To the Editor.
—In his review of Lester S. King's book, Robert A. Day1 is critical of various perceived shortcomings but concludes his review by reproducing a paragraph from King that he declares to be a "gem" and that he plans to quote in his next book.The paragraph concerns "the adverb very." It ends with this sentence: "Very is one of the words that contributes to flabby writing." That is, says Day, "clear advice, stated... clearly."I would be better disposed to accept the opinions of both writers as authoritative if King had not written that sentence and Day had not endorsed it. The antecedent of the relative pronoun "that" is "words," a plural noun (not one, since that would make no sense). "That," therefore, is plural and requires a plural verb, "contribute." King could have written, "Very is one word that contributes...," but he didn't.I had
Goldblatt D. Write Wrong, Follow the King. JAMA. 1992;267(20):2740. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480200048018