something strange in a sentence

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pollyjean

Member
Italy Italian
Hi.

In a test I'm asked to find out something 'strange'/unusual in this sentence from the novel "Princess Hannah" by Jerome Charyn:

"Harrington had his own silent poetry - the deep sadness in his face - but that wasn't enough."

They gave me no further context or explanation, only that the sentence is 'grammatically correct'. Is it about the preposition 'in' instead of 'on'?
I can't notice any other 'unusual' form, but I'm still not sure about it.

Could someone be helpful?
Thanks.
 
  • nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Hi.

    In a test I'm asked to find out something 'strange'/unusual in this sentence from the novel "Princess Hannah" by Jerome Charyn:

    "Harrington had his own silent poetry - the deep sadness in his face - but that wasn't enough."

    They gave me no further context or explanation, only that the sentence is 'grammatically correct'. Is it about the preposition 'in' instead of 'on'?
    I can't notice any other 'unusual' form, but I'm still not sure about it.

    Could someone be helpful?
    Thanks.
    Strange, I wouldn't use "in his face" or "on his face".......

    I would probably say "There's something about his face that suggests a kind of deep sadness" (ohoh, too long, sorry :p)
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    If the sentence is 'gramatically correct,' then maybe it's something else you should be looking for.
    I would find it a lot more natural to say "deep sadness in his eyes," for instance, rather than "in his face."
     

    sarahjuanita

    Member
    England, English
    The only " strange" thing they could be referring to is the usage of hyphens to replace conjunctions???? I'm not sure whether this is what they're looking for but it might be something to comment on as it is not a usual/everyday grammatical structure...

    The first hyphen is used to replace a phrase like 'which was' - it gives the sentence a more poetic tone perhaps.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    "Harrington had his own silent poetry - the deep sadness in his face - but that wasn't enough."
    Is it about the preposition 'in' instead of 'on'?
    pollyjean,

    I agree with you! An emotion wouldn't be in his face. It would be etched by various facial expressions on the surface of his face.

    AngelEyes
     

    sarahjuanita

    Member
    England, English
    I'd say using 'in' as it has been used in the example above is fairly common in literature/poetry, particularly when used to link an emotion to a part of the body. I don't think it is particularly strange for this context but obviously you wouldn't hear it in everyday language.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    "Harrington had his own silent poetry - the deep sadness in his face - but that wasn't enough."


    For a start, are you sure you type the right dashes, that is, --the deep sadness in his face--? Here we should use dashes instead of hyphens.
    Second, what does "but that wasn't enough" refer to? This part is very fishy?
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Would you say:

    "...a small smile in his lips"
    "the censure of a frown in his brow"

    I would use on in these two examples.


    I would use in when referring to the eyes, though. :rolleyes:

    Still, if you only have this one sentence to work with, I'd go with the preposition.

    pollyjean, Is there anything else given that refers to your question?

    AngelEyes
     

    pollyjean

    Member
    Italy Italian
    You're right, quietdandelion. I just 'mistyped' the dashes.

    As for "but that wasn't enough": as I said, there's no further context, and I don't know the author/the novel either.

    The sentence comes from a sort of translation test, that's why I focused on the preposition 'in', thinking they're asking to find out something in the grammar that's correct but 'different' in some way. For example: AmE vs BrE usage?

    I'm still clueless...
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    "Harrington had his own silent poetry--the deep sadness in his face--but that wasn't enough."


    Your base sentence is grammatically all right, but the underlined part doesn't make sense to me.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Then they're telling you it's structured correctly, but that the sentence doesn't make "logical sense" in some way.

    I don't see what else it could be but the preposition, especially because if eyes had been used instead of face, we'd probably all agree in was right.

    The very fact we can't agree on the prepositional choice seems to highlight that word as the one that's ambiguous.

    I hope you come back and give us the definitive answer, pollyjean.

    It drives me nuts when members leave me hanging. :D

    AngelEyes
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    "Harrington had his own silent poetry--the deep sadness in his face--but that wasn't enough."


    Your base sentence is grammatically all right, but the underlined part doesn't make sense to me.
    Hmm, do you mean it should say something like "...but that wasn't all." ?

    If that's the correct answer, I'd object! In that case, they should have given you more information to base your decision on, pollyjean.

    AngelEyes
     

    sarahjuanita

    Member
    England, English
    But Angeleyes the examples you pointed out - a smile and a frown are actual facial expressions that can be made by a movement of the muscles. An emotion is not the same thing it refers more to the inner feelings expressed in the outside which is why a writer might have been tempted to use in.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    sarahjuanita,

    Hmmm, you're making me think! :D I love that.

    Let's see. Would I write:
    ...overwhelming happiness in his face...
    ...heavy disappointment in his face...
    ...fierce anger in his face...
    ...slight confusion in his face...

    When he heard he'd won a million dollars, I saw overwhelming happiness on his face.

    When twelve other winners stepped forward to share the prize, I saw heavy disappointment on his face.

    When he double-checked his numbers and realized he'd read them wrong, I saw fierce anger on his face.

    When I pointed out to him he was looking at his ticket from last week and handed him back the winning one, the slight confusion on his face changed to overwhelming happiness on his face again.

    I could tell by the look in his eyes, he'd take what he could get.;)

    I still hope pollyjean lets us know the real answer.

    AngelEyes
     

    sarahjuanita

    Member
    England, English
    True but you would say 'There was anger in his face' rather than 'on his face'. 'Anger on his face' just wouldn't sound right.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    True but you would say 'There was anger in his face' rather than 'on his face'.
    Don't get angry, but I would say "on his face". Emotions would be painted in gestures and skin coloration on the surface of his face. It wouldn't be within the pores and cells in his face.

    Since you can't actually have anything on the surface of the eyes, I would use "in" when referring to emotions, and them.

    I don't know if it's a "me" thing or a BE/AE difference. And I may be wrong. :)

    AngelEyes
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I give one vote to "anger in his face" :)
    nzseries1,
    I almost always agree with you. :D BUT...

    Would you say:

    In his face, I saw anger.
    On his face, I saw anger.

    I guess what you see are the results of his emotions, so where are these physical manifestations taking place? Is the anger in his face?
    Or flitting across on the surface of his face?

    Maybe both are right, and it's just a matter of personal choice.

    AngelEyes
     

    nzseries1

    Senior Member
    New Zealand - English
    I would say:

    In his face, I saw anger (an emotion... anger is an emotion, isn't it?).
    On his face, I saw pimples (an actual physical thing).

    "On his face, I saw anger" to me sounds very awkward. Why? I don't really know :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi.

    In a test I'm asked to find out something 'strange'/unusual in this sentence from the novel "Princess Hannah" by Jerome Charyn:

    "Harrington had his own silent poetry - the deep sadness in his face - but that wasn't enough."

    They gave me no further context or explanation, only that the sentence is 'grammatically correct'. Is it about the preposition 'in' instead of 'on'?
    I can't notice any other 'unusual' form, but I'm still not sure about it.

    Could someone be helpful?
    Thanks.
    Sorry to be unhelpful, but I don't see anything particularly strange or unusual about this sentence...

    Loob:(
     
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