ACADEMIC WRITING I
May 29th 2012
It was a very hot day many students were in the classroom.
I was very hungry, I ate some steak.
Today
• Common sentