3

I want to use "arrange" to shorten this sentence but I wonder which structure with "arrange" I should use. Maybe:

We should arrange with him to take the test after his course.

But it sounds like we will be the ones who take the test. So, what should I say?

5
  • 7
    If you want to use arrange to shorten the sentence, please give us the sentence without the word arrange in it. In other words, what sentence are you trying to shorten?
    – EllieK
    Commented May 30 at 13:14
  • 3
    You are doing something wrong. Unless you are a poet, you don't want to use a particular word. What if the best way to express your idea doesn't use the word arrange?
    – James K
    Commented May 30 at 14:11
  • Do he, him, and his all refer to the same person?
    – TimR
    Commented May 30 at 21:48
  • 1
    This looks like a test question where they want you to use the verb have causally,
    – TimR
    Commented May 30 at 21:50
  • Thank you. So what is the best way to express this sentence? @JamesK
    – Phoebe
    Commented May 31 at 2:17

5 Answers 5

14

It's not possible to shorten the example text without changing the meaning and/or introducing ambiguity. In fact, it needs to be extended to remove all ambiguity. OP could change the text to...

1: We should arrange for him to take the test after his course

...but that could be rejected because it might imply that "we" unilaterally make the arrangement, without consulting him. In that case, we just have to use both prepositions to fully define the relationship between the verb (arrange) and its object (him)...

2: We should arrange with him for him to take the test after his course.

It might look odd and/or ugly to some, but imho it's fine if you want to be certain both implications are included.


EDIT:
I didn't consciously recognize this myself until looking at the question again some time later, but it's worth noting that the two consecutive preposition-based elements in #2 above must occur in that order, because with him attaches backwards to arrange, whereas for him attaches forwards to to take the test...
So...

3: We should arrange for him with him to take the test after his course

...is just syntactically invalid "word salad", and...

4: We should arrange for him to take the test after his course with him

...although strictly speaking "syntactically valid", is so convoluted no-one would ever accept it.

2
  • Indeed, my initial interpretation of #4 would be that there are two separate him, and that the last attaches to the course: “We should arrange for Peter to take the test after Peter’s [course with John (as the teacher)]”. Commented May 31 at 10:32
  • Well, in theory not only could the first and second him refer to different people. Tom who works for the Department of Education on "curriculum standardization" could be the referent of his course, taught by John to Peter. We should arrange for Peter to take the test after Tom's course with John. But in practice we're just contriving "semi-plausible" contexts and parsings for ridiculously unlikely utterances. Commented May 31 at 12:17
5

I would suggest specifying what you are arranging to remove the confusion.

We should arrange with him that he will take the test after his course

1

You have a number of options, but nothing is going to entirely eliminate ambiguity without becoming obtuse. I think most users would choose something similar to FumbleFingers' suggestion (which I've upvoted):

1: We should arrange for him to take the test after his course.

It's true that this implies the student isn't participating in the arrangement. But since he'll be taking the test, he must be involved to some extent. Unless you have some special reason to emphasize his involvement, I think this sentence is fine.

Nonetheless, I will suggest

5: We should arrange (with him) to take the test after his course.

I sure do love parentheses for adding information and reducing ambiguity.

(Of course this works better in text. Still, it is possible when speaking - use pauses and a change of intonation. It's even less reliable if you're on a voice-only call, but still useful.)

Also note that a lot of writers would use commas instead. Some people appear to find parentheses (and other valuable marks) too formal. But I find you have to be more careful - since commas can be used in so many ways, they can add ambiguity.

Finally, I'll offer:

6: He should arrange with us to take the test after his course.

This strongly emphasizes that he is involved in the arrangement - he is the subject! Strictly speaking, it could be "us" that will be taking the test. That would make sense if he were the teacher. But I'm assuming that your reader knows the context well enough to understand that isn't the case.

0

If it's just conversational, a native speaker would probably say "Let's make sure he knows he should hold off taking the test until he has completed the course." You can use 'must' in place of 'should' if it's an absolute requirement.

0

Re-arranging to make things clearer:

He should take the test after his course, so we'll arrange that with him.

That can shorten to:

The test comes after the course; we'll arrange that with him.

You must log in to answer this question.

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