Miss Helen Mullett’s 110 CORRECTED SENTENCES —- The “Word Crimes” of Carleton Place High School

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Thanks to Joann Voyce for pointing it out and Brian Thornton for documenting it online.

In fond and loving memory of Miss Helen Mullett who taught at Carleton Place High School (C.P.H.S).

There are a few pictures etc. in another blog.

grammar

Miss Helen Mullett’s 110 CORRECTED SENTENCES

  1. He could not work as good as his brother.

He could not work as well as his brother.

The adverb “well”, not the adjective “good”, must be used since it modifies the verb phrase “could work”.

  1. He threw it in the box.

He threw it into the box.

“Into” is used because “he” is outside the box.

(Compare “He walked in the room” and “He walked into the room”.)

  1. He was frightened so he threw it away.

As he was frightened, he threw it away.

Do not use “so” as a coordinate conjunction.  Put the main idea in the main cause, and the subordinate idea in the subordinate clause.

or

He was frightened; therefore, he threw it away.

Do not use “so” as a co-ordinate conjunction. Join the two statements by means of the conjunctive adverb, “therefore”, which requires the use of semicolon before it.

  1. They did not know it was him.

They did not know it was he.

The subjective case “he” must be used to complete the copula verb “was”.  Any part of the verb “be” is completed by the subjective case. (See sentence 69 for the exception.)

  1. Someone could claim the book as their own.

Someone could claim the book as his own.

The singular form “his” must be used since it refers to “someone” which is singular.

  1. Lancelot said that his wound had not healed which was untrue.

Lancelot said that his wound had not healed, a statement that (or which) was untrue.

Since “which” has no expressed antecedent, you must supply one;

the word “statement” is added as the antecedent of “that”

(or which).

  1. He was struck by it’s beauty.

He was struck by its beauty.

“Its” the possessive form, must be used here;  “it’s” is the abbreviated and colloquial form for “it is”.

Note:

The possessive case of a ­noun­ always has an apostrophe;

the possessive case of a ­personal pronoun never­ has an apostrophe: his, its, hers, theirs, ours, ours;

the possessive case of the ­indefinite pronouns­ takes the apostrophe: one’s, somebody’s, others’, a person’s.

  1. What is the reason for him being wounded?

What is the reason for his being wounded?

The possessive form “his” must be used since it modifies the gerund “being”.

  1. He fought better than them.

He fought better than they.

The subjective form “they” must be used since it is subject of “did fight” which is understood. “Than” is a conjunction, not a preposition.

  1. The two pupils followed one another.

The two pupils followed each other.

Use “each other” when referring to “two”; use “one another” for more than two.

  1. Can I have the lend of your pencil?

May I have the loan of your pencil?

Use “may” for permission; use “can” for ability.   “Lend” is not a noun.

  1. If it was a good story he would listen.

If it were a good story, he would listen.

Use the subjunctive mood to express supposition, or something contrary to fact.  Place a comma after an introductory adverbial clause.

  1. Neither you nor I are going.

Neither you nor I am going.

In a “neither ….. nor” construction the verb must agree with the subject nearer it.

  1. There are less people here to-day.

There are fewer people here to-day (or today).

Use “loss” for quantity; use “fewer” for number.

  1. The man which I saw was my uncle.

The man whom (or that) I saw was my uncle.

Use “which” when referring to animals or things.

Use “that” when referring to people, animals, or things.

Use “who” (or whom) when referring to people.

“Whom”, not “who”, is used here since it is object of “saw”.

  1. There was many parcels to deliver.

There were many parcels to deliver.

The plural verb “were” must be used here to agree with the real subject “parcels”.  “There” is the representative subject.

  1. Neither of us are going.

Neither of us is going.

Use the singular form of the auxiliary, “is”, to agree with the singular subject “neither”.

  1. The dog is laying down.

The dog is lying down.

Use “lying” which means reclining; “laying” means  placing.

lie, lay, lain — recline

lay, laid, laid — place

  1. Mary has wrote her answer.

Mary has written her answer.

The past participle “written” must be used with the auxiliary “has” to form the verb phrase.

or

Mary wrote her answer.

