Tom and a Pronoun Person Shift

June 5, 2006

Tom Cruise will be reenacting a scene from Mission Impossible:III for the film's Japanese premiere. He will amaze fans as he is chased in a speedboat by a helicopter, and he will commandeer a train and meet with you on board during the trip from Osaka to Tokyo.

The second sentence contains a pronoun error. The sentence describes the interaction between Tom and his fans. The first clause establishes the relationship between the subject (Tom) and the object (fans), but the second clause uses the second person pronoun (you) to refer to with whom Tom will meet. Avoid this shift in pronoun person by changing "you" to "them."

Tom Cruise will be reenacting a scene from Mission Impossible:III for the film's Japanese premiere. He will amaze fans as he is chased in a speedboat by a helicopter, and he will commandeer a train and meet with them on board during the trip from Osaka to Tokyo.


Gwyneth and an Error in Parallelism

June 4, 2006

Gwyneth Paltrow knocked over her husband Chris Martin's computer, damaging the outer casing, ruining the screen, and the forthcoming Coldplay songs that were stored on it were almost destroyed.

This sentence contains an error in parallelism. Three things happened when Gwyneth knocked over the computer, but the list contains two verbal phrases and one independent clause. Similar items in a series should be structured with similar parts of speech.

The two verbal phrases are "damaging the outer casing" and "ruining the screen." The clause is "the forthcoming Coldplay songs that were stored on it were almost destroyed." To make the sentence parallel in structure, change the clause into a verbal phrase.

Gwyneth Paltrow knocked over her husband Chris Martin's computer, damaging the outer casing, ruining the screen, and almost destroying the forthcoming Coldplay songs that were stored on it.


Shiloh, Angelina, Brad, and a Misplaced Modifier

June 3, 2006

A personalized pacifier company sent a $17,000 binky to Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt covered in diamonds. If Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were to donate an equivalent amount of money to charity, they would be able to pay for 10,000 safe-delivery kits for women who live in regions without hospitals or clinics.

The first sentence contains a misplaced modifier. Since the phrase "covered in diamonds" immediately follows "Shiloh Nouvel Pitt-Jolie," it appears to describe the baby instead of the binky. Shiloh is probably not covered in diamonds (or else she is most likely very uncomfortable). The binky is covered in diamonds. To correct the sentence, move the modifier closer to the word it modifies.

A personalized pacifier company sent a $17,000 binky covered in diamonds to Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. If Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were to donate an equivalent amount of money to charity, they would be able to pay for 10,000 safe-delivery kits for women who live in regions without hospitals or clinics.


Rachel, Angelina, and a Faulty Comparison

June 2, 2006

Rachel Weisz gave birth to a baby boy this week, but the excitement surrounding his birth is nothing like Angelina Jolie's baby girl.

This sentence contains a faulty comparison. What is being compared? The first part of the comparison is "the excitement surrounding his birth." The second part of the comparison is "Angelina Jolie's baby girl." It is not logical to compare excitement to a baby girl. To correct this error, restructure the sentence to create a logical comparison.

Rachel Weisz gave birth to a baby boy this week, but the excitement surrounding his birth is nothing like the hubbub about Angelina Jolie's baby girl.

This sentence compares excitement to a hubbub. This is a logical comparison. This sentence is correct.


Janet and a Two Errors in Diction: “being that” and adverse/averse

June 1, 2006

Being that the FCC is adverse to the broadcasting of profanity and nudity, the commission issued fines totalling over half a million dollars to television stations that aired Janet Jackson's exposure of her breast during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl.

This sentence contains two errors in diction.

The phrase "being that" is colloquial and inappropriate in formal speech and standard written English. Use "because" or "since" instead.

The word "adverse" means "unfavorable to one's interests, harmful." Replace it with "averse," which means "reluctant about or opposed to."

The sentence should be written as follows:

Since the FCC is averse to the broadcasting of profanity and nudity, the commission issued fines totalling over half a million dollars to television stations that aired Janet Jackson's exposure of her breast during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl.


