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  1. More Sentence Errors 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas, 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon, 3. Faulty Parallelism, 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers, 5. Mixed Constructions, 6. Overuse of Passive Voice, 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases, 8. Apostrophe Problems, 9. Tense Problems

  2. Note • I have changed the order of these errors from the textbook’s order. • At times this PowerPoint refers to previous handouts and PowerPoints, such as the conjunction and conjunctive adverbs handout, the concision handout, and the “parts of speech” PowerPoint.

  3. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas • Proper Uses • (1) In a sentence, put a comma after an introductory (beginning) phrase, word or subordinate (dependent) clause. • E.g.: To some people who observe a tattoo, this can signify a form of self-pity or depravity. • E.g.: Unfortunately, the latter is a much more common reaction.

  4. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • Some writing experts and grammarians say that short introductory elements don’t need commas after them. • Nonetheless, it’s never wrong to put the comma in. Furthermore, if you tend to forget to put commas in with other kinds of introductory elements (where long preposition phrases, subordinate clauses, participial clauses), you should get into the habit of always putting them in.

  5. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (2) Use two commas to set off a “non-restrictive” element (more on that later) that appears in the middle of a sentence. • E.g.: Dogs, unlike cats, usually love to play in the water. • E.g.: Key West, where my brother lives, is semitropical.

  6. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (3) Use a comma to set off a “non-restrictive” element (more on that later) that appears at the end of a sentence. • However, if the main clause’s meaning sets up a condition that the subordinate clause fulfills, do not separate them with a comma. • E.g.: I will go to the doctor, even though I am not sick. [the underlined portion is the speaker’s comment about a decision already made] • E.g.: I will go to the doctor if you come with me. [the underlined portion is restricting the circumstances under which the first part of the sentence could happen]

  7. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (4) Separate three or more items in a list, compound subject or compound predicate when those items are joined with a coordinate conjunction. • In this case, a comma is optional before the coordinating conjunction. • E.g.: An easy route to these levels is to become a professional athlete, model, or entertainer.

  8. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (5) Put a comma in front of a coordinating conjunction that connects main clauses. • E.g.: She was a good student, and she was also a good athlete.

  9. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • Improper Uses • (1) Commas by themselves cannot join main clauses. (The resulting error is called a “comma splice.”) • Wrong E.g.: She was a good student, she was also a good athlete. • A comma can join main clauses only with a coordinating conjunction (see the previous slide).

  10. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (2) A common error is the use of a conjunctive adverb (e.g., however, therefore, nevertheless) to join main clauses, with a comma before and after it. • Note that a conjunctive adverb is not a coordinate conjunction. Therefore, a conjunctive adverb cannot perform this grammatical connecting function. It needs help from other connecting punctuation (the period and the semicolon, namely). • Wrong E.g.: Much of the cathedral was completed in 1941, however, the church’s two towers had not yet been built.

  11. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • Right E.g.: Much of the cathedral was completed in 1941; however, the church’s two towers had not yet been built. • Tip: Like all adverbs, conjunctive adverbs can be moved to different positions in a sentence without seriously affecting meaning. (Conjunctions cannot be moved.) • E.g.: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour; consequently, the U.S. entered the Second World War. • E.g.: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour; the U.S., consequently, entered the Second World War.

  12. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (3) Do not use a comma to separate a subject from its predicate. • Wrong E.g.: Conjunctive adverbs, are easy to distinguish from conjunctions.

  13. 1. Missing or Unnecessary Commas (continued) • (4) Do not use a comma to separate items in a two-item list, two-item compound subject, or two-item compound predicate. • Wrong E.g: I like dogs, and cats. (compound object). • Right E.g.: I like dogs and cats. • Right E.g.: I like dogs, cats, and mice. • Wrong E.g.: Mitch lives in Woodbridge, and works in Toronto. • Right E.g.: Mitch lives in Woodbridge and works in Toronto.

  14. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon • Colons set off lists from a preceding main clause. • That is, a main clause must precede a colon. • A colon, therefore, cannot follow a subordinate clause or a phrase. • The list may be any kind of clause or a phrase.

  15. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon (continued) • Main clause: list. • Right E.g.: Alberta has three major cities: Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer. • Wrong E.g.: Alberta has three major cities, including: Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer. [the underlined portion is the beginning of a phrase, thus the list now modifies (incorrectly) a single word]

  16. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon (continued) • P.S.: Colons are also used to separate a title from its subtitle or to set off headings from the main text (such as at the start of this sentence). • E.g.,Acting on Words: An Integrated Reader, Rhetoric, and Handbook

  17. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon (continued) • A semicolon has two functions: (1) a connector for main clauses (2) “supercomma”

  18. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon (continued) • (1) A connector for main clauses. • Use a semicolon when the relationship between the two clauses is so close that you think that a period is too abrupt a separator between them. • The connected independent clauses are considered part of the same sentence. • E.g.: Conjunctive adverbs are not conjunctions; they function as adverbs.

  19. 2. Misused Colon or Semicolon (continued) • (2) “Supercomma”. If you are listing a series of clauses with embedded commas, use a semicolon to separate the lists where in other cases commas would have appeared. • E.g.: The judges included Chief Justice McLachlin, who is from Pincher Creek, Alberta; Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, who tends to side with the state; and Justice MacKay, who was president of Dalhousie University.

  20. 3. Faulty Parallelism • When a sentence has a compound subject, compound predicate, or compound elements in the predicate, be sure that each element has the same grammatical structure as the other elements in its grouping. • “Faulty parallelism” means “an absence of parallelism.”

  21. 3. Faulty Parallelism (continued) • Parallelism is a function of word order (syntax). • A reader will find a sentence with parallelism easier to read than a sentence without parallelism. Faulty parallelism forces the reader to shift to a different word pattern, which slows reading. • Parallelism leads to concision. • Faulty parallelism can cause grammar errors.

  22. 3. Faulty Parallelism (continued) • Below are some common uses: • (1) Verbs • Right E.g.: The stew smells delicious and tastes even better. • Wrong E.g.: The stew smells delicious and I like the taste.

  23. 3. Faulty Parallelism (continued) • (2) Lists • Wrong E.g.: I can’t decide which activity I like more: to swim at the beach in July, when the sand is warm, or jogging along country roads in October, when autumn leaves are at their colourful best. • Right E.g.: I can’t decide which activity I like more: swimming at the beach in July, when the sand is warm, or jogging along country roads in October, when the autumn leaves are colourful.

  24. 3. Faulty Parallelism (continued) • (3) Prepositions in lists • Wrong E.g.: We asked for more popcorn, extra chocolates, and for more peanuts. • Right E.g.: We asked for more popcorn, chocolates, and peanuts.

  25. 3. Faulty Parallelism (continued) • (4) Correlative conjunctions (either/or, not only/but also) • Each the correlating section must have the same syntax. • Wrong E.g: Either they will stop overnight or fly straight home. • Right E.g.: Either theywill stop overnight or theywill fly straight home. • Right E.g.: They will either stop overnight or fly straight home.

  26. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers • Restrictive and nonrestrictive qualifiers are punctuated differently. The confusion leads to incorrect punctuation and incorrect meaning. • Your text uses the term “qualifier.” You can also use the word “modifier,” a term we discussed earlier in the course. Think of a qualifier as a group of words that acts like an adjective. • You could think of the word to mean “element” (a thing) instead of the more specific “qualifier.”

  27. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • Recall that an appositive phrase is a phrase that adds to the meaning of an adjacent noun. It can be a noun phrase or participial phrase. • Appositive phrases, relative clauses and participial phrases are all considered qualifiers in this discussion.

  28. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • A relative clause is a subordinate clause that starts with the relative pronouns “who,” “which,” “whom,” “whose” or “that” and acts like an adjective, modifying the noun that precedes it. (It is an “adjective clause.”) • The preceding sentence has a relative clause (”that starts with….”). • See the “Parts of Speech” PowerPoint for more on relative pronouns.

  29. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • A nonrestrictive (perhaps better called “nonessential”) qualifier is not vital to specifying its noun, but rather adds information that is useful to know. • A nonrestrictive qualifier is like a parenthetical remark or aside.

  30. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • Punctuate a nonrestrictive qualifier with a comma before and after it. • Tip: Think of the commas as acting like parentheses. If you can substitute the commas with parentheses (or if you put parentheses around the qualifier) without altering the meaning in an important way, you have a nonrestrictive qualifier.

  31. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • When a nonrestrictive qualifier ends a sentence, the closing period cancels the second period. • When a nonrestrictive qualifier begins a sentence, the initial capital letter substitutes for the first comma.

  32. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • A restrictive (also called [and perhaps better called] “essential)” qualifier is a clause or appositive phrase whose meaning is vital to indicating the identity of thing it qualifies (usually a noun). • The qualifier is essential to defining or establishing the scope by which the reader must understand the element it qualifies. • As a result, a restrictive qualifier cannot have commas separating it from the thing it qualifies.

  33. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • E.g.: People who cannot sleep at night need sedatives to get a good night’s rest. [punctuated as a restrictive qualifier] • E.g.: People, who cannot sleep at night, need sedatives to get a good night’s rest. [punctuated as a nonrestrictive qualifier (but this can’t be right….)]

  34. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • A nonrestrictive qualifier has commas around it to indicate its secondary importance.

  35. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • The writer decides when a qualifier should be restrictive or non-restrictive. The distinction, although it is indicated grammatically, is a semantic one. • E.g.: Children who hate vegetables should take vitamins. • E.g.: Children, who hate vegetables, should take vitamins. • Which one does the writer mean?

  36. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • E.g. The Eastwood film that most deserves critical attention is Dirty Harry. The film, which is set in San Francisco, explores violence and urban alienation. [this restrictive relative clause has no commas around it because it contains the main content of the sentence. The non-restrictive clause gives us information but doesn’t identify the film]

  37. 4. Confusion over Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Qualifiers (continued) • In North America, we use “that” for restrictive relative clauses and “which” for non-restrictive relative clauses that introduce non-human elements. (In Britain, the opposite is true.) • (Thankfully, we use “who” for any relative clause if the clause is about a person.)

