the emphasis of this sentence

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yuhilda

Senior Member
chinese
I have written this sentence in my essay, 'You, as a writer, need to keep writing.' However, my English teacher changed it to 'As a writer, you need to keep writing' and said that it was wrong emphasis and let me to google English grammar by myself. I have read through many grammar books and googled online, but still cannot find any answer related to this problem.


Could anyone please tell me why it is a wrong emphasis? Does it mean the original sentence stressed on 'you' and the revised sentence stressed on 'writer'? Thank you very much indeed.
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings!

    I suspect the reason that there have been no replies yet is that there are too many possible contexts for this sentence or this thought for there to be a simple and straightforward answer.

    Most importantly, is "you" here personally directed at an individual, or is it equivalent to "[any]one" - referring generally to anyone engaged in writing (so equivalent to "A [any] writer needs to keep writing [for fear of getting out of practice]")?

    If the latter sense is meant, then the emphasis is indeed misplaced, because "You" in first position appears to be personally directed to the addressee of the remark.

    Incidentally, although "you" is commonly used in the generic sense in spoken English, it is best avoided in formal written prose. There are always other ways of expressing the same thought.

    Σ
     

    yuhilda

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Greetings!

    I suspect the reason that there have been no replies yet is that there are too many possible contexts for this sentence or this thought for there to be a simple and straightforward answer.

    Most importantly, is "you" here personally directed at an individual, or is it equivalent to "[any]one" - referring generally to anyone engaged in writing (so equivalent to "A [any] writer needs to keep writing [for fear of getting out of practice]")?

    If the latter sense is meant, then the emphasis is indeed misplaced, because "You" in first position appears to be personally directed to the addressee of the remark.

    Incidentally, although "you" is commonly used in the generic sense in spoken English, it is best avoided in formal written prose. There are always other ways of expressing the same thought.

    Σ
    Thank you very much indeed for your reply. Actually it is a quote from a Chinese writer made in an interview and I translated and cited this quote in my essay. The context is that the journalist asked the writer why she wrote so many books (almost 35) and the following is what the writer said to the journalist,

    'Yes, Quite a few people came to me and told me not to write so much. You, as a writer, need to keep writing. How would it be to stop writing? It may seem that your established reputation will be dented if you write continually. No, it will never be. '

    Does this help to clarify the context? If this is the case, what is exactly wrong with the emphasis? Thank you very much.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    So it's the generic 'you'. This is, I think, always unstressed, so it's a clitic, that is phonetically attached to a neighbouring word. 'You need' has a single stress, on 'need'. Breaking it up gives the clitic nothing to attach to. Addressing a second person is a different matter: I, as a writer, don't need to practise, though as a cellist I need to practise constantly; but you, as a writer, need to keep writing, though your cello playing is intuitive. The pronouns here can be emphasized.
     
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