Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (741)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: If successful in this endeavor, these dollars will support recreation programming.
Correct : If we are successful in this endeavor, these dollars will support recreation programming.

"These dollars" is not the subject of this sentence, which suffers from the presence of a dangling modifier ("if successful in this endeavor"). The actor who hopes to be successful must be specified, as shown in the revised modifying opening phrase.

2.
Original: Two Grinches allegedly stole hundreds of dollars worth of children’s toys from a church.
Correct : Two Grinches allegedly stole hundreds of dollars’ worth of children’s toys from a church.

Because the meaning here is that the toys have the worth of hundreds of dollars, the reference to the value should be in the genitive case, which takes a possessive form.

3.
Original: Over the last eleven years as director of the agency, we have brought core services to you at every center.
Correct : Over my last eleven years as director of the agency, we have brought core services to you at every center.

The subject of this sentence erroneously identifies "we" as the director. Replacing the vague article "the" with the pronoun "my" clarifies that the writer identifies himself or herself as the director and separately refers to how he or she and others are providing core services.

4.
Original: "We don’t understand America’s need for guns," said John Smith, director of the GunPolicy.org project that compares gun laws across the world.
Correct : "We don’t understand America’s need for guns," said John Smith, director of the GunPolicy.org project, which compares gun laws across the world.

The use of "that" after the phrase "GunPolicy.org project" creates the implication that two or more projects by that name exist—one that compares gun laws across the world, and one or more others with another purpose or purposes. To correctly indicate that the phrase following "project" is an expendable detail—it’s not essential to the sentence—replace "that" with "which" preceded by a comma.

5.
Original: Before he even was sworn in, the former county supervisor’s standing in City Hall was shaken by scandal.
Correct : Before the former county supervisor even was sworn in, his standing in City Hall was shaken by scandal.

This sentence matches "he" with "former county supervisor’s standing" rather than simply "former city supervisor"; the mismatch is solved by explicitly identifying the person in the introductory phrase and using a pronoun in the main clause rather than the other way around.

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