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The following is a passage from a text book for English learners about the invention of "Franlin stove" by Benjamin Franklin .

Ben made a better fireplace. All the smoke from the new fireplace went up the chimney. All the hot air went into the room. And it had a door to keep sparks in it. A lot of people called it the Franklin stove. Soon people all over America were using Franklin stoves.

I'm wondering if the last sentence is correct. I have a feeling that the sentence lacks something describing "change" such as "become" or "will be". Am I wrong?

8

Yeah, you're mistaken. it's fine as-is.

Yes, there had to be a period during which people began to use the stoves, but the author is referring to a time (not long after) when they were already being used, all over the (then very small) country.

He could have used phrasing to emphasize the transition period, but he wished to emphasize how quickly the adoption of the stove became a fait accompli.

8

Without response as to factually correct, the last sentence is grammatically correct, though I would recommend a comma after "Soon." It is implied that the change happened soon [after the introduction of the stove].

(Native AmE speaker)


Oliphaunt asks,

"If you replace 'soon' with 'soon after that,' does your problem go away?"

"After that" is implied here. Removing "that" helps improve reading flow (reader doesn't have to stop and mentally dereference the event referred to, which is the introduction of the stove). "Soon after" might leave someone asking "after what?" but the correct answer is implied because this is what (grammatically and temporally) comes after the contents of the previous sentence.

  • 1
    And I can't help jumping in on the "factually correct" part. As quoted here ushistory.org/franklin/info/inventions.htm, Franklin in his autobiography originally invented an open fireplace, which had no door. It did have a fairly long apron sticking out in front which would catch sparks, but that's not the same. – WhatRoughBeast Sep 19 '15 at 20:08
  • I just noticed you incorporated my suggestion. Thanks for addressing it and noting that "after that" is implied; I knew it was, but wondered of it made a subjective, less-than-rational difference to the OP: it might have to me, years ago. – Oliphaunt Sep 21 '15 at 20:03
  • @Oliphaunt, you are right. Only after reading your answer, I realized that "soon" in this sentence also has "after that" meaning too. This kind of difficulty that non-native speakers have might not be easily understood by native speakers. – Aki Sep 22 '15 at 2:05
  • I understand the difficulty. English is not an easy language to learn! Language use matters most to the recipient of the communication, so whatever works for your audience matters more than any rules of grammar. However, especially when it's not obvious to a non-native speaker and that person requests help on how someone might feel when reading something or why we leave some words are implied and think they might communicate more effectively when implied, I hope answers like these are helpful :-). – WBT Sep 22 '15 at 2:57
  • @WBT, if I offended you, I apologize. I didn't mean that your answer is less important. I just wanted to say that non-native advanced learner's comments are as important as native speaker's. – Aki Sep 23 '15 at 0:59
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Although I fully agree with the other answers that this is grammatically fine, I can sort of empathise with your hesitation. For a non-native speaker, "soon" may seem to call for future tense.

I was wondering: if you replace "soon" with "soon after that", does your problem go away? I think that it would have given me more of a past-tense feeling back when I was learning English.

(And by the way, I also agree with the other answer that a comma would improve clarity.)

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I can't get this idea out of my head, now, that "Soon people" refers to some tribe of people, like "Aboriginal people". So the sentence could be read similarly to:

Aboriginal people all over America were using Franklin stoves.

Thus, I suggest that the comma does help considerably:

Soon, people all over America were using Franklin stoves.


Another construction could be "before long":

Before long, people all over America were using Franklin stoves.

0

I found an explanation of this type of expression in Jespersen's A Modern English Grammar(IV,12.6(5),P.183):

The expanded preterit is found in a very characteristic way with words like soon after or next moment, pointing the contrast to (or the distance from) the previously mentioned time; the expansion emphasizes the notion of 'already' (was already then engaged in, had then already begun to); cf. the French use of the imparfait in cases like deux ans après il mourait dans son château (not mourut: a rule that is apt to puzzle beginners).

Note that "expanded tenses" is another name for "progressive forms" used in this book. The example sentences include

Strachey EV 20 Manning shook off his early Evangelical considerations, started an active correspondence with Newman, and was soon working for the new cause.

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