Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When you write, pay attention to small things; they matter

Where a word appears in a sentence can affect what the sentence means. Take this sentence from today's Washington Post:

Grosvenor, 79, announced his retirement before a standing-room-only crowd -- fittingly -- in the Grosvenor Auditorium at the Society's headquarters, just a few blocks from the White House.

 Because the word 'fittingly' comes right after 'crowd,' so, to me, what the writer actually said was that it was fitting that Grosvenor announced his retirement before an SRO crowd. That could be true.

 But what I'm betting the writer wanted to say was that it was fitting that Gilbert Grosvenor announced his retirement in an auditorium with his family's name on it. Had the word 'fittingly' come after the word 'in,' that's what the sentence would have said.

 No doubt some would say I'm being too picky. Please share.