As shown in the examples below, when writers craft sentences with more than one noun or pronoun in the subject, they sometimes misidentify the key noun or pronoun and assign the wrong verb form to it. Discussion and revision in each sentence describes and solves the problem.
Various syntactical constructions signal the potential for verbal economy. In each example below, one or more words are easily omitted, as shown in the revision that follows the discussion about each sentence.
One of the most persistent and pernicious types of syntactical errors is the misuse of the point-counterpoint “not only . . . but also” construction. For each of the following three sentences, the discussion that follows offers not only one revision but also an additional option.
One of the joys of researching word origins and usage is discovering facts such as that the five English words formed on the frame of b_nd, with different vowels, are cognates, all stemming from a common proto-Indo-European ancestral verb meaning “restrain.”
Usually, a subordinate clause is obvious, as in the case of this one you’re reading right now. Intuitively, you know to separate it from the main clause (in the previous sentence, the first six words) with a comma. But sometimes, as in each of the following sentences, the first word in the subordinate clause may deceive the writer’s eye. Discussion and revision for each example provides clarity.
Each of the following sentences includes an emphatic word that must be set off from the rest of the statement. Insert punctuation as necessary.
Once upon a time, one could speak or write about such media as books and mail, or use such terms as business and commerce, and your audience would immediately understand what you were referring to. But then, toward the end of the twentieth century, came a revolution in how humans conduct social behavior, academic pursuits, and business transactions—activities now often mediated through an electronic device.
The sentences below, each followed by a discussion and a revision, illustrate various ways in which a hyphen is used extraneously.
When crafting “If (this), then (that)” statements, note that several varieties exist, distinguished by tense and probability. This post describes, with examples, various types of conditional statements.
Writers’ efforts to evoke a folksy or quaint sensibility by using a variation on the word old often fail because they use the wrong form. This post discusses the proper use of the variations.
A previous post lists words stemming from the Latin verb pendere, meaning “weigh,” and containing the root pend. This follow-up adds disguised words that have the same derivation.
Each of the following sentences includes a dangling modifier, a phrase that provides additional information but, because of its erroneous placement, confuses readers about what it is modifying; revise the sentences as necessary.