Stuck on grammar? Dismantle the old sentence, create a new one

Hi Rachel, 

I have used information from your books and blogs for many years and have learned a lot in the process — they are fantastic, thank you! 

I have a question, and google and and my other sources have failed to deliver a satisfying answer... And while pondering what to do, I thought I'd ask you: 

What is the right word to follow the verb ensure, e.g. he ensures the quality of his products... — what comes next: by using? through using? or simply using? 

The first part of my sentence is ' XX ensures the quality of his products, the second part of the sentence 'exacting manufacturing process'. 

I'd love to know 

* how best to combine the two parts of my sentence 
* what to call the word I'm looking for ... 
* a source where I can find an answer to this type of question... 

Thank you. Much appreciated! 

Kind regards, 


- - - ---

Hi Juanita

Whenever I find myself in a similar quandary I usually throw away the awkward construction and start again. There's always another way to say what you mean.

In this particular sentence you could write: 
He ensures the quality of his products by using an exacting manufacturing process. 

That would be correct. But exacting manufacturing is a bit confusing. That may be why you are struggling with this particular sentence. 

That's why I would not try to hammer the original sentence into shape. A sentence may be grammatically correct and yet still be unclear, and clarity trumps correctness every time! 

How about: 
He ensures the quality of his products through a rigorous, well documented manufacturing process

So while your question was beautifully clear, I don't think it was quite the right question :-) 

The best question is always: "How can I say what I mean in the clearest possible way?" 

You also asked for the name the word you were looking for, and a source which answers this type of question.

The word by is a preposition. As for a source for similar answers, I don't like any of them. In forums, I often see writers struggling to save a sentence with grammar, when grammar alone cannot save it. 

Is that a help? I hope so! 

Take care 


Photo by Janeen on Flickr. A-NC-ND Creative Commons.

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