Usage and Grammar

Q. I am wondering if you can help settle a dispute. A friend of mine recently asked me to copyedit her work and we came to a point of disagreement. She wrote a sentence like the following: “A former public school teacher, I know the importance of providing adequate funding.” I argued that the sentence should start “As a former,” while she was adamant that her original sentence was grammatically correct. Is her construction appropriate, even if it is not ideal? Can you help put this question to rest?

A. Your friend’s sentence is a grammatically correct use of apposition, but most readers will stumble, expecting to read “A former public school teacher VERB HERE.” Why pull the rug out from under the reader and then try to defend the wording because it’s “grammatically correct”? You are right to change it.