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  1. #11
    Rozinante
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    Perhaps you are right. But if you apply Michelle's "replace with 'when'" rule, it certainly does work better without the commas.

    "That meant when the code was running it could be read."


    At the end of the day, maybe it's just an awkward sentence and should be re-worked. For instance, does it even need "that meant"?



  2. #12
    Paul Cilwa
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    "when the code was running it could be read" is incorrect. The code can be potentially read even when it is not running.

  3. #13
    Rozinante
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    Well, I think you have a clarity problem here. If you're not trying to do anything particularly poetic or voice-dependant, always opt for clarity.

    "...unlike the old “machine code” of a century past. Today's codes could be read, whether they were running or not. There was no conceivable reason why computer code would be encrypted or hidden. To do so violated the very premise of the Web. A code that couldn't be read was useless. It couldn't even be run."


    Or something. Honest to god, I can't figure out who or what is running the code...or possibly what the code is running from (wink!)...so my example may be as useless as an unreadable code (ha!).

    But anyway, the point is, I vote you fix the whole thing so someone as pea-brained as me can follow it.

  4. #14
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    lol ditto, . . . twice . . .

  5. #15
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    Oh, I'm glad I'm not an Oscar Meyer weiner,
    That is what I'd never want to be!
    For if I were an Oscar Meyer weiner,
    There would soon be nothing left of me!

  6. #16
    William Watson
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    I think the dependency test is really whether the rest of the sentence can stand grammatically and logically alone without the material between the commas. My favorite illustration is the spouse sentence.

    His wife Irma helped him into the car.
    His wife helped him into the car.
    Ergo
    His wife, Irma, helped him into the car.

    It makes grammatical sense without her name. Unless he has two or more wives.

    On the other hand
    His brother John helped him into the car.
    Now you look through the telescope from the other end.

    Does he have only one brother?
    His brother, John, helped him into the car.

    Does he have three brothers?

    His brother John helped him into the car. Matt and Dave watched as their brothers left. John is necessary for that sentence, otherwise you don't know which brother -- therefore no commas, the meaning of the sentence depends on having that word in there.

    Clear as mud, right?

    I enjoy telling reporters that leaving out the commas around a spouse's name turns the person being written about into a bigamist. :-)

    None of this has anything actually to do with Paul's sentence, which can be rewritten to be tighter and more effective without even getting into commas. And were/was is not going to prompt philosophical questions in a reader's head, is it? Just ours? Reades will not even feel that as a speedbump.

    I just felt like warming up before I go in and start editing today's crop of news stories. :-) Have fun.

    Bill Watson
    Broken Lance Enterprises
    Stroudsburg, Pa.

  7. #17
    William Watson
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    PS None of this applies if both brothers are named Larry.

    BillW

  8. #18
    Paul Cilwa
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    I've simplified to:

    Joshua wanted to reassure his fiancée. The Internet existed to support the free sharing of information and ideas, and modern computer code was inherently readable, unlike the old “machine code” of a century past. There was no conceivable reason why computer code would be encrypted or hidden. To do so violated the very premise of the Web.

    Thanks, all, for your help.

  9. #19
    C Bets
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    See? Now was that so hard?

  10. #20
    Rozinante
    Guest

    Re: "Were" or "Was"?

    Oh, goodness, that is so much better. Good job.

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