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The idea that I wanted to convey is that a certain constant exposure to an object would build up a mental library of experiences with the object inside our minds. So, my intention is to write this idea in a way that allows the reader to visualise a building-up effect. I have a sentence that reads like this:

The constant exposures build up a mental set of experiences with the object within us.

The sentence, however, sounds awkward.

First, it reads "with the object within us". This part sounds having to pronounce so many "with"s that I think would confuse the reader. Other than "with", are there other choices of preposition can I use in conjunction with the word "experiences"?

Second, does the part "build up a mental set" sound unnatural?

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closed as not constructive by Standback May 31 '12 at 21:56

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

We've recently ruled that rephrase requests are off-topic; closing this. – Standback May 31 '12 at 21:56
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Are you taking something simple and making it complicated? It really sounds like you're just talking about learning, or about developing familiarity with an object.

But if you want to keep the details, I'd first distinguish between "constant" and "repeated". I'm not sure which you mean, but if the exposure is truly constant, I'd take the "s" off "exposures". If it's been constant, there's only been one.

Then I'd eliminate either "mental" or "within us". They're redundant - where would a mental image be, if not within somebody?

I'm also not sure about "mental experiences", or about having experiences "within us". The experience you're talking about is external, right? The interaction of the person with the object?

Honestly, without know the greater context I'd say: "The more exposure we have to the object, the more we learn about it."

If you really want to keep all the "experiences" and "building" stuff in there, maybe: Constant exposure to the object builds up a mental library of experiences." But that sounds vague and wordy to me.

If the idea is complicated, the writing may need to be complicated in order to explain it. But in this case, the idea seems pretty simple, so I think the writing should match.

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"Exposures" reminds me of photography. If I were trying to express the concept of repeated exposures, I might try to draw a comparison between those two. Each experience with an object is like a snapshot. With each experience, a photo is taken of the object from a different angle, in different lighting, perhaps in different places or different versions of the same object, depending on where you want to take the concept. All of the photos get filed away in an album, ever-widening as we take more snapshots, to which we return when we need to reference our knowledge about the object.

Regarding the alternate preposition, does "of" work for you? "...Experiences of the object within us"? That said, I think Kate has a good point about the redundancy of mental experiences within us.

Come to think of it, if you're trying to develop the idea of constant exposure to an item, you might want to change my photo analogy to a video recording analogy. Each video is made up of several frames that combine to deepen our understanding of its subject.

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