Assorted Grammar Problems Exercise (573)

For each sentence, identify and correct a grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Even people of the same ethnic group are racist toward their own group when they are of lower status or have darker skin, or whatever.
Correct : Even people of the same ethnic group are racist toward their own group when another person is of lower status or has darker skin, or whatever.

The identity of "they" is not immediately apparent, and because the reader has to stop to think about whether it refers to the actors (the racists) or the acted on (the subjects of racism), the sentence lacks clarity.

2.
Original: Just as all habits aren’t bad, all infinite loops aren’t, either.
Correct : Just as not all habits are bad, not all infinite loops are, either.

The original "all . . . aren’t" form of this sentence implies that no habit is bad and no infinite loop is bad. However, the meaning is that not every habit is bad and not every infinite loop isn’t bad—a subtle but significant difference. In speech, this type of statement is often colloquially stated with the "all . . . aren’t" construction, but it’s clearer to write precisely what the sentence means.

3.
Original: One important thing to remember about John and myself is that we’ve known each other since childhood.
Correct : One important thing to remember about John and me is that we’ve known each other since childhood.

"Myself," a reflexive pronoun, can be used only to refer back to the subject of the sentence; in this case, the writer is not the subject.

4.
Original: According to traffic-safety data, the chances of a driver dying in a car crash plummets as car size increases.
Correct : According to traffic-safety data, the chances of a driver dying in a car crash plummet as car size increases.

"Plummet" should agree with the plural "chances," not the singular "crash."

5.
Original: Hanging onto a marble statue of Hercules at the Loggia dei Militi palace in Cremona, the men’s weight allegedly caused the Roman hero’s crown to drop to the ground and shatter.
Correct : While the men were hanging onto a marble statue of Hercules at the Loggia dei Militi palace in Cremona, their weight allegedly caused the hero’s crown to drop to the ground and shatter.

The men, not their weight, hung onto the statue, so to correct this dangling modifier, the sentence must be revised to specify that at the outset.

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