I’d like to go back in time and kick my 14- to 18-year-old self. She used to daydream and doodle in English classes. I blame her for the feeling I get in my stomach when I read certain sentences.

There wouldn’t be much wrong with the sentence, even: the grammar would be OK; the spelling would be OK; and I wouldn’t be able to fault it for clarity. But I something was wrong. It stayed like this until, oh, last Tuesday when I did one of my google searches and I read about prepositional phrases. And then I realised something: *that’s* what I don’t like. I don’t like introductory prepositional phrases.

These phrases start with a preposition and has a noun phrase or pronoun after that: In Putsonderwater good food means eating at your mom’s. Sentences could have more than one prepositional phrase  –> In Putsonderwater is one; at your mom’s is the second. Now see, there’s nothing wrong with using ’em occasionally. The same could be said for almost anything else in life: sex, drugs, rock n roll. Fine, then. Perhaps not sex.

Why my dislike for these phrases, then? Well, there are at least two reasons. Introductory prepositional phrases can survive without commas but too many people still use commas. So one more comma is born into this cruel world.

I think these phrases are awkward so I rewrite them. Which sounds better: Since 2008 Joy-Mari has been writing about language, grammar and stuff. OR Joy-Mari has been writing about language, grammar and stuff since 2008.

Yes, I know it all depends on what you want to emphasise. So, yes, you could emphasise that I have been writing Word Whisperer since 2008. But you could find a different way of telling that story, no?

The third reason is that we have forgotten how to use our brains. We tend to write whatever trips out. No, wait. Writing a first draft is good. But failing to edit is unforgivable. So perhaps I’m biased but I prefer the second sentence. The first sentence tempts one to slip a comma between 2008 and Joy-Mari. Learn to resist that temptation; do without introductory prepositional phrases.

Edit: I suppose moderation is always better. Don’t eschew these prepositional phrases; use them sparingly.

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