Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (604)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: As a reverse commuter this sounds like a terrible idea.
Correct : As a reverse commuter, I think this sounds like a terrible idea.

This sentence implies that the terrible idea is a reverse commuter. For clarity, the writer must be identified as the subject; otherwise, "this" is erroneously understood to be the subject.

2.
Original: He woke up this morning and decided to write Smith the letter, which he also sent copies to the state House and Senate.
Correct : He woke up this morning and decided to write Smith the letter, copies of which he also sent to the state House and Senate.

The second half of the sentence is grammatically awkward; the simple solution is to begin the subordinate clause with "copies."

3.
Original: The pitcher is not here to make friends with opposing batters, which is good, because he isn’t.
Correct : The pitcher is not here to make friends with opposing hitters, which is good, because he isn’t doing that.

In isolation, "isn’t" doesn’t grammatically correspond to "make friends with opposing batters," the phrase it ostensibly refers to. A verb representing action is also required.

4.
Original: As long as there’s even a little potential that the conversation was even partially inspired by a bad motive, you can often shut people up by accusing them of being driven solely by that motive.
Correct : As long as there’s even a little potential that a bad motive even partially inspired the conversation, you can often shut people up by accusing them of being driven solely by that motive.

It’s not necessary to avoid all passive construction, but avoid including more than one instance of such phrasing, signaled by repetition of the word by, in a single sentence. (The use of "by" before "bad motive" and "that motive" is acceptable, but the intervening instance of the word as well is excessive.)

5.
Original: Many Hispanic Americans (including myself) don’t speak Spanish at all.
Correct : Many Hispanic Americans (including me) don’t speak Spanish at all.

The reflexive pronoun "myself" is appropriate only in referring back to the person in question, as in "I, myself, compared to most other people, don’t agree with that assessment."

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