| ||"Grammar" Moses never uses bad words to punctuate her conversations with Whistler's Mother. Sometimes, though, she tells her how to improve poor phrasing.|
|"Warning! While standing on station platforms, high-speed
trains may pass in either direction at any time."
Problems: Here's the infamous "dangling
participle". The participle "standing"
dangles because there is no clear connection to the rest of the
sentence. Without the subject "you", it sounds like
the trains are standing on the platform. You might also want to be
careful about using words with funny and not-so-funny double
meanings ("pass" is also short for "pass
trains may pass by in either direction at any time when you're
standing on station platforms."
"This Page is to be considered to be a general guide and not an
Problems: Avoid imperatives like "to be"; they
sound imperious. Omit needless words.
"This Page is a general guide and not an ultimate authority."
"Suggestions contained in these Pages can be used to improve
Problem: Avoid the passive voice (something is done) . . . it
makes your reader passive. Then again, I'm sure you know some
people who should be more passive.
"Use suggestions contained in these Pages to improve writing
"Increase the focus on a whole new set of priorities."
Problem: This is a very specific example of the need to
examine your writing closely, to see if it makes sense. How do you
increase something that is new?
"Focus on an entirely new set of priorities."
"We hope you enjoy your stay at the beautiful Airport Holiday
Inn in Nome, Alaska and guests are asked not to walk in front of
landing planes as they snowshoe their way to their hut."
Problems: Avoid long sentences, especially when they comprise
separate thoughts. If they are closely related, use a semi-colon.
Also, watch the parallelism (the what?!), i.e., don't
mix separate forms in the same sentence (in this case active and
passive voice). You can also shorten the sentence by assuming your
reader is a guest.
"We hope you enjoy your stay at the beautiful Airport Holiday
Inn in Nome, Alaska. Please do not walk in front of landing planes
as you snowshoe your way to your hut."
"The number of bugs reported for the Ralph Web Browser software are in excess of 800."
Problems: The main definition for "in excess"
is "lack of moderation", so don't use it if that
isn't what you mean. The verb "are" should be
"is"; it modifies the singular "number"
and not "bugs".
"The number of bugs reported for the Ralph Web Browser software
or, better still,
"There are more than 1,400 bugs in the Ralph Web Browser software." (This "Ralph software problem" is getting worse as we speak.)
"How many URL's have you bookmarked? Do you know that URL's
Problem: First, as far as I can see, there's nothing
grammatically wrong with the second sentence (so . . .
what IS your problem, Bill?). I'm including it to show why you
shouldn't use an apostrophe for plural acronyms (which
differ from word-shortened abbreviations because they're
formed by the first letter(s) of words in a phrase, e.g.,
"radar" or"snafu"). How does your
reader determine which acronyms are plural and which are possessive
case? (An exception: "dot your i's and cross your
many URLs have you bookmarked? Do you know the URL's Page
"It will be handled by myself."
Problem: Reflexive pronouns must reflect back to a subject,
which is missing in the preceding sentence. (Other reflexive
pronouns include herself, ourselves and themselves.)
"It will be handled by me." or "I will handle it
"Vacations should be scheduled during all months of the year
and, where possible, avoid extreme volume periods."
Problems: Shifting "points of view", in this
case from passive to active voice, is poor grammar. The writer here also is making one
sentence out of two. The complex adjectival phrase "extreme
volume" preceding the noun is awkward; hyphenate it or,
better still, use a different phrase.
"Schedule vacations in all months of the year. Where possible,
avoid popular vacation periods."
"Be sure you enroll in the program before expiration."
Problem: A modifying word or phrase must be clearly connected to the word it modifies. In this example, "expiration" can apply to "program" or "you". Since I'm not in the habit of placing a curse on my Web Page visitors, I'll just use my laptop here to
change the ending to its expiration or, better still, since "expiration" likely refers to the enrolment period:
"Be sure you enroll in the program before the enrolment period
"Up until the present time, we
only exercised our reimbursement option under that clause where the client might wish to be relieved from the obligation
Problems: Again, there are too many unnecessary words. This
time, however, the problem is compounded by one of parallelism
("exercised" and "wish to be") and the imprecise
positioning of a modifier ("only").
"Until now, we used our reimbursement option in that clause only
when the client wanted to be relieved of this obligation."
"Give the customer their receipt."
Problem: This is an obvious example of a pronoun not agreeing
with its antecedent. ("I thought you weren't going to use
technical terms, Bill!")
In English that means both the subject of a sentence and a pronoun that subsequently replaces it both must be singular or plural. Check out my
"Uncategoriza...Bill?" Page for some tips on avoiding the
"he / she" sexism usually involved in these situations. For now,
I'll give just two solutions.
"Give the customer his (or her) receipt." or
"Give the receipt to the customer."
|"She lives in the apartment building |
which is just around the corner. She shops in the
supermarket that is closest to her home."
|Problems: Break the spell of which is! Drop
that, too! ||Most of them are unnecessary; deleting them streamlines your writing. By the way, don't forget
home is not the same as house (a home is where you
"hang your hat" and can be any structure or even a
cave, if you live like me).|
"She lives in the apartment building around the corner. She
shops in the supermarket closest to her home."
"In order to better serve our customers . . . "
Problems: Remember, using "in order to" is
usually not in order. Also, I may be splitting hairs but I still
say you should avoid split infinitives.
To serve our customers better . . . "
Select one of these topics and fly to the appropriate Page:
"Misused Words and Phrases"
"Noooo! Don't Use THAT Word!"
Viewing Grammar Grabbers Pages in sequence?
These are the ones you likely have not seen yet:
"Uncategoriza ... Bill?"
"Oddities & Entities"
Page Design Tips"
"Professional Writing / Editing Services"
To go back to the top of the Page, select image . . .