“Wrote”, the past tense, does not need an auxiliary.

  1. Swimming in the river, the sky was beautiful.

Swimming in the river, we saw the beautiful sky.

Do not use a dangling participle.  Since “swimming” does not relate to “sky”, change the sentence so that “swimming” modifies “we”.

  1. While walking along the road, birds flew overhead.

While walking along the road, we saw birds flying overhead.

Do not use elliptical clause unless its subject is the same as the subject of the sentence.

The present participle “walking” is unrelated or dangling.

Here is an example of a correct elliptical clause:

When six years old, I started to school

but

When six years old, my grandfather died ….. is incorrect and should be written,

When I was six years old, my grandfather died

since the subject of the subordinate clause is different from the subject in the main clause.

  1. He was reading one of those old stories.

He was reading one of those old stories that never become uninteresting.

When you use “this”, “that”, “these”, and “those”, you  must use a relative clause to make clear what is meant.

  1. This food tastes sweetly.

This food tastes sweet.

Verbs of the senses are completed by an adjective to express quality, and by an adverb to express manner; e. g.  I feel warm.  (quality); I feel warmly on the subject.   (manner).

  1. We will stop in Ottawa for a week.

We shall stay in Ottawa for a week.

Use “shall” in the first person, and “will” in the second and third persons to express futurity; use “will” in the first person, and “shall” in the second and third persons to express promise or determination.  Use “stay” to mean remain; use “stop” to mean cease from moving.

  1. The price will be effected by the rumour.

The price will be affected by the rumour.

Use “affected” to mean “influence” ; use “effected” to mean “brought about”.

  1. I wish I was able to go.

I wish I were able to go.

Use the subjunctive mood to express a statement contrary to fact.

  1. This dress is real pretty.

This dress is really pretty (or very pretty).

The adverb “really”, not the adjective “real”, must be used since it modifies the adjective “pretty”.

  1. Each of the boys have done their work.

Each of the boys has done their work.

The auxiliary “has” must be singular to agree with its subject “each”.  “His” must be singular to agree with its antecedent “each”.

  1. I want you to quickly to do this work.

I want you to do this work quickly.

Avoid the use of the split infinitive.

At times, an idea can be more effectively expressed by the use of split infinitive; e. g.

It is difficult to always use the right word.

  1. When I looked, passengers could be seen disembarking.

When I looked, I could see the passengers disembarking.

Keep the same voice throughout the sentence.  “Looked” is active voice; “could be seen” is passive voice.

  1. She keeps a list so that she might not exceed her budget.

She keeps a list so that she may not exceed her budget.

The tense of all verbs should be the same unless the time of the action changes.  In the sentence, “The man who rescued the boy is standing on the wharf”, the tenses are different since the time of action has changed; that is, the “rescuing” and the “standing” are ­not­ taking place at the same time.

  1. Falling over the ladder, my wrist was injured.

Falling over the ladder, I injured my wrist.

The present participle “falling” is dangling or unrelated.   Change the sentence so that “falling” is modifying “I”.  Do ­not­ use a dangling participle.

  1. The chairman spoke with simplicity, with directness, and he was convincing.

The chairman spoke simply, directly, and convincingly.

or

The chairman spoke with simplicity, with directness, and with conviction.

Use parallel constructions; that is, use ­all­ adverbs, or all prepositional phrases.

Watch this construction carefully, especially in long sentences. If there are two, or more, subordinate ideas, they should each be written as a clause, or each written as a phrase, etc.

(a)  I delight in a good novel– one which portrays strong characters and in reading the book you are thrilled.

(b)  I delight in a good novel– one which portrays strong characters and which thrills the reader.

In (a), “which portrays strong characters” is an adjective clause; “in reading the book you are thrilled” is a principal clause; therefore, the construction is wrong.

In (b), “which portrays strong characters” and “which thrills the reader” are parallel constructions; both are adjective clauses.

  1. He always has and always will be too lazy to work.

He always has been too lazy to work, and always will be.

or

He always has been and always will be too lazy to work.

