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I know of at least seven grammatical errors that I think are both widespread but easily fixable issues in both colloquial and written usage. I'd like to share these errors, and their solutions, with you today.

1) Incorrectly constructed parrallel structure (emphasis on the infinitive).
One of the more unusual aspects of English grammar is that we express infinitives using two words, to + conjugated verb. Commonly, the "to" part of the infinitive is ignored in parallel structure. Here are a couple example sentences incorporating this easily fixable grammatical error:
A. WRONG: I like to run and play. RIGHT: I like to run and to play.
B. WRONG: She said she's going to call us soon, ask us what time the movie is, and meet us there.
RIGHT: She said she's going to call us soon, to ask us what time the movie is, and to meet us there.

2) Split infinitive
This error is both widespread and easy to fix. Basically, just avoid inserting words between the "to" and the conjugated verb when expressing an infinitive. Here is an example:
WRONG: I want to quickly run.

3) Misuse of the limiting adjectival modifiers, "only" and "just"
The error is the misplacement of only before a verb rather than after it. Doing so changes the meaning of the sentence entirely, often confusing the sharp reader. The words "only" and "just" are similar in meaning, and you can use them interchangeably. Consider the following example sentence:
A. WRONG: I only want to go to the movies. RIGHT: I want only to go to the movies.
In the WRONG sentence, the speaker states that (s)he "only wants to go to the movies." This sentence DOES imply that (s)he wants to do NOTHING ELSE, such as buy a bucket of popcorn, buy a ticket, sit down to watch the show, or even breathe. The usage of only before the verb is, in this sense, a disaster because now the speaker is speaking suicidally! Now, because the error is so widespread, it is often easy to say the WRONG sentence and convey the RIGHT meaning. But, the RIGHT sentence also conveys the RIGHT meaning, not only to those ignorant of this fixable error, but to those who understand it. So, pick the RIGHT sentence!
Special Notes: This error just drives me nuts, becasue it is widespread yet fixable.

4) Pronounce antecedent agreement error: IT!
I will explain the error through an example:
WRONG: It is nice. RIGHT: Ice is nice.
Look at the WRONG sentence and ask yourself, back to what does "It" refer? Nothing, the reader or listener becomes confused.

Special Notes: This error perhaps is the most widespread of the four. It is also the most difficult to fix because usually people have this error ingrained by habit and don't even realize the need to fix it.

5) Misuse of this, that, these, those, one
Basically, the misusage of these words occurs when a person omits a noun that should follow immediately after these indicator adjectives. Here are a couple examples:
A. WRONG: I don't like this. RIGHT: I don't like this (feeling, basketball, etc.).
In the WRONG sentence, "this" leaves a reader confused. In speech, the listener may be confused if you don't obviously identify what "this" is using body language.
B. WRONG: What is this? RIGHT: What is this (sensation, feeling, crap, etc.)
Here, you leave the reader or listener hanging by omitting identifying what you don't know.

Special Notes: CAREFUL! You would be entirely correct in speech to say, "What is this?" if, in some obvious way, you directed the listener's attention to exactly what you wanted "this" to identify using body language. One such way, provided that the unknown is a thing (as opposed to a sensation, feeling, etc.), would simply be to point at the object in question.

6) End of the sentence prepositions
This error occurs when you place a preposition at the end of a sentence. The error is widespread, especially in speech. Here are a couple example sentences:
A. WRONG: Who are you going with? RIGHT: With whom are you going?
(If you're sharp, then you noticed that I changed who to whom. I did so because in the WRONG sentence, we use the word that indicates the unknown person in the nominative case. In the correct sentence, we use this word in the objective case.
B. RIGHT: Shut up.
I wrote this example to indicate that "up" here is not a preposition, but an adjective. Make sure that you pay attention!
Special Notes: This error is hard to fix during speech but not in written work (proofread!). With practice, you should be able to fix it in both speech and writing. In speech, the error is often acceptable. Some people actually think the error is unecessarily identified. As one man president once said (I neither remember his name nor his exact sentence), "This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put."

7) Passive voice
Passive voice means of, relating to, or being a verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is the object of the action or the effect of the verb. Strictly speaking, this error is not grammatical in nature but rather is stylisitc. Here are examples:
A. WRONG: The rag was washed by Joe. RIGHT: Joe washed the rag.
By making the subject of the sentence an object on which an action was performed, the WRONG sentence is passive voice. You can avoid passive voice, so do so.
B. WRONG: The reader is confused by the writer. RIGHT: The reader is confused.
This example demonstrates another way of rewording a passive sentence. In this manner, you avoid passive voice by omitting the doer of the action. This way of rewording a sentence is useful to create mystery in writing, but for the most part, and especially in speech, you should indicate what performs the action and do so by rewording the sentence into active voice (see example A).

