EAGLE: Easy Access Guide to Language Excellence

Welcome to the

EAGLE: Easy Access Guide to Language Excellence

Welcome to the Easy Access Guide to Language Excellence - EAGLE, a Website designed to help COB students express themselves more clearly and professionally.

Tip 1: Subject-Verb Agreement
Tip 2: Fused Sentence or Comma Splice
Tip 3: Apostrophes 
Tip 4: Confusing Pronouns
Tip 5: Incoherent Sentences

The Top Five Tips  is a list of five of the most common errors in English made by students in the TTU College of Business. Explanations and examples in each section are followed by quizzes with answers to test understanding of the concepts.

Note on Communication Problems

  • The Top Five list was compiled from the results of ongoing communication assessments and from faculty input. We will make adjustments to the list as we evaluate its effectiveness.
  • To explain the Top Five Tips, we have used terms such as "independent clause," "coordinating conjunction," and so forth. We encourage you not to get bogged down in this terminology; in many cases you will learn these concepts best by looking that the examples rather than by studying the definitions. You may link to the definition of terms page for help.
  • All writing and speaking errors will not be covered in the Top Five list. For example, spelling errors demonstrate a lack of attention to detail. You are encouraged to use dictionaries as well as spell checkers when you edit and proofread your own papers.
  • We encourage you to continue to polish your communication skills throughout your career by studying, by listening, by editing your own work, and by paying attention to changes in the language in the years to come. 

Suggested References

Webster’s Dictionary

Mary Ellen Guffey, Essentials of Business Communication, Professional English, or Business English, South-Western, Cengage Learning

Hodges’ Harbrace Handbook, latest edition

The Associated Press Stylebook

The Chicago Manual of Style

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Printable Resources

 

Acknowledgement


Thanks to Nancy Alexander and the English Department of Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC, for giving us permission to adapt their Dirty Dozen online tutorial.

Tip 1: Subject-Verb Agreement 

The subject and verb must agree in number: both must be singular, or both must be plural.

 

In the following examples, the subject is in bold, and the verb is in italics.

 

  • Subject-verb agreement error: They goes to town. (They is plural, but goes is the third-person singular verb.)
  • Correct: They go to town.
  • Subject-verb agreement error: She go to town. (She is singular, but go is the plural verb.)
  • Correct: She goes to town.

The simplest way to determine whether a verb is singular or plural is to ask which form of the verb you would use with it and which form you would use with they. It uses singular verbs, and they uses plural verbs.

  • It eats, sleeps, runs, wishes, dreams, hates (singular)
  • They eat, sleep, run, wish, dream, hate (plural)

Frequently Used Irregular Verbs:

Regular verbs add ed or d to the present tense form to form the past tense. Many verbs, however, form the past tense and the past participle irregularly. A writer, presenter, or job candidate can quickly appear unprepared and uneducated by choosing the wrong tense of frequently used irregular verbs, especially begin, come, do, and see. Saying these verb forms over and over, especially in the following pattern, can help you become comfortable with the standard, correct forms.

  • I do the work.
  • Yesterday I did the work.
  • In the past I have done the work.
  • I see.
  • Yesterday I saw.
  • In the past I have seen.

A past participle is preceded by have, has, had, or a form of the verb be (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been). Here are examples of simple conjugations:

I dream I dreamed I have dreamed
you dream you dreamed I have dreamed
  (it, he, she)    
he dreams he dreamed he has dreamed
they dream they dreamed they have dreamed
     
I see I saw I have seen
you see you saw you have seen
he sees he saw he has seen
they see they saw they have seen

 


 

Checking for Subject-Verb Agreement

Several subject-verb agreement rules that are frequently broken are listed below.

All the examples in this section are correct.


1. A subject and a verb must agree even when other words or phrases come between them. Frequently, prepositional phrases come between subjects and verbs. Ignore these prepositional phrases.

  • Example: The group of students is going on a field trip. (The subject is group, so the verb should be is. You should ignore the prepositional phrase of students.)
  • Example: The teacher, along with her students, finds the instructions confusing. (The subject is teacher, so the verb should be finds. You should ignore the prepositional phrase along with her students.)


2. Subjects joined by “and” usually take a plural verb.

  • Example: Joe and Mary go to town.

Note: For phrases like each girl and boy or every cat and bird, where the subjects are considered individually, use a singular verb.

  • Example: Each girl and boy in the class has a different story about the field trip.

