General Writing and Grammar Help/REQUEST TO CHECK GRAMMAR

Advertisement


Question
Hello.

I am an editor on a Religious magazine so I will need to brush up on my English grammar.  Can you tell me what is wrong with the following sentence and how to correct it?  The full article itself is on life's disappointments.

==================================
How do you continue to smile and laugh with people and all the while you are saying to yourself if they only knew my silent pain.
==================================
This sentence confuses me because it starts out as question then seems to end up as a statement that is a question.  I am tempted to place the last part in quotations but that does not seem quite right.  Please re-write the sentence and explain the reason for your answer.

Thanks So Much, Hardie.

Answer
Hi Hardie,

This sentence as it's written is rather clunky. In keeping the structure of the sentence as close to the original as possible I would write:

How do you continue to smile and laugh with people and, all the while, you are saying to yourself "if they only knew my secret pain"?

The sentence is a question so it must end in a question mark. However, the thought "If they only knew my secret pain" is a declarative, not an inquisitive, so it looks strange to have a declarative sentence followed by a question mark.

To improve readability I would change the structure of the sentence to something that flows better such as any of the following:

I think to myself "If they only knew my secret pain" while I smile and laugh with other people and wonder how this is possible.

I wonder how it's possible to smile and laugh with other people when I have secret pain hidden from view.

How is it even possible to smile and laugh with other people with so much secret pain hidden away?


I hope that makes sense.

Kind Regards,
-Johnathan Clayborn

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Johnathan Clayborn

Expertise

I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.

Experience

I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

Organizations
Alpha Chi, Psi Chi, Kappa Delta Pi, APA

Education/Credentials
MS, Educational Psychology, BS Psychology (English minor)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.