Do not omit necessary words.

Note:  The careless omission of an article, a preposition, a pronoun, or a verb that is essential to clarify, may change or distort the meaning of a sentence.

It was Hamlet’s fatal hesitation caused his tragedy.

It was Hamlet’s fatal hesitation ­that­ caused his tragedy.

He dismissed both his accountant and bookkeeper.

He dismissed his accountant and ­his­ bookkeeper.

Toronto is nearer to Ottawa than Montreal.

Toronto is nearer to Ottawa than ­to­ Montreal.

The price of meat is high some places this year.

The price of meat is high in some places this year.

  1. He did not wish to phone him up.

He did not wish to telephone him.

“Up” is superfluous; “phone” is colloquial.

  1. He went around seven o’clock.

He went about seven o’clock

“Around” used for place; “about”, for time.  (e. g. He ran around the block.)

  1. I found the book that I lent you in my desk at school.

I found in my desk at school the book that I lent you.

or

In my desk at school, I found the book that I lent you.

Place modifiers near the word they modify; otherwise the meaning of the sentence may be obscure or ambiguous.

Notice the change in meaning that is made by the position of “often” in the following:

I have often wished to go to the exhibition.

I have wished to go often to the exhibition.

  1. A lake is where a large body of fresh water is surrounded by land.

A lake is a large body of fresh water surrounded by land.

The verb “be” must not be completed by an adverbial construction; it is completed by a noun, pronoun, or adjective.  Do not, therefore, use an “is where”, “is when”, or “is because ” construction.

  1. Weather effects health.

Weather affects health.

Use “affects” since it means “has an influence on”.

Note:  An operation may affect his recovery (have a good or bad effect upon his recovery.)

or

An operation may effect his recovery (may bring about)

  1. I am not liable to go.

I am not likely to go.

Use “likely” to suggest probability or likelihood.  Use “liable” for legal or dangerous circumstances.

Liable:

  1. responsible, answerable for, legally bound.
  2. in danger of
  3. apt to do something undesirable, or to suffer something undesirable (liable to fall)

Note:  “Liable” should not be used for “subject to”.

We say “liable to take cold”, but we say “subject to  colds”.

“Liable” is used with what may befall;

“subject to” is used in regard to what usually happens.

“Likely” means probable or probably (adjective and adverb)

That is a likely story.  (adjective)

It will likely rain.  (adverb)

  1. I cannot help but remember it.

I cannot help remembering it.

“But” is a co-ordinate conjunction (or a preposition).  A co-ordinate conjunction joins things that are equal: clauses, phrases or words.  As this sentence does not  contain statements that are equal, the use of the co-ordinate conjunction “but” is wrong.

This sentence contains ­one statement only­; “remembering” is a gerund object of the verb phrase “can help”.

  1. There is no doubt but that I shall be able to go.

There is no doubt that I shall able to go.

The use of the co-ordinate conjunction “but” is faulty here since it is used to join the subordinate clause to the main clause.

“That” is a subordinate conjunction joining the two clauses.  Do not join a subordinate clause to its principal clause by “and”, “but”, “or”, “nor”.  “That” is sufficient to join the two statements; “but” is superfluous.

  1. The boy who you saw was my cousin.

The boy whom you saw was my cousin.

The objective form “whom” should be used as it is object of the verb “saw”.

but in

The boy who saw you was my cousin, “who” is correct since it is the subject of the verb “saw”.

  1. He told his father that he would soon get a letter.

He said to his father, “You will (or I shall) soon get a letter.”

This sentence is ambiguous.  Do not use a pronoun if there is doubt about its antecedent.

This statement has to be turned into direct speech.

  1. He asked where you were.I could not answer that.

He asked where you were.  I could not answer that question.

“That” has no expressed antecedent; therefore, you must add the word, “question”.

  1. John is a violinist, the study of which instrument he began when a boy.

John is a violinist.  He began the study of the violin when he was a boy.

Do not used a pronoun, or pronominal expression, ­seeming­ to refer to a word or phrase that has not been expressed.

  1. You should not use they indefinitely.

They should not be used indefinitely.

