Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We check our Facebook three times on the way to work on our smartphones more powerful than your computer.

Is this sentence correct? It sounds much better if we remove the our before smartphones but since:

We check our Facebook three times on the way to work on big smartphones more powerful than your computer.

Is correct why should the original be wrong?

If it is wrong, what is it about our that makes it wrong?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

Here, "our" is a determiner, and specifically a definite determiner, while "more powerful than your computer" is a restrictive clause. In other words, "more powerful than your computer" tells you which smartphones we're checking Facebook on. If you put "our" in the sentence as well, you've already said which smartphones we're checking Facebook on, so you need to use a non-restrictive clause. You can do that by inserting "that/which are".

Consider.

I check Facebook three times on the way to work on a smartphone more powerful than your computer.

Here "a" is an indefinite determiner, so this works fine.

*I check Facebook three times on the way to work on this smartphone more powerful than your computer.

And "this" is a definite determiner, so it sounds wrong.

UPDATE: In the comments, Edwin Ashworth points out that it's not the fact that "our" is a definite determiner that makes this sentence ungrammatical. It's the fact that "our smartphones" has already completely determined what we are referring to, so we can't use a restrictive clause to narrow it any further.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1, but OP should perhaps be informed that the restrictive/nonrestrictive distinction here is entirely syntactical and has no bearing on meaning. I check Facebook ... on a/my powerful smartphone. –  StoneyB Nov 17 '12 at 13:34
    
Does the sentence have wrong grammar or is it just bad style? –  Stilgar Nov 17 '12 at 13:45
    
@Stilgar, yes, in case like this it is difficult to say where grammar starts and bad style stops. By the way, Shor's answer is clear in this sense. –  user19148 Nov 17 '12 at 14:13
    
@Peter Shor: Is those then not a definite determiner in Not all the office computers in the office will do - I can only process such data on those computers more powerful than yours.? –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 17 '12 at 20:55
    
@EdwinAshworth All five th- words are definite when used as determiners. –  tchrist Nov 17 '12 at 21:07

Neither of your sentences is wrong but both contain unnecessary words. "Our" before smartphones is unnecessary in your first sentence because it's already implied by "we check Facebook"; and "big" is unnecessary in the second sentence because the Smartphone being more powerful than your computer suggests its greater size. I suggest, therefore:

We check our Facebook three times on the way to work on smartphones more powerful than your computer.

(Your probably don't need "our" before Facebook, either).

share|improve this answer

It took me several minutes to realise what you are trying to say. The grammar is irrelevant if the meaning is not clear. What you might say is:

Using smartphones more powerful than a computer, we check Facebook three times
on our way to work.

or perhaps,

On our way to work, using smartphones more powerful than a computer, we check 
Facebook three times.

Alternatively, separate sentences might be better:

On our way to work, we check Facebook three times.  We use smartphones that
are more powerful than a computer

Note also that you are using the present tense, which implies that you do this every day or that you are describing a series of actions. In the past:

On our way to work, we checked Facebook three times.  We used smartphones that are
more powerful than a computer
share|improve this answer
    
Oops! corrected - thanks. –  William Morris Nov 17 '12 at 21:24

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.