Note: Use a singular verb for two singular subjects that form or are one thing.

  • Example: Iced tea and lemon quenches your thirst on a hot day.


3. Collective nouns are words that refer to groups of people or things; for example, class, jury, family, crowd, and audience. Collective nouns can be either singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence. If the context of the sentence makes you visualize the group doing something together, as one unit, then the noun is singular and takes a singular verb. If the context of the sentence makes you visualize different members of the group performing different actions, then the noun is plural and takes a plural verb.

  • Example: The group agrees that action is necessary. (The group is acting as a unit, so the word group is singular.)
  • Example: The old group have gone their separate ways. (The group members are acting individually, so the word group is plural in this sentence.)

Note: To avoid awkward-sounding plural collective nouns, place the members of before the collective noun.

  • Example: The members of the old group have gone their separate ways.

4. Indefinite pronouns that include one, body, or thing require singular verbs. The words each, either, every, much, and neither also require singular verbs.

  • Example: Neither wants to work hard.
  • Example: Everybody knows the answer to that question.


5. The indefinite pronouns all, any, more, most, none, and some can be either singular or plural, depending on whether the word they refer to is singular or plural.

  • Example: All the money is reserved for emergencies. (Here, all refers to money, which is singular.)
  • Example: All the funds are reserved for emergencies. (Here, all refers to funds, which is plural.)


6. The indefinite pronouns both, few, many, and several take plural verbs.

  • Example: Both know the answer to the question.

7. The verb must agree with its subject even when the subject follows the verb. Questions, sentences beginning with here or there, and sometimes sentences beginning with a prepositional phrase place the subject after the verb.

  • Example: Is voting a right or a privilege?
  • Example: Are a right and a privilege the same thing?
  • Example: Playing in the sand were three children and their mother.
  • Example: Here are my birth certificate and passport.
  • Example: There is my coat.


8. Many nouns ending in -ics (such as economics, statistics, and politics) take singular or plural verbs, depending on how they are used. When these words refer to a course of study or a body of knowledge, they are singular. When they refer to activities or qualities, they are plural.

  • Example: Statistics (a course of study) is the one course Beth failed.
  • Example: The statistics indicate that the demand for American-made products is increasing.


9. Subjects that look plural (because they end in s) but refer to only one thing are singular.

  • Example: The lens is broken. (The plural of lens islenses.)


10. Some nouns (such as glasses, pants, pliers, scissors, and trousers) are considered plural unless they are preceded by the phrase pair of.

  • Example: My glasses need cleaning.
  • Example: This pair of glasses needs cleaning.


11. A linking verb (usually a form of the verb to be) agrees with the subject (which usually comes before the verb), not the subject complement (which usually comes after the verb).

  • Example: Low wages are the problem.
  • Example: The problem is low wages.

12. In a dependent clause with a relative pronoun (who, that, which), the verb agrees with the antecedent.

  • Example: I have a friend who studies day and night. (The antecedent of who is the third-person singular noun friend, so the verb in the dependent clause is third-person singular, studies.)
  • Example: Bill bought one of the three thousand cars that have leather upholstery. (The antecedent of that is cars, so the verb is third-person plural, have.)


13. Titles and words referred to as words take singular verbs.

  • Example: Star Wars is my favorite movie.
  • Example: Children is misspelled in your essay.

14. With subjects joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the subject closer to it.

  • Example: Neither the teacher nor the students understand.
  • Example: Either her brothers or Mary mows the lawn.

Note: For a more natural-sounding sentence, place the plural part of a compound subject second.

  • Example: Either Mary or her brothers mow the lawn.

Exercise on subject-verb agreement

Subject-verb agreement exercise with answers

 

Tip 2: Fused Sentence or Comma Splice

Fused Sentence

A fused sentence (sometimes called a run-on sentence) is an error that occurs when two independent clauses have no punctuation separating them. Fused sentences tend to occur with pronouns and conjunctive adverbs (transitional words or phrases).

  • Fused sentence example: I ate raspberries I developed a rash.
  • Fused sentence example: She ate raspberries her lips were red.
  • Fused sentence example: I ate raspberries therefore I developed a rash.

Comma Splice

A comma splice is an error that occurs when two independent clauses are joined with only a comma.
Comma splice example: I ate raspberries, I developed a rash.

