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    #1

    coherence in person

    Dear teachers,
    Please help me with this language issue of preventing unnecessary shifts in person in the sentence. This morning I read in the 2013 Caine Prize winning short story by Tope Folarin, "Miracle", a two-sentence paragraph, which goes, "Some of us raise our hands and praise the Father. A few of us bow our heads, a few of us begin to weep with happiness. " This sentence reminded me of the issue of pronoun reference and I remembered that in English we often say "Some of us raise their hands...", but the author Tope Folarin is a native speaker of English and then I started to doubt my memory. Right afterwards I did some research online and I found that it is very easy to get from webpages sentences like "Some of us actually got to spend their vacations in a little more special way than others." and that it is also easy to get sentences like "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." However, these two search results got me confused. Is it that both "our"/ "we" and "their"/"they" can be used to refer back to the subject of "Some of us" or "A few of us"? Then how about when the subject is "All of us"?

    Besides, this sentence in "Miracle" right now makes me think of the example sentence in my Basic English Writing coursebook compiled by two Chinese experts of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." This part of the coursebook is talking about unnecessary or confusing shifts in person or number in the sentence and the user of the coursebook is advised to change "your name" to "their names". But I doubt whether the sentence of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." is 100 % correct and it is what native speakers of English actually use in their daily life or whether it is also correct to change "your name" to "your names".

    Please help me with the aforementioned three sentences (the former being a paragraph of two sentences) in terms of preventing unnecessary or confusing shifts in person in the sentence. Thanks a lot.

    Richard
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 24-Nov-2013 at 05:31.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: coherence in person

    My take is that the subject of the verbs is 'some' or 'those', and the best forms are:

    "Some of us actually got to spend their vacations in a little more special way than others."
    "Some of us have tried to hold on to their old ideas and the result was nil until they let go absolutely."
    "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus should sign their names on this sheet of paper."


    However, I think 'our' in the first two and 'your' in the third are acceptable. Writers of pedantic style guides might worry about this. I don't think the rest of us spend our/their free time agonising over it.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Dear teachers,
    Please help me with this language issue of preventing unnecessary shifts in person in the sentence. This morning I read in the 2013 Caine Prize winning short story by Tope Folarin, "Miracle", a two-sentence paragraph, which goes, "Some of us raise our hands and praise the Father. A few of us bow our heads, a few of us begin to weep with happiness. " This sentence reminded me of the issue of pronoun reference and I remembered that in English we often say "Some of us raise their hands...", but the author Tope Folarin is a native speaker of English and then I started to doubt my memory. Right afterwards I did some research online and I found that it is very easy to get from webpages sentences like "Some of us actually got to spend their vacations in a little more special way than others." and that it is also easy to get sentences like "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." However, these two search results got me confused. Is it that both "our"/ "we" and "their"/"they" can be used to refer back to the subject of "Some of us" or "A few of us"? Then how about when the subject is "All of us"?

    Besides, this sentence in "Miracle" right now makes me think of the example sentence in my Basic English Writing coursebook compiled by two Chinese experts of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." This part of the coursebook is talking about unnecessary or confusing shifts in person or number in the sentence and the user of the coursebook is advised to change "your name" to "their names". But I doubt whether the sentence of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." is 100 % correct and it is what native speakers of English actually use in their daily life or whether it is also correct to change "your name" to "your names".

    Please help me with the aforementioned three sentences (the former being a paragraph of two sentences) in terms of preventing unnecessary or confusing shifts in person in the sentence. Thanks a lot.

    Richard
    In my opinion, when "we" or "us" occurs in the beginning clause, subsequent clauses should include "our" not "their". When the beginning clause is about "those", subsequent clauses should refer to they/their/them, not "your". When the beginning clause uses "you" or "your", subsequent clauses should use "you/your". When the beginning clause uses "one", subsequent clauses should use "one".

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    #4

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    In my opinion, when "we" or "us" occurs in the beginning clause, subsequent clauses should include "our" not "their". When the beginning clause is about "those", subsequent clauses should refer to they/their/them, not "your". When the beginning clause uses "you" or "your", subsequent clauses should use "you/your". When the beginning clause uses "one", subsequent clauses should use "one".
    Thanks. But it is obvious that the sentence of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." has "of you" omitted after "Those". Do you mean that it is right to say "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus should sign your names on this sheet of paper."? Supposing that you were a teacher giving instructions, what would you say to your students in this situation?
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 24-Nov-2013 at 15:34.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    ". Do you mean that it is right to say "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus should sign your names on this sheet of paper."?
    I'll leave Mike to answer for himself. I am answering for me. As I said in my previous post, I think 'your' is acceptable. This is not a question of 'right' or 'wrong', but of personal opinion about syle, in my opinion. Mike and I seem to have different opinions her, but I am not going to lose any sleep over this, and I don't imagine Mike is.

    If we were bothered enough, we could probably find a writer of some style guide who would say that one form is better than the other - but that would only be their opinion. There are no firm rules on this.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thanks. But it is obvious that the sentence of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." has "of you" omitted after "Those". Do you mean that it is right to say "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus should sign your names on this sheet of paper."?
    I find both "your name" and "your names" acceptable. The first suggests that those people signing the form are being considered to be individuals (ie "Each one of you should sign your name) and the second perhaps more part of a collective ("You should all sign your names").
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #7

    Re: coherence in person

    I would use write their names, but am fine with your. I wouldn't use your/their names with sign.

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    #8

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I would use write their names, but am fine with your. I wouldn't use your/their names with sign.
    Good point.

    Those who wish to join the course should sign the form.
    Those who wish to join the course should write their/your names on the form.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thanks. But it is obvious that the sentence of "Those who want to join the chorus should sign your name on this sheet of paper." has "of you" omitted after "Those". Do you mean that it is right to say "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus should sign your names on this sheet of paper."? Supposing that you were a teacher giving instructions, what would you say to your students in this situation?
    I agree with 5jj's comments. This is a matter of personal style, not grammar rules. I was just offering an alternative view.

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    #10

    Re: coherence in person

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I'll leave Mike to answer for himself. I am answering for me. As I said in my previous post, I think 'your' is acceptable. This is not a question of 'right' or 'wrong', but of personal opinion about syle, in my opinion. Mike and I seem to have different opinions her, but I am not going to lose any sleep over this, and I don't imagine Mike is.

    If we were bothered enough, we could probably find a writer of some style guide who would say that one form is better than the other - but that would only be their opinion. There are no firm rules on this.
    Thanks, 5jj. I have another related question for you and please help me with it. Can we also say "Those (of you) who want to join the chorus, please come over here and write your name(s) on this sheet of paper."? If we can use this structure of "..., please...", then am I right that in the imperative part of this sentence only the pronoun "your" can be used? Thanks.
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 25-Nov-2013 at 13:11.

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