complex or long sentences with exclamatory meaning

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Huda, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    I always ask myself how a long or complex sentence that has exclamatory meaning can be written, and I'm always worried about the structure. For example, What major treaties signed by Egypt with other Arab countries! I'm not sure that it is correct to say such sentence. Would anyone please help me with this and give me other similar sentences to mine so I can study them.
    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  2. L. T. Gray

    L. T. Gray Junior Member

    USA
    American English
    Hi Huda! I'm almost certain your example sentence isn't a proper sentence, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. Can you clarify?
     
  3. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    I mean that the treaties that Egypt signed with other Arab countries were so important and resulted in benefits for both sides. I'm trying to emphasize by means of my exclamation that they were important or good.
     
  4. L. T. Gray

    L. T. Gray Junior Member

    USA
    American English
    Ah, OK, I think I understand.

    It looks like you're talking about the technique where you take a sentence like You have big teeth. and change it to What big teeth you have!

    Is that the kind of sentence you want to write? I want to be sure I understand before I attempt to answer. :)
     
  5. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Yes that is what I mean.
     
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Hello Huda. The general 'rule' (i.e. it's not really a rule at all) is that those kinds of exclamatory sentences need to be short ~ the longer they are, the less well they work:
    What a disaster!:)
    What big teeth you have!:)
    What shocking news!:)

    The problem with a sentence like
    What major treaties Egypt signed with other Arab countries!:(
    is that you (literally) can't see the '!' at the end of the sentence when you start out reading it, so your brain 'computes' it as a question; it's only when you get to the '!' that you realize you've read it wrong.

    It's generally best to paraphrase long sentences like that:
    The number of major treaties Egypt signed with other Arab countries is astonishing
    or
    Egypt signed an astonishing number of major treaties with other Arab countries
    :)
     
  7. L. T. Gray

    L. T. Gray Junior Member

    USA
    American English
    Yep, I agree with ewie.

    As far as examples, I think it's easiest to first think about a "normal" sentence, and then change it into an exclamatory version.

    Egypt has signed major treaties with other Arab countries. becomes What major treaties Egypt has signed with other Arab countries!

    I write angry letters when I'm drunk.
    becomes What angry letters I write when I'm drunk!

    You write
    atrocious e-mails without spell check.
    becomes What atrocious e-mails you write without spell check!

    Engineers have designed technologically advanced spacecraft for exploring the universe.
    becomes What technologically advanced spacecraft engineers have designed for exploring the universe!

    Hopefully my color scheme makes the pattern pretty clear.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  8. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    I understand from the very beginning that it is an exclamatory sentence simply because I'm the one who wrote it. Besides, I wanted to "praise" these treaties by using such style. In Arabic, it is correct to write such long exclamatory sentences, but I was not sure this can be applied in English.

    Your sentence has turned out to be an emphasis on the big number of treaties. I want to emphasize how great/wonderful/major those treaties were.
    Thanks a million.
    :)
    [/QUOTE]
     
  9. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    ewie disagrees with that. He's just said "those kinds of exclamatory sentences need to be short ~ the longer they are, the less well they work". I'm confused!!
    Thanks a million.
     
  10. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Huda

    L. T. Gray's post demonstrates how it's possible to create long exclamatory sentences; ewie's point is that it's not advisable to do so.

    I agree with ewie:).
     
  11. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Thanks a lot loop. Does this mean that I can rewrite my sentence like that: Egypt signed major/great treaties with other Arab countries.
     
  12. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    SW London
    British English
    " Egypt has signed a remarkable number of major and mutually beneficial treaties with other Arab countries."

    The point is that the native speaking reader doesn't understand your meaning and nor will readers whose native language is not English.

    I feel sure we can find examples of such a style in much older texts perhaps in lyrical writing in the Bible. I can't quote any, but I am thinking of something like "How great is the love of the Lord and how perfect His understanding !". There's a reason why the exclamatory construction even with a verb, isn't used in longer sentences in everyday writing. By the way, you need the present perfect unless you are writing about a period of time in the past.

    Hermione
     
  13. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
     
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    The exclamatory sentence leaves a lot to the readers' imagination. Reading your sentence, someone might think you are suprised that Egypt is capable of making a major treaty or any number of things along that line. It would be much better to write the exact sentence you mean rather than leave it open to interpretation.
     
  15. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Thanks Myridon. You mean that you go with "Egypt signed a number of major and mutually beneficial treaties with Arab countries.Still don't know why ewie and Hermoine added "astonishing" and "remarkable" respectively. May be they misunderstood me. If this is the case then it is my own fault.
     
  16. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Thanks a million L.T.Gray for letting me know such sentences. You did your best to help me.
     
  17. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Is it correct to say: "Egypt signed remarkably major and beneficial treaties with other Arab countries" in order to keep the same exclamatory message I want to convey. Here "remarkably" is an adverb that modifies " major".
    N.B. my original sentence doesn't connote the number of or how many treaties.
    Any reply would be appreciated.
     
  18. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Hello again Huda. Yes, I did seem to miss the point of what your exclamation was about ~ I thought it referred to the number rather than the quality of treaties.

    ...

    Unfortunately major is one of those funny English adjectives that it's a bit difficult to qualify in any way:
    very major:cross:
    utterly major:cross:
    absolutely major:cross:
    remarkably major
    :cross:

    I'd go with something like:
    Egypt signed some remarkably important treaties with other Arab countries.

    Don't worry: we'll find a solution in the end, I'm sure:)
     
  19. Huda Senior Member

    arabic-Egypt
    Hello ewie. Thanks a lot for giving this piece of information. It is the first time I've known that.




    That is close to what I mean. Is there any similar adjective that can go with treaties? I searched google and Oxford collocations and haven't found what I want. I would like to know adjectives that collocate with treaties and similar to important and beneficial. I like "beneficial" that Hermoine used.
    • remarkably beneficial ( I prefer remarkably but not sure that native speakers prefer such collocation)
    • highly beneficial
    N.B. Is it necessary to use some/ a number of ? I think using some indicates that some of them were important and some weren't. What if I say:"Egypt signed remarkably......
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2010

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