3

The essence of this question is not about style. It is foremost about avoiding ambiguity.

The sentence is "She called me." If I want to use the word "sniffling" to describe the caller, where should I put it? I don't want to use the adverb "snifflingly".

If a noun is used instead of the pronoun 'She', it's very clear to say "a sniffling child called me".

5

I would say:

She called me, sniffling.

That would be an example of an absolute adjective:

Absolute adjectives do not belong to a larger construction (aside from a larger adjective phrase), and typically modify either the subject of a sentence or whatever noun or pronoun they are closest to; for example, happy is an absolute adjective in "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going."

  • Is it OK to say "She, sniffling, called me"? How about "She sniffling called me"? – RJIGO Mar 14 '12 at 18:19
  • The first doesn't break rules, but it's not natural for such a short and simple sentence to have two commas. The second does break rules, and shouldn't be used. In case you were wondering, she called me, sniffling is just fine - no native speaker will think that it was me sniffling. – Daniel Mar 14 '12 at 18:29
2

If you must use the word "She", I would put the adjective at the end of the sentence:

She called me, sniffling.

Note that without proper punctuation this may be ambiguously interpreted, with an alternate interpretation suggesting that "sniffling" were a name:

She called me "sniffling".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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