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Contents

Common Mistakes in Sentence Constructions ...................................................................................... 2 A. B. C. Fragments: ...................................................................................................................................... 2 Run-on Sentences: ........................................................................................................................ 2 Comma Splashes ....................................................................................................................... 2

Comma Usage ............................................................................................................................................ 4 Modifiers ...................................................................................................................................................... 9 1. 2. Dangling Modifiers....................................................................................................................... 9 Misplaced Modifiers .................................................................................................................... 9

Lists ............................................................................................................................................................ 10

Common Mistakes in Sentence Constructions


Following are the common mistakes in sentence construction are fragments, run-on sentences and comma splashes.

A. Fragments:
Every sentence must express a complete thought. A construction that does not express a complete thought is called a fragment. Two common types of fragments are dependent clauses and relative clauses. 1. Dependent Clause Fragments A dependent clause begins with a subordinate conjunction such as after, although, because, even though, if, when, while, and until. A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence. To revise a dependent clause fragment, join it to a main (independent) clause. NOT: Julianna lost her gold brooch. Because the fastener came loose. BUT: Julianna lost her gold brooch because the fastener came loose.

NOT: Garth will come camping with us in August. If he can get time off work. BUT: Garth will come camping with us in August if he can get time off work.

2. Relative Clause Fragments A relative clause begins with a relative pronoun such as who, which, or that. To revise a relative clause fragment, attach it to a main clause. NOT: Amir is one of those people. Who always think they are right. BUT: Amir is one of those people who always think they are right.

B. Run-on Sentences:
A common error is to use only one comma to join two unrelated main clauses, or those linked by adverbs or adverbial phrases such as nevertheless, therefore, and as a result. This produces a 'comma splice' or 'run-on sentence': I like swimming very much, I go to the pool every week. He was still tired, nevertheless he went to work as usual.

This fault can be corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction or by replacing the comma with a semicolon or colon.

C. Comma Splashes
A comma splash is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two independent clauses. (An independent clause is a phrase that is grammatically and conceptually complete: that is, it can stand on its own as a sentence.) To correct the comma splice, you can:

Replace the comma with a period, forming two sentences Replace the comma with a semicolon Join the two clauses with a conjunction such as "and," "because," "but," etc.

Example: I like Xena, she is very smart. I like Xena. She is very smart. I like Xena; she is very smart. I like Xena, because she is very smart.

INCORRECT CORRECT CORRECT CORRECT

Comma Usage
Rule 1. Use the comma to join main clauses that are grammatically similar, and linked by one of the coordinating conjunctions and, but, nor, or, and yet. This rule is particularly used in US english In UK English, you can avoid the comma by simply using the conjunction if the clauses are short and closely related. 2. To give a trenchant sense of contrast, use a comma with no coordinating conjunction to link very short main clauses 3. Use the isolating comma to separate vocative expressions from the rest of the sentence My son, give me thy heart. Do you believe her, sir? He doesn't buy antiques, he inherits them. Pistols for two coffee for one. Example Truth ennobles man, and learning adorns him. Non-example Do as I tell you and you'll never regret it.

4. Use it in quotes to separate the speaker from the speech and to introduce direct speech:

She said, 'You are quite mad.' think', she said, 'that you are quite mad.'

When using quotation marks, the US English prefers to leave the end punctuation inside the quotes but in UK English it is outside. 5. Use commas as required to isolate interjections, reflexive questions, and brief comments Yes, I'll come. Oh, how delightful! You are his brother, aren't you? She's quite mad, you know. I can't swim, you see.

6. Use commas with nouns in apposition, where the apposition adds information

They gave us two presents, a bottle of mescal and a tiara.

of the form and he is, and it was, or otherwise known as:

This is Elizabeth, my wife. This is my friend, Mr Smith. George Oakes, a compositor from London, attended the gathering.

My second son, Theodore, i s . ..

7. A comma can, but need not, follow that is and namely. (To avoid double punctuation, no comma follows i.e. and e.g. in OUP style.) A comma is not required where the item in apposition is restrictivein other words, when it defines which of more than one item is meant:

My friend Mr Smith is . .. The Scottish poet Burns is . .. My son Theodore is . ..

8. Note, however, that transposing the names then requires commas:

Mr Smith, my avatar, is . .. Theodore, my second son, is . .. Burns, the Scottish poet, is . ..

9. The comma segregates elements that are not an essential part of the sentence, often parenthetical or prepositional phrases. Use a comma to set off a non-defining word, phrase, or clause in apposition to a noun, which comments on the main clause or supplies additional information about it. Use a pair of commas when the apposition falls in the middle of a sentence; they function like a pair of parentheses or dashes, though imply a closer relationship with the surrounding text:

Men, who are bald more often than women, frequently wear hats.

Baldwin II, known as 'the Bald', was father of Arnulf I. The man, hoping to escape, mingled with the crowd. Her father, who lives in Spain, has retired.

