3

Taken from the Barron's SAT prep book:

  1. "Ron liked to play word games, of which he found crossword puzzles particularly satisfying."

According to the answers this is an unidiomatic phrase that is too wordy and they fix it by adding a semi-colon and making the second clause into an independent one:

  1. "Ron liked to play word games; he found crossword puzzles particularly satisfying."

My question: how is and which part of the first sentence unidiomatic, and how is it better than the second one?

In the first sentence the "of which" conveys the idea that the second clause is a part of the first, as opposed to the second sentence in which the semi-colon only expresses a connection between the two clauses.

Here's the exact copy of the question for those who are interested:

Crossword puzzles

10
  • 1
    Good question! From this native speaker's perspective, the first example sounds truly awful. But I can't see how to put this down to anything other than "idiomaticity", since there doesn't seem to be anything clearly distinguishing it from "Ron has studied many Shakespearean plays, of which Hamlet is his favourite". Which I don't say is truly "unproblematic", but it's nowhere near as bad as the SAT example. And I expect there are other similar constructions that wouldn't bother me at all. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:22
  • 1
    Unlike the sentence in the original question, this Hamlet sentence can be broken up into two separate sentences - Ron has studied many Shakespeare plats. Hamlet is his favourite of them / of Shakespeare's plays." That's why the single sentence with the relative clause works.
    – tunny
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:27
  • @FumbleFingers See Tunny's excellent answer below (beat me to it harrumph). Your sentence is fine because it could be reconstrued as: Ron has studied many Shakespeare plays. Hamlet is his favorite of them Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:29
  • @tunny Aaargh you did it again! :) Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:30
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Your relative clause has a gap in it where [of which] has moved to the front. The antecedent for which is Sh plays. Your relative clause therefore is 'of which Hamlet is his favourite [of Sh's plays]'. The OP's antecedent is word puzzles. His relative clause with the gap in brackets: of which he found crossword puzzles [of word puzzles] particularly satisfying. That is literally the make-up of each clause ... Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 23:13

1 Answer 1

2

"Ron liked to play word games, of which he found crossword puzzles particularly satisfying."

Break this up into two separate sentences -"Ron liked to play word games. He found crossword puzzles of them / of word games particularly satisfying." The second sentence, which is what would be transformed into your relative clause just does not work; neither does the relative clause.

14
  • tunny (and @Araucaria ) -- Are you saying that the OP's #1 example (with the relative clause) is a bad sentence, or a good sentence?
    – F.E.
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:01
  • @ F.E. - I said that it does not work. It is grammatically unsound.
    – tunny
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:35
  • Tunny, you need to make sure there is no space between the "@" symbol and my userid, else I won't get notified.
    – F.E.
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:51
  • @Araucaria and tunny: So, just confirming here, both of you would consider the version with "the" in it to also be unsound: ""Ron liked to play word games, of which he found the crossword puzzles particularly satisfying." -- (Aside: tunny, notice how I put in Araucaria's name; actually, I typed "@a" and the input box filled in the rest for me.)
    – F.E.
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:54
  • @F.E. I find it marginally better, and I find the RC of which he found crossword puzzles [of word puzzles] particularly satisfying marginally better. However I find the generic use of the with singular noun in Ron liked to play word games, of which he found the crossword puzzle particularly satisfying resolves the problem - the corresponding reconstituted RC is also better. HOWEVER, the specific difficulty with the original is not ... Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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