4

Are there any rules governing what the "which" refers to in a sentence like this:

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts a JSON document to my CouchDB instance which looks like:

Above, the meaning of "which" was meant to refer to the "JSON document", but I feel that people might interpret it as referring to "CouchDB instance".

I would like to retain the active voice, but feel like rewording it is awkward:

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts a JSON document, that looks as follows, to my CouchDB instance:

UPDATE: What follows the colon is an example JSON document like:

 { foo: bar,
   key: 2
  }
3
  • Just an example of code that represents the document. Jan 16, 2012 at 16:04
  • @TimLymington I'm not sure I get it :-( Jan 16, 2012 at 16:06
  • I'd go with yours @KateGregory, if only you were to post it as an answer... Jan 16, 2012 at 19:57

6 Answers 6

1

Just make it two sentences. Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts a JSON document to my CouchDB instance. The document looks like this:

{ 
  foo: bar,
  key: 2
}
1

I'd go for

Every five minutes, the Node.js application sends the following JSON document to my CouchDB

You could also write the number 5 instead of "five". It makes a better impact, at least to me. I'd also try to make it shorter, so something like this would also work, if you are less meticulous.

Every 5 mins, the Node.js app sends the following JSON to my CouchDB

0

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts the following JSON document to my CouchDB instance:

Or, if that's an example and not exactly what will be posted:

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts a JSON document like the following to my CouchDB instance:

0

One could move up the "to my CouchDB instance" phrase:

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts to my CouchDB instance a JSON document as follows:

    { foo: bar, key: 2
    }

I think this concisely fixes the ambiguity problem. A remaining drawback of the above form is that it has no good place for an end-of-sentence period. If that's a problem you can't abide, change "as follows:" to "as shown below.".

1
  • Both “…as follows” and “the following…” are fine with a period instead of a colon, I think. It’s just that a colon is perhaps more common.
    – Jon Purdy
    Jan 16, 2012 at 20:10
0

Every five minutes, the Node.js application posts to my CouchDB instance a JSON document (which is) coded below:

:{ foo: bar,
key: 2
}
0

There are no "rules" in play here. Without context, the construction is inherently ambiguous.

I'm sure it doesn't really matter though. In the actual context, something will follow the colon. Anyone who can't instantly tell whether that "something" is a JSON document or a CouchDB instance probably shouldn't be reading it anyway.

Note that I shouldn't be reading it, since I wouldn't have a clue what either of those things might look like. If OP thinks he might have any such readers (outside this ELU context), he should simply break it down into separate statements (or otherwise rephrase) as others have suggested.

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.