Avoid the indefinite use of “you”.

  1. They had a collision on the electric train.

There was a collision on the electric train.

Do not use “they” indefinitely.

  1. To enjoy a trip, time is necessary.

To enjoy a trip, a person should have time.

The gerundial infinitive “to enjoy” is dangling or  unrelated.  Change the construction so that “to enjoy” will have a word to which to relate.  Do not use a dangling infinitive.

  1. John neither likes reading nor singing.

John likes neither reading nor singing.

Put correlative conjunctions near the words or expressions they connect.

  1. He is a lawyer, and every day he plays golf.

He is a lawyer.  Every day he plays golf.

This sentence lacks unity.  The two ideas are not closely enough associated to be placed in the same sentence.

  1. My uncle he came to town yesterday.

My uncle came to town yesterday.

“He” is redundant; that is, exceeding what is natural or necessary.

  1. I know you better than Mary or Susan.

I know you better than I know Mary or Susan.

or

I know you better than Mary or Susan knows you.

Do not use statements that are ambiguous; that is, those from which you can derive two meanings.

  1. Our house is as large if not larger than yours.

Our house is as large as yours, if not larger.

Make a complete “as ….. as” construction.  Always insert every word needed to complete a comparison.

  1. The story tells of the bravery and promotion of a private.

The story tells of a private’s bravery and of his promotion.

Do not join by “and” nouns or clauses differing widely in function.  “Bravery” is an abstract noun; “promotion” is a concrete noun.

(Remember that the co-ordinate conjunctions join things that are ­equal­.)

  1. A monologue is where one person does all the talking.

A monologue is a speech in which one person does all the talking.

Do not use “is when”, “is where”, or “is because” constructions.  The verb “be” is completed by a ­pronoun­, by a ­noun­ or ­noun construction­, or by an ­adjective­.  It is never completed by an adverb.

  1. g.It is he.  (pronoun)

He is the man. (noun)

The reason was that I had not studied.  (noun clause)

He is weary.  (adjective)

Note:  There is a difference between the words, “completed” and “followed”.  In the sentence “He is here”, the verb “is” is the complete verb, and is followed by the adverb “here”; but it is not completed by the adverb.  “Here” is an adverb modifying the verb “is”.

  1. He wrote an autobiography of his own life.

He wrote his autobiography.

“Of his own life” is useless repetition.  This error is called tautology.

Note:  Repetition may be used for ­emphasis­; otherwise, it should not be used.

  1. He took work along the lines of banking.

He studied banking.

Do not use roundabout expression; that is circumlocution.

  1. You must choose between doing it or losing the privilege.

You must choose between doing it and losing the privilege.

Alternatives are expressed by using either “between …. and” or “either …. or” constructions.

  1. What a wonderful Santa Claus he made and nobody knew who he was until it was all over.

What a wonderful Santa Claus he made!  Nobody knew who he was until it was all over.

Keep the same construction throughout a sentence; that is, do not have one clause assertive and another interrogative or exclamatory.

  1. The numerous ball parks afford much pleasure along with the sporting clubs.

The numerous ball parks and the sporting clubs afford much pleasure.

Group the subjects, or the objects, in a sentence.

  1. The postman gave me a letter but it was not addressed to me.

The postman gave me a letter which was not addressed to me.

The co-ordinate conjunction “but” should not  be used to join a subordinate clause to a main clause.  The relative pronoun “which” is a connective and can show the relationship between these two clauses.

  1. He did not see the accident which made him useless as a witness.

He did not see the accident, a fact which made him useless as a witness.

“Which” has no expressed antecedent as it relates to a whole statement.  Words such as “which”, “who”, “this”, “that”, “these”, and “those” must have ­a­ word to which to relate, and must not refer to a statement.  The noun “fact” is inserted as the expressed antecedent of “which”.

  1. The speaker as well as the listeners were disturbed by the noise.

The speaker, as well as the listeners, was disturbed by the noise.

Do not make the verb agree with any noun or pronoun that is joined to the subject by “or”, “nor”, “with”, “together with”, “including”, “no less than”, and “as well as”.