  38. 5. Mixed Constructions • This term applies to all sentence errors that seem to stem from the writer having lost track of a sentence’s structure, so that the end of the sentence has little to do with the first part of the sentence, whether grammatically or semantically. • This term serves a general category for sentences that do not make sense.

  39. 6. Overuse of Passive Voice • See the “concision” handout for a discussion of passive voice. • Active voice: I saw the dog. • Passive voice: The dog was seen by me.

  40. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases • Pronouns in English have cases, forms indicating their function in a sentence. (English used to have cases for its nouns, too, but English dropped those centuries ago.) • People sometimes use the wrong case of a personal pronoun after a verb. • English personal and relative pronouns have three cases: subjective, objective and possessive.

  41. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases (continued) SubjectiveObjectivePossessive Person Sing. 1st: I me my (mine) Sing. 2nd: you you your (yours) Sing. 3rd:he/she/it him/her/it his (his)/her (hers)/its Plural 1st: we us our (ours) Plural 2nd: you you your (yours) Plural 3rd: they them their (theirs) Relative who whom whose

  42. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases (continued) (a) Use the subjective case as the subject of a clause. (b) Use the objective case as a direct or indirect object of a clause (including after a preposition). (c) Use the primary possessive case in front of a noun to show ownership. (d) Use the secondary possessive case (mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, ours) after a verb to show ownership. (These ones behave like nouns.) (e) Use “who” in a relative clause or question when the pronoun is the subject of the clause; use “whom” in a relative clause or question when the pronoun is the object of the clause).

  43. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases (continued) (a) Subjective (correct examples) I am going home. John and I are going home. (b) Objective (correct examples) John saw me. John saw me and Maria. John gave the ball to me. John gave the ball to me and Maria.

  44. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases (continued) (c) Primary Possessive (correct examples) His friend cooked dinner last night. Your neighbour is going home. Joe threw his friend a party last night. (d) Secondary Possessive (correct examples) That neighbour is yours. That friend was hers.

  45. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases (continued) (e) Relative or Interrogative Pronouns “who” and “whom” (correct examples) The man who loved her is coming to town. (subject) The man whom she loved is coming to town. (object) The man whose dog she loved is coming to town. (possessive) Who loved her? (subject of the clause) Whom did she love? (object of the clause) Whose dog did she love? (“who” possessed the dog)

  46. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases: Tricky Cases 1. Than/As. Sometimes the choice of case depends on the intended meaning. My sister loved that dog more than I. [implied: “...more than I loved the dog” (I=subject of the verb “loved”)] My sister loved that dog more than me. [implied: “...more than she loved me” (me=object of the verb “loved”)]

  47. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases: Tricky Cases (cont.) My sister is as tall as I. [implied: “… as I am”; “me” is therefore wrong] 2. Imbedded subordinate (or relative) clauses. A subordinate clause is still a clause; pay attention to its own structure to figure out if the pronoun functions as a subject or object. Joe cooked dinner for Garry and me. [“me” is an indirect object of “cooked”] We decided that Garry and I would cook dinner. [“I” is a subject of the subordinate clause beginning with “that”]

  48. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases: Tricky Cases (cont.) 3. Gerunds. A gerund is a noun formed from the present participle of a verb. However, present participles can also function as adjectives. Figure which part of speech the participle serves as before you decide which case you need. E.g.: The woman noticed his limping. [“limping” is a gerund: it is a noun] Versus: The woman noticed him limping. [This sentence means, “The woman noticed the limping man” where “limping man” is the direct object and “limping” acts as an adjective]

  49. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases: Tricky Cases (cont.) 4. Linking Verb. Linking verbs describe states of being (“be,” “seem,” “become”, “grow,” “turn”, “remain,” “prove”) and the fives senses (“look”, “taste,” “feel,” sound”, “smell”). A linking verb introduces words that describe the subject (and thus “links” them to the subject). Technically, therefore, no object can exist with these verbs, and thus, in formal writing, you do not use the objective case of a pronoun after any linking verb. (“To be” constitutes the major verb in this category of tricky cases). The contest winner was I. [not “me”] Who is there? It is she. [not “her”]

  50. 7. Wrong Pronoun Cases: Tricky Cases (cont.) 5. Whoever and whomever. These pronouns follow the same rules as “who” and “whom.” Whoever cooked dinner deserves a prize. (subject) Whomever she loved deserves some scrutiny. (object of “loved”; the clause “whomever she loved” acts like a subject in the sentence, but within the clause, “whomever” is the object) Enumerators attempt to locate whoever is eligible to vote. (subjectwithin the clause “whoever is eligible”, even though the clause as a whole is the object of the entire sentence ) All voters can vote for whomever they wish.(object of the clause “whomever they wish”)