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    #1

    Sentence construction quesiton

    A small bundle of fiber-optic cables attached to the camera, a microscope and a common fluorescent dye allowed doctors to easily distinguish cancerous cells from healthy cells by viewing the LCD monitor on the back of the camera.

    How is this sentence constructed?
    I am seeing it as "a microscope" is used to explain this particular camera is a microscope.

    If the fiber-optic is attached to both of the camera and the microscope then the sentence should be:
    "...attached to the camera and the microscope and a common..." right?

    Another possibility is there are 3 objects.
    fiber-optic cables attached to the camera as one subject
    a microscope as second
    and fluorescent dye as third.

    However there's no comma before the and which makes me think there are only two objects:
    cables attached to the camera and a fluorescent dye.
    Last edited by booyaolian; 06-Jul-2010 at 17:24.

  1. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by booyaolian View Post
    A small bundle of fiber-optic cables attached to the camera, a microscope and a common fluorescent dye allowed doctors to easily distinguish cancerous cells from healthy cells by viewing the LCD monitor on the back of the camera.

    How is this sentence constructed?
    I am seeing it as "a microscope" is used to explain this particular camera is a microscope.
    A camera and a microscope are two different devices. I don't think there's a need to call one the other name. Even if a camera is indeed a microscope here, then the punctuation is wrong. I would write it: "A small bundle of fiber-optic cables attached to the camera (a microscope) and a common..."

    If the fiber-optic is attached to both of the camera and the microscope then the sentence should be:
    "...attached to the camera and the microscope and a common..." right? Yes, I agree. It would be so.

    Another possibility is there are 3 objects.
    fiber-optic cables attached to the camera as one subject
    a microscope as second
    and fluorescent dye as third.
    Yes, I think you're right here. The way the sentence is written suggests to me that there are indeed 3 objects.

    However there's no comma before the and which makes me think there are only two objects:
    cables attached to the camera and a fluorescent dye.
    The absence of comma doesn't say anything. A serial comma is a moot point in English punctuation; some people use it, others prefer to leave it out - you never know.
    ^^


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    #3

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    hey thx for the reply, is there a particular reason to opt for parentheses rather than comma?
    I always thought most people choose to use serial comma. I guess I was wrong then.

  2. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by booyaolian View Post
    hey thx for the reply, is there a particular reason to opt for parentheses rather than comma?
    If a camera = microscope in this particular context (which I don't think it is), then that's how I would write it. Perhaps a dash would also do: "A small bundle of fiber-optic cables attached to the camera - a microscope, and a common..."
    At any rate, the use of comma after "camera" would not suggest that the camera and the microscope are the same thing.
    I always thought most people choose to use serial comma. I guess I was wrong then.
    Some do and some don't. Opinions vary on the use of serial comma (like on many other aspects of English punctuation). It is more common in AmE than in BrE.
    Serial comma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    ^^


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    #5

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    At any rate, the use of comma after "camera" would not suggest that the camera and the microscope are the same thing.
    Thanks for the explaination. I was under the impression comma would also suggest they are the same thing.
    ex:The wild Bactrian camel, a wild two humped camel living in desert.

    Is there a certain rule that could help me rule out this type of structure?
    I am sorry, but the picture of the machine shows that the microscope is mounted to the camera as its lens. So intuitively one can look at this particular microscope camera as a one unity. Which is intriguing that how one would interpret a sentence like this one.

  3. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by booyaolian View Post
    Thanks for the explaination. I was under the impression comma would also suggest they are the same thing.
    ex:The wild Bactrian camel, a wild two humped camel living in desert [is what?]
    This is not a sentence as it lacks predicate. You could say, perhaps:
    The Bactrian camel, a wild two-humped camel living in deserts of eastern Asia, is capable of surviving in blistering heat.
    The Bactrian camel, a wild two-humped camel native to X, is said to be an endangered species.
    The underlined parts serve as appositives and thus are set off with commas.
    I am sorry, but the picture of the machine shows that the microscope is mounted to the camera as its lens. So intuitively one can look at this particular microscope camera as a one unity. Which is intriguing that how one would interpret a sentence like this one.
    I could not make anything out of the picture. It looked like an electric drill to me. But I'm not a doctor in the slightest, so maybe others can help.


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    #7

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    This is not a sentence as it lacks predicate. You could say, perhaps:
    The Bactrian camel, a wild two-humped camel living in deserts of eastern Asia, is capable of surviving in blistering heat.
    The Bactrian camel, a wild two-humped camel native to X, is said to be an endangered species.
    The underlined parts serve as appositives and thus are set off with commas.
    I see, the sentence would need to be something like this for it to work:
    ...attached to the camera, a microscope, that is capable of detect cell level organism and a..."
    For a shorter description one would use parentases or dash. That makes sense. thanks!

    btw, you are probably looking at wrong pics. The journal I was looking at seems pretty straight forward.
    Last edited by booyaolian; 06-Jul-2010 at 23:00.

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    #8

    Re: Sentence construction quesiton

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    ^^
    Thank you, IHIVG, for your very useful analysis. I totally agree with everything you say, including the suggestion that parentheses would be the best choice. (And, yes, dashes would also work.) Technically one could use commas, but in this case it would lead to confusion, since it would be then be ambiguous. Is it modifying camera or is it part of the list? As has been pointed out, you can't tell anything from the serial comma, since it is optional in English.

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