Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sentence Edit of the Day

Why did this sentence seem incorrect to me?

In some traditional offices, even shoes without socks are a major no-no.

I don't object to the advice--but I found the plural verb slightly strange. I think because we aren't really talking about multiple, countable shoes. What we're rally talking about is the act of wearing shoes without socks.

I guess I was hearing an echo of the rule that tells us to use a singular verb with periods of time (or amounts of money)--for instance, "Five years is a long time to wait." In cases like that, we aren't really talking about distinct countable items; we're talking about a singular block.

When I read something that makes me stop and think, "Wait--is this wrong?" I like to smooth it out, even if it isn't really wrong. I hope I bring down the number of times readers stop and wonder the same thing.

Here's the new sentence:

In some traditional offices, even wearing shoes without socks is a major no-no.

Read "Summer Attire: What Not to Wear to Work."

No comments: