of the pharmaceutical ads on TV have that tag at the end, you know, about what the side effects are. But it's in the past tense. So it's like, nausea, diarrhea headache, broken bones, heart attack, difficult, breathing, breathing and sudden death may occur. So like, there's no person responsible for this. There's no drug being cited that's responsible for the. It's like these things may occur may occur. Totally pass and gets the pharmaceutical company kind of off the hook. We're not saying the drug causes it. We're just saying like, hey, this might happen. Who knows why? I mean, I think, you know, a classic example of passive voice. And it's it's it's very Weasley. And you shouldn't say it mistakes were made. Yes. By whom? Yes. Can somebody take some responsibility? Here. I made a mistake. You made a mistake. It needs a person they're having made the mistake. But every now, and then there's nothing particularly wrong with the passive voice. If you are simply for instance, trying to establish a situation who's who's actor whose performer, you don't know. The refrigerator door was left open. That is simply that's an observation. The refrigerator door left open. You're you're not necessarily trying to say who did it you are simply observing that something occurred. And you're you're you can't say who did it because you don't know. And if you say if you say someone left the refrigerator door open, then all of a sudden, we're no longer simply observing situation where pointing a finger at somebody. So you don't want to take the agency. You don't wanna take the actor out of all sentences. But every now, and then you're simply attempting to describe the situation and the person who did it is not particularly relevant or not particularly important. My guest is Benjamin dryer the copy chief at Random House, an author of the new book dryers English and utterly correct. Guide to clarity and style. We'll talk more after a break, and we'll hear from Judy Garland's daughter Lorna left who's written a book about the history of a star is born with the main. Focus on the nineteen fifty four version which starred her mother, I'm Terry gross. And this is fresh air..

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