Language Tip 11 (2014-15)

Do not start sentences with “This + verb” (e.g. “This is a massive generalization…” “This sounds glib…”; “This runs counter to…”; “This is troublesome…”).

This tip is a massive generalization. This advice sounds glib, but it’s an easy way to make sure that the reader knows what “this” refers to.

Follow “This” with a full noun.

“While we were watching The Muppet Show, Barry burst into the room and showed us his new sombrero. This was distracting.”

What does “This” refer to?
a) bursting into the room?
b) the sombrero?

a) “This intrusion/interruption/bothersome burst was distracting.”
b) “This sombrero/hat was distracting.”

This is easy to fix – sorry! This ERROR/POTENTIALLY AMBIGUOUS STRUCTURE is easy to fix. Just search through your essay for sentences that begin with “This…” and see whether you can add a noun and clarity.

This tip is, of course, not limited to Slovenians writing in English.

Two things to keep in mind:
1) Slovenian and other languages with grammatical gender are clearer in terms of reference
2) Slovenians tend to overuse “that” at the expense of “this” – what’s up with this (sic)?
Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

(Skupno 12 obiskov, današnjih obiskov 1)
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