Ask Archer: Commuting Sentence
Archer Answers Your Big Questions

Dear Prof. Archer,

Please help me.

I commute to work daily because I do not have a car and haven’t encountered any trouble until today when my handbag suddenly got snatched away by a riding in tandem.

What should I do?


Best Regards,

Robbed Commuter


P.S. I am a fan. XOXO


Dear Robbed Commuter,


First things first, I find it most important to tell you that I am deeply touched by your letter. I have quite a number of fanatics but no one has ever professed their devotion to me under such distressing circumstances. I would offer you an autographed portrait of yours truly but such an item costs PhP 499.99 with tax, and I doubt that you would be able to pay for it anymore, seeing as your handbag had been unceremoniously whisked away. Nonetheless, you have my thanks.

I shall now address your concern. I see that you have just been subjected to some petty crime, and I shall not trivialize your situation. By Jove! I admire you for remaining unflappable amidst this urgency by calmly taking pen to paper. I trust, however, that you have already alerted the law enforcement forces in your vicinity? If not, then have no bother. You have come to the right animal for this dreadful inconvenience.

From your message, I can easily identify your problems. Firstly, it seems to me that you define commute as taking public transportation. To commute simply means to travel some distance between one’s home and another place – usually one’s place of work – on a regular basis. Unless you work from home or do not work at all, then you already commute whether or not you own a private vehicle.

Secondly, I see that you have (mis)appropriated the use of riding in tandem as a noun. This is unacceptable. It seems that you have been watching too much news television lately. Using riding in tandem as a noun is permitted in civilized conversation only when it is used as a gerund phrase. Such a use would be: Riding in tandem is emasculating. Another would be: Riding in tandem hides my fine erection. Gerund phrases that are used as nouns refer to activities but not entities. Obviously, entities can partake of some bag stealing while activities cannot. Let us use another noun, for example: A riding in tandem stole my virginity. That does not make sense at all. That sentence, in fact, would also beg the unfortunate question of which one? And no one benefits from such a query, no sirrah. Such usage is most abnormal. It is akin to saying, “A humping the human baked me cake.”

In conclusion, let me reword your statement: you take public transport daily because you do not have a car and haven’t encountered any trouble until your handbag got snatched away by two ruffians riding in tandem aboard a motorized horse.

Thank you for your missive. I hope that I have helped with your state of affairs in my own significant fashion.


I remain, yours, most tandem-ly,

Archer (Prof.)


P.S. You may find my previous column HERE.

Categories: [language], [self-help]

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