[Grammar] Usage of 'by'

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daemon99

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He was downsized for an innocent mistake he made by calling his wife from the company phone.

Can someone please tell me if the above sentence sounds natural?
 

areev

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He was downsized for an innocent mistake [STRIKE]he made[/STRIKE] by calling his wife from the company phone.

Can someone please tell me if the above sentence sounds natural?

I just give it a try

Please correct me :oops:
 

bhaisahab

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He was downsized for an innocent mistake he made by calling his wife from the company phone.

Can someone please tell me if the above sentence sounds natural?

It's OK, but I don't think "downsized" is the word you want.
 

daemon99

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I read somewhere that downsized is being used in place of fired in formal contexts -- I think it's a euphemism for to fire
 

euncu

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***neither a teacher nor a native-speaker***

Maybe the examples below may shed some light on the issue;

Boss: One more mistake and you'll be fired.
Employee: Trust me boss, there will be no more mistakes.

Director: I'm sorry to inform you that due to the recent recession, the board agreed that at least two employees from each department should be downsized.

All in all, be downsided or be fired, the result is pretty much the same. :(

But a downsized person may be re-employed at the same company when the conditions are better, yet it is unlikely for a person who got fired.
 

kfredson

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He was downsized for an innocent mistake he made by calling his wife from the company phone.

Can someone please tell me if the above sentence sounds natural?

I, too, question the use of "downsized," but I would like to leave that and comment on the sentence as a whole.

While I find it clear enough, the sentence did leave me a bit confused. I had to read the sentence again to make sure I had understood. I believe the problem is here: "...for an innocent mistake by calling..." This sounds awkward to me.

I would simplify it in such a manner as the following:

He was downsized [fired] for the innocent mistake of calling his wife during work.

Now why is the first sentence a problem? I have been thinking about this and I believe the problem is as follows.

When you say "He was downsized" we start looking for modifying clauses. Various words might be employed to begin your explanation of why or how he was downsized: for, by, because, since.... We only expect one such word, but you have given us both "for" and "by." "By" would more naturally follow such a clause as "he was downsized," and not "mistake." Hence, I had to pause for a moment and see what "by" was referring to.

I apologize for the overly long dissertation on your simple question, but I had to puzzle over it myself. I think you for giving me the very interesting sentence to chew on.
 

Raymott

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He was downsized for an innocent mistake he made by calling his wife from the company phone.

Can someone please tell me if the above sentence sounds natural?
Strictly, being 'downsized' means being fired because the company is laying off workers for economic reasons. Losing your job for misbehaviour is better called "getting the sack" or simply "being fired".
(Perhaps "downsized" has come to mean simply "fired" in some places, but I'd consider that regrettable.)
 

Raymott

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I, too, question the use of "downsized," but I would like to leave that and comment on the sentence as a whole.

While I find it clear enough, the sentence did leave me a bit confused. I had to read the sentence again to make sure I had understood. I believe the problem is here: "...for an innocent mistake by calling..." This sounds awkward to me.
I would agree with you if the sentence read as you've written.
But it actually says, "... for an innocent mistake he made by calling..."
He was fired for an innocent mistake, which he made by calling his wife ...
 

daemon99

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Thanks a lot, kfredson! I like the answers long :)

I was, as a matter of fact, looking to find a suitable substitute for by in the given sentence. As you suggested, it could be simplified but my problem was what to use in place of by if I had to have the rest of the sentence as it is.
 

kfredson

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I would agree with you if the sentence read as you've written.
But it actually says, "... for an innocent mistake he made by calling..."
He was fired for an innocent mistake, which he made by calling his wife ...

Thank you very much for pointing this out. I apologize for leaving out those very important words. The way it was written in the original does make much more sense.
 
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