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Comments  (Page 2) 
Nona The BritCan you let us know if this is your original essay please? Otherwise please credit the source.

I would disagree with most of these points in any case.

So would I, Nona.
Alienvoord, I appreciate you're constructive criticism. Allow me to rebute:

1) Comprehensible, yes. But many expressions are comprehensible even without being gramatically sound. The nuances I try to reveal in this post are to help you write better gramatically, not to sound or to write comprehensible.

2) I cannot refute this well supported argument. In fact, there is a sliver of the article that directly weakens my point. I quote:
-------BEGIN EXCERPT FROM -----------

Problems caused by trying to avoid the split infinitive

Stylistically, the careful placement of another word between to and the bare infinitive sometimes avoids ambiguity or ugliness. The old prohibition on split infinitives is particularly surprising when one observes that there are a number of expressions in English that are weakened considerably by avoiding the split infinitive.

[edit ]


An example

R.L. Trask uses this example:
  • She decided to gradually get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
Clearly, what is implied here is she took a decision to get rid of her teddy bears, and the disposal would happen over time. 'Gradually' splits the infinitive 'to get'. But if we were to move it, where would it go?. Consider the following:
  • She decided gradually to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
This implies that the decision was gradual.
  • She decided to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected gradually.
This implies that the collecting process was gradual.
  • She decided to get gradually rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
This sounds awkward to most native speakers of English.
  • She decided to get rid gradually of the teddy bears she had collected.
This is almost as awkward as its immediate predecessor.

Not only does the original example sound right to a native speaker, it is also the only semantically sound possibility.

The best way to avoid using split infinitives is usually via a change in lexical choices. However, in spoken language, phonetic stresses and timing is usually all that is needed for a sentence's actual implications to be understood.

In other instances, use of a split infinitive is for many people the most natural way to add certain kinds of emphasis in conversation:
Student A: "I'm going to do better next year."Student B: "I'm going to really do better next year."
On a historical level, it is possible that years of attacks against split infinitives by prescriptive grammarians have cowed some people into needless reluctance to split other compound verb forms. For example, people will contort sentences to avoid placing an adverb in its usual position between the auxiliary verb and the participle, leading to constructions such as, "The argument originally had been used…" instead of "The argument had originally been used", which is more natural for most speakers.

It is probably not possible to disentangle this argument from the modality of English grammar. Typically, in a phrase such as "I am going to", the verbal construct "to be going to" acts as a modal verb, analogous to other standard modal verbs "will", "could", "can" etc. In this sense, it becomes apparent that the preposition 'to' does not belong to the infinitive verb, but rather to the modal verb. In this case, it becomes impossible to split an infinitive.
-------END EXCERPT FROM --------

3) By saying, "I only <want to go to the movies>," you do NOT imply that you also <do not want to breathe.> Again, you got to pay attention to what "only" is modifying, the verb. By placing the limiting modifier before the first verb in this sentence, you imply limitations to what you can do, including breathing (although the idea sounds exagerrated initially, it really is correct). Now, you say that the sentence implies that the speaker <does not want to breathe>. Not so! In fact, the speaker implies that (s)he CANNOT breathe, regardless of desire. In fact, the speaker implies that (s)he is capable of only desiring to go to the movies. In my last sentence, I would have been correct to say, "In fact, the speaker implies that (s)he is only capable of desiring to go to the movies," or, "In fact, the speaker implies that (s)he only is capable of desiring to go to the movies."

4) The point I'm trying to make here is that using "it" as a dummy subject is gramatically incorrect; therefore, we should reject its use as a dummy subject (think prescriptivist rather than descriptivist).

5) I do not understand your argument here; therefore, I cannot refute it.

6) Your "counterargument" seems to be more like a historical basis that I would use to set up my argument. Which side are you on: yours or mine?

7) You're correct; I have not. Here is my evidence: Passive voice is boring. End of discussion.
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Cool Breeze
Pastsimple
Cool BreezeExcellent British humour. I have enjoyed it ever since I saw The Ladykillers in the fifties.

Cheers
CB
Whose post are you reacting at? Emotion: wink

The humorous one, of course. The very first one.

