The light glared white off the sheeny floor.

Can I write this to mean "The floor, receiving the light, reflected it back to the eyes of the author, which looked white to him."?

this "glare white off" part bugs me as I write this.

  • 1
    Why is this in ELL? This almost seems like English Language & Usage or Writing. – SrJoven Aug 8 '14 at 13:28
  • I'm even confused by your meaning. Is the light white or is the floor? – Martin Døssing Aug 8 '14 at 13:44
  • @Martin Neither. The glare of the reflection (of the light, which is bouncing off the floor) is what's white. The light and floor combine to produce the appearance of whiteness. – Esoteric Screen Name Aug 8 '14 at 14:56
  • I think the meaning is the light glared, and appeared white - there's not necessarily a person to perceive this, but if there had been, that is what they would have seen. – jimsug Aug 8 '14 at 16:03
  • The "glared white off" part doesn't bother me; I understood the image right away. "Shiny" is probably more common than "sheeny," but they both work. "Polished" would work well too, I think. – Will Murphy Aug 9 '14 at 1:13

I would word this differently:

The light produced a white glare on the shiny floor.

  • Your sentence wasn't entire incorrect, but not quite "there" at first glance. Additionally it's a bit poetic in its structure and tenor. "glare" is more commonly used with the meaning "to give someone an angry look." Also, "sheeny" is a valid word, however it's also a derogatory name for a Jew. – CocoPop Aug 8 '14 at 14:26
  • The newly risen sun already glared white off the broad waters. I found this in a book. – user2492 Aug 8 '14 at 14:26
  • Yes, that is correct. Again, your sentence is also correct, but like this example, it's quite literary and poetic. I just offered a more colloquial interpretation of the same thing. – CocoPop Aug 8 '14 at 14:27
  • So it doesn't mean that the sun is white but that the reflection is white? – user2492 Aug 8 '14 at 14:29
  • 1
    Sorry about what??? This is a great question :) – CocoPop Aug 8 '14 at 14:32

The light glared white off the sheeny floor.

This is an unusual construction, but is acceptable with a bit of literary license. Here, glare is used as a transitive verb, with white as its object. This construction tells the reader that the whiteness is a product of the reflection, and not an inherent quality of the light. It's not white light, it's a white glare produced by the light's reflection.

MW lists this usage, but marks it as archaic. Wiktionary also includes the transitive definition, but notice that the example quotes Milton, who wrote in the 1600s. Oxford, Collins, Longman and several others define the relevant sense as strictly intransitive, and many mark it as requiring an adverbial modifier.

Thus, as I said, it's acceptable, but not standard modern English. And that's OK, as long as the diction isn't out of place. If it matches the general tone of your writing, go for it. If this is appearing in, say, a colloquial conversation about internet memes, it's not appropriate.

  • white is not an object, it is like "shine white" this is just a complement. – user2492 Aug 8 '14 at 14:37
  • @user Objects are complements, though not all complements are objects. But if you want the sentence as given to mean what you want, then you need the archaic usage. The fact that it sounds weird but not obviously wrong to you (and to me also) is a strong indication that this is the case. If white is a subject complement, then the light is white (not what you mean). If it's a verb complement, then it should be an adverb (whitely). Shine white has exactly the same grammatical issues and "feel" as glare white. – Esoteric Screen Name Aug 8 '14 at 14:50