  1. g. (a)The king, including his family, has gone to his summer home.

(b)  An apple, or oranges, is suitable.

(c)  A bus, or cars, is needed.

(d)  The director, together with the actors, is coming.

  1. Both of the following are correct;

The crowd was moving away.

The crowd were moving away.

With words like “crowd” or “audience”, use a singular verb to refer to people collectively; but use a plural verb to refer to people separately.

  1. John is one of the best players that has ever been here.

John is one of the best players that have ever been here.

When the subject of the subordinate clause is a relative pronoun, its verb agrees in person and number with the antecedent of this relative pronoun.  “That” refers to “players”; therefore, the verb must be plural.

  1. The roads are slippy.

The roads are slippery.

“Slippy” is slang.

  1. “None” is followed by a singular or plural verb according to the sense in which it is used.

(a)  None of the apples is ripe or None of the apples are ripe.

(b)  None works as hard as he (does).  or None work as hard as he (does).

(c)  None but the brave deserves the fair.  or None but the brave deserve the fair.

  1. He thought her to be I.

He thought her to be me.

“Her to be me” is an infinitive clause.  “Her”, the subject of this infinitive clause, is in the objective case as the subject of  ­all­  infinitives is in the objective case.  Any part of the verb “be” takes the same case after it as before it; therefore, the objective case “me” must be used to complete infinitive “to be”.

Another example of an infinitive clause is “me to watch him” in the sentence.  The coach asked me to watch him.

  1. I kind of thought you had made a mistake.

I thought you had made a mistake.

“Kind of” and “sort of” should not be used to modify verbs or adjectives.  Do not say, The water is sort of cold.  Do say, The water is somewhat cold.  “Sort” is a noun; “of” is a preposition and should be completed by a noun, a pronoun, or a noun construction.

  1. What kind of a house is it?

What kind of house is it?

When “kind of”, or “sort of”, is used with a noun, it is not followed by “a” or “an”.

  1. He is more strong than you.

He is stronger than you.

Most adjectives of two syllables, and all adjectives of more than two syllables, form the comparative and superlative degrees by using “more” and “most”.  Adjectives of one syllable add “er” and “est”.

  1. He is two occupied with his own affairs to be very interested in mine.

He is too much occupied with his own affairs to be very much interested in mine.

The problem here is:  Should “very” modify a past participle?  The answer depends on the function of the participle.  If the participle retains its verbal force, the modifying word should be “much”, not “very”, since “very”, being a pure adverb of degree, cannot modify a verb.  But if the past participle has become an adjective (having, that is, lost its verbal force) “very” may modify it.

(a)  I am much (or very much) concerned about it.

(b)  We were much (or very much ) surprised at your attitude.

but

(c)  I am very tired.

(b)  The seating accommodation was very limited.

In (a) and (b) “concerned” and “surprised” are true participles.  In (c) and (d)  “tired” and “limited” are adjectives.

  1. “Hardly” should be followed by “when”, “sooner” should be followed by “than”.
  2. g.I had hardly finished my work when the bell rang.

No sooner did we set out than it began to rain.

Note:  The comparative form of an adjective is followed by “than”.

  1. g.He is taller than I.

He is more contented than she.

  1. I am so tired.

I am very tired.

Do not overwork the adverbial use of “so”.  This use of “so” is correct if there is a qualifying statement.

  1. g.She was so tired that she could not go farther.
  2. Distinguish between “our sales are less than those of last month”, and “our sales are fewer than those of last month”.

The former expresses quantity or degree; the latter, number.

  1. I expect they left early.

I think they left early, or I suspect they left early.

Use “expect” when referring to the future.

  1. I came for to get it.

I came to get it.

“For” should not be inserted before an infinitive.

Two prepositions together are not necessary.

  1. I wish I was you.

I wish I were you.

Use the subjunctive mood to express a wish, or a supposition,  contrary to fact.  e. g.  If he be wrong, he will admit it.  “Be” is present subjunctive, expressing a supposition.

  1. Use “compare with” when referring to similar qualities;

use “compare to” when referring to unlike qualities.

