“Organization is key to achievement…”

Yet another inanimate-object-as-agent example, and I promise I will try to move on to something else (at least for the time being).

Ready?

“Organization is key to achievement and it pertains to almost everything trying to be accomplished.”

Presumably, the notion that organization is key to achievement is what pertains to almost everything.

So we will turn our attention to the participle “trying.” What does it modify? “Everything”—or rather, “everything trying to be accomplished.” Where, oh where in this sentence is there any suggestion that accomplishment takes some kind of worker, some person exerting effort, some individual or group with an idea or dream? The things themselves, the ideas and dreams, are responsible for getting themselves accomplished here. And if those things want to have a chance of succeeding in their efforts, they must have organization, the key to achievement. Lacking hands, how will they ply this key? That’s anybody’s guess.

Is it that students really, really want to move ever forward in their sentences, never going back to try alternatives for the sake of clarity, accuracy, or style? Or, in the case of this particular sentence, do we have an example of a student who should have stopped earlier but felt the need for a grander ending? Put a period after “everything” and you have a perfectly viable sentence. WHY GO ON? I don’t know, but I do know this isn’t the only student who has erred in this way.

Whatever her reason, she left me with a vision of a roomful of things, looking for the organization key, strenuously aspiring to achieve…something, somehow.

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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

9 responses to ““Organization is key to achievement…”

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