“At the age of eight, a boy probably has not a fully developed naked body of a woman…”

This comes from an essay about the theater that exhibited paintings, including nudes, in a lobby where children at a theater day-camp saw them.

When you read my student’s complete sentence, you’ll know that all she did was lose a word:

“At the age of eight, a boy probably has not a fully developed naked body of a woman, so without a doubt this would cause uproar.”

The missing word is, of course, “seen.” Insert that after “not” and you’ll get a perfectly reasonable, albeit inelegant, sentence—wouldn’t you move “fully developed” to modify “woman” rather than “naked body”? Do you really need “naked”? But adjective placement is the least of this student’s worries.

One of the reasons I urge students to proofread by reading aloud is that the eye sometimes corrects errors, but reading aloud forces the eye to move more slowly and read more accurately. Perhaps reading this sentence aloud would have helped my student notice her omission—or else notice how bizarre the existing sentence was.

But I do like what she wrote. The “probably” is great here: what are the odds that an eight-year-old boy might have the fully developed naked body of a woman? Then what would cause the uproar—his having it, or his not having it?

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

One response to ““At the age of eight, a boy probably has not a fully developed naked body of a woman…”

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