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The Adjectival

Apart from adjectives, we can also qualify a noun or a pronoun by using an adjectival phrase or clauses or aspects of the verb. All we have said so far about the adjective can be applied in exactly the same way to these expressions.

However, as we mentioned it before, you need to be cautious about what you are saying and the optimal combination of words you put on your page. Let me give you some examples:

• Whisper, the black Labrador, nowadays my best companion, woke up slowly.
• The bomb, which had ticked erratically all night, finally blew up at day-break.
• The plummeting barometer presaged a storm.

The caution here is to use your common sense in trying to ‘hear’ if the noun’s power is being compromised unnecessarily. You need to ‘work your words’ before releasing them to your reader. Try to see if your sentences would be more powerful, more dramatic without these qualifications or not. You could say:

• Whisper, the black Labrador, woke up slowly.
• The bomb blew up at dawn.
• The barometer presaged a storm.

These sentences are more concise, more powerful. But you can’t but notice that something was lost in this ‘cleaning operation’, giving you the eternal writer’s dilemma. In some cases there is a solution (or many), in other cases there is none. You can experiment with some alternatives before you decide which one sounds better. You will hear it, if you take the real test of reading your work aloud. Sometimes, making two sentences instead of one can intensify the drama while preserving the sense exactly.

• Whisper, the black Labrador, woke up slowly. He was my best companion.
• All night the bomb ticked erratically. At daybreak it blew up.
• The barometer plummeted. It presaged a storm.

It all sounds good, apart from the last sentence. I urge you to consider the meaning of ‘plummeted’ in the context of a barometer. Since everybody knows that when a barometer’s indicator drops, it announces a storm, so we don’t need to say it again in the second sentence. It’s an insult to the reader...

• The barometer plummeted.


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