Be mindful of using vs be mindful of

English Language & Usage Asked on January 6, 2022

I am really confused with these sentences. I don’t know the technical explanation for these. I am studying English and I do not understand what’s wrong with the sentences.

  1. You just have to be mindful of using verbs in your sentences.
  2. However, please be mindful of articles and word choices.

I was told that when should be used for the first sentences. Both sentences are grammatically correct, however, the second sentence is okay and parallel. Also, both are non-standard. Is this correct? Are there any other explanations for this? Also, what are the alternatives for mindful? Thank you for your help!

3 Answers

I've also encountered a difference between 'be mindful to do' and 'be mindful of doing', where the first indicates what you should do, whereas the second points out what to avoid. Examples: 'Be mindful to turn the lights off' (i.e. make sure you turn the lights off) and 'Be mindful of leaving the lights on' (i.e. don't leave them on).

Answered by j cooper on January 6, 2022

There's one significant point that I don't think was picked up in the other answers.

Be mindful of doing something indicates that you should take care to ensure that you do something good, or to be aware of the possibility that you might do something unintended. In other words, what you're mindful of is the outcome. Examples:

  • Be mindful of using verbs in your sentences tells you that you should be careful to make sure you include verbs in your sentences.
  • Be mindful of upsetting people when you talk about politics in public tells you that you should consider the possibility of upsetting someone if you talk about politics, and be careful not to.

On the other hand, being mindful when speaks about the action you're performing rather than its outcome. - Be mindful when using verbs in your sentences assumes that you're using verbs in your sentences, and tells you to be careful when doing so. It doesn't specify of what you should be careful. - Be mindful when talking about politics in public assumes that you will be talking about politics in public, again without specifying why you should be careful.

I am straying into opinion in adding this one last point: I personally think that writing of being mindful when without adding what to be mindful of is almost always poor English, as it doesn't indicate how to be mindful. Except in a very general sense of "being intentionally aware of yourself", mindfulness really requires an "of" to be meaningful.

Answered by almcnicoll on January 6, 2022

Yes, this does seem correct to me. "When" could be used in place of "of" in both sentences, with an inserted "using" in the second, i.e., "be mindful when using..." In this sense mindful means be careful, and an editor might shorten and clarify both by writing instead "Be careful when using verbs, articles, and word choices in your sentences." Or "Use care when writing."

Answered by KWinker on January 6, 2022

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