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I was hoping to get some feedback on whether or not this sentence is grammatically correct. It's for a report, and I want it to sound formal without putting formality before understanding, and I don't want to write complete gibberish either. Here's the sentence (bold):

"This was something of a mental hurdle, and I think that if I were to begin this work session again, I may have been much more efficient with my initial projects. However, the purpose of a co-op is not only to gain experience, but also to learn that which I could not in the classroom, and this lesson was invaluable."

closed as off-topic by user140086, Nathaniel, Jim, Edwin Ashworth, Brian Hooper Dec 14 '15 at 13:26

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  • "Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified." – Community, Nathaniel, Jim, Edwin Ashworth, Brian Hooper
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I agree with the first answerer's suggestion to split into multiple sentences if you intend to stick with the phrase "this lesson". "This lesson" refers indirectly to "that which I could not [learn] in the classroom", but "that which" is pretty broad and not necessarily a specific "lesson". I think you'd be better off either elaborating on a specific learning moment in a new sentence, then adding "... and this lesson was invaluable" at the end of that sentence, or keeping your current sentence but changing it to "...could not in the classroom, which was invaluable." – Yee-Lum Dec 13 '15 at 20:47
  • Thank you! I think that in the context of the previous few sentences, it's clear which lesson I am referring to, because I did elaborate on a particular lesson. – John LeSaint Dec 13 '15 at 23:47
  • I'm not sure ['not only'] 'but also' is warranted between 'to gain experience' and 'to learn that which I could not in the classroom': 'in particular' would seem more logical. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 14 '15 at 8:13
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However, the purpose of a co-op is not only to gain experience, but also to learn that which I could not in the classroom, and this lesson was invaluable.

First of all, the second comma is unnecessary. Because there is no new independent clause, it should just read "the purpose of the co-op is not only to gain experience but also to learn..."

While the rest of the sentence is grammatically correct, it does sound a bit muddled (I am deviating into my own interpretation and opinion). Perhaps if you separated the last clause into a separate sentence it would reduce confusion and give the sentence more kick. i.e:

However, the purpose of a co-op is not only to gain experience but also to learn that which I could not in the classroom. This lesson was invaluable.

Best of luck with your report.

  • Thank you, both of those suggestions sound like effective improvements. – John LeSaint Dec 13 '15 at 23:49
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EDIT 12-14-2015:

John, I've lightly edited your text below for clarity, based on the additional information you provided, and using your words and sentences wherever possible. Note that I've removed some phrases that seemed unnecessary to me. Please feel free to change or reinstate any of it. I hope these minor changes help you with your report.

"The biggest mental paradigm shift arose when I was trying to design my experimental model. I was used to solving textbook problems, where my only tools were the literature, a calculator, and a pencil and paper. I spent a large amount of time trying to use my technical knowledge to determine whether my model would work. However, in industry, what is most important is whether or not it will work in the real world; otherwise, it is useless.

"Additionally, compared to academic projects, a business has a greater capability to acquire the necessary materials and to actually prove or disprove the concept. This provided a new challenge for me, and I think that if I were to begin this work session again, I would be much more efficient. However, the purpose of a cooperative engineering experience is to learn that which I could not in the classroom, and this lesson was invaluable." -John LeSaint

  • What I didn't share here was that I spent the previous few sentences elaborating on one lesson in particular. Here's a little more context. I'm writing the report about an engineering co-op, and I just described my work on an independent project. Then, I went on to describe a specific lesson that I learned from that project. 'This' and 'lesson' both refer to that specific lesson that I elaborated on right before that sentence. – John LeSaint Dec 14 '15 at 0:02
  • Here's some more context: "The biggest mental paradigm shift arose when I was trying to design my experimental model. I was used to solving textbook problems, where my only tools were the literature, a calculator, and a pencil and paper. I spent a large amount of time trying to use my technical knowledge to determine whether or not my model would work. However, in industry, what is most important is not whether or not an idea works on paper, but whether or not it will work ‘in the flesh’; otherwise, it is useless..." – John LeSaint Dec 14 '15 at 0:09
  • "Additionally, compared to academic projects, a business has a greater capability to acquire the necessary materials and determine whether or not the idea will work. This was something of a mental hurdle, and I think that if I were to begin this work session again, I may have been much more efficient with my initial projects. However, the purpose of a co-op is not only to gain experience, but also to learn that which I could not in the classroom, and this lesson was invaluable. " – John LeSaint Dec 14 '15 at 0:10

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