  1. I tried to help him, but he refused it.

I tried to help him, but he refused my assistance.

“It” must have an expressed antecedent.  Since there is no antecedent, “it” must be replaced by “my assistance”.

  1. He divided it among you and I.

He divided it between you and me.

Usually you use “between” for two, and “among” for more than two.  ­Always­ use the objective case after a preposition.

These sentences are correct:

(a)  The railroad between Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York is a busy one.

(b)  The choice lay between the three candidates.

There are two correct constructions:

(i)  between + plural noun (There was an agreement between the two friends that they should help him in every way.)

(ii)  between + noun (or pronoun) + noun (or pronoun)  (He came between six and a half-past six.

There is a great difference between them and us.

There is a big difference between doing good and refraining from doing evil.)

Wrong:  The house stood between the junction of the two streams.

Right:  The house stood between the two streams.

Wrong:  Distinguish between each of the following pairs of words.

Right:  Distinguish between the words in each of the following pairs.

Wrong:  You must choose between going or staying.

Right:  You must choose between going and staying.

Wrong:  Between his daily work and between his hobbies he did not have time to read.

Right:  Between his daily work and his hobbies he did not have time to read.

(The second “between” is superfluous.)

  1. The man was hung yesterday.

The man was hanged yesterday.

hang, hanged, hanged–to put to death as capital punishment.

(hang, hung, hung–to suspend; to fasten to some elevated point or thing; e. g.  The coats hang on the wall.

He hung the picture on the wall.

She is hanging her curtains.

She has hung her curtains.)

84    In Great Expectations it tells how Pip went to London to become a gentleman.

­Great Expectations­ tells how Pip went to London to become a gentleman.

Do not use “it” loosely; “it” must have an expressed antecedent unless it forms such expressions as:

“It is raining” and “It snows”.  These are impersonal expressions or idioms.

Underline the title of a book when it is used ­in­ a sentence or a paragraph.

  1. It was him that did it.

It was he who (or that) did it.

Any part of the verb “be” is completed by the subjective case.

  1. Do you mind me going?

Do you mind my going?

The possessive pronoun must be used to modify the gerund “going”.

  1. Due to the storm we did not go.

Owing to (on account of) the storm we did not go.

“Due” is an adjective, not a preposition.

  1. g. The train was due at four.

His absence was due to illness.

In both these sentences “due” is a predicate adjective;  therefore, it is correctly used.

“Due” may also be an adverb.  (He went due South.)    or a noun (He received his due.)

  1. He writes like his brother does.

He writes as his brother does.

or

He writes likes his brother.

“Like” is a preposition, not a conjunction.

  1. The ten first pages were missing.

The first ten pages were missing.

The words “first” and “last” when used with adjectives that express number are placed before the adjective.

  1. He has got a large house.

He has a large house.

“Got” is not necessary.  “Has” is the complete verb in this sentence, not an auxiliary.

  1. I do not know if this will suit you.

I do not know whether this will suit you.

“If” and “as” should not be used to introduce noun clauses.

  1. This line is more vertical than that.

This line is more nearly vertical than that.

Some adjectives, from their meaning, do not admit of comparison: round, square, vertical, horizontal and perfect.

  1. We sent as much as fifty boxes.

We sent as many as fifty boxes.

“Much” refers to quantity; “many” refers to number.

  1. We could not hardly change our plans.

We could hardly change our plans.

Do not use “hardly” with a negative.

Avoid the use of a double negative unless for emphasis as in the sentence, He is not unkind.

Note:  “Hardly” expresses degree; “scarcely” expresses quantity.

He is hardly well enough to go out yet.  (degree)

We have scarcely enough coal to last us.  (quantity)

  1. In deciding whether to use an adjective or an adverb after such verbs as grow, look, seem, smell, sound, feel, taste, appear, etc., use the following rule:

To express manner,  use an adverb; to express quality, use an adjective.  (If the word applies to the subject of the verb, use an adjective; if it applies to the verb, use an adverb.)  See sentence 23.

Sometimes, you  may use an adjective or an adverb with no difference in meaning.

