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Tricky Sentence Structure by Mary Deal



Let’s analyze a sentence from a story:

The story: Two women discuss a visit to a doctor. The one who saw the specialist is fine and found to be in good health. She tells the other....

The cardiologist said my heart was strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The parts of the sentence that don’t jibe are the words said and was.

The word said implies something already spoken and is being related in the conversation. This word is correctly used.

The word was is past-tense and ambiguous. Used as it is in this sentence, it implies something has changed to the woman’s health since she visited her doctor; was healthy then, but now....

As stated at the top of this article, we know that the woman’s health is still fine, so the bit of dialogue must accurately show that as well.

Though the dialogue talks about something that happened in the past—the conversation with the doctor—the health condition has not changed in the present. The correct way to write that bit of dialogue is:

The cardiologist said my heart is strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The word was is replaced with is, implying the woman’s heart remains healthy.

Simple nuances like these go undetected by most, even by many avid readers. Misuse of certain words and phrases are part of the colloquial way our English has evolved over time.

To be grammatically correct with past, present and future tenses in writing, we need to be astute and analyze our sentence structures and make them cohesive.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*

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