Assorted Sentence-Structure Problems Exercise (705)

For each pair of sentences, pick the one where the statement flows more smoothly.

    1.
    John has extensive experience with luxury-car sales management.
    John has extensive luxury car sales management experience.

    2.
    Shasta Lake is at 59 percent capacity with the historical average being 59 percent while the Oroville Reservoir is at 30 percent with the average being 58 percent.
    Shasta Lake is at 59 percent capacity, matching the historical average capacity, while the Oroville Reservoir is at 30 percent, about half the average of 58 percent.

    3.
    The successful candidate will evaluate and assist in overall content management architecture process discussions.
    The successful candidate will evaluate and assist in discussions about the process of managing content architecture.

    4.
    A member of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene family, it provides instructions for producing enzymes that change aldehydes.
    It is a member of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene family, and it provides instructions for producing enzymes that change aldehydes.

    5.
    The bill is not an ordinary bill "because it deals with life and death," Smith wrote.
    The bill is not an ordinary bill, "because it deals with life and death," Smith wrote.

Answers and Explanations

1. John has extensive experience with luxury-car sales management.
The string of adjectives modifying the noun "experience" is awkwardly cumbersome, especially if strict hyphenation rules are observed (in which case, the phrasal adjective "luxury-car-sales-management" would appear as hyphenated in this parenthesis). The sentence should be restated to minimize the length of the phrasal adjective.

2. Shasta Lake is at 59 percent capacity, matching the historical average capacity, while the Oroville Reservoir is at 30 percent, about half the average of 58 percent.
The incorrect sentence was lazily written, with passive, repetitive phrasing and disregard for the fact that the first two figures match, which provides an opportunity to reword the phrase and avoid repeating the percentage. The final phrase has also been revised to point out the significance in the difference between the last two figures.

3. The successful candidate will evaluate and assist in discussions about the process of managing content architecture.
This sentence, which illustrates the same problem as the first example in this set, has been revised, with the addition of only two words, to flow more smoothly.

4. A member of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene family, it provides instructions for producing enzymes that change aldehydes.
Like the second sentence in this set, this statement has some unnecessary repetition. Simple rephrasing—changing the first independent clause to a dependent clause—eliminates the weak expletive opening.

5. The bill is not an ordinary bill, "because it deals with life and death," Smith wrote.
This sentence prompts the question "Why, then, is it an ordinary bill?" But the point of the sentence is that the bill is not an ordinary one, and the reason for that status follows. Therefore, a comma must separate the independent clause and the dependent clause—or, better yet, the sentence should be inverted to read, ‘Because it deals with life and death,’ according to Smith, the bill is not an ordinary one."

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