1

They regarded excessive personal debt as a sin, views that widely and firmly were held until relatively recently.

I wonder what is "views" referring back to in this sentence and whether this sentence is grammatically correct.

I think "views" referring back to "Regarded excessive personal debt as a sin" without "they".

So, what I want to know is whether "views" includes "they" or not and what it's referring to exactly.

13
  • 1
    I think it's a poor construction. The fact that they regarded excessive personal debt as a sin looks to me like a [single] view (held by multiple people), so the plural form there doesn't work for me. Note that the syntactic link between the noun a view and the preceding text that it refers to is inherently "loose". Compare, for example, He hates foreigners, an attitude that most of his friends find embarrassing (it's up to the reader to figure out that the statement he hates foreigners does indeed "represent" the corresponding noun phrase an attitude). Aug 15, 2019 at 15:51
  • 2
    You're right, SinK. The "view" is "regarding excessive personal debt as a sin."
    – Juhasz
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:16
  • 1
    @SinK: I chose my words carefully when I said it's a "poor" construction. I think singular view is "better", but I wouldn't go so far as to say one version is "right" and the other "wrong". In closely-related contexts such as His view / views on Brexit is / are well-known, it really makes no difference whether we use singular or plural, regardless of whether the only opinion he actually has is just the (effectively, singular) perspective Brexit is a bad idea. Aug 15, 2019 at 16:25
  • 1
    I am a native American English speaker, @SinK.
    – Juhasz
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    As @Juhasz said, the "view" is "regarding excessive personal debt as a sin." They fact that we're specifically told they hold that view isn't really relevant to the syntax. The word "view" would still refer to the same thing if we rephrased to, say, It was thought that excessive personal debt is a sin, a view that [blah blah], where whoever actually had that thought isn't even specified. But your example text has other issues that are more noticeably "wrong" than the view/views choice (widely and firmly were held is a very, very poor construction! :) Aug 15, 2019 at 16:51

1 Answer 1

2

The following is written in a confusing manner:

They regarded excessive personal debt as a sin, views that widely and firmly were held until relatively recently.

It's confusing because it mixes the singular in the first part with the plural in the second part. (And were is in an awkward place.)

There are two possible ways of interpreting it.


1. A single view.

They regarded excessive personal debt as a sin, a view that was widely and firmly held until relatively recently.

The view they all held: excessive personal debt is a sin.


2. Multiple views.

They each regarded excessive personal debt as a sin in a different way, views that were widely and firmly held by them until relatively recently.

The views they all held: different ways in which excessive personal debt is a sin.


Note that in the original sentence, regards (from regarded) and views are synonymous:

They regarded excessive personal debt as a sin, [regards] that widely and firmly were held until relatively recently.

They [viewed] excessive personal debt as a sin, views that widely and firmly were held until relatively recently.

However, regards is not normally used in that way. If the two words weren't mixed, and a single form were to be chosen, it would sound better to use viewed and views.

8
  • To your way of thinking, does it seem not quite right to see "a view" as referring to "regarding xcessive personal debt as a sin"?
    – GKK
    Aug 16, 2019 at 4:41
  • 2
    @SinK That's not the view. If it were, you would say this: My view is that regarding personal debt as a sin . . . [what?] It would be incomplete. Here, view and regard are synonyms. I view it as a sin and I regard it as a sin. If you wish, you could change the second part of the sentence to read , regards that were widely and firmly. . .; however, that would be awkward because regards isn't normally used in that way. Aug 16, 2019 at 4:49
  • 1
    @SinK Correct. The addition of which doesn't change that. Aug 16, 2019 at 4:52
  • 1
    @SinK I have updated my answer to make that clearer. Aug 16, 2019 at 4:57
  • 1
    @SinK Yes, that's how it would be interpreted. My mother can [X], which I can't do. Because of the use of can and can't generating a mostly parallel structure, it's assumed that which stands in for [X]. Another way of writing the sentence would be the following: My mother can [X], but I can't [X]. Aug 16, 2019 at 5:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .