Grammar as Style
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From the preface: "Grammar as Style is a study of grammatical patterns and the way they work in the hands of contemporary professional writers. It is addressed to anyone interested in stylistic theory and practice. I hope it will find readers among teachers and prospective teachers of English; students of composition, creative writing, grammar, literature, stylistics, and literary criticism; and writers outside the classroom who are interested in studying professional techniques.
Each chapter, except the first, concentrates on a major syntactic structure or concept and considers its stylistic role in sentences from twentiethcentury fiction and nonfiction. In all, the book includes fifteen major grammatical topics and more than a thousand samples of modern prose."
Gross and Gabriel Pearson, p. 5. Insoluble, unsolvable, the chord suspended—was it never to find resolution? —Conrad Aiken, Ushant: An Essay, p. 60. The one use of past and present participles that we will not dwell on here at all, because of the nearness of the next chapter, is their appearance in standard adjectival slots as prenominal modifiers. For a quick glance, on our way to other matters, here is an adjectival series using two real adjectives and, between them, two participles, past and
nor out of context can they really be faulted at all. But try reading them together and the exercise should point up the difficulties of developing a prose style based largely upon such front-heavy constructions. We will now look at the promised samples of left-branching sentences, front-heavy but not awkward, that have been very well chosen by their authors for specific effects. In all the following there seems to be something in the pattern of thought, something either in the temporal or the
reference— that is, when it is a sentence modifier. On the other hand, some of the most effective mid-branching sentences can be expanded internally with structures headed by the element after which the sentence is interrupted. This modification position, since it is following the word or phrase modified, is often filled by appositive noun or adjective clusters, as respectively in the following examples: Of course it was a hell of a nerve for an instructor with so little experience in a college,
seem, especially the last example, to comply more fully with the implications of this name. Nor, then, are these sentences to be dismissed as inferior prose. It is this type of ultraloose cumulative in which Faulkner delights, for instance, and they are well used elsewhere for various special effects. The only tenable reservation concerning this type of loose sentence is that it seems best in nonexpository prose. While the closely textured cumulative is appropriate for all styles and all
Untermeyer, Lives of the Poets, p. 339. A lonely boy, Coleridge retreated into books—he read The Arabian Nights at six—and fed his mind with adventures so wild and fancies so morbid that he often feared the coming of the night. —Untermeyer, p. 345. One of the greatest poets, Milton is also one of the least read. —Untermeyer, p. 189. The following inverted noun-appositive contains an embedded nounappositive, a construction that invites confusion even though the writer in this instance rounds out