Assorted Grammatical Problems Exercise (751)

In each sentence, identify and correct the grammatical error.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: My high school history teacher used to say that the history of America was simply the story of man’s inhumanity to man.
Correct : My high school history teacher used to say that the history of America is simply the story of man’s inhumanity to man.

The history of America as the story of man’s inhumanity to man is a continuous state, and the fact that the history teacher said it in the past is irrelevant to the tense that should be employed in the second half of the sentence.

2.
Original: He called same-sex marriage a government plot to destroy the family in 2013.
Correct : In 2013, he called same-sex marriage a government plot to destroy the family.

The sentence implies that the person announced that a plot was scheduled to be carried out in a certain year, but the meaning is that in a certain year, the person made the announcement. Placing the reference to the year as an introductory phrase at the head of the sentence corrects this misplaced modifier to clarify the meaning.

3.
Original: The U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that if an investigation found the hospital was purposefully targeted, the incident could constitute a war crime.
Correct : U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that if an investigation found the hospital was purposefully targeted, the incident could constitute a war crime.

There’s a subtle but significant difference in the construction of this sentence and its revision. The inclusion of the article "the" implies a previous reference to the person, and the name should be set off from the description "the U.N. human rights chief" to indicate that the name and the description refer to the same person.

4.
Original: Yukari Kato, vice president of the company Ryugaku Journal that assists Japanese students on overseas programs, said violence there was nothing new and most of the country remained perfectly safe.
Correct : Yukari Kato, vice president of the company Ryugaku Journal, which assists Japanese students on overseas programs, said violence there was nothing new and most of the country remained perfectly safe.

Only one company called the Ryugaku Journal exists, and it assists Japanese students on overseas programs, so the company name and the purpose of the company should be separated by a comma and "which"; "the company Ryugaku Journal that . . ." incorrectly implies that more than one company by that name exists, and this is the one that has the purpose described.

5.
Original: They argue all the time, and it can become uncomfortable for bystanders.
Correct : They argue all the time, and their arguments can make bystanders uncomfortable.

This problem, an unclear antecedent (what "it" refers to is not specifically stated), can be resolved in more than one way, but here the vague "is" is replaced with the clarifying phrase "their arguments," which also necessitates a revision of the rest of the sentence.

Related Articles

Subscribe to our articles and exercises