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Punctuation, Subject, Verbs

Note 30 – Interrupting subject and verb

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link –  If you would prefer to dive straight into note 30, then please read on…

Interrupting subject and verb (or the flow of the main clause)

According to William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White in The Elements of Style, “the subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not, as a rule, be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transfered to the beginning”.  In short, you wouldn’t normally interrupt the subject and the verb.

Here’s an example:

(1a) Tracy, when she arrived home, told her mum that she’d passed her exam.

(1b) When she arrived home, Tracy told her mum that she’d passed her exam.

Note:  In (1b) the subject ‘Tracy’ and the verb ‘told’ are not split by the phrase ‘when she arrived home’ .  This makes then sentence read better.

Quick test

Now some for you to try.  Out of the examples below, which ones are correct?

(2a) Despite having the flu, Josephine still went to work.

(2b) Josephine, despite having the flu, still went to work.

(3a) Although the boy was only wearing one shoe, he ran all the way home.

(3b) The boy, although he was only wearing one shoe, ran all the way home.

For the answers, please see the end of my blog (after ‘reference list’).

Exceptions to the rule

You can choose to interrupt the subject and verb “by a relative clause or by an expression in apposition” writes William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White in their book The Elements of Style.  They also mention that you can also interrupt the flow to create suspense in your writing.

It’s now the end of the bank holiday weekend and I’m back to work tomorrow.  Hope you enjoyed today’s blog and short test – please check your answers below if you haven’t done already. 

Until tomorrow…


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Twitter: @madeirasandra  and  @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White  The Elements of Style, fiftieth anniversary edition (2009), USA

Answers to examples:  2a and 3a are correct (well done!)


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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