Example (Putin is actually in serious trouble):

Moscow has no doubt been very effective mounting guerrilla marketing campaigns aim at sowing doubt and confusion in the West. And they have been skilful in manipulating and surreptitiously influencing media narratives on issues like the Ukraine war and the downing of flight MH17.

Without that between campaigns and aim at, it's very difficult to keep up with the flow of the sentence when you read it fast because it's quite possible to read guerrilla marketing campaigns aim as one thing, one unit—a noun phrase, in other words—and then halfway through realize that something's up grammatically with what you just read. And then you'd have to step back to read it again and then mentally plug in a that to smooth out the grammar. Don't you think so? Do you think the sentence would sound better with that?

  • I would expect "aimed at", making this a typo. – Stephie Aug 12 '15 at 7:56

The original sentence is incorrect. A sentence diagram could be helpful here. The subject of the sentence is "Moscow". The verb clause is "has been mounting". "No doubt" is an interjection emphasizing the certainty of the statement. "Very effective" modifies the verb clause to say that they "have been mounting" very effectively.

Now the tricky part. The direct object of what Moscow "has been mounting is "guerrilla marketing campaigns". But not just any guerrilla marketing campaigns. The remainder of the sentence is a selector telling you which guerrilla marketing campaigns they have been mounting. To see how this should work, lets use an easier example of a selector statement.

I'm looking for the remote that hides in the couch.

This selector statement is offset with the word "that". "Which" would also be an acceptable way to introduce a selector clause.

Another way to write this is

I'm looking for the remote hidden in the couch.

In this case, we do not separate out the selector statement. When the selector statement's verb can be turned into an adjective, the "that" is no longer necessary.

So in our original sentence we could say "campaigns that aim at" or "campaigns aimed at". Either one would work, except the first says that there are an unknown number of campaigns, and we are selecting specifically the ones that aim at sowing doubt and confusion; whereas the second one implies that we are only dealing with campaigns that sow doubt and confusion. I don't think that nuance will ever make any difference, though.


The original author is incorrect


guerrilla marketing campaigns that aim at


guerrilla marketing campaigns aimed at

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