I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript. Yep, you can join in the fun, too. Let’s take a looksee at topic #25
25: Avoid unnecessary repetition of tense. For example: I’d gone to the hospital. They’d kept me waiting for hours. Eventually, I’d seen a doctor. Usually, the first sentence is sufficient to establish tense. I’d gone to the hospital. They kept me waiting for hours. Eventually, I saw a doctor.
Oops. I think I’m guilty of this. But now that I look at it, especially with sentences out of context, it’s easy to see why it’s unnecessary.
Let’s look at the examples, and correct them. Do the sentences still say the same thing?
They’d kept me waiting for hours.
They kept me waiting for hours, or I waited for hours
Eventually, I’d seen a doctor.
I’d seen a doctor, or I saw a doctor.
The second sentence not only says the same thing, but it also reads more cleanly.
Watch for breaking the other rules when doing this, though. A few of these made me cringe, but they are out of context, so I’m not sure.
- Besides, I’m telling you – Writing Practice: Conjunctions of Addition (englishwithasmile.org)
- Don’t Begin Your Sentence Like This (amandabumgarner.com)