Corrected Sentences

Here are corrections to errors as laid out in a list of incorrect sentences. Now the sentences conform with good standards in English. Places of correction are indicated by use of italics. Click on numbers to move between incorrect and corrected sentences. To print these answers with reduced gaps between them click here.









1. He is the taller of them both.
  With only two of them, the comparative and not the superlative is required.

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2. A queue of people, which was getting longer, stretched in front of The Deep.
  The relationship is between the queue and its increasing length and this must be unambiguous by using commas and a moved subordinate clause. See 5 and 25.

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3. Each of the ambassadors is to be introduced separately.
  Each means each one and it is this single one in each case that is to be introduced. Contrast with 21.

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4. In my view he never has been, and never will be, a convincing actor.
  The future indefinite (future simple) tense needs the present perfect tense in full to complete the balance of the sentence, coming from the past to now and then from now to any future point. Ellipsis, where repetition in a sentence is removed and understood in its absence, was, in the unreformed sentence, a faulty ellipsis because be can never stand in for been as they are different. See 22 and 38.

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5. Televisions that are faulty should not be sold to the public.
  The use of which within commas implies that all televisions are faulty. The word that is consistent with only some televisions being faulty and no commas are needed (always the preferred option if possible). See 2 and 25

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6. Book the suite for my husband and me.
  The husband and wife (we assume) are not involved in the verb to book and as passive recipients they are husband and me not I. Contrast with 7.

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7. She does not remember our first date as well as I.
  The clue here is the adverbial phrase as well as showing involvement in how well I (do) remember. So if the person is involved in the verb then the correct form is I and not me. Contrast with 6.

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8. I do not remember his having given me a box of chocolates.
  Having given is known as a gerund or verbal noun. The stress is on the act around the box of chocolates to which he is attached possessively: his act. Contrast with 12.

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9. She is the only one whom you could ask tomorrow.
  Because the who (could be asked tomorrow) refers back to the person already mentioned, it is instead whom. See 30.

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10. Furnished accommodation is required for one year by older lady about to be divorced.
  This is another example (as with 2) of rearranging to remove ambiguity.

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11. Fewer arguments might have meant a longer marriage.
  If the core of the point is the number being reduced, then it is fewer, and connects to a plural noun, whereas there is always less of a singular noun. See 20.

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12. Although they were distressed they had only themselves to blame.
  Themselves is the pronoun whereas their selves are two words that might refer to their souls or senses of being too deeply (for example, compare himself with his self[hood]. Contrast with 8.

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13. The power of her barrister's arguments, which were very detailed, was not enough to win custody of her children.
  The subordinate clause about being very detailed is certainly referring to arguments, but the inability to win the custody of the children was because the power, singular, of the arguments was not enough, therefore needing was and not were. As these were possessed arguments in the legal sphere, barristers needs an apostrophe (contrast with 26 and 28), assuming and informing in this case that there was one barrister only.

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14. She survived the exposure with hardly a dent in her reputation.
  She is already qualifying the dent and reducing it towards the negative by the use of hardly, so there is no need to negate this further using without, which would have the effect of making the opposite meaning, or having plenty of dents. So with is used. See 14 and 40.

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15. He did not deny that he was guilty of harm.
  Similar to 14, there was a double negative here. To say someone did not deny that they are not guilty is to say that they deny being guilty. That this simpler assertion was not stated suggests a different meaning. This interpretation is supported because people under threat of conviction do deny they are guilty in the first place, or at least this is the expectation from which further statements have clearer meaning. So this person who did not deny must have been relating this position to the guilty verdict which normally threatens. So, being guilty was accepted. The sentence is also specific, so that the possible limitation to harm supports this correction. To say otherwise that he actually did deny being guilty in one area (among possible others) is to contradict the standard position as a marker for any such statement, which is to deny being guilty across the board, and begs the question about in what unmentioned area guilt is accepted.

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16. They ordered an extra hundred computers for the new term.
  There is no need for a second indefinite article and so the second a is removed.

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17. They finished their reading before leaving college.
  Corrected spelling of their for possession.

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18. The essay will take me some time to read.
  Sometime is wrong because what is meant is the noun time qualified by the adjective some requiring two separate words.

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19. She asked her to correct the errors carefully before handing it in again.
  The order of correct the errors carefully with carefully at the end of the phrase avoids a split infinitive. See 32 and also especially 39 where a split infinitive is used, as writers often do for effect.

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20. There were fewer students entered into this year's exams.
  Again this plural requires the word fewer not less. See 11.

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21. She is one of the students who are taking the examination.
  This is rather tricky because it looks similar to the Each (one) of 3 where each one is the subject. However, this is not each one taking the exam but the students who are taking the examination, with the relative pronoun who laying stress on the students as sentence subject and so are is used and not is.