 


Fused Sentences


1. Check to see if the sentence contains two or more independent clauses.

2. If the sentence contains two independent clauses, check the way the independent clauses are joined. There are three acceptable ways to connect independent clauses:

  • a comma plus a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
  • a semicolon
  • a colon

Correcting Fused Sentences


There are several ways to correct fused sentences like this one:

  • Fused sentence example: I ate raspberries I developed a rash.

1. Use a period between the two independent clauses to create two sentences.

  • Example: I ate raspberries. I developed a rash.

2. Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries, and I developed a rash.

3. Use a semicolon to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries; I developed a rash.

4. Use a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries; therefore, I developed a rash.

5. Use a colon between the two sentences if the second sentence explains the first sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries, and I developed a rash: I am allergic to raspberries.

6. Change the sentence so it no longer contains two independent clauses; for example, use a subordinating conjunction and a dependent clause to create a complex sentence.

  • Example: Because I ate raspberries, I developed a rash.

Comma Splices

1. They are so common that many people think they are correct.

2. Frequently, the second clause will begin with a pronoun (he, she, they, etc.) or then.

  • Comma splice example: She ate raspberries, her lips were red.
  • Comma splice example: I ate raspberries, I developed a rash.

3. Frequently, the second clause (sentence) will begin with a conjunctive adverb (transitional word or phrase).

  • Comma splice example: I ate raspberries, therefore, I developed a rash.
  • Comma splice example: I ate raspberries, however, she did not.

Checking for Comma Splices

1. Check to see if the sentence contains two or more independent clauses (sentences).

2. If the sentence contains two independent clauses, check the way the independent clauses are joined. There are three acceptable ways to connect independent clauses:

  • a comma plus a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
  • a semicolon
  • a colon

Correcting Comma Splices

There are several ways to correct comma splices:
Comma splice example: I ate raspberries, I developed a rash.

1. Use a period between the two independent clauses to create two sentences.

  • Example: I ate raspberries. I developed a rash.

2. Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries, so I developed a rash.

3. Use a semicolon to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries; I developed a rash.

4. Use a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb to create a compound sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries; therefore, I developed a rash.

5. Use a colon between two sentences if the second sentence explains the first sentence.

  • Example: I ate raspberries, and I developed a rash: I am allergic to raspberries.

6. Change the sentence so it no longer contains two independent clauses; for example, use a subordinating conjunction and a dependent clause to create a complex sentence.

  • Example: Because I ate raspberries, I developed a rash.

Note: you use the same methods to correct fused sentences and comma splices because the only difference between a comma splice and a fused sentence is the comma.

Exercise on fused sentence and comma splice errors

Fused sentence and comma splice exercise with answers

Tip 3: Apostrophes 

Apostrophes should be used for:

1. Contractions

  • Example: She isn’t (is not) here today.

2. Possessive forms of nouns and indefinite pronouns (when something is owned by someone)

  • Example: John’s book is on the shelf.
  • Example: Everyone’s opinion is important.

We often do not pronounce the possessive s of a few singular nouns ending in an s, a z , or an x sound; names with more than one s (Moses); names that sound like plurals (Rivers, Bridges); and nouns followed by a word beginning in an s.

  • Example: Moses’ mother hid the baby in a basket.
  • Example: Joan Rivers’ jokes are usually funny.
  • Example: You are late again, for goodness’ sake!

Usage varies, and the final s isn’t wrong. Moses's is acceptable.

Until recently apostrophes were used to form the plurals of abbreviations (MA’s), dates (1980s), and words or characters named as words (if’s, and’s, and but’s). Most current texts do not recommend the apostrophe in these cases.

He earned two MAs in the 1980s.
My phone number has three 3s [or 3s].
You used too many ands [or ands] in you speech.
Note: Underline or italicize a word or a character named as a word, but do not underline or italicize the added s.


Checking for Apostrophe Errors


An apostrophe will always be placed either before or after an s at the end of a “noun owner.”

  • Example: The dog’s collar was too tight. (one dog)
  • Example: The three dogs’ collars were too tight. (three dogs)

The “noun owner” will always be followed by what it owns.

  • Example: The dog’s collar was too tight.
  • Example: The three dogs’ collars were too tight.

To make nouns possessive, first, determine the owner. In these examples, the owner is dog or dogs.

Next, if the “noun owner” is singular, place an apostrophe and an s at the end of the noun.

  • dog----dog’s

If the “noun owner” is plural, place the apostrophe at the end of the noun. If the plural noun ends in s, do not add another s.

