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Is there only an issue of style difference between the following sentences:

  • If he had to describe himself in five words, he'd say he's curious, forgetting to give you four more words.

  • If he had to describe himself in five words, he'd say he's curious. And then forget to give you four more words.

Does it make sense to think that the second example emphasizes that he has forgotten to give four more words, rather than that he is curious?

Note: I'm not sure whether the first one is grammatical, and the second one is very hard to understand for a non-native English speaker.

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In the first one, you need to put a comma after curious. –  Peter Shor Apr 12 '12 at 11:27
    
What I said elsewhere about reported speech. –  Barrie England Apr 12 '12 at 11:32
    
@BarrieEngland: What did you say elsewhere about reported speech? –  Mitch Apr 13 '12 at 13:43
    
@Carlo_R: what are you referring to when you say 'It is very hard to understand this...'? The sentence starting with 'Does it has sense...'. You wrote that sentence, why would you comment that it is hard to understand (even though it actually -is- hard to understand)? –  Mitch Apr 13 '12 at 13:46
    
@Mitch - Could you clarify what you are talking about? Is the latter question a joke? –  user19148 Apr 13 '12 at 14:30
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, I would imagine that the first one would not be a valid sentence - without a proper buffer :

- If he had to describe himself in five words, he'd say he's curious - forgetting to give you four more words.
- If he had to describe himself in five words, he'd say he's curious WHILE forgetting to give you four more words.
If he had to describe himself in five words, he'd say he's curious **and "forget"** to give you four more words.

However from usage point of view - the one which makes the most sense to me is a hyphen, the other choices being a comma and a semicolon. But the hyphen brings in with it greater physical distance between the clauses - and seems about right as per the flow of sound is concerned.

Note: I declare that I am not an academic - and might not know what I am talking of; hope this makes a certain amount of sense to you.

And I think that after this being done - the two expressions are merely a question of style.

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There's hardly any discernible difference (to me) between the two with respect to emphasis. Both that he's curious and that he forgot the rest of the words are integral to the meaning of the sentence, both providing the necessary facts for the funny situation (execting 4 more words but getting none).

As to the style difference, one or the other (I am not a good judge) might provide a more humorous timing. The second one, as written, is less formal, beginning a sentence with a conjunction and eliding the pronoun and verb for '...and then he'd forget...'.

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