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22. He writes his answers as well as, if not better than, his lecturer.
  This is another case of faulty ellipsis, as with 4 and 38, in that than cannot be the understood word for what is missing. Therefore as must be stated.

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23. Due to become the next Principal, he was dismayed not to have been invited.

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24. Thank you for your email of 22 March in which you sent your thoughts.
  There is no need for a general verb thanking. Rather there is the understood (that is, missing) We or I which therefore needs the verb thank, which follows the pronoun.

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25. This is the email, which he wrote last year, from the archive.
  The argument is similar to 2 and 5 with ambiguity around whether the email or archive was written last year. The result of the correction is still awkward.

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26. The three companies were involved in price fixing.
  A simple case of needing the plural of company and not the possessive company's, which is for one only. Contrast with 13 and 28 .

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27. Examining the paper the next day, the paper made more sense of the matter.
  There was huge confusion here whether the paper or the matter are the subject of the sentence. Was the paper examining the matter better the next day (surely not) or was the paper being examined by another agent the next day which then made more sense of the matter? By repeating the paper (or the matter!) the ambiguity is cleared up.

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28. It's the type of operation that this company needs in order to be competitive.
  It is the type of operation here being stressed, affirmed by the definite article and sentence structure. Its is a possessive form of it with no apostrophe. An alternative close meaning stressing what the company needs with the possessive form of it is in the sentence: Its type of operation is what this company needs in order to be competitive. Contrast with part of 13.

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29. The Chair spoke to his board very slowly but demonstrated real abilities.
  Chair now means a non-sexist version of chairman or chairwoman. The issue here is the use of real and very. Very comes in front of a verb and real in front of a noun.

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30. She is the woman whom we expect to be the next Chair of the company.
  As with 9, the who in the wrong sentence refers back to the person who is the subject of the sentence, and this needs whom.

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31. We asked about their having disposed of valuable papers.

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32. While I was cycling along the path, a policeman suddenly appeared in front of me.
  So was the policeman cycling along the path? No, alteration is needed to correct the ambiguity. Note however that if the correction was While he was then the policeman would have appeared suddenly on his bicycle rather than by any unstated means. The movement of suddenly here is for impact but is risky as it splits the infinitive and technically this is wrong! However, the stress here is on the policeman who was acting with suddenness as much as any sudden appearance in front of me (although, in fact, the demand of not splitting the infinitive means it is me to whom the suddenness comes). It is, incidentally, me and not I because I am the passive partner and the policeman does it to me (thus to break a rule of English for effect). See 19 and 39.

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33. These kinds of difficulties are always returning.
  Kinds must match difficulties; however, if there is only one difficulty, even if of many things, then the sentence must be: This kind of difficulty is always returning.

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34. He found the car very different from the claims made in the brochure.
  Things are similar to, because similarity is towards something, but difference comes away from something. The direction is indicated by different from.

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35. Neither of the cars was fitted out in the way the salesperson had said.
  Neither means none and none like one needs a singular verb form, and the stress is on the neither so was is required, not were.

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36. There were fewer accidents and fewer casualties than had been expected.
  Accidents and casualties are both in the plural and both need fewer. Whilst it might initially seem possible to leave one of the fewers out one the basis that one fewer can stand in for both (contrast with 4 and 22), care is needed because fewer accidents may not stand in for fewer casualties given that not all accidents result in casualties. So when the relationship is not lock-tight, use the qualifier for each noun.

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37. If I were you I would not go to the casino.
  Seeing as you would go into the casino, it is you were, and therefore If I were you is required and not If I was you.

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38. Our win had not only increased beyond our expecatations but also beyond our hopes.
  Once again, as in 4 and 22, there is a bad ellipsis in the wrong sentence. In this case beyond is needed twice because expectations and hopes are different.

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39. When I/ he/ she/ you/ they was/ were getting into the car, the driver was already pressing the accelerator pedal.
  The reason that the personal pronoun getting into the car must be given is because there has to be separation between this person and the one driving the car, otherwise there is too much ambiguity that the driver gets into the car by pressing on the accelerator pedal. See 32.

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40. The driver did not gain anything by racing between the red traffic lights.
  This is another double negative, as with 14 and 15. If the driver did not gain nothing he or she would have gained something. The red traffic lights stopping him affirm the need for the word anything instead, that he did not gain anything. An alternative is to say that the driver gained nothing (a positive bumping into the negative) as a way of stressing the negative.




See (for comparison and ongoing explanation)

Stanton, N. (1986), The Business of Communicating: Improving Your Communication Skills, second edition, London: Pan, 361-421.

Adrian Worsfold