Hello,

  1. When the baby saw his mother, he smiled happily.
  2. When he saw his mother, the baby smiled happily.

Of the two sentences above, I think 1 is better than 2, but is there a situation where 2 is preferred?

Apple

Original Post
apple posted:
  1. When the baby saw his mother, he smiled happily.
  2. When he saw his mother, the baby smiled happily.

Of the two sentences above, I think 1 is better than 2, but is there a situation where 2 is preferred?

Hi, Apple,

I think it is a mistake to suppose that (1) is intrinsically better than (2). Each sentence simply uses a different type of reference. In (1), the pronoun "he" refers backwards to "the baby" (anaphora), and in (2) "he" refers forward (cataphora).

While anaphoric reference is more common than cataphoric reference, cataphoric reference is still common and grammatically acceptable. Sentence (2) might work nicely at the beginning of a story or if "the baby" had just been used.

apple posted:

But what effect does sentence (2) have when used at the beginning of a story?   Does the story give readers a different impression when sentence (1) is used?

That's an interesting question, Apple. The effect is rhetorical. When someone hears or reads a personal pronoun and does not yet know whom that pronoun refers to, a subtle sense of suspense is created. A similar effect is created when "the" introduces a noun phrase headed by a common noun whose referent has not previously been identified -- e.g.:

  • I had seen the movie before, but she hadn't, and that surprised me, because I thought that everyone my age had seen Dead Poets Society.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×