Usage and Grammar

Q. I’m troubled by the growing use of syntax such as “The writer William Styron lived in Paris.” My suggestion is that Mr. Styron was likely to have had many roles in life but that the sentence structure indicates him to have been only a writer. This first became noticeable in the New York Times and later in the New Yorker and now elsewhere. I would be comfortable with “William Styron, the writer, went shopping.” To my eyes, that is less restrictive in his lifestyle because, for example, we know that whatever he did, he also shopped.

A. You should use the syntax that troubles you the least. (I myself would feel more comfortable knowing that he also took vitamins and brushed his teeth.)