make sense of

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make sense of

Post by navi » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:20 am

Are these sentences correct:

1) He made sense of the scientific aspects of the book for me.


2) The scientific aspects of the book were made sense of by him.

3) The scientific aspects of the book, which were made sense of by him, were fascinating.

4) The scientific aspects of the book, which he stepped up to make sense of, were fascinating.

5) The scientific aspects of the book, which he stepped up to make sense of for me, were fascinating.

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: make sense of

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:55 am

The only one of those that is not barbarous is 1).

2) and 3) make a peculiarly unnatural use of the passive voice.

4) and 5) include the phrase "stepped up to" in a weird context. Normally, when you "step up to" something, it's a significant obligation or responsibility of some kind, such as taking in the orphaned child of a relative, or (in the USA or other failed state) paying for someone else's cancer treatment. It is odd to find it being used to describe the exegesis of a book.

4) is particularly strange, because 'he' is not described as making sense of the book on someone else's behalf, but only (or so it is implied) for his own benefit.
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Re: make sense of

Post by navi » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:34 am

Thank you very much, Eric,

It seems that I have messed things up with 'stepped up'. You are quite right. That phrasal verb does not belong to that context!

How about:

5a) The scientific aspects of the book, which he accepted to make sense of for me, were important.
5b) The scientific aspects of the book, which he tried to make sense of for me, were important.
5c) The scientific aspects of the book, which he was willing to make sense of for me, were important.

Do they work?

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: make sense of

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:11 pm

5b) and 5c) are fine.

5a) uses the strangely applied verb 'accepted' where it would be preferable to write 'agreed' or perhaps 'consented'. 'Accepted' is not exactly wrong here, but it raises a question in the reader's mind about what kind of pressure, inducement or encouragement was needed to get the person to make sense of the text.
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Re: make sense of

Post by tony h » Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:50 pm

I agree with all of Erik's first response. Very nicely put. :)

In the 2nd , only b seems comfortable. a & c seem more probably in the context that "he" is either a contributor or an editor.
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

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