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    #1

    To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    I am currently reading a simple grammar book which states that the sentence
    "To sew well, strong light is necessary." is grammatically incorrect.

    I think everybody understands the meaning of such sentence. Is it really incorrect?

    What about "A strong light is necessary to sew well" ?

  1. kfredson's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I am currently reading a simple grammar book which states that the sentence
    "To sew well, strong light is necessary." is grammatically incorrect.

    I think everybody understands the meaning of such sentence. Is it really incorrect?

    What about "A strong light is necessary to sew well" ?
    Both sentences are perfectly fine, although in the second sentence it almost sounds as if the light is doing the sewing. Stay with the first.

    We could be a bit pedantic and change your sentence to:
    "In order to sew well, it is necessary to have a strong light."

    But the sentence as written is tighter and more elegant.

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    #3

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    Both sentences are perfectly fine, although in the second sentence it almost sounds as if the light is doing the sewing. Stay with the first.

    We could be a bit pedantic and change your sentence to:
    "In order to sew well, it is necessary to have a strong light."

    But the sentence as written is tighter and more elegant.
    That is exactly the same I think about it, or used to think.
    .
    However, in this American grammar book which I am reading, by Geraldine Woods, it is stated that these sentences are grammatically incorrect. "Who is sewing ? No one, at least the way the sentence is now written."
    The book states that to fix the problem it is mandatory to add a person, and rewrite it as:
    "To sew well, you need a strong light."
    "To sew well, sit near a strong light."
    "To sew well, everyone needs a strong light."

    I am still looking for a grammarian who admits the first version to be grammatically correct. I understand the point of the author, but I guess I still think the original sentence is grammatically correct. Or I need a better definition of what grammatically correct is.

  2. kfredson's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    That is exactly the same I think about it, or used to think.
    .
    However, in this American grammar book which I am reading, by Geraldine Woods, it is stated that these sentences are grammatically incorrect. "Who is sewing ? No one, at least the way the sentence is now written."
    The book states that to fix the problem it is mandatory to add a person, and rewrite it as:
    "To sew well, you need a strong light."
    "To sew well, sit near a strong light."
    "To sew well, everyone needs a strong light."

    I am still looking for a grammarian who admits the first version to be grammatically correct. I understand the point of the author, but I guess I still think the original sentence is grammatically correct. Or I need a better definition of what grammatically correct is.
    Good question! What is grammatically correct? I would argue that your first is not incorrect. Does it involve a bending of the rules? Perhaps. But it meets three important criteria:
    1. The meaning is immediately clear,
    2. There is an economical use of words, and
    3. It "rings true," that is, it is pleasing to the "ear."

    All the alternatives you give are fine, but the original one seems perfectly acceptable to me. But I am interested in other ideas. After all,

    "To think clearly, exposure to challenging ideas is useful."

    By the way, I've never met a grammarian. Are there any in this forum?


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    #5

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I am currently reading a simple grammar book which states that the sentence
    "To sew well, strong light is necessary." is grammatically incorrect.

    I think everybody understands the meaning of such sentence. Is it really incorrect?

    What about "A strong light is necessary to sew well" ?
    Hi!

    "To sew, or not to sew, that is the question."


  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I am currently reading a simple grammar book which states that the sentence
    "To sew well, strong light is necessary." is grammatically incorrect.

    I think everybody understands the meaning of such sentence. Is it really incorrect?

    What about "A strong light is necessary to sew well" ?
    To me, there's nothing ungrammatical about the sentence.
    The subject of the sewing is missing, but that occurs regularly in passive sentences as well. It's not a dangling phrase.
    I can see the author's point. The sentence might be deficient in some way in explaining the whole context, but it's not ungrammatical.
    I might draw the line at "Sewing well needs a strong light."


    *I do not have an official grammarian's badge*


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    #7

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    [QUOTE=ymnisky;550944]I am currently reading a simple grammar book which states that the sentence
    "To sew well, strong light is necessary." is grammatically incorrect.

    I think everybody understands the meaning of such sentence. Is it really incorrect?

    What about "A strong light is necessary to sew well" ?

    However, in this American grammar book which I am reading, by Geraldine Woods, it is stated that these sentences are grammatically incorrect. "Who is sewing ? No one, at least the way the sentence is now written."
    The book states that to fix the problem it is mandatory to add a person, and rewrite it as:
    "To sew well, you need a strong light."
    "To sew well, sit near a strong light."
    "To sew well, everyone needs a strong light."

    I am still looking for a grammarian who admits the first version to be grammatically correct. I understand the point of the author, but I guess I still think the original sentence is grammatically correct. Or I need a better definition of what grammatically correct is.

    Hi!

    As I understand, in the sentence "To sew well, strong light is necessary", there is a purpose "to sew well" where "to sew" is the infinitive of the purpose. Now, the question is who or what is to stay behind the intended action of sewing. For sure, not a "strong light" but a doer, a taylor, simply you, we, one etc. Only the 'doer' can sew; the very purpose of the verb 'to sew' can be realized by the subject:

    "To sew well, you need a strong light." (you)
    "To sew well, sit near a strong light." (understood you in the imperative)
    "To sew well, everyone needs a strong light." (everyone).

    So, in my opinion, Geraldine Woods is right.

    I'm not a grammarian.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by omasta View Post
    So, in my opinion, Geraldine Woods is right.
    How do you feel about:
    "To practice medicine, a medical degree is necessary"?
    "To travel to Australia, a valid passport and visa are required"?

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    I agree absolutely with Raymott, the sentence is perfectly grammatical.


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    #10

    Re: To sew well, strong light is necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    How do you feel about:
    "To practice medicine, a medical degree is necessary"?
    "To travel to Australia, a valid passport and visa are required"?
    Hi!

    Yes, I agree and disagree at the same time:

    1. I agree that colloquially it is understood. You have to apply common sense and your knowledge to qualify your example sentences as ones which convey the information that without a medical degree and a valid passport and visa one cannot practise medicine or travel.

    2. I disagree in that that grammatically it is flawed, in my opinion there must be a subject (doer) who practise medicine or travel to Australia. "A medical degree" cannot practise medicine and "a valid passport and visa" cannot travel. There must be a "carrier" of a degree to practise medicine or of a valid passport in order to travel.

    Both verbs express a purpose and the purpose can only be fulfilled by the subject (a doctor, a traveller); so, in my opinion, your sentences, grammatically, should be like this:

    To practise medicine, one has to have a medical degree.
    To travel to Australia, one has to have a valid passport and visa.
    Last edited by omasta; 05-Jan-2010 at 14:00.

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