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Grammar Review
Sentence errors to look for:
subject-verb agreement
“They like to see plays.”
“She likes to see plays.”
Note: the subject of the sentence must “agree” with the verb.
pronoun-reference agreement
“A person should do their homework.” (INCORRECT)
Note: “person” is singular while “their” is plural.
“People should do their homework.” (CORRECT)
parallel sentence structure (tenses, prepositions, etc.)
“After I finished my homework, I go to bed.” (NOT PARALLEL)
“After I finished my homework, I went to bed.” (PARALLEL)
fragments = an incomplete sentence
run-on sentences = leaving out the needed punctuation
“I went to the store I bought a book.” (INCORRECT)
“I went to the store; I bought a book.” (CORRECT)
comma splice = using a comma when a comma is not enough
“I went to the store, I bought a book.” (INCORRECT)
“I went to the store; I bought a book.” (CORRECT)
misplaced modifier = the descriptive/modifying phrase is unconnected to the
word it modifies
“He served pizza to his friends on paper plates.” (INCORRECT)
(Note: the sentence sounds as if the friends are on paper plates.)
“He served his friends pizza on paper plates.” (CORRECT)
dangling modifier = the word modified by the descriptive/modifying phrase is
absent from the sentence
“When in diapers, my mother remarried.” (INCORRECT)
Who is in diapers? Your mother?
“When I was in diapers, my mother remarried.” (CORRECT)
proper nouns (languages—English, Spanish, etc.)
(places—streets, cities, countries)
(names of people)
samples where confusion occurs:
“Here is Uncle Bob.” (“Uncle” is part of Bob’s name.)
“Here is my uncle.” (generic usage: do not capitalize)
“I drive south on the freeway.” (directions = not capitalized)
“I live in the South.” (capitalized; here, “South” is a proper noun)
“I work part time.” (no hyphen)
“I have a part-time job.” (hyphen)
Note: “part-time” is an adjective modifying “job.”
ACTIVE voice vs. PASSIVE voice
“He wrote the book.” (ACTIVE = doing the action)
“The book was written by him.” (PASSIVE = receiving the action = awkward)
And “I went to the store, and I bought fruit.”
When you join two independent clauses (that means they could stand on their own as
sentences), you need a comma and the conjunction.
A main (sometimes called an “independent”) clause can stand by itself.
“I love to read.” (COMPLETE)
A subordinate (sometimes called a “dependent”) clause cannot stand by itself.
“Because reading makes me a better writer.” (INCOMPLETE)
The above fragment needs to be joined to the main clause to be a complete
sentence: “I love to read because reading makes me a better writer.”
(some common subordinators)
For subordinating one clause to another, you need a comma when the subordinator
appears at the beginning of the sentence—not in the middle.
“I do well because I study.” (no comma needed)
“Because I study, I do well.” (comma needed)
who (whose, whom)
whoever (whomever)
“We should read the book that Mrs. Novak suggested.” (no comma)
“The book, which is on the table, will help us with our writing.” (use commas)
The difference between who and whom: who performs the action while whom receives it.
Who went to the bookstore?
Whom did you see at the bookstore?
(Note: “you” is the subject of sentence above; “whom” is the direct
LIE (“to recline”) vs. LAY (“to put”)
“Lay the pen on the table.” (Note: “Lay” needs a direct object.)
“The pen is lying on the table.” (Now the pen is “reclining.” )