English Grammar Review
Sentences and Choices

Choose Clarity

With every sentence you write, you make choices. Being correct and being clear should be your highest priorities.

A common error of writing is a mismatch, either a verb not correctly matching its subject or a pronoun not correctly matching its antecedent.

Mismatched verbs

Problem 1: A group of words between the subject and the verb.

Our CEO, in consultation with four of our VPs, have approved the move to Kyiv.
[wrong]

Our CEO, in consultation with four of our VPs, has approved the move to Kyiv.
[right]

Problem 2: Verb before the subject.

On a shelf in my cubicle was a coffee mug and two photos.
[wrong]

On a shelf in my cubicle were a coffee mug and two photos.
[right]

Mismatched pronouns

Problem 1: Singular nouns joined by or or nor.

Neither Kateryna nor Ulyana will be re-assigned unless they request it.
[wrong]

Neither Kateryna nor Ulyana will be re-assigned unless she requests it.
[right]

Problem 2: Indefinite pronouns and adjectives that are singular (anyone, everyone, anybody, everybody, nobody, each, every, either, neither).

Every office and cubicle had their new nametag.
[wrong]

Every office and cubicle had its new nametag.
[right]

A common problem of writing clearly is the ambiguity that results when things that should agree are not quite written that way.

Ambiguous introductions

Problem: Agreement between an introductory phrase and the subject of a sentence.

Having read Yegor's report, several questions occur to me about the conclusions.
[wrong]

Having read Yegor's report, I would like to ask him several questions about the conclusions.
[right]

As director of the Mykolaiv project, we think you should attend the next meeting.
[wrong]

We think that as director of the Mykolaiv project you should attend the next meeting.
[right]

Modifiers out of place

Problem: Ambiguity about what a modifier should be modifying.

Here are some suggestions for protecting our IT infrastructure from our security consultants.
[wrong]

Here are some suggestions from our security consultants for protecting our IT infrastructure.
[right]

People who click on email links frequently have virus problems.
[wrong]

People who frequently click on email links have virus problems.
[right]

People who click on email links have virus problems frequently.
[right]

Lesson: Choose Clarity
Module: Sentences and Choices
Course: English Grammar Review