his voice (was) as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes

melody_wxf

Member
中文
Hi, I'm wondering if it is necessary to add a word "was" between "voice" and "as" in the following sentence:

"The old man’s eyes were half-open – fatigue, obviously, had made his eyelids heavy – and his voice as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes, difficult to catch unless one strained one’s ear."

And do I need to put a full stop after the word "heavy"?

Thanks a lot.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I would use "... and his voice was as heavy ..."

    If there is any interruption in the reader's progress, it's that "difficult to catch" can apply to mosquitoes, which is closer to the phrase than "voice" is.
     

    melody_wxf

    Member
    中文
    Thank you, Copyright.
    So how can I avoid the interruption you mention if I put the sentence this way:

    "The old man’s eyes were half-open – fatigue, obviously, had made his eyelids heavy – and his voice was as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes, difficult to catch unless one strained one’s ear."

    I would use "... and his voice was as heavy ..."

    If there is any interruption in the reader's progress, it's that "difficult to catch" can apply to mosquitoes, which is closer to the phrase than "voice" is.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you, Copyright.
    So how can I avoid the interruption you mention if I put the sentence this way:

    "The old man’s eyes were half-open – fatigue, obviously, had made his eyelids heavy – and his voice was as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes, difficult to catch unless one strained one’s ear."
    You still have "difficult to catch" right after "mosquito," so it's the same problem (keep in mind, this could be me -- other people may not see it as a problem at all).

    If you decide to avoid it, you simply add a couple of commas and a "like" and then an "and":
    "The old man’s eyes were half-open – fatigue, obviously, had made his eyelids heavy – and his voice was feeble, like the humming of mosquitoes, and difficult to catch unless one strained one's ear."
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    The old man's eyes were half-open---fatigue had obviously made them heavy. His voice was as feeble as ...
     

    melody_wxf

    Member
    中文
    Thanks, perpend. so you do not see "difficult to catch" as a problem? It's right after "mosquitoes", and may apply to mosquitoes to some readers, while I intend to refer it to the old man's voice.

    The old man's eyes were half-open---fatigue had obviously made them heavy. His voice was as feeble as ...
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Right. "Difficult to catch" is not a problem, for me, in that part of the sentence.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Syntactically, all these are possible
    The old man’s eyes were half-open and his voice as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes. (the second was is understood)
    The old man’s eyes were half-open and his voice was as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes.
    The old man’s eyes were half-open, his voice as feeble as the humming of mosquitoes. (absolute construction)
    Which you choose is a matter of taste and judgment about which will be easiest to understand - some readers may stumble over the omitted was.
     
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