On the Papers: Ensuring Readers Know What Actions Are Happening in any Sentence

Vol. 38 No. 2

The author is a professor of the practice of rhetoric at Duke University.

A reader will fail to understand what a writer meant by a sentence if the reader cannot perceive what actions are supposed to be taking place therein. But exactly how does a reader go about discerning which words in a sentence are intended to convey those actions? I’ll give the relatively simple answer to that question—an answer taught almost nowhere in our educational systems—after giving you a chance to experience it in the following example, which I have explored with thousands of students and clients.

Take a moment to underline the word or words in the following sentence that you think the writer intended you to perceive as actions:

 

1a.     What would be the employee reception accorded the introduction of such a proposal?

 

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