I’m a regular reader of New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd’s column, which provides me with lot of input of contemporary English expressions that I cannot learn from ordinary English text books and readings.

Today’s (February 14) New York Times carries her article titled “That Old Black Magic” starting with the following statement:

As though Bill Donohue didn’t have enough to be cranky about.

The perpetually apoplectic Catholic League president is on the rampage about President Obama trying to make sure women working at Catholic institutions get insurance coverage for birth control.

What’s wrong with the rhythm method anyway? That’s how I got here.

I wonder if the first line and the second copy block is a single sentence connected with the conjunction, “As though.”

Why did she put a period after “be cranky about” and separated it from the following line, “The perpetually apoplectic Catholic League president is on the rampage ...” with a space.

Are they separate sentences? If so, what is the function of “As though”? Is this Dowd’s special writing style?

  • By most reckonings, "As though/if X" isn't a "sentence" - it's a clause which in this case would normally be followed by something else also causing Donohue to be cranky. But there's no law saying every sentence must be complete and "self-contained". If there were, oP's final sentence would be invalid, since it doesn't tell us what "this" refers to. Feb 15, 2012 at 22:29
  • That is journalese for you, not necessarily formal grammar. It makes a stronger "statement" than a grammatically correct and complete sentence.
    – Kris
    Oct 22, 2012 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


The idea was to make the reader pause and think about all the things Bill Donohue has to be cranky about. She wanted her reader in a very particular frame of mind as they go into that next paragraph.

  • 2
    I agree. This is an example of good writing that isn't grammatically correct; it is done on purpose and is effective. You get a perfect picture of the person speaking. The whole section made me laugh!
    – Julia
    Feb 15, 2012 at 16:47

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.