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How Did They Get in Here?
Writers today have problems keeping their sentences internally consistent. This is especially true of print journalists. Because of staff cutbacks at financially challenged newspapers, many articles are proofread hastily, if at all.
Combine that with the shocking decline in Americans’ English language skills over the last fifty years or so and you get sentences unworthy of the average sixth-grader in 1963. Here is a sentence from a recent article in a major metropolitan newspaper on the West Coast: “Each side in the condo fight has spent more than $350,000 on their campaigns…”
Everything is fine until that jarring “their” at the end. Go back to the subject: “each side.” The writer is talking about two things but is taking them one at a time—each side has spent, not have spent. So writing “their” confounds the ground rules of the sentence. It’s like setting the table with a fork and then eating with your hands.
This is an easy one to fix: “Each side in the condo fight has spent more than $350,000 on its campaign…”
Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."
1. McDonalds is doing everything they can to shift costs to operators.
The following sentences or fragments from recent print or broadcast media reflect contemporary bad habits. Can you fix them? Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.
2. There needs to be better screening and a more foolproof monitoring system.
3. East Haven, Conn. plane crash…
4. No listener is ever happy with how much time they get.
5. He didn’t believe in the peoples’ right to know.
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Is there another word for synonym?
If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
Pop Quiz Answers
1. McDonalds is doing everything it can to shift costs to operators.
2. There need to be better screening and a more foolproof monitoring system.
3. East Haven, Conn., plane crash…
4. No listeners are ever happy with how much time they get.
5. He didn’t believe in the people’s right to know.
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.