Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Predictable Problems in Sentence Structure 01

Question: What are some problems in sentence structure that you can predict will appear in students’ writing?

Answer: run-on sentences; sentence fragments; active/passive voice; dangling modifiers; misplaced modifiers; parallel structure.

My purposes in the next few sessions will be to explain clearly the nature of these problems. I will use simplified sentences that will make clear each problem and its solution. I will not attempt exhaustive coverage of each problem because the Internet can provide an incredible number of Web sites dealing with these problems.

For example:

Run-on sentences: 1,720,000 Web sites, many of which consist of exercises and additional explanation.
Sentence fragments: 1,700,000 Web sites
Active and passive voice: 1,940,000 Web sites
Dangling modifiers: 210,000 Web sites
Misplaced modifiers: 193,000 Web sites
Parallel structure: 57,200,000 Web sites

Although the simplified sentences will make clear the problem and solutions, the real problem will be with the longer sentences used by older students and adults. Longer sentences “hide” the problems. I will conclude each section with some long sentences taken from Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition, Liberty Edition by John E. Warriner. Complete Course. New York, etc.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. 1986.

Here are some examples of each problem:
Run-on sentences: I saw the Phillies play, they lost as usual.
Sentence fragment: The Phillies played. After the rain.
Dangling modifier: Carrying a hot dog and a coke, the Phillies hit into a double play.
Misplaced modifier: I walked my dog Guinness carrying a basketball.
Parallel structure: I like to hunt and fishing.

All the best. RayS.

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