Beware the Frankensentence


The Frankensentence is a useful concept. The idea is that in English, which lets you use any number of connective tools to cobble together phrases and clauses, it’s possible to cobble together so many phrases and clauses that your reader gets lost — or at least turned off.

The word “and” is a major culprit in a lot of Frankensentences. Abuse it just right and you can make a sentence go on literally forever. Another popular suture for Frankensentences is the humble comma, which at times is an “and” in disguise.

Semicolons are worse offenders. The whole purpose of a semicolon is to join sentence elements so unwieldy that a simple comma can’t handle the job. Subordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns can create Frankensentences, too. Here’s my recent column on how to avoid all these pitfalls.



Tags: , , ,