Is the following sentence

This was providential rest and shelter until the moon rose,

which I found in an online dictionary, somehow wrong?

If possible, please show the reasons regardless of whether this sentence is correct or not.


I think the sentence is confusing. The first reason is that 'providential' is a somewhat obscure word. The second reason is the sentence is awkwardly worded. It is not clear whether 'providential' goes with 'rest,' 'shelter,' or both. Another reason this sentence is confusing is, even without the adjective 'providential', the phrase "this was rest and shelter," doesn't make any sense especially since the antecedent of 'this' is unknown. Lastly, 'rest' and 'shelter' as nouns simply cannot be attributed to the same thing.

I would reword this sentence, assuming 'this' refers to a cave, for example, to "the cave provided shelter, and a welcome [or some other word less obscure than providential] opportunity to rest until the moon rose.

| improve this answer | |
  • I am bemused by this sentence too, and I only wish to see whether it is really problematic. – Megadeth Jul 12 '14 at 4:19
  • 1
    No problem. I am happy to help. – Obfuskater Jul 12 '14 at 4:23
  • 1
    In my opinion, saying that this sentence is confusing is misleading. (I'm glad that you didn't say that it was incorrect.) The sentence is a fine sentence. The "antecedent" problem is irrelevant, I believe, because, as we all know, sample sentences in most well-known dictionaries were taken from what people really wrote (or said); so of course, they are out-of-context, but they shouldn't be that confusing. The quoted sentence is not confusing at all, for me. – Damkerng T. Jul 12 '14 at 7:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.