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Flashcards in Line by Line Deck (31)
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1

What are the three telltale signs of a loose, baggy sentence?

  1. weak verbs
  2. ponderous nouns
  3. strings of prepositional phrases

2

What are the indicators of a weak verb?

  • forms of the verb to be
  • vague, actionless verbs like have or exist
  • passive verbs (to be + past participle, e.g. is believed, was seen)

3

How to fix a sentence with weak verbs?

Ask what happens in the sentence. If you haven't expressed the action as a verb, you've probably buried it in a verbal (the to or ing form of the verb), an adjective, a noun, or a subordinate clause. Exhume the action.

4

What wrong here?

The shelter will be owned by the town, but it will be run by members of the humane society and supported, in part, by funds raised by them. The bulk of the funds, however, will be supplied by the town.

Overuse of the passive voice. 

Although the town will own the shelter and pay most of the operating expenses, members of the humane society will run the facility and provide additional support through fund raising.

When town becomes the acting subject, it govern two verbs with different objects, thus allowing one clause to provide the same information that formerly required two.

5

There is a hasty way of writing which is counterpart to the hasty way of reading. It is becoming more common year by year and raises less and less protest.

  • Eliminate leisurely sentence openings (There is ... , it is important to note that ...). Get right to the point.

6

There is a hasty way of writing which is counterpart to the hasty way of reading. It is becoming more common every years and raises less and less protest.

Remove the weak verbs:

A hasty way of writing, counterpart to the hasty way of reading, grows more common every year and raises less and less protest.

Or condense even more:

Hasty writing, like hasty reading grows more common every year and raises...

Rule: Most sentences benefit when you shift to active verbs.

7

What is the test of parallel structure?

When the elements presented in series or pairs belong to the same grammatical category,

i.e., when all are adjectives, nouns, active verbs, infinitives, phrases, or clauses.

8

ID the problem:

We are told to live our own lives and that we should not interfere with how others behave.

Unbalanced coordinated pair--infinitive followed by a that clause. To fix, make parallel.

We are told to live our own lives and not to interfere with how others behave.

9

How do you check for errors in parallel construction?

Check the words or word groups you join by and and or and make sure that they match.

In other words, the elements linked as compound subjects, objects, verbs, and modifiers

should have the same grammatical form,

10

How do you fix an imbalance in parallel construction?

  1. try to put the coordinate items in the same form, converting an adjective and a noun, say, to two adjectives or two nouns.
    1. But sometimes forcing the elements into the same structure can make a sentence wordy
      1. e.g. The new clerk is intelligent, conscientious, and desirous of changing the system.
  2. Serial or paired items that are hard to balance may not belong together; they may resist alignment because they are not logically similar.
    1. The solution is to uncouple the combination, to subordinate one component to the others instead of making them all coordinate:
      1. e.g. The new clerk, who is intelligent and conscientious, wants to change change the system.

11

The proposed transmission line is ugly, unsafe, and an environmental danger.

Problem: unbalanced coordinate series--adjective, adjective, noun.

The proposed transmission line is ugly, unsafe, and hazardous to the environment.

12

The process is slow, prone to politics, and robs all concerned of direct responsibility.

Unbalanced coordinate series--adj, adj phrase, verb

The process is slow and prone to politics, robbing all concerned of direct responsibility.

Remember: When serial or paired items are hard to balance, it may be because they are not logically similar.

The solution: subordinate one component to the others.

 

13

The applicants were all college graduates, of similar socioeconomic background, and interested in business careers.

Unbalanced coordinate series: noun, prepositional phrase, adjective phrase.

The applicants were all college-educated, similar in socio-economic background, and interested in business careers.

14

Your cover letter should include information about your present employment and why you want to change jobs.

Unbalanced pair: noun and why clause.

Your cover letter should include information about your present employment and explain why you want to change jobs.

15

The problem is on the minds of millions of Americans, young and old and in all parts of the country, not only in Louisiana.

The problem is on the minds of millions of yound and old Americans in all parts of the country, not only in Louisiana.

16

Farm failures contributed to the 1917 revolution and were one of the reasons for Krushchev's ouster in 1964

Farm failures contributed to the 1917 revolution and to Kruschev's outster in 1964.