50 Cent, Ludacris, Ice Cube, and an Error in Diction

May 31, 2006

50 Cent, Ludacris, and Ice Cube have all expressed frustration with Oprah Winfrey for not featuring rap artists on her show. The latter said, "Maybe she's got a problem with hip-hop."

The second sentence contains an error in diction. Since three people are listed, "latter" should not be used. "Latter" refers to the second of two things or people. If there are more than two things or people in a series, use "last."

The sentence should read as follows:

50 Cent, Ludacris, and Ice Cube have all expressed frustration with Oprah Winfrey for not featuring rap artists on her show. The last said, "Maybe she's got a problem with hip-hop."


Angelina, Brad, and an Error in Punctuation

May 30, 2006

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt donated $300,000 to Namibian hospitals, and $15,000 to a community center in Swakopmund.

This sentence contains an error in punctuation. The verb "donated" has a compound object, the two components of which are "$300,000 to Namibian hospitals" (direct object = "$300,000"; indirect object = "Namibian hospitals") and "$15,000 to a community center in Swakopmund" (direct object = "$15,000"; indirect object = "community center in Swakopmund"). Do not use a comma to separate the two elements of a compound subject or object.

The sentence should be punctuated as follows:

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt donated $300,000 to Namibian hospitals and $15,000 to a community center in Swakopmund.


Michael and an Error in Parallelism

May 26, 2006

Michael Jackson, who has been living in Bahrain, is preparing to make an appearance in Tokyo to accept an award. His plans for his visit include not only touring the city and visiting orphanages, but also to meet with Asian businessmen.

The second sentence contains an error in parallelism. The structure of the sentence is unbalanced because "not only" is followed by two gerund phrases and "but also" is followed by an infinitive phrase.

When correlative conjunctions (also known as "connectors" because they work together in pairs to connect words, phrases, and clauses) are used in a sentence, the items that follow each conjunction must be similar in structure. The correlative conjunction pairs are either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also, not/but, both/and, and whether/or.

This sentence contains the correlative conjuctions not only/but also. Look at the structure of the sentence:

not only touring the city and visiting orphanages,

but also to meet with Asian businessmen

The phrases "touring the city" and "visiting orphanages" contain gerunds, but the phrase "to meet with Asian businessmen" contains an infinitive. To correct the sentence, change the infinitive to a gerund.

Michael Jackson, who has been living in Bahrain, is preparing to make an appearance in Tokyo to accept an award. His plans for his visit include not only touring the city and visiting orphanages, but also meeting with Asian businessmen.

The structure of the sentence is now parallel.


The Da Vinci Code, Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette, and an Error in Subject/Verb Agreement

May 25, 2006

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette were well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.

This sentence contains an error in subject/verb agreement. When subjects in a sentence are linked by the correlative conjunctions "neither/nor," the subject that is closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. The "neither/nor" pairing of two singular subjects does not use a plural verb.

In this sentence, the subject closer to the verb "were" is "Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette." Titles of works (such as books, plays, and movies) are singular, so the verb in this sentence should be singular. Change "were" to "was" to correct this sentence.

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette was well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.

A simple trick to use when determining agreement in sentences that contain the correlative conjunctions "either/or" and "neither/nor" is to cross off all the words from "either" (or "neither") to "or" (or "nor"). The subject will now stand out, making it easier to match its number with that of the verb.

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette was well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.


Brad, Britney, and a Faulty Comparison

May 24, 2006

Are Brad Pitt's parenting skills as bad as Britney Spears? When he took his infant daughter on a bike ride, she did not wear a helmet and she was carried in a baby-pack that has instructions that warn against using it while riding a bike.

The first sentence contains a faulty comparison. What is being compared? The comparison is between "parenting skills" and "Britney Spears." A person should not be compared to skills. Skills should be compared to skills.

Modify the sentence to create a comparison that is logical:

Are Brad Pitt's parenting skills as bad as Britney Spears' child-rearing abilities?

or

Are Brad Pitt's parenting skills as bad as those of Britney Spears?