Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    In the sentence - Bill could hear the nervousness in Jim's voice as he stepped forward to pick up the sword. - I wanted the "he" to refer to Jim, and it did in my brain when I wrote it. But on rereading, I heard it as Bill stepping forward.
    Is there a way to force the meaning so that Jim is stepping forward?
    I can completely pull it apart and write it as three sentences mixed with other elements to ensure my meaning, but this flowed so nicely with what comes before and after, I wanted to keep it as close to this as possible.
    It's not exactly the classic "he saw a refrigerator running down the street" but it does seem to suffer in the same way.
    Thoughts?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,218
    #2

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    It's unavoidably ambiguous. But does the narrative of the story make it clear who is picking up the sword?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia

    • Join Date: Apr 2014
    • Posts: 3,295
    #3

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    Bill could hear the nervousness in Jim's voice as he the latter stepped forward to pick up the sword. - I wanted the "he" to refer to Jim, and it did in my brain when I wrote it
    I am not a teacher.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #4

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    You could write "Bill could hear the nervousness in his voice as Jim stepped forward to pick up the sword."

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #5

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    "The latter" does not work well for me.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia

    • Join Date: Apr 2014
    • Posts: 3,295
    #6

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    "The latter" does not work well for me.
    Why not? It clears any ambiguity instantly.
    Last edited by tedmc; 30-Jul-2015 at 04:27.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #7

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    It is not a natural sentence.

  6. Piscean's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 9,939
    #8

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    You could write "Bill could hear the nervousness in his voice as Jim stepped forward to pick up the sword."
    Well, it is clear who stepped forward, but not whose voice sounded nervous.

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #9

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    So, you think Bill heard the nervousness in his own voice?

  8. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,830
    #10

    Re: Does the "he" refer to the object or the subject?

    That's possible.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 31-Jan-2014, 09:56
  2. [Vocabulary] "object of the contract" vs "subject of the contract"
    By ste.KIKALE in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 22-Mar-2013, 01:43
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-Aug-2012, 07:21
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-Aug-2011, 12:30
  5. What Are "subject-verb-object" sentences?
    By Peter2005 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Jul-2008, 17:04

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •