Does this sentence make sence?

I amabout to provide you with a passage frommy essay, and would like some feedback regarding the last sentence. I provided a few earlier ones just so you understand the characters mentalities…


On one particular night, while sipping away at my hot chocolate and discussing the trivial events that school had to offer that day, a few unfamiliar faces stumbled into the shop. There were about four of them in total, a few were adorned in khakis down to their knees, others wore hats as if they had dressed themselves blind, and every one of them reeked of weed. Immediately all attention turned on the newcomers, and they were probed with questions about what they had been up to that night. Most of them responded in a manner that one would expect of kids like them; speaking as though grammar was the plague and forcefully laughing at one another’s self popularizing stories…


“forcefully laughing at one another’s self popularizing stories”

do you get what I mean by that? Im afraid I may be to vague… but what I wanted to say was that they were laughing at one anothers stories just so they could feel involved, but not because they were proud/happy for what their friend did, but instead a little envious.

does that message get accross? and if you didn’t catch that, did the sentence at least sound ok? as if it wasnt too awkward?

On one particular night, while sipping away at my hot chocolate and discussing the trivial events school had had to offer that day, a few unfamiliar faces stumbled into the shop. There were about four of them total: a few were adorned in khakis down to their knees; others wore hats as if they had dressed themselves blind; every one of them reeked of weed. Immediately, all attention turned to the newcomers, and they were probed with questions regarding what they had been up to that night. Most of them responded in a manner that one would expect from kids like they were; speaking as though grammar was the plague and forcefully laughing at their own self-popularizing stories…

Hope that helps. I did a general work-over of the entire paragraph. There’s still interesting stuff, but to play with that would disrupt the flow and voice of the passage. I don’t (intentionally) do that.

I normally avoid helping people with their homework on the boards, but you seem sincere in just wanting to improve it a bit.

I’d say the sentence is understandable, but a little awkward. I’d probably use “forcing laughter” rather than “forcefully laughing”, since I think you’re trying to indicated that the mirth is forced, not that it was powerful. I’m also not sure about “self popularizing”. I’d definitely hyphenate it into “self-popularizing” and I might use another word entirely. Maybe “self-important”?

I know you didn’t ask about the first part, but I found it a little jarring that the narrator didn’t say exactly how many of them had walked in. If there’d been a large number, it would work, or if he hadn’t paid much attention to them. But they were clearly the center of attention for a time, and there were only “about four”, so I think he’d have used a definite number.

I’m not an English major, so you can ignore me without much worry. But I’ve found that if you doubt the phrasing of a sentence, it will always be a problem for some reader. So, if it looks a little unclear, always rewrite it. Don’t even hesitate.

My will now glow because of your helpfull suggestions! :stuck_out_tongue:

erm… My essay, that is.

Um…I have a few problems with your opener. Your “while” clause needs a subject - “…while I was sipping…”. Otherwise the sense of the sentence is that the faces stumbled in while sipping and talking.

And how do faces stumble, anyway?

If you’re not happy with “self-popularizing,” how about “self-aggrandizing”?

You should change it to “…speaking as though grammer werethe plague…”

…and ditch the “about four in total…” Just say four. Otherwise it makes it sound as if you can’t count.

I’ve never understood this tendency, in English, to be vague with the numbers in situations where precise counts could be given. “Some seven committees were set up, each consisting of approximately eleven participants”. WTF??? And, Arthur, I’d say that ‘in total’ is superfluous.

I also believe, as aseymayo suggested, that you mean ‘self-aggrandizing’.

I wasn’t 100% sure of this last one because English isn’t my mother tongue, but blessedwolf just confirmed what I suspected since I first read your paragraph: it should be “as though grammar were the plague”.

“sipping away at my chocolate” doesn’t seem too idiomatic; you probably mean that the main character, lost in his thoughts, is sipping his chocolate.

“all attention”: “everyone’s attention”?

“would expect of kids like they were”: “would expect from kids.”?

This, my friends in Cecil, is what happens when I do not get enough sleep. I miss subjunctives and other really annoying stuff I see now.

And check out the second half of the first sentence for the while clause, aseymayo.

Normally I’d assume school would be over by evening so should you be talking past tense here? eg ‘shool had offered up that day’ or ‘school had had to offer’

Bit of a mixed mataphor here. I don’t know if it’s wrong, but the thought of faces stumbling reminds me of the Far Side cartoon of the Face in the Crowd.

Oh yeah and I’d be inclined to explain who is doing the questioning and looking.

Good points Gaspode (can’t disagree with a Far Side aficionado). The mixed metaphor gnawed at me but I figured: “Heh! Poetic licence…”:).

One final note: I believe there should be a comma (or a colon) instead of a semicolon after “kids like them” - or simply kids, as I have suggested above.

“…expect from kids, speaking as though…”

or

“…expect from kids: speaking as though…”

The OPer might want to check into how to spell sense.

I don’t think we’ve found a suitable solution to Arthur’s initial problem, preoccupied as we were with the minutiae. The intent seems clear: Arthur wants to convey the notion of forced laughter although, the way the sentence is structured at present, it would seem difficult to achieve by using an adverb. Perhaps there’s a simple way of going about it without re-writing the sentence but it escapes me.

Arthur: I think you gave the answer yourself in your OP.

You said

So, say that. Say exactly that. It gets your meaning across very clearly. Good writing gives the reader a clear picture of what’s going on. Clarity is far more important than being fancy.

I agree with Tansu. Cut to the chase, as the saying goes. That way you don’t have to tiptoe your way to addressing your more important points, such as the fronts these kids project.

“Four stoners walked into the shop. I asked them what they were up to. They responded as one would expect.”

Sorry, I like Hemingway. :smiley: