Tuesday, January 29, 2008

25 grammar mistakes

The Grammar Hammer Handout
Grammar’s Top 25 Misses (From Most Serious to Least)
(excerpted from Douglas Cazort’s Under the Grammar Hammer, pp 19-24)

1. Wrong Tense or Verb Form (Past, Present, Future)
Incorrect: When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he done the English
language a big favor.
Correct: When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he did the English
language a big favor.

2. Fused or Run-on Sentence
Incorrect: Over 75 percent of mistakes in English cannot be committed in speech they can
only be made in writing.
Correct: Over 75 percent of mistakes in English cannot be committed in speech. They can
only be made in writing.

3. Sentence Fragment
Incorrect: With 500,000 words, the English vocabulary is larger than that of any other
language. Partly because 80 percent of English words come from foreign sources.
Correct: With 500,000 words, the English vocabulary is larger than that of any other
language, partly because 80 percent of English words come from foreign sources.

4. Lack of Agreement Between Subject and Verb (In number)
Incorrect: An important function of managers are delegating responsibility.
Correct: An important function of managers is delegating responsibility.

5. Wrong Word
Incorrect: Creative people believe their creative.
Correct: Creative people believe they’re creative.

6. Missing Comma(s) with a Nonrestrictive Element
Incorrect: Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head expanded and revised for the
1990’s is an excellent guide to a more creative life.
Correct: Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head, expanded and revised for the
1990’s, is an excellent guide to a more creative life.

7. Unnecessary Shift in Tense
Incorrect: The first English dictionary was published in 1604 and written by Robert
Cawdray, who says he produced it for “ladies…and other unskillful persons.”
Correct: The first English dictionary was published in 1604 and written by Robert
Cawdray, who said he produced it for “ladies…and other unskillful persons.”

8. Missing Commas in a Series
Incorrect: George Burns defines happiness as having a large loving caring close-knit family
in another city.
Correct: George Burns defines happiness as having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family
in another city.

9. Missing or Misplaced Possessive Apostrophe
Incorrect: Parkinsons law states that a job expands to fill allotted time.
Correct: Parkinson’s law states that a job expands to fill allotted time.

10. Unnecessary Comma(s) with a Restrictive Element
Incorrect: Linguistic research has found, that New Yorkers communicate social class
through their pronunciation of the letter r.
Correct: Linguistic research has found that New Yorkers communicate social class through
their pronunciation of the letter r.

11. Confusion of Its and It’s
Incorrect: “If it sells, its creative,” they say in advertising.
Correct: “If it sells, it’s creative,” they say in advertising.

12. Dangling or Misplaced Modifier
Incorrect: Popping, sparking, and blowing fuses, the CEO, stood helplessly watching at the
podium while the new audio-visual system self-destructed.
Correct: Popping, sparking, and blowing fuses, the new audio-visual system self-destructed
while the CEO, stood helplessly watching at the podium.

13. Lack of Agreement Between Pronoun and Antecedent
Incorrect: A “Type-A” person will hurry themselves to death.
Correct: “Type-A” people will hurry themselves to death.

14. Wrong or Missing Preposition
Incorrect: We need to invent a language in which politicians would be incapable from
lying.
Correct: We need to invent a language in which politicians would be incapable of lying.

15. Vague Pronoun Reference
Incorrect: Some managers focus only on short-term profit, which can lower the quality of
the product or service.
Correct: Some managers focus only on short-term profit, a practice that can lower the
quality of the product or service.

16. Unnecessary Shift in Pronoun
Incorrect: If one wants to become an international airline pilot, they have to learn English.
Correct: If you want to become an international airline pilot, you have to learn English.

17. Comma Splice
Incorrect: Professor Adams Sherman Hill of Harvard was obsessed with mistakes in
spelling and grammar, he passed his obsession on to generations of English teachers and the
American public.
Correct: Professor Adams Sherman Hill of Harvard was obsessed with mistakes in spelling
and grammar, and he passed his obsession on to generations of English teachers and the
American public.

18. Wrong or missing Verb Ending
Incorrect: The healthy office worker park one mile from work and walk twenty minutes for
exercise.
Correct: The healthy office worker parks one mile from work and walks twenty minutes for
exercise..

19. Missing Commas in a Compound Sentence
Incorrect: Many Americans own a thesaurus yet these books of synonyms don’t exist for
some languages with small vocabularies.
Correct: Many Americans own a thesaurus, yet these books of synonyms don’t exist for
some languages with small vocabularies.

20. Missing Comma After an Introductory Element
Incorrect: While the dog ate the cat stayed away from the dish.
Correct: While the dog ate, the cat stayed away from the dish.

Five Uncommonly Serious Mistakes
(excerpted from Douglas Cazort’s Under the Grammar Hammer, pp. 25-27)
The following five mistakes are not among the most common, but they receive strong negative responses when committed. In other words, we don’t make these mistakes very often, but when we do, we cause strong negative reactions…. If you don’t make these mistakes, you needn’t worry. If you do, takes steps to correct them.

21. Objective case pronouns used as subjects
Incorrect: Her guru and her agreed that we are what we think.
Correct: Her guru and she agreed that we are what we think.

22. Double negatives
Incorrect: One hard lesson for many to learn is that worry won’t hardly change the future.
Correct: One hard lesson for many to learn is that worry will hardly change the future.

23. Failure to capitalize proper names
Incorrect: roger von oech, the president of creative think, has conducted workshops on
creativity for american express, proctor and gamble, and the Japanese management
association.
Correct: Roger von Oech, the president of Creative Think, has conducted workshops on
creativity for American Express, Apple Computer, Proctor and Gamble, and the Japanese
Management Association.

24. Faulty parallelism
Incorrect: A good manager requires the ability to lead, the capacity to learn, and delegating.
Correct: A good manager requires the ability to lead, the capacity to learn, and the
willingness to delegate.

25. Subjective-case pronouns used as objects
Incorrect: The senator’s use of double negatives surprised my students and I.
Correct: The senator’s use of double negatives surprised my students and me.

4 comments:

Angela said...

I love this!!! Frequenting as many blogs as I do, I see enough grammar atrocities to make me want to pull my hair out.

Nicole said...

I'm glad you liked it! I had a few people in mind as I can across this list. :)

Mare said...

#25 is an example of a HUGELY common grammar mistake. Some even replace the "me" with "myself". I've heard politicians, college and masters students and a whole bunch of people do this, so it's not a mistake of the uneducated only.
I think this is from teachers stressing "[name] and I, NOT me!!!" (e.g., correcting for "me and Lucy went to the store") when we were younger. They forgot to mention it is only when you (the 'I') are the subject of a sentence.

hobgoblinn said...

Thanks for putting this up-- I have the pdf and have used it with my students, but I needed a link to discuss this on my own blog on live journal (hobgoblinn is my user name, if you're interested.)