Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (668)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Like a slow leak in an air mattress, underground water is sucked out by wells, causing aquifers to collapse and the land above it to drop.
Correct : Like what happens when there’s a slow leak in an air mattress, underground water is sucked out by wells, causing aquifers to collapse and the land above it to drop.

Underground water, rather than the drawing of the water, is erroneously compared to a slow leak in an air mattress. The first phrase must be expanded on to explicitly compare the two actions.

2.
Original: Our client-services team would be happy to assist you.
Correct : Our client-services team will be happy to assist you.

The statement should reflect certainty rather than conjecture about possibility.

3.
Original: Of course, this year’s El Niño could fizzle like it did last winter.
Correct : Of course, this year’s El Niño could fizzle, like last year’s did.

The sentence carelessly refers to the performance last year of this year’s El Niño, which is impossible, as this year’s El Niño formed only this year. The wording should clearly state the comparison between last year’s weather phenomenon and this year’s.

4.
Original: We finally were appreciating the severe poverty that we were literally surrounded by.
Correct : We finally were appreciating the severe poverty that literally surrounded us.

Passive sentence construction isn’t always incorrect, but the statement should be made active if the reversed emphasis isn’t necessary, as here.

5.
Original: Injured athletes are focused and determined, and they follow their bodies’ clear instructions.
Correct : Injured athletes are focused and determined, and they follow their body’s clear instructions.

Though the reference to athletes is plural, each athlete has only one body and the sense is if single bodies, not a collection of them, so the singular possessive form of "body" is correct.

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