Writing for Business

Oct 24 2012   1:08PM GMT

What’s wrong with this sentence?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


What’s wrong with this sentence?

Windows Server 2012 is the latest version of Windows Server, formerly named Windows Server 8.

Answer: The adjective clause “formerly named Windows Server 8” does not refer to what the writer thinks it does. 



That’s a confusing sentence. Let’s take a closer look and see if we can decipher it …

Because the dependent clause “formerly named Windows Server 8” follows “Windows Server,” the meaning of this sentence, as written, is “Windows Server 2012 is the latest version of Windows Server. Windows Server was formerly named “Windows Server 8.”

That would mean that Microsoft first called the product “Windows Server 8” and THEN changed the name to simply “Windows Server.” That seems a little unnecessarily complicated and user-unfriendly, even for Microsoft.

Here’s what the writer intended to say:

Windows Server 2012, formerly named Windows Server 8, is the latest version of Windows Server. 

And here’s the rule: Adjective clauses modify the noun that they follow.


Thanks to site director Margaret Rouse (@WhatIsDotCom) for this sentence, which she found lurking in the editorial wilds.

The Writing Centre at the University of Ottawa provides more information about using clauses as nouns, adjectives and adverbs.
Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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