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Stop! Grammar Time!

My brother-in-law sent this, from Wikipedia, via email this morning…

…with a question: “Is Donald Campbell the son of Malcom and Dorothy,” he writes, “or does Donald hold speed records in cars and boats and also in his second wife?”

I understand the confusion. Apart from the clumsy writing, there exists a rather large dangling modifier (that’s what she said!). And it’s all the result of the writer trying to communicate too much information in a single sentence. Here’s what I would recommend instead:

Donald Campbell was born at Canbury House, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, to Malcolm Campbell and Dorothy Evelyn née Whittall. Donald’s father Malcolm, later Sir Malcolm Campbell, held 13 world speed records in the Bluebird cars and boats in the 1920s and 1930s.

By breaking the original up into two sentences, deleting extraneous information, and ensuring clarity at the risk of repetition, we now have a description that’s actually useful—and a whole lot less risqué.



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