"Is it not what magicians do, to show something that is impossible to imagine for their audience?"
On the one hand, I like this sentence; on the other hand, I am afraid there might be something wrong with it. Which is the case?
So: are these sentences ok and/or is any one of them better?
1. "Is it not what magicians do, to show something that is impossible to imagine for their audience?"
2. "Is it not what magicians do, to show something that is impossible for their audience to imagine?"
I still stand by my opinion. Besides, 'isn't' sounds better than 'is it not' in your sentence, even in formal writing. Your particular sentence doesn't sound like it should belong to an overly formal piece of writing, which outrules contractions. It is not wrong to use contractions in formal writing, but you should use them sparingly, since they tend to make your writing appear less than fully formal. But I advise you not to use the more colloquial contractions like she'd've in your formal writing: IMO it is these kind of contractions that, while perfectly normal in speech, are a little too informal for careful writing.
Last edited by bianca; 28-Jun-2007 at 22:27.
And I can show you books with no single contraction and journals with no single contraction.
Last edited by nyggus; 28-Jun-2007 at 22:45.
you are right - I gave you my opinion. You may check others, as well.
A third opinion...
1. Is it not what magicians do, to show something that is impossible to imagine for their audience?
— There seems to be a possible ambiguity here: "to show" could be read as "in order to show", i.e.
1a. Is X not what magicians do, in order to show Y?
— whereas in your intended structure, the "it" anticipates "to show something..."
So I think I would agree that this form is more usual:
2. Is it not what magicians do – show something that is impossible to imagine for their audience?
Or you could replace the dash with a colon.
It seems to me that the uncontracted form suggests a slightly combative tone, whereas the contracted version has more of an air of "seeking assent". So much depends on the tone you require.
You could also change the pronoun:
3. Isn't that what magicians do – show something that is impossible to imagine for their audience?
All the best,
I agree with Bianca; the construction "...impossible to imagine for their audience" is awkward and non-idiomatic.
We don't say that a book is easy to understand for its readers, or that a car is comfortable to ride in for its passengers.
These phrases are not ungrammatical, but they are definitely not usages that native English speakers in the U.S. would create naturally.
We say that a magician's illusions are impossible for his audience to imagine, a book's readers will find it easy to understand, and car's passengers will discover that it is comfortable to ride in.
thanks a lot for all your replies!