Verb Mistakes #12: Heard on Television
Quite apart from stylistic errors involving redundancy and inapt word choice, television can be a rich source of grammatical errors. Here are four examples.
INCORRECT: Gin was drunken out of necessity, not choice.—Documentary narrator
CORRECT: Gin was drunk out of necessity, not choice.
The forms of the verb drink are:
Simple past: drank
Past participle: (has/have) drunk
Drunken is an adjective: “He has a reputation as a drunken, lazy lay-about.”
Drunk is also used an adjective: “He was drunk as a lord.”
INCORRECT: [She] has announced she was running for Senate yesterday. —News reporter
CORRECT: [She] announced yesterday she is running for Senate.
CORRECT: [She] has announced she is running for Senate.
“Has announced” is a verb in the present perfect tense. Adverbs of time like yesterday are not used with this tense. Even if the announcement was made in the past, the fact of the candidate’s campaign for the Senate exists in the present.
INCORRECT: [Context: Three meat inspectors were murdered at a sausage factory.] Each of them were shot several times.”—Radio announcer
CORRECT: Each of them was shot several times.”
Each is singular and requires a singular verb.
INCORRECT: What kind of things would they be in the market of buying?
CORRECT: What kind of things would they be in the market to buy?
There is no hard and fast rule that would guide an ESL speaker to choose an infinitive over a participle in this construction. There are, however, certain abstract nouns that are always followed by an infinitive. For example: ability, desire, need, wish, attempt, failure, opportunity, chance, and intention. In the expression “to be in the market,” market is abstract.
Possible responses to the question “What are you in the market to buy?” might be “I’m in the market to buy a house” OR “I’m in the market for a house.
Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips and get a free eBook!
- Our weekly newsletter is free (one email per week, on Tuesdays)
- You will improve your English, guaranteed.
- Get our "100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid" eBook free.