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starting sentences with that?

 
 
Reply Mon 22 May, 2017 10:02 pm
That I'd visited New York was because of the lady's insistence that I do so.

Is this acceptable? Is it unnecessarily wordy? Or does it convey emphasis of some sort?
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layman
 
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Reply Mon 22 May, 2017 11:42 pm
@perennialloner,
perennialloner wrote:

That I'd visited New York was because of the lady's insistence that I do so.

Quote:
Is this acceptable?


Sure, it's perfectly acceptable

Quote:
Is it unnecessarily wordy?


Yeah, it is, if you ask me. I would look at it as an indirect, somewhat awkward, way of just simply saying what you intend directly, such as:

I (had) visited NY because she (the lady) insisted on it.

The "had" is really unnecessary and redundant because the "ed" ending to word "visit" tells you it's past tense.

Quote:
Or does it convey emphasis of some sort?


No, not really, that I can see.
perennialloner
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 May, 2017 07:25 am
@layman,
It's the past participle. It's not redundant. It serves a purpose and slightly changes the meaning.

Thanks for your help.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 May, 2017 10:41 pm
@perennialloner,
perennialloner wrote:

It's the past participle. It's not redundant. It serves a purpose and slightly changes the meaning.

Thanks for your help.


You're welcome.

Just curious, how does including the word "had" change the meaning of this sentence?

I'm aware of the fact that the formulation of "had x-ed" is occasionally called for in order for the sentence to be deemed "correct," but I can't see why it would be required here.
perennialloner
 
  2  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 10:16 am
@layman,
It's not that it's required. I chose to use this tense in the sentence I constructed for my question. Just because I could have used simple past does not mean I needed to or should have. Doing so would not make the sentence any clearer. It would only have changed the context that you might have imagined for the sentence.

A different tense does not equal redundancy. It's a different tense. And it is no less necessary than the simple past I could have used. The only part of this sentence that could be called redundant is the "that I do so" I included after "insistence".

I find your comment absurd and unnecessary.

EDIT: I looked back at what I wrote in my original question and understand why you identified redundancy as a problem with my sentence. However, in all the questions i asked I meant for the "that" at the beginning of the sentence to be the focus. So when i asked if "it was unnecessarily wordy" I was referring to "that," not anything else in the sentence.
layman
 
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Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 11:01 am
@perennialloner,
perennialloner wrote:

I find your comment absurd and unnecessary.

EDIT: I looked back at what I wrote in my original question and understand why you identified redundancy as a problem with my sentence.


Yeah, you specifically asked if it was "unnecessarily wordy." I didn't see why it would be "necessary" to construct the sentence the way you did in order to convey the meaning. I had already said it was "perfectly acceptable," so that wasn't really the issue I was addressing at that point.

Rules of grammar are fine, but strict compliance with them can lead to some tortured constructions if you're not careful. Winston Churchill made that point this way:

Quote:
“From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”


Samuel Johnson offered this advice:

Quote:
“Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters."


A convoluted construction may be "proper," but that doesn't mean that it is advisable.
perennialloner
 
  2  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 11:40 am
@layman,
Sure, but using another tense does not make this sentence redundant or convoluted. Other things might. I addressed your comment about my including of had because that was the only thing in your whole response that I took issue with. To me, your pointing that out is the equivalent of pointing out that "you've got" is not necessary and should simply be "you have." It's irrelevant to my question as I intended it.

I understand that strictly adhering to grammar rules can be inhibiting. This question is less about grammar and more about style and semantic.

As I said before, all the questions I asked were referring to the inclusion of "that" at the start of the sentence, nothing else.

In the future, I will be more clear about what I want from you. People on here who post on ESL threads have a tendency to find issues with ESL writing and either not answer or incompletely answer the actual question.

Starting sentences with that...

Is it (starting sentences with that) acceptable?
Is it (starting sentences with that) unnecessarily wordy? Ie, is it better to rearrange the sentence to not start with that?
Does it (starting sentences with that) convey emphasis of some sort?

I constructed the sentence for reference.
I apologize if it was a poor example or if my intention was not clear.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 12:20 pm
@perennialloner,
I'll try to respond to your question a little more directly. First I'll throw in one more observation by a famous person, Mark Twain:

Quote:
“A verb has a hard enough time of it in this world when it is all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it a way over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German.”


It seems to me that, often, at least, starting a sentence with "that" is a step toward the road Twain was commenting on.

It often comes across as stilted and awkward, leaving the "meat" of the sentence to be disclosed later. The "that" can always be inserted at what I would call a "more appropriate" place in a sentence. Or, as in the example I gave, the word "that" can be omitted entirely without changing the meaning at all.

That's just my view, maybe. Personally, I would prefer to say "I did it because" over "the reason I did it is that..."
PUNKEY
 
  0  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 04:17 pm
@perennialloner,
That you get rude with people who are only trying to help you says something about your lack of gratitude.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 05:36 pm
@layman,
layman wrote:

Personally, I would prefer to say "I did it because" over "the reason I did it is that..."


Perhaps I should explain why, if it's not self-evident:

Primarily because it eliminates a lot of unnecessary words and just states the matter in a straightforward, concise manner.

But also because I think that the latter construction (and ones similar to it) betray an attempt to appear erudite and/or to "talk, just for the sake of talking," especially when used repeatedly and excessively. Some people seem to think that this manner of expression makes one sound thoughtful and "considered" in their utterances. I don't.
0 Replies
 
perennialloner
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 07:06 pm
@PUNKEY,
I do apologize to Layman if he felt I was impolite. Layman, I appreciate all your help.

Punkey, I think your assessment of my behavior is a little unfair. Yes, i challenged Layman but you'll notice I apologized several times for lack of clarity and also thanked Layman early on.

That said, i think your sentence is a really good example of using that at the start of a sentence for effect and wonder if Layman would agree.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2017 07:31 pm
@perennialloner,
Quote:
I do apologize to Layman if he felt I was impolite.


No problem. I thought you might be getting a tad bit defensive, but I didn't feel personally insulted or offended.
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  0  
Reply Fri 26 May, 2017 12:49 pm
@PUNKEY,
Asking for help is one thing, getting bafflegab and deep piles of bullshit from layman is another. Nothing he HAS said in this thread has any merit.

Nothing he HAD said up to your post had any merit.
0 Replies
 
camlok
 
  0  
Reply Fri 26 May, 2017 12:51 pm
@perennialloner,
That I'd visited New York was because of the lady's insistence that I do so.

Is this acceptable? YES

Is it unnecessarily wordy? NO

Or does it convey emphasis of some sort? YES
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