Monday, May 18, 2009

Agreement Within the Group

The car runs, the cars run; the cast travels, the cast members travel. One of the silly copyeditors who write blogs (not one of the housewives who reads McCall's--which was the ad campaign while I worked there; and of course, nobody realizes that the magazine's copyeditor doesn't get to sign off on the circulation department's ad agency's copy).

I can do subject-verb agreement; that's Grammar 101.

But there's an agreement that I find myself missing on first read. 

Vases of flowers served as centerpieces on each table.

Each table does not have more than one centerpiece.

We start w/ vases, which become centerpieces. Excellent, two or more vases = two or more centerpieces.

But then, we need two or more tables upon which to place those centerpieces.


God Is My Codependent said...

Man, this is the one that really bugs me. I hate constructions like "The patients had their temperature taken." All the patients had one collective temperature?

I would change your sentence to one of the following:

1) Vases of flowers served as centerpieces on the tables.

2) A vase of flowers served as a centerpiece on each table. (This one's a little iffy; it could be taken to mean that the same vase was on each table.)

3) Vases of flowers served as centerpieces, one on each table.

TootsNYC said...

OK, here's the big problem as well:

Usually, the picture is of a single vase on a single table!

But the story is about a large event, so of course there are identical vases on identically-set tables all across the room.

(actually, the best fix would be: Vases of flowers served as centerpieces. Of course they're on tables--what, did we think she put them on the floor?)

MackTheFinger said...

>>One of the silly copyeditors who write blogs

I'd say "who blogs."

TootsNYC said...

well it should be:

One of the silly copyeditors who blog

more than one copyeditor is blogging; I'm among their number.

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