Cheers
CB
I'm afraid the first post was meant to be serious. My posts weren't. Emotion: smile
I also disagree with most of the "sins" you described. Emotion: big smile

When was the last time any of you heard people say " With whom are you going?"

I like fishing and dancing. I like to read and sing. I see nothing wrong with sentences with this structure.!

The song was composed by XYZ. vs. XYZ composed that song. I think everyone here can identify which is passive or active voice. I think the example you chose it's problem. Mind you, the passive voice must be used in a suitable context in order to sound right to the ears. " The rag was washed by Joe" by it self just plainly sounds odd, although grammatically appears to be correct. Emotion: big smile
PastsimpleLess and less people care about these "deadly sins". Emotion: wink Seems I've just found the eighth.
You're correct! My, my, what an oversight on my behalf! I never once mentioned a incentive for learning or appreciating these grammatical nuances. I think that efforts to notice these nuances helps people become better readers because they tend to pay more attention to detail. Sure, the kind of attention is towards syntax initially, but sooner or later the attention focuses on the more interesting aspects of language, such as the main idea, paragraph construction, how to set up supporting arguments, etc. I hope this suggestion helps.
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I think perhaps I can address all the points by just addressing this one:

"4) The point I'm trying to make here is that using "it" as a dummy subject is gramatically incorrect; therefore, we should reject its use as a dummy subject (think prescriptivist rather than descriptivist)."

This is the problem with all of your rules: they are too prescriptive. In fact they're crazily prescriptive. If using "it" as a dummy subject is grammatically incorrect, then
"It is nice to meet you" is grammatically incorrect. So "grammatically incorrect" becomes a meaningless term because it has nothing at all to do with how English is used.

It is impossible to follow most of your rules and still sound like a normal English speaker.
AlienvoordI think perhaps I can address all the points by just addressing this one: "4) The point I'm trying to make here is that using "it" as a dummy subject is gramatically incorrect; therefore, we should reject its use as a dummy subject (think prescriptivist rather than descriptivist)." This is the problem with all of your rules: they are too prescriptive. In fact they're crazily prescriptive. If using "it" as a dummy subject is grammatically incorrect, then "It is nice to meet you" is grammatically incorrect. So "grammatically incorrect" becomes a meaningless term because it has nothing at all to do with how English is used. It is impossible to follow most of your rules and still sound like a normal English speaker.
You did not successfully address all seven points with this blurb. I'm going to break down what you said and to reply to your argument. I hope to clarify loose ends:

-----
This is the problem with all of your rules: they are too prescriptive. In fact they're crazily prescriptive.
->Prescriptivism is not the issue, it's the solution to descriptivism of poor english grammar.

If using "it" as a dummy subject is grammatically incorrect, then "It is nice to meet you" is grammatically incorrect.
->You're right; "It is nice to meet you" is grammatically incorrect. At the same time, however, the sentence and sentences like it appreciate widespread usage. This appreciation, of course, in no way implies that such sentences should be acceptable, hence this post; rather, this appreciation should serve as a red flag that says that people are accepting bad grammar and should find new ways to express their ideas.

So "grammatically incorrect" becomes a meaningless term because it has nothing at all to do with how English is used.
-> Right here, you commit the logical fallacy, "slippery slope." Remember, I never suggested that poor grammar implies incomprehensible language, and you're crazier than I am if you still believe I did.

It is impossible to follow most of your rules and still sound like a normal English speaker.
-> Not true. I tried doing so myself, and things worked out quite nicely. Not because I said cacophonous, but grammatically correct sentences like, "I like to run and to play," but because I avoided the issue altogether and found another way to express the same idea. You see, there are myriad ways to express an idea, and I think that the number of ways prompts us to choose one that is both gramatically sound (the point of this post) AND, obviously, euphonious. I would never ask people to say things that sound cacophonous. The idea is absurd.

I guess the best outlook to have on this post is, "If you're not going to say certain sentences correctly, then don't say them at all, find another way to express your idea."
er

I still can't get over how you say "it" as a dummy subject is grammatically incorrect. Are you sure you mean that?
"it is nice to meet you" is "bad English"?

What is the point of grammar, then? If grammar doesn't deal with how English is used, then what good is it?
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If the "it" or "this" refers to a thing/situation, etc etc... that is known/present to all interlocutors, it's perfectly correct.

Even if someone (a child?) comes up to you, holding something in a closed fist, and says "Guess what it/this is!" i wouldn't raise an eyebrow over it...
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