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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  844 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: My Students Push Back

A test I use for "which" is to try removing it from the sentence entirely. If the sentence still works without it, then you were using it wrong.

From the examples above:

the gist you mention, is the main topic of the video

But I also really enjoyed The Ballad of Mr. Steak, a stylistic precursor to...

(the Tesla sentence is just poorly written and needs to be rewritten. Maybe: "The point I was trying to make is that Tesla isn't prevented from driving by transportation authorities...")

veen  ·  844 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Not a bad idea. In my defense, those are only parts of sentences (the second one is actually from Bfx, whoops...) and I don't think leaving them out in the full sentence works well:

    But it is safe to say that Tesla isn't prevented from driving by transportation authorities, which is the point I was trying to make.)

On the other hand, I would still use 'which' in occasions where it can be dropped just to put extra emphasis on the relation between what comes before and after. This is also why I started that sentence with 'Which might explain..': during reading / subvocalizing, the emphasis intuitively falls on the 'which' part. Which is what I intended.

goobster  ·  842 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Right. And using "which" that way totally works, too.

However, it is a word that is used more often when spoken, than in writing.

"Which might explain..." is something you would speak out loud. Or write in a script.

But due to the multiple meanings and usages of "which", when writing for clarity you would want to rewrite the sentence to eliminate the use of the word completely.

The Tesla example you give is a case in point: It just isn't a well-written sentence. It's ok, sure. But not well written. The point is unclear, it's a half-thought, not a complete sentence, and the subject (the point you were trying to make) is buried at the end of the sentence.

If I were a copyediting your work, I would encourage you to rewrite the entire thought, which would include this sentence, and probably the two prior to it as well. (See how I snuck "which" in there? :-)

"The point I made earlier was that the transportation authorities do not prevent Tesla from driving in automatic mode." Now you have a complete sentence, with an obvious subject, position, and assertion, and have eliminated probably two other sentences around it.

Can you tell I kinda love copyediting? :-) I'm a total geek for this kind of shit. Just ignore me... I'm entertaining myself here... :-)

veen  ·  841 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Can you tell I kinda love copyediting? :-) I'm a total geek for this kind of shit. Just ignore me... I'm entertaining myself here... :-)

Of course I can tell! You have communicated your enthusiasm well. I also wouldn't have been content with that sentence if it were to be published.

I know this isn't exactly the discussion we were having, but I wonder what amount of effort you put in your comments here on hubski. I approach writing comments here more like a (thoughtful) conversation than anything else. That's why I slip in elements of spoken English into written posts (and I know I'm not the only one who does that). Writing here doesn't feel like the final recorded thought that lil mentioned earlier, so I am okay with imperfections.

Does that excuse me from writing clear and unambiguously? No, but I don't think that I should always strive for perfection either. The context of our conversation encourages and benefits from good writing, but it is not a prerequisite. If it were, I wouldn't be posting here as regularly as I do.

Most of the time I do put a great amount of effort in writing here - this comment alone took me over half an hour - but if I punch out a comment on my phone in a few minutes I don't feel bad in the slightest. My guess is that you disagree on that part. :)