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"The reason we hired an agent who's come back temporarily to be an instructor is..."

The agent who has come back temporarily was hired to be an instructor. But another way to read this sentence is that the agent came back temporarily for the purpose of becoming an instructor and he was hired. Is there a way to word this so that the meaning is clearly the former?

I should be a little cleared here as well. When I say, he's come back, I don't mean he stopped working there previously. I mean that he normally works somewhere else—like in a different country for example.

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  • We have temporarily rehired our former agent <Name> to instruct a class of new agents. Jul 30, 2014 at 19:10
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for writing advice and any answers given can only be judged in a popularity contest.
    – Jim
    Jul 31, 2014 at 0:37

4 Answers 4

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It sounds like you're trying to justify hiring someone who is only going to be around temporarily; if that's the case, I recommend wording it like this:

We chose this former agent as our instructor because [reasons], even though they will only be here temporarily.

The fact that they were an agent previously may be something you could drop, depending on your context.

We chose a temporary resident as our instructor because [reasons].

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You can rephrase the sentence you have without rewording it too drastically:

The reason we hired, as an instructor, an agent who's come back temporarily is...

It's a little bit clunky and your sentence is better left as it is. The secondary meaning that you suggest (that the agent has come back temporarily for the purpose of being an instructor) is readable from that sentence, but would be better written as:

The reason we hired an agent, who's come back temporarily to be an instructor, is...

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I think this should be two sentences for maximum clarity, but if you would like to pursue a one-sentence solution:

"We recently hired a temporary agent to be an instructor because..."

This implies that your reasoning involves the temporary-ness of the agent, which may not be the case. If the temporary-ness of the agent is immaterial, you could go with:

"We recently hired an agent, who happens to be back temporarily, to be an instructor because..."

But I would go with splitting this sentence. There are too many concepts at play for readers to follow it dependably. Clear versions would be:

"The agent we hired to be an instructor has come back temporarily. The reason we hired a temporary agent is..."

or if you want to avoid emphasizing the temporary-ness:

"We recently hired a temporary agent to be an instructor. We hired (him/her/them) because..."

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  • The agent himself is not temporary. It's only his return that's temporary. I guess that's what I'm trying to emphasize. I was kind of playing around with the second example you gave, but I was hesitant because it did seem clunky. Splitting the sentence in two probably would be the best way. I guess it can't really be done in one.
    – Sai
    Jul 30, 2014 at 19:02
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Can you make it passive?

An agent who's come back temporarily was hired [by us] to be an instructor because [reasons]

As a side note, adding commas will make it easier to read but slightly changes the meaning:

An agent, who's come back temporarily, was hired [by us] to be an instructor because [reasons]

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