....says a nurse/a nurse says (word order of the subject)?

phil_34

Senior Member
Hi, this sentence is my own. I'm not sure about the word order, if the verb always has to be after the subject, or if you can begin with the verb. I suppose 1) is correct. 3) sounds wordy to me, and 2) I'm not sure if that's accurate. Thanks for your help.

1) 'Look what I’ve got for you,' a nurse says a pretty and young lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail.
2) 'Look what I've got for you,' says a nurse a pretty and young...
3) 'Look what I've got for you,' a nurse a pretty and young lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail, says.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Says a nurse' and 'a nurse says' are both common after speech. If the subject is a pronoun, however, it can only be the order 'she says'. ('Says she' was common once, as in Jane Austen, but is no longer used.) With your longer subjects, 3) sounds bad because of the length between the subject and the verb. Actually the subject is just 'a nurse', and the description of her is another phrase in apposition to the subject, but not part of it. For that reason, you need a comma, wherever you put the verb: says a nurse, a pretty . . .

    It is okay to separate the subject from the apposition, as in 1). Or you could put them next to each other, as in 2).
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am sorry to say that none of your sentences are correct and wonder if this is what you wish to say:

    "Look what I've got for you", said the nurse - a pretty young lady with long brown hair done in a ponytail.
     

    phil_34

    Senior Member
    I am sorry to say that none of your sentences are correct and wonder if this is what you wish to say:

    "Look what I've got for you", said the nurse - a pretty young lady with long brown hair done in a ponytail.
    Thanks Wordnip, I think it is correct because it's historic present tense narrative.

    (I also need the 'and' because I don't want to say she's 'pretty young' = very young, but that she's both young AND pretty)
     
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    phil_34

    Senior Member
    'Says a nurse' and 'a nurse says' are both common after speech. If the subject is a pronoun, however, it can only be the order 'she says'. ('Says she' was common once, as in Jane Austen, but is no longer used.) With your longer subjects, 3) sounds bad because of the length between the subject and the verb. Actually the subject is just 'a nurse', and the description of her is another phrase in apposition to the subject, but not part of it. For that reason, you need a comma, wherever you put the verb: says a nurse, a pretty . . .

    It is okay to separate the subject from the apposition, as in 1). Or you could put them next to each other, as in 2).
    Thanks entangledbank. Okay I really wasn't sure about the word order of the subject, but as for the comma rule, I don't agree that there has to be a comma. The rule is if you define the subject (defining clause), you mustn't use a comma. If it's a non-defining clause, then you must use a comma. But in my sentence I'm defining the subject because there are many nurses in the world. If I was talking about Barack Obama then I would need a comma because it's clear who I mean. (That's the comma rule I learnt when I prepared for a Cambridge exam). There is even a third comma rule, but I don't remember the name (maybe causative clause?). Anyway, about the defining and non-defining clauses I'm pretty sure that this is accurate.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    This is not a defining relative clause, it's a noun phrase in apposition to another noun phrase. A comma is required.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks Wordnip, I think it is correct because it's historic present tense narrative.

    (I also need the 'and' because I don't want to say she's 'pretty young' = very young, but that she's both young AND pretty)
    Sorry, which is/are correct? As they stand I think none of them are without puctuation. Anyway, this would do, '"Look what I've got for you", the nurse says - a pretty young lady with long brown hair done in a ponytail.' I don't think 'pretty young' would be understood as 'very young' although I take your point. I only make this suggestion because your examples seem a little 'awkward'.
     

    phil_34

    Senior Member
    This is not a defining relative clause, it's a noun phrase in apposition to another noun phrase. A comma is required.
    I tried to send you a private message since this is another topic, but I couldn't send it because your mailbox is full. That's why I post it here.

    I've just read up on defining relative clauses on this page:

    https://learnenglish.britishcouncil...elative-clauses-non-defining-relative-clauses

    I don't know exactly what a noun phrase is, but reading the information on this link, I wonder if in my sentence the extra information is used to define what nurse I'm talking about. E.g., the nurse that is young and pretty, the one with a ponytail hairstyle.
     

    phil_34

    Senior Member
    Sorry, which is/are correct? As they stand I think none of them are without puctuation. Anyway, this would do, '"Look what I've got for you", the nurse says - a pretty young lady with long brown hair done in a ponytail.' I don't think 'pretty young' would be understood as 'very young' although I take your point. I only make this suggestion because your examples seem a little 'awkward'.
    I think I'll go for sentence 1 but with adding a comma: ....., a nurse says, a young and pretty lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail. (I've changed the word order of pretty young to be absolutely clear) => or could I say: ...a young pretty lady...?
     
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    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think I'll go for sentence 1 but with adding a comma: ....., a nurse says, a young and pretty lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail. (I've changed the word order of pretty young to be absolutely clear) => or could I say: ...a young pretty lady...?
    So you would have: 'Look what I’ve got for you,' a nurse says, a young pretty lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail. But I'd replace the comma with a dash: 'Look what I’ve got for you,' a nurse says - a young pretty lady with long brown hair, done in a ponytail.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    Okay, thanks for your opinion. I've just read up on it, it looks like it's possible to use either commas or dashes. Commas seem to be more formal than dashes. Generally, I'm writing informally, but I can't imagine to always or mostly use dashes for extra information.

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/dash
    Your sentence, presumably, is from a work of fiction, a story. I would definitely use a dash in this particular sentence because a comma seems wrong.
     
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