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I came across this sentence in my programming book:

There are a number of differences that need to be explained though, the most important one being that read or write accesses to the file performed by applications actually affect the target of the link and not the link itself.

Why would it bother to use the following?

...the most important one is that read or write...

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3 Answers 3

Being allows the writer to continue the sentence. If you wanted to replace the most important one being ... with the most important one is ... you'd have to start a new sentence. That would probably be quite a good thing anyway.

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I agree with Barrie that "being" is apparently used as a crutch for a run-on sentence, but I want to object to its stylistic merit. I dislike the passivity of gerunds in general, but I suppose they cannot always be avoided. In this example as applied to "to be", "being" seems presumptuous. I feel like the author is weasel-wording [couldn't avoid this one] reality.

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The author may not have bothered to explain at length his intention of focusing on the "number of differences" part, leaving "the most important" to a supporting role.

Replacing being with is completely shifts the focus to "the most important".

After reading the sentence, one is supposed to think "okay, so there are differences, including...".

In the suggested revision with is, the reader is left concluding: "I know what the most important difference is".

Makes a huge difference, right?

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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 19 '12 at 16:04

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