3 More Sentences Lacking One Word to Be Correct

By Mark Nichol

Often, when readers stumble on a faultily constructed sentence, the obstacle is merely one seemingly inconsequential word—or, more accurately, the omission of what is actually an essential component of the sentence. In each example below, one missing word throws off the sentence. Discussion and a revision point the way to a coherent statement.

1. Management’s assumptions about markets, customers, competition, technology, regulatory and other external factors are fundamentals that shape the organization’s strategy.

This sentence is constructed as if regulatory and “other external factors” are distinct list items, but they are actually part of the same unit—regulatory and “other external” each modifies factors, so the sentence must be slightly reorganized to reflect that fact: “Management’s assumptions about markets, customers, competition, technology, and regulatory and other external factors are fundamentals that shape the organization’s strategy.”

2. What has worked in the past can and will change by the season, day, or even the hour.

The article the before season can carry the weight of all three nouns that follow it (“What has worked in the past can and will change by the season, day, or even hour”), but the sentence flows better if each noun is assigned its own article: “What has worked in the past can and will change by the season, the day, or even the hour.” Revising the sentence to reflect one alternative or the other is necessary, because if all three nouns do not share one article, day must, like the others, have its own.

3. The above list is not intended to be all-inclusive or suggest that companies not take advantage of resources.

The sentence syntax dictates that what precedes or and what follows it be equivalent, so each phrase should be preceded by the infinitive to; otherwise, the implication is that the reader is to understand that the equivalents are “be all-inclusive” and “be suggest”: “The above list is not intended to be all-inclusive or to suggest that companies not take advantage of resources.”

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3 Responses to “3 More Sentences Lacking One Word to Be Correct”

  • venqax

    Also, don’t forget sentences that are overloaded by one word to be correct are somewhere to look at.

    And also sometimes there is also more than one word.

  • Dale A. Wood

    I thought that what you meant was sentences omitting a word like “door”: writing “garage” instead of “garage door”.
    1. She lost her way and walked right through the garage, breaking her nose. Instead of,
    2. She lost her way and walked right through the garage door, breaking her nose.
    We do things like this when we are writing something down in too much haste. We even thought that we DID write the word “door”.
    ————————————————————————————
    This is quite different that with a sentence that contains “the”, but it needed “the” … “the” … “the” … “the” ….
    Here is a case of not leaving out one word, but leaving out three words!
    Yes, I have suffered from the mumps, the measles, the chicken pox, and the German measles because the vaccines for those diseases came along a little bit too late for me.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “The article the before season can carry the weight of all three nouns that follow it (“What has worked in the past can and will change by the season, day, or even hour”), but the sentence flows better if each noun is assigned its own article.”
    It “flows better”? I disagree because it Makes More Sense in the final form that Mr. Nichol edited it into. Good work!
    This is something that parallel construction is for: it removes a lot of confusion.
    “Never in the course of human events has so much been owed by so many to so few.” “so much”, “by so many”, & “to so few”.

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