I collect ghost signs. Not the signs themselves, but photos of them. _____ I had made the same drive countless times before, but I had never noticed the sign. (An ACT English question)

Why inserting "I started my collection one chilly October evening, driving home from school" is better than "Driving home from school one chilly October evening was the beginning of my collection"?

I can understand the former one is correct, but I still believe the latter is still perfectly fine. Could anyone explain the nuance?

  • Were those two the only options given? Nov 21, 2020 at 15:40
  • They both look fine to me so without more details about why the teacher thinks they are different we are going to be struggling.
    – mdewey
    Nov 21, 2020 at 16:02
  • To write: Driving home...somewhere...some time... was the beginning** is not idiomatic. It's uncomfortable, like clothing that's too big or too small. It strains usage of the language. Stick with the first. Nov 21, 2020 at 18:11

3 Answers 3


The second sentence seems not as good to me because "driving ho9me" was not the actual beginning o the collection, it was the occasion or event which led to the collection being started. Also, opening the sentence with "I started my collection one chilly October evening,..." places the emphasis on starting the collection, not on driving home.

But both of these are matters of style, not of correctness. There is nothing that I can see wrong with "Driving home from school one chilly October evening was the beginning of my collection". A good writer with a particular style might use this.


The verb "to be" (including the forms "is" and "was") might be substituted mathematically for an equals sign.

Consider this proposed sentence:

Driving home from school = the beginning of my collection


It does not strictly make sense.


While driving home, I began the collection.
During the drive home, (at the same time as paying attention to traffic, listening to the radio, driving the car) , I began the collection.
I began the collection, when I was driving home.

However, driving home is not literally the same thing as beginning the collection.


"Driving home from school one chilly October evening was the beginning of my collection"

There is nothing grammatically wrong with that sentence. The problem for me is that it doesn't make sense. "Driving" was not the beginning of your collection. "Taking a photo" was the beginning of your collection.

You could legitimately say, "Driving home from school one chilly October evening I saw a sign that inspired the beginning of my collection."

EDIT I have just realised that my answer is similar to the one by @Sam.

I agree with most of what Sam says and have upvoted that answer. I'll leave my answer here anyway as it is a little different.

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