Confusing Modifier!

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Could anyone help?

See example:

The ability to dispose of current assets to pay for current obligations is an essential quality for a company in hard economic times.
asked Mar 12 '12 at 21:15 Abraham Garcia New member

1 answer


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I agree - this isn't necessarily confusing.  But it does seem a bit weird.  That, I think, is because of your choice of structure.

 

The way you've written your sentence, you have a noun that performs an action.  That is normal and fine, even expected.  However, when you identify what is doing what, your statment gets a little bit unusual.

 

Your subject:  the ability to dispose of current assets to pay for current obligations

Your verb:  is

Your actor: a company in hard economic times

The actor's action:  to dispose of current assets to pay for current obligations

 

The reason your sentence feels weird is because the action in your sentence has been changed into a noun, and you've made that noun into your subject.  Such structure is proper, but it is unusual.  Most readers stumble over it a bit because it is unexpected, and asks the reader to think out of order.  It places an extraordinary emphasis on your action at the expense of your actor, which may or may not be what you intend.

link comment answered Mar 15 '12 at 19:18 Rik Kluessendorf Contributor

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