10. Do not use the comma to separate a defining (restrictive) word, phrase, or clause, which is one that cannot be omitted without affecting the sentence's meaning:

Men who are bald frequently wear hats. Employees who live in Spain are entitled to the usual benefits.

11. Adverbial material, whether clauses, phrases, or single adverbs, obeys no single rule regarding commas, though the length of the material and what it modifies in the sentence regulates where commas are placed: 12. A subject-verb inversion needs no comma:

The French, having occupied Portugal, began to advance into Spain.

On the burning deck stood a boy. Behind the temple lay formal gardens of exotic perfume. Running before the carriage was a small dog.

13. Adverbs and adverbial phrases that comment on the whole sentence, such as therefore, perhaps, of course, are often enclosed in commas, but this 120 Punctuation I CHAPTER 5 is not a fixed rule. Sense may be altered by the comma's placement or presence. Consider the following:

We'll go to Cornwall, perhaps in the spring, {perhaps then) We'll go to Cornwall perhaps, in the spring, (perhaps elsewhere)

Again she refused to speak, (once more) Again, she refused to speak, (in addition)

14. Use the comma in 'proportional' expressions of the general form the... the..., other than very short ones:

The bigger, the better. The longer the subject, the more likely a comma will be inserted.

The more they charge the customer, the less trouble

they seem to take. The higher we climbed, the worse the weather became.

15. Do not introduce a comma between subject and verb, or verb and objecteven after a long subject, where there would be a natural pause in speech, if only for breath:

Those who have the largest incomes and who have amassed the greatest personal savings should be taxed most.

A bear who consumes too much honey at a friend's house and then attempts to leave by way of a small hole may get stuck.

16. Use a comma where the same word occurs twice in succession:

Whatever is, is right. All the books I have, have been in storage. We wanted to help out, out of compassion.

17. Separate a sequence of adjectives by commas when each adjective modifies the noun and could otherwise be followed by and:

an arrogant, impossible man = an arrogant and impossible man

that gentle, amiable, harmless creature = that gentle and amiable and harmless creature

18. Omit the comma when each adjective modifies the idea expressed by the combination of the subsequent adjective(s) and noun:

a prominent political commentator, a torn blue cotton fishing cap, a cherubic

curly-headed blond toddler

19. Use commas in place of conjunctions to separate elements in a list of three or more items. Oxford comma'

urban, squat, and packed with guile mad, bad, and dangerous to

know At least three items are required in order to establish the factors that link them, so the reader can predict what related items might follow. consult a trade union official, a personnel officer, or a staff member flying through the air, crawling on the ground, and swimming underwater

20. In a list of three or more items, use a comma before a final extension phrase such as etc., and so forth, and the like:

potatoes, swede, carrots, turnips, etc. cakes, biscuits, cookies, muffins, and so forth dukes, earls, barons, and the like

21. In nontechnical work, use commas to separate numbers into units of three, starting from the right

2,016,523,354 2,200 $9,999.50

22. In dates, use a comma to separate the name of the day from the date: Wednesday, 12 August 1960. Do not use one between day, month, and year:

In August 1960

In US style, where the month and day are transposed, a comma follows the day: August 12,1960.

Modifiers
1. Dangling Modifiers A modifier is a word or phrase that describes a noun. If a modifying phrase comes at the beginning of a sentence, it should logically describe the noun that immediately follows. If the phrase and the noun are not logically related, the phrase is said to dangle. To revise a dangling modifier, you can: Provide a noun that the phrase can logically describe. Turn the phrase into a dependent clause. You may also have to revise the main clause.

You may have to make major revisions to the sentence. NOT: Waiting for the bus during the snow storm, Simons friends offer of a ride was welcome. BUT: Waiting for the bus during the snow storm, Simon welcomed his friends offer of a ride.

NOT: While sailing along the coast, a group of dolphins followed us.
BUT: While we were sailing along the coast, a group of dolphins followed us.

NOT: After printing the final version of my essay, several typing errors were noticed. BUT: After I had printed the final version of my essay, I noticed several typing errors.

2. Misplaced Modifiers If a modifying phrase or clause appears to describe a word to which it cant logically refer, then the modifier is misplaced. To revise the error, move the phrase or clause as close as possible to the word it should describe.

NOT: We visited West Edmonton Mall while we were in Alberta, which is the largest mall in the world. [The relative clause seems to describe Alberta, which isnt logical.] BUT: While we were in Alberta, we visited West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest mall in the world.

NOT: I saw magnolia trees in bloom strolling along the boulevard. [The phrase seems to describe magnolia trees, which isnt logical.] BUT: Strolling along the boulevard, I saw magnolia trees in bloom. [Now the phrase logically describes I.]

Lists A list of word, phrases, or clauses should be in the same grammatical form. When the items in the list are not grammatically parallel, the error is called non-parallel structure (or faulty parallelism). NOT: Listening to his constant jabbering is a test of endurance and being patient. BUT: Listening to his constant jabbering is a test of endurance and patience.