Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (610)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: If you are familiar with the region, it is the mountain that looms east of the city.
Correct : If you are familiar with the region, you know it as the mountain that looms east of the city.

This sentence contains a false conditional: the existence of the mountain that looms east of the city, or its location in relation to the city, depends on the reader’s familiarity with the region. But the reader’s familiarity with the region should be associated with knowing that the mountain in question is the one east of the city.

2.
Original: We regret that we can only contact short-listed candidates.
Correct : We regret that we can contact only short-listed candidates.

The correct placement of "only" is observed for the most part in formal writing—and not always in that case—but strictly speaking, "can only contact" literally (and erroneously) implies that contacting is the only thing that can happen, while "can contact only" correctly indicates that a limited class of people will be contacted.

3.
Original: "Remember to pick up a copy of ‘The Whole Deal’ coupon booklet at your local store or find those coupons online," she said.
Correct : "Remember to pick up a copy of the ‘Whole Deal’ coupon booklet at your local store or find those coupons online," she said.

The article "the" as part of the book title cannot serve as the article preceding the noun phrase identifying the booklet; if the title is deleted, the phrase "a copy of coupon booklet" is ungrammatical. To solve the problem, merely remove the word from the title and reassign it to the sentence as a whole, as shown in the revision.

4.
Original: Also considered are the extent to which student ideas and opinions are valued and content is made useful and relevant to adolescents.
Correct : Also considered is the extent to which student ideas and opinions are valued and content is made useful and relevant to adolescents.

What’s being considered is the extent, and because "extent" is a singular noun (even though it encompasses two factors), it takes a singular verb.

5.
Original: Unlike the film, the San Andreas Fault can’t spawn tsunamis.
Correct : Contrary to what occurs in the film, the San Andreas Fault can’t spawn tsunamis.

The sentence suggests that the film can generate tsunamis, so the sentence must be revised to reflect that the film is contrary to fact, rather than that the movie can be a catalyst for the seismic phenomenon.

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