Archive for March 2013

Squinting Modifiers

March 26, 2013

SQUINTING MODIFIERS

Related to dangling modifiers, squinting modifiers occur when the word modified is not clear or could be more than one word.  These problems can usually be solved by rearranging the elements already present in the sentence.

Squinting modifier

The mystery has been solved after ten years of the missing portrait. Note the modifier “after ten years” could describe the mystery being solved or the portrait. It is not clear. Rearranging the sentence so that the modifying phrase goes right next to the word it modifies is the solution.

Revision

After ten years, the mystery of the portrait has been solved.

Lesson Exercise

Correct these sentences by shifting a modifier in each, or, if necessary, by rewriting the sentences.

1.

  • Your salesman told me that there was no provision for replacing damaged merchandise in the contract.

2. Jennifer sat waiting for her boyfriend to park the car, in a slinky red dress with a plunging neckline.

3. Diane Arbus took pictures of subjects other photographers would not consider with her camera.

TIP: Always put the modifier (adjectives or adverbs) next to the words they modify.

For more help with squinting modifiers please see the following websites:

http://owlet.letu.edu/grammarlinks/modifiers/modifier2d.html

or

http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/squinterm.htm

See below for answers:

Answers:

1. Your salesman told me that there was no provision in the contract for replacing damaged merchandise.

2. Jennifer,  in a slinky red dress with a plunging neckline, sat waiting for her boyfriend to park the car.

3. Diane Arbus took pictures of subjects with her camera other photographers would not consider.

Dangling Modifiers

March 18, 2013

Misplaced Words and Phrases

In English, the order of words is essential to understanding. An adjective or adverb modifies or describes  a word by appearing next to it in a sentence.  If you separate the modifying word from the word it modifies, some confusing and unintended meanings may result. (PurdueUniversity website). They could be quite humorous in connotation. Spotting them might make you laugh.

DANGLING MODIFIERS

Consider this sentence:

Having finished her assignment, Mary [doer of the action] turned on the TV.

“Having finished” states an action but does not name the doer of that action.  In English sentences, the doer must be the subject of the main clause that follows. In this sentence it is Mary. She seems logically to be the one doing the action (“having finished”), and this sentence, therefore, does not have a dangling modifier.

Now consider this sentence:

Having finished her assignment, the TV was turned on.

Having finished is a participle expressing action, but the doer is not the TV set (the subject of the main clause): TV sets don’t finish assignments. Since the doer of the action expressed in the participle has not clearly been stated, the participial phrase is said to be a dangling modifier.

Example of Dangling Modifier

After reading the original study, the article remained unconvincing.

(The way this sentence is written it reads like the doer of the action is “the article” but that is impossible – so the sentence MUST be revised so that the subject follows as the subject of the main clause- did not read the original study.)

Revision

After reading the original study, I [ proper subject] find the article unconvincing.

Practice

1. A woman passed by, leading a Springer spaniel in a long black dress.

 Note the error: It seems as though the Springer Spaniel [dog] is wearing the black dress because the modifier is placed right after it.

Correct the sentence by putting the doer of the action and the modifier together.  You will find the answers to these at the end of the article.

  1. After trying the combination several times, the lock finally opened.
  1. Disappointed that vacation would soon end, September came all too quickly.
  1. He went to the library wearing a leather jacket.
  1. After reading the paper, the telephone rang.
  1. Working all afternoon, the foundation was completed.

Characteristics of Dangling Modifiers

They most frequently appear at the beginning of sentences (often as introductory phrases or clauses) but can also appear at the end.

The experiment was a failure, not having studied the lab manual.

Possible Revision

They failed the experiment, not having studied the lab manual.

Characteristics of Dangling Modifiers
They most frequently appear at the beginning of sentences (often as introductory phrases or clauses) but can also appear at the end.
The experiment was a failure, not having studied the lab manual.
Rule to Remember
Modifiers (an adjective or adverb) always go next to the word they modify.
For more information about modifiers, please go to the following websites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_modifier

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/597/1/

Answers to practice:
1. A woman,in a long black dress,  passed by leading a Springer Spaniel .