  1. g. We arrived safe.

Or

We arrived safely.

  1. (Continued)

Further examples of the rule:

|  He stood firm; the sun shone bright;

adjectives         |  the boy sat still; the man looks happy;

|  the music sounds sweet; it tastes bitter.

and

|  He looked eagerly at the game;

adverbs            |  the physician sounded the man’s lungs thoroughly;

|  the bird sang sweetly; the aeroplane rose quickly.

96    After playing four innings, rain stopped the game.

After playing four innings, we had to stop the game on account of rain.

The gerund phrase “after playing” is unrelated.

In the corrected sentence it relates to “we”.

  1. After the conjunctions “than” and “as”, in an ­elliptical­ ­clause of comparison­, use the case that would be used if the clause were written in full.

He can play as well as I.  (can play)

She likes Susan better than (she likes) me.

She likes Susan better than I.  (do).

  1. Franklin proved that lightning was electricity.

Franklin proved that lightning is electricity.

In indirect discourse use the present tense to express a universal truth (or an idea held to be true) that is independent of time.

  1. g. He insisted that to all appearances the earth is flat.

He said that a good speaker is always in demand.

(This tense is called ­historic present­.)

  1. I should have been on time if it were not for the storm.

I should have been on time, if it had not been for the storm.

Make the tense of the verb in a subordinate clause harmonize with the tense of the verb in the principal clause.

  1. I went to the game, then I hurried home.

(a)  I went to the game; then I hurried home.

or

(b)  I went to the game, and then I hurried home.

“Then” is not a conjunction; it is sometimes a ­conjunctive­ ­adverb­ as in (a), and sometimes an adverb as in (b).

  1. She blamed it on me.

She blamed me (or it).

“Blame … on” is slang; it is crudely used for “blame”.

  1. This book is equally important as that other book.

This book is as important as that other book

“Equally” is not needed.  This error is tautology; that is, unnecessary repetition.  (Greek:  “tautos”, the same; and “logos”, word).

Note:  Repetition is correct only when it used to emphasize.

  1. I knew from whence he came.

I knew whence he came.

“Whence” means “from where”; therefore, it should not be preceded by “from”.

  1. She has such beautiful eyes.

She has unusually beautiful eyes.

or

She has such beautiful eyes that everyone notices them.

If “such” is used, a qualifying statement must also be  used.

  1. This here book is not mine.

This book is not mine.

or

This book here is not mine.

“Here” is an adverb; therefore it can not be used to modify a noun.

In the expression, “this book here”, “here” is used for emphasis.  This sentence actually is “This book which is here is not mine”.

In the expression, “Here’s to you!”, here is a sort of exclamation; this expression is called an idiom.

  1. He did the task when he was asked.

He did the work when he was asked.

In prose, avoid the repetition of the same sound;   e. g., “task” and “ask”.

  1. None of us girls are going.(or is going)

“Us” is used in a demonstrative sense before “girls”; it should, therefore, agree in case with the noun following it.

  1. g.,It was we Canadians of whom he spoke.

He found a good book for us girls.

Note:  “None”, an indefinite pronoun, takes either the plural or the singular verb according to the idea in the mind of the speaker.  If “none” is thought of as “not one individual or thing”, the singular should be used.

  1. g. None of the books was worth reading. If it is thought of as “taking in the whole body”, the plural verb is used; e. g.   None of our friends were willing.   See sentence 68.
  1. Notice the difference in the following:

(a)  I saw him going down the street.

(b)  We regret his going so soon.

In (a) “him” is object of the verb “saw”; “going” is a  present participle modifying “him”.

In (b) “his” is the possessive form modifying the gerund “going” which is object of the verb “regret”.

  1. Many people of this decade prefer flying more than going by train.

Many people of this decade prefer flying to going by train.

“More than” is redundant.  This idea is contained within the word “prefer”.

(Note the following spelling: prefer, preferred, preferring, preference.)

  1. George has three brothers, neither of whom is as clever as he.

George has three brothers, none of whom is as clever as he.

“Neither” is not used when referring to three.

(Neither = neither one nor the other)

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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