Rule: If you've coordinated an active verb with a passive  or linking one, consider substituting two active verbs or recasting the sentence to avoid the ill-matched compound.

17

He has worked for the bank for many years, is knowedgeable about nearly all areas of banking, and will be an excellent addition to top management.

Employed by the bank for many years and knowledgeable about nearly all areas of banking, he will be an excellent addition to top management.

Problem: coordinated series mixes active, passive, and linking verbs.

Rule: If you've coordinated an active verb with a passive  or linking one, consider substituting two active verbs or recasting the sentence to avoid the ill-matched compound.

18

She ranks as the country's top railroad analyst and is often consulted by financial writers and stockbrokers.

As the country's top railroad analyst, she is often consulted by financial writers and stockbrokers.

Rule: If you've coordinated an active verb with a passive  or linking one, consider substituting two active verbs or recasting the sentence to avoid the ill-matched compound.

19

When people have to write from a point of view not their, they betray this by hedging, blustering, an uneasy choice of words, and syntactical looseness.

...by hedging, blustering, misusing words, and lapsing into syntactical looseness.

Or:

...by an uneasy choice of words, syntactical looseness, and a tendency to hedge and bluster.

Combinations of nouns and gerunds can be jarring.

Since a gerund is the ing  verb form used as a noun, it might seem a fit associate for a purebred noun, but when its verbal side is insistent, the two don't work well together.

20

The officers were not only well respected professionally but they also often went hunting and fishing with their colleagues on the state police and local sheriff's department.

Not only were the officers well respected professionally but they had often gone hunting and fishing with their colleagues on the state police force and in the local sheriff's department.

Or better (to avoid odd verb pair):

The officers' colleagues on the state police force and in the local sheriff's department not only respected the men professionally but regarded them as friends, having often gone hunting and fishing with them.

Rule: Enforce a rigid parallelism on coordinate elements connected by correlative conjunctions, i.e., make sure the coordinates are grammatically equivalent.

Note: Use BUT not BUT ALSO if what follows seems to intensify rather than to supplement.

21

From the beginning, this faction has been critical both of the motivation and the tactics of the new government.

... has been critical of both the motivation and the tactics ...

22

The end can neither be known nor imagined.

... can be neither known nor imagined.

23

He began to stay late at the office, either because the work was piling up or to impress his staff.

... either to clear away the work that was piling up or to impress his staff.

... either because his work was piling up or because he hoped to impress his staff.

24

The virtues are not only the heart of liberal learning but they also perform a critical social function: they constitute the glue that holds the community together.

These virtues not only constitute the heart of liberal learning but also perform a critical social function ... 

These virtues are not only the heart of liberal learning but also the glue that holds the community together.

25

The company not only dominated the town's business but also the way the residents lived and thought.

The company dominated not only the town's business but also the way ...

26

In pointing out the dangers of nicotine, the surgeon general is not only referring to smoking cigarettes but also chewing tobacco.

... surgeon general is referring not only to smoking cigarettes but also to chewing tobacco.

27

I have the figures for both the first quarter and the second.

I have the figures for the first quarter and the second.

Since correlatives—especially not only...but also and both...and—are emphatic devices,  don't squander them on compound elements that con't need them.

Using correlative conjunctions where a simple and would do is like driving in a thumbtack with a sledgehammer.

28

Identical twins may look different, sound different, and walk differently.

Identical twins may look different, sound different, and have different ways of walking.

"Walk" is not a copulative verb, so an adverb is necessary. For euphony, change the final item to "have different ways of walking."

29

What's wrong with this sentence?

I looked for my lost keys in the sock drawer, the laundry hamper, the bathroom, and under the bed.

...in the sock drawer, in the laundry hamper, in the bathroom, and under the bed 

Fault: Lack of parallel structure: uncoordinate series of prepositional phrases. 

CMOS 5.243: In a parallel series of prepositional phrases, repeat the preposition with every element unless they use the same preposition. 

A common error occurs when a writer lets two or more of the phrases share a single preposition but inserts a different one with another element.

30

The Biblioteca National is in Madrid, Spain.

The Biblioteca National...

Rule: Foreign proper nouns are not italicized.