2. After trying the combination several times,the man finally opened the lock.

3. Disappointed that vacation would soon end, he/she felt September came all too quickly

4. He , wearing a leather jacket, went to the library.

5. After he/she read the paper, the telephone rang.

  • 6. Working all afternoon, the workers completed the foundation.

Using Commas

March 11, 2013

COMMA

When in doubt, you leave the comma out! Do NOT put a comma just anywhere. They should be placed within sentences for specific reasons. There are many common uses of the comma such as in a date or within a large number. I am only going to include four basic comma types in this blog.

There are four basic comma uses: Please note that the rule gives an example of what it is defining.

  1. introducer
  2. coordinator
  3. inserter
  4. lists/series

Introducer – After an introductory phrase or clause, place a comma and then an independent clause (complete thought). Yes – after in introductory word such as a transitional word, place a comma. Here is a list of transitional words: however, therefore, consequently, nevertheless, likewise, besides, also, then, furthermore, in fact, for example etc.

Practice: Put in commas where necessary.

  1. As soon as it started to rain I reached for my umbrella.
  1. Although you are an excellent badminton player you could improve your backhand.

Coordinator – Use between two independent clauses, and always use a conjunction* to join them. [*and, but, or, nor, yet, so, for] Yes – that is right: Create one independent clause and join it to another independent clause using a comma preceding a conjunction.

  1. The books are expensive so we should take good care of them.
  1. The mouse was an excellent student but he could not tap dance very well.

Inserter – A pair of commas, like this, go around any inserted word or remark. You insert a word or phrase into the middle of an already complete sentence – this is an insertion into the sentence. Put a pair of commas around the inserted word or remark.

  1. I wish you Brendan would start writing your essay.
  1. Mary-Beth a talented artist is giving an exhibit of her work at the local gallery.

Lists, series – Separate items in a list: one, two, and three. As you can see, and probably already are used to using, commas go in-between items in a list. You do NOT have to put a comma before the last item before and BUT if you do you must be consistent within the document. If you leave it out, you must be consistent within the document.

  1. Required skills for the job include the following: hon.  B.A. or higher teaching experience volunteer experience and good references.
  1. I am collecting canned goods extra blankets used furniture and dish-ware for our bazaar.

For more help with commas, you can go to the following: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma

There are many good handbooks I could recommend. I do highly recommend that you purchase a handbook and keep it throughout your school years and even afterwards. It is essential to know where to find the information you need when you need it.

Punctuation: Using the Semi-colon

March 4, 2013

Using the semi-colon is similar to using a period.

RULE 1: That is it is almost always used between two independent clauses as long as they are on the same topic and closely related.

Example: You could use a semi-colon here: Thomas was intelligent; he had the top honours in his school.

Because the two sentences are both independent clauses and they are closely related, you can use a semi-colon.

Example 2: You can NOT use a semi-colon here:

I like pizza; cats are my favourite.  The two ideas are not closely related. You should use a period instead.

RULE 2: Almost always, (unless the word is used as an insertion) put a semicolon in front of (and a comma after) these words:

;  consequently,       ; besides,          ; furthermore,

;  however,             ; for example,   ; in fact,

;  therefore, ; nevertheless,   ; in fact,

; moreover,

 RULE 3: You use a semicolon, instead of a comma, when there are commas already in the sentence.

Terry and Sheila, outstanding in their field, began the long, careful, study of the data; also, knowing they would have to document their findings.

  1. Salamanders like flying bugs watching them catch their lunch can be fascinating
  2. The bookstore is having a sale some of the items are advertised in the paper and some aren’t
  3. We hiked for two hours through Japan consequently we were glad to stop and rest
  4.  Create your own sentence here.

For more help with the semi-colon see these resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon

or  http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/lmcontent/ch05/helpsheets.asp?edition=6e