Monday, September 01, 2008

Faulty Joins

‘Her outburst on television was uncalled for, untimely and spoiled what should have been the happiest moments of our sporting lives’ (letter by Dr Woffles Wu, Straits Times, 28 August 2008).

Conjunctions join together words or groups of words of the same grammatical category, e.g. noun+noun, adjective+adjective, and clause+clause.

Above, the writer attempts to join two adjectives (so far so good) to a clause (not so good). The first two (uncalled for, untimely) are adjectival and may be coordinated with and; but since what follows is a clause and not an adjective, we need a separate and to join the two clauses. Hence:

Her outburst on television was uncalled for and untimely, and spoiled what should have been [one of] the happiest moments of our sporting lives.

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