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Recently, I have heard three newscasters use sentences with the following sentence structure:  "The teachers, they have won several arguments."  "The people who spoke with me they are frustrated with the lack of progress."  Why is this sentence such a clunker?

Last edited by SippnCoffe
Original Post

Hello, SippnCoffe, and  welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@SippnCoffe posted:

Recently, I have heard three newscasters use sentences with the following sentence structure:  "The teachers, they have won several arguments."  "The people who spoke with me they are frustrated with the lack of progress."  Why is this sentence such a clunker?

A comma is needed after "me" in the second example. The structure is known as Left Dislocation. It is mentioned in the article on Dislocation here on Wikipedia and is discussed at length in this 2008 blog article at Language Log.

The construction is common and natural in spoken English, but is generally considered too informal for modern written English. You will hear it in songs, though. All the following quotes are from Bob Dylan's song "Desolation Row":

  • "And the riot squad, they're restless."
  • "Cinderella, she seems so easy."
  • "And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing."
  • "Ophelia, she's 'neath the window."
  • "Dr. Filth, he keeps his world  inside of a leather cup."
  • "Now his nurse, some local loser, she's in charge of the cyanide hole."
  • "All these people that you mention, I know them; they're quite lame."

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