Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (703)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Perchlorate compounds were first detected on Mars by the Phoenix spacecraft that landed on the edge of the planet’s northern polar ice cap in 2011.
Correct : Perchlorate compounds were first detected on Mars by the Phoenix spacecraft, which landed on the edge of the planet’s northern polar ice cap in 2011.

Using "that" after "Phoenix spacecraft" implies that more than one such spacecraft exists and that this one was used to land at a particular place on Mars. But the remainder of the sentence is a modifying phrase that provides information about the unique vessel, so a comma and "which" should follow the noun phrase instead.

2.
Original: Fifteen people were wounded in a Miami nightclub early Sunday, police said, adding the youngest victim is eleven years old.
Correct : Fifteen people were wounded in a Miami nightclub early Sunday, police said, adding that the youngest victim is eleven years old.

"That" is often optional, but here it is best inserted after "adding" because "adding the youngest victim" awkwardly suggests on an initial reading that the child was an addition, rather than that the final phrase of the sentence is an additional comment from the police.

3.
Original: The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "deeply saddened" to hear of the deaths, his spokesman said in a statement.
Correct : UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was "deeply saddened" to hear of the deaths, his spokesman said in a statement.

No article is required before the title and name. If "the" is retained, the name should be set off by commas because it is an appositive, or exact equivalent, of "the UN secretary-general." (Note, too, that because the presence of the adjective "UN" renders it a job description rather than a formal title, "secretary-general" is not capitalized.)

4.
Original: One body was found from the sank cargo ship.
Correct : One body was found from the sunken cargo ship.

The adjective describing the condition of the cargo ship is in the wrong tense form. Also, better yet, transpose the verb phrase "was found" and the modifying phrase "from the sunken cargo ship": "One body from the sunken cargo ship was found."

5.
Original: Israeli forces stormed a Hamas stronghold in gunfire with dozens of masked gunmen a day after the peace plan was presented.
Correct : Israeli forces stormed a Hamas stronghold, engaging in gunfire with dozens of masked gunmen a day after the peace plan was presented.

The writer erroneously assumes that phrase "in gunfire" serves as a phrase describing an incident. The sentence requires revision so that the second half of the sentence is a subordinate clause beginning with a verb.

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