Emphatic words must stand in emphatic positionsby@edwinabbott

Emphatic words must stand in emphatic positions

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*15. Emphatic words must stand in emphatic positions; i.e. for the most part, at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.* This rule occasionally supersedes the common rules about position. Thus, the place for an adverb, as a rule, should be between the subject and verb: "He quickly left the room;" but if quickly is to be emphatic, it must come at the beginning or end, as in "I told him to leave the room slowly, but he left quickly." Adjectives, in clauses beginning with "if" and "though," often come at the beginning for emphasis: "Insolent though he was, he was silenced at last." *15 a. Unemphatic words must, as a rule, be kept from the end of the sentence.* It is a common fault to break this rule by placing a short and unemphatic predicate at the end of a long sentence. "To know some Latin, even if it be nothing but a few Latin roots, is useful." Write, "It is useful, &c." So "the evidence proves how kind to his inferiors he is." Often, where an adjective or auxiliary verb comes at the end, the addition of an emphatic adverb justifies the position, e.g. above, "is very useful," "he has invariably been." A short "chippy" ending, even though emphatic, is to be avoided. It is abrupt and unrhythmical, e.g. "The soldier, transfixed with the spear, writhed." We want a longer ending, "fell writhing to the ground," or, "writhed in the agonies of death." A "chippy" ending is common in bad construing from Virgil. *Exceptions.*—Prepositions and pronouns attached to emphatic words need not be moved from the end; e.g. "He does no harm that I hear of." "Bear witness how I loved him." *N.B. In all styles, especially in letter-writing, a final emphasis must not be so frequent as to become obtrusive and monotonous.* *15 b. An interrogation sometimes gives emphasis.* "No one can doubt that the prisoner, had he been really guilty, would have shown some signs of remorse," is not so emphatic as "Who can doubt, Is it possible to doubt, &c.?" Contrast "No one ever names Wentworth without thinking of &c." with "But Wentworth,—who ever names him without thinking of those harsh dark features, ennobled by their expression into more than the majesty of an antique Jupiter?"

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Edwin A. Abbott

Edwin Abbott Abbott FBA was an English schoolmaster, theologian, and Anglican priest, and author.


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by Edwin A. Abbott @edwinabbott.Edwin Abbott Abbott FBA was an English schoolmaster, theologian, and Anglican priest, and author.
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