  • dogs----dogs’

Some plural nouns do not end in s. To form the possessive of plural nouns that do not end in s, add an apostrophe and an s at the end of the noun.
Examples:

  • men----men’s (not mens’)
  • children—children’s (not childrens’)
  • mice---mice’s (not mices’)

Some pronouns form their possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s at the end of the pronoun.
Examples:

  • anybody---anybody’s
  • everyone---everyone’s
  • someone---someone’s

Personal pronouns do not add an apostrophe to form the possessive.
Examples:

  • your or yours (not your’s)
  • hers (not her’s)
  • ours (not our’s)
  • its (not it’s)

Most of these personal pronouns do not cause problems, but some writers incorrectly write it’s to show the possessive of it.

  • Incorrect: The dog lost it’s collar.

Note: It’s always means it is or it has. Its is the possessive pronoun. The construction its’ does not exist.

Be careful with compound nouns that are hyphenated. To make a compound noun possessive, add an apostrophe or apostrophe and s to the last word in the compound.

  • Example: The possessive of brother-in-law is brother-in-law’s, but the plural of brother-in-law is brothers-in-law. (For those of you who are curious, the plural possessive is brothers-in-law’s.)

To show joint ownership by two people, add an apostrophe or apostrophe and s to the second noun of the pair.

  • Example: Bob left his mother and father’s house to go to college.

If the two members of a noun pair possess a set of things individually, add an apostrophe or apostrophe s to each noun.

  • Example: Bob’s and Bill’s cars were stolen last week.

Apostrophes should not be used to form plurals (more than one).

  • Incorrect: The girls’ giggled loudly.
  • Correct: The girls giggled loudly.

Apostrophes should not be used with verbs that end in s.

  • Incorrect: He sing’s in the choir.
  • Correct: He sings in the choir.
  • Incorrect: He go’s to Methodist University.
  • Correct: He goes to Methodist University.

Note: Perhaps the most controversial and confusing use of apostrophe is with singular nouns that end in an s, an x, or a z. There are two options for forming the possessive if a singular noun ends in these letters. One option is to add an apostrophe after the s. The other option is to add apostrophe and s. Some guides suggest that if a new syllable is formed in the pronunciation of the possessive, writers should add an apostrophe plus s.

  • Example: Phoenix’s business district is thriving.

If the addition of an extra syllable would make a word ending in an s difficult to pronounce, writers should add only the apostrophe.

  • Example: New Orleans’ restaurants are the best in the world.

When forming the possessive of any noun ending in an s, always place the apostrophe at the end of the original word.

  • Incorrect: Keat’s odes are the most beautiful of all English poetry.
  • Correct: Keats’s odes are the most beautiful of all English poetry.
  • Correct: Keats' odes are the most beautiful of all English poetry.

Usage varies widely, and standard texts offer many suggestions.

Remember, English is a living language, and one of its beauties is that it is always changing.


Exercise on apostrophe errors

Apostrophe exercise with answers

Tip 4: Confusing Pronouns: Antecedent Agreement, Vague or Ambiguous Pronoun Reference

Antecedent Agreement 


A pronoun takes the place of a noun. An antecedent is the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers.
In the following example, the antecedent is in bold and the pronoun is italicized.

  • The teacher forgot her book.

Here her is the pronoun, and teacher is the antecedent.

Checking for Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Pronouns and antecedents agree in person—first (I, we), second (you), or third (he, she, it, they.) They also agree in gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter) and number (singular or plural). Errors in person and gender are rare, so they won’t be discussed here. Most pronoun-antecedent agreement errors have to do with number.

If the antecedent is singular, the pronoun should be singular. If the antecedent is plural, the pronoun should be plural.

  • Pronoun-antecedent agreement error example: The dogs tugged on its leash.
  • Correct: The dogs tugged on their leashes.

Only in the second sentence does the pronoun (their) agree with the antecedent (dogs). (Both are plural.)
Except for careless mistakes or typos, students rarely make the kind of error like the one described above. In the next section, we’ll look at the pronoun-antecedent agreement situations that cause students problems.

The Most Problematic Pronoun-Antecedent Situation

Most agreement problems arise with the singular indefinite nouns (person, student, individual, soldier, etc.) and indefinite pronouns (someone, each, anybody, neither). These words are "indefinite" because they do not definitely refer to males, nor do they definitely refer to females. Because they are singular, they should be followed by the singular pronouns "his or her," "his or hers," or "him or her," depending on context. However, people often (very often) mistakenly use plural pronouns such as they or theirs to refer to indefinite singular antecedents, like this:

  • Pronoun-antecedent agreement error example:
    Everyone has their own locker.
  • Pronoun-antecedent agreement error example: A person can padlock their locker.

The previous examples are incorrect. As you learned in the subject-verb agreement section, everyone is singular; therefore, it must have a singular pronoun. A person is also singular and should have a singular pronoun.

  • Correct: Everyone has his or her own locker.
  • Correct: A person can padlock his or her locker.

Note: Using his or her, him or her, he or she can be awkward and repetitive.

Solutions:

1. Make the noun plural.
Instead of writing “A person can padlock his or her locker,” write “People can padlock their lockers.”
2. Rewrite the sentence to omit the pronoun:
Instead of writing “Everyone is entitled to his or her private space,” write
“Everyone is entitled to a private space.”

Some Other Problematic Pronoun-Antecedent Situations


1. When antecedents are joined by or or nor, the pronoun should agree with the antecedent closer to it.
Example: Neither the chicks nor their mother would ever leave its nest.

Note: For a more natural-sounding sentence, place the plural part of a compound subject second.
Example: Neither the mother nor her chicks would ever leave their nest.

2. Collective nouns are nouns that refer to groups, such as class, group, and jury. They take singular or plural pronouns depending on whether they refer to the group acting together as one unit (singular) or to the members of the group acting separately (plural).

Example: The jury was unanimous in its verdict. (The jury is acting as a unit, so we treat jury as singular.)
Example: The jury disagreed in their assessment of the case. (The jury members are acting individually, so we treat jury as plural.)

Note: To avoid awkward-sounding plural collective nouns, place the members of before the collective noun.
Example: The members of the jury disagreed in their assessment of the case.

3. Indefinite Words:
Four indefinite pronouns—both, few, many, several—are always plural and are referred to with plural pronouns.
Example: Few realize how their athletic abilities have changed.

The indefinite pronouns all, any, more, most, none, and some may be singular or plural depending on the word to which they refer:

Example: Most of the geysers have their own personality. (Most refers to geysers, which is plural.)
Example: All the money was counted when it changed hands. (All refers to money, which is singular.)

Exercise on pronoun-antecedent agreement

Pronoun-antecedent agreement exercise with answers


Vague or Ambiguous Pronoun Reference


Remember that a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. An ambiguous pronoun reference occurs when it’s not clear what noun a pronoun refers to, as in this example:

  • Ambiguous pronoun reference example: The teacher gave the student her notes. (Does the pronoun her refer to the noun teacher or the noun student?)

A vague pronoun reference occurs in one of two situations: (1) when a pronoun like it, this, that, and which refers to an implied concept or word rather than to a specific, preceding noun; and (2) when a pronoun is used to refer to the object of a prepositional phrase.

  • Example of (1) above: She gave the Red Cross all her money, and this is the reason why she declared bankruptcy. (Here, this refers to an implied concept that could be phrased something like “the fact that she gave the Red Cross all her money” rather to a specific noun.)
  • Better: The fact that she gave the Red Cross all her money explains why she declared bankruptcy.
  • Another example of (1) above: Michelle is a shy person, but she keeps it hidden. (Here, it refers to “shyness,” and although the concept of shyness is implied in this sentence, the word shyness does not appear in it. Thus the pronoun is referring to a noun that isn’t there. That’s not good.)
  • Better: Michelle is a shy person, but she keeps her shyness hidden.
  • A final example of (1) above: Judy Cohen’s error brought her a lawsuit.
    (Here, her must refer to Judy Cohen. However, although the concept that a person named Judy Cohen exists is implied in this sentence, the actual words Judy Cohen do not appear before the pronoun.Cohen’s appears, but not Cohen. Thus, again, the pronoun is referring to a noun that isn’t there.)
  • Better: Her error brought Judy Cohen a lawsuit.
  • Example of (2) above: In the average television drama, it presents a false picture of life. (Here, it refers to drama, and drama is the object of the prepositional phrase “in the average television drama.”)
  • Better: The average television drama presents a false picture of life.
  • Another example of (2) above: In the directions, they said that the small box should be opened last. (Here, they refers to directions, and directions is the object of the prepositional phrase “in the directions.”)
  • Better: The directions say that the small box should be opened last.

Exercise on vague pronouns
Vague pronouns exercise with answers

Tip 5: Incoherent Sentence: Fragments, Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers, Faulty Predication

Sentence Fragment 


A fragment is a group of words that is punctuated like a sentence and looks like a sentence but is not a sentence.


Checking for Sentence Fragments

  • Check to see if the “sentence” needs a subject.
  • Check to see if the “sentence” needs a verb.
  • Check to see if the “sentence” needs both a subject and a verb.
  • Check to see if the “sentence” is a dependent clause.

Exercise on sentence fragments
Sentence fragments exercise with answers

Modifiers

Misplaced Modifiers (mm)

Misplaced modifiers are words that, because of awkward placement, do not describe what the writer intended them to describe. A misplaced modifier can make a sentence confusing or unintentionally funny. To avoid misplaced modifiers, place words as close as possible to what they describe.

  • Misplaced modifier example: He served pancakes to the children on paper plates. (Were the children on paper plates?)
  • Correct: He served the children pancakes on paper plates.
  • Misplaced modifier example: I saw a rabbit and a raccoon on the way to the airport. (Were the rabbit and the raccoon on the way to the airport?)
  • Correct: On the way to the airport, I saw a rabbit and a raccoon.
  • Misplaced modifier example: He nearly brushed his teeth for ten minutes every night. (Did he come close to brushing his teeth but in fact did not brush them at all?)
  • Correct: He brushed his teeth for nearly ten minutes every night.

Note: Words like almost, even, exactly, hardly, just, merely, nearly, only, scarcely, and simply should come immediately before the word they modify.
The following sentences have different meanings because of the placement of only.

  • Only Mr. Brown offered me thirty dollars to mow his lawn. (Mr. Brown was the only person to offer thirty dollars. No one else offered thirty dollars.)
  • Mr. Brown only offered me thirty dollars to mow his lawn. (Mr. Brown offered, but he did not pay thirty dollars.)
  • Mr. Brown offered me only thirty dollars to mow his lawn. (Mr. Brown offered thirty dollars, but I was expecting forty dollars.)

Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier is a modifier that does not relate sensibly to any word in the sentence. A modifier that begins a sentence must be followed immediately by the word it is meant to describe. Otherwise, the modifier is said to be dangling, and the sentence takes on an unintended meaning.

  • Dangling modifier example: While reading a magazine, my cat sat with me on the porch swing. (Was the cat reading the magazine?)
  • Correct: While I was reading a magazine, my cat sat with me on the porch swing.
  • Correct: While reading a magazine, I sat with my cat on the porch swing.
  • Dangling modifier example: Asked to join the club, we were disappointed by his refusal. (Here, the modifier is asked to join the club which does not modify a noun or pronoun in the sentence.)
  • Correct: Asked to join the club, he disappointed us because he refused.
  • Correct: When he was asked to join the club, we were disappointed that he refused.


Exercise on misplaced and dangling modifiers
Modifiers exercise with answers

Faulty Predication


Faulty predication occurs when the subject and the verb do not make sense together. In other words, the subject can’t “be” or “do” the verb. (A predicate is the part of the sentence or clause, including the verb, that expresses what the subject is or does.)

  • Faulty predication example: The purpose of movies was invented to entertain people. (The purpose was not invented. Movies were invented.)
  • Correct: The purpose of movies is to entertain people.
  • Correct: Movies were invented to entertain people.

Faulty predication can also occur when a writer uses the construction is when or is where. Definitions require nouns on both sides of verbs that are forms of be.

  • Faulty predication example: A waterspout is when a tornado is over water. (A waterspout is not a time.)
  • Correct: A waterspout is a tornado occurring over water.
  • Faulty predication example: Anorexia nervosa is where individuals refuse to eat and gradually starve themselves to death. (Anorexia is not a place.)
  • Correct: Anorexia nervosa is a disorder suffered by individuals who refuse to eat and gradually starve themselves to death.

The construction the reason is because… is redundant. Because means for the reason that, so the reason is because means the reason is for the reason that.

  • Faulty predication example: The reason for low sales is because prices are too high.
  • Correct: The reason for low sales is that prices are too high.
  • Correct: Sales are low because prices are too high.

Prepositional phrases cannot be the subject of a sentence.

  • Faulty predication example: In the glacier’s retreat created a valley.
  • Correct: The glacier’s retreat created a valley.

Exercise on faulty predication
Faulty predication exercise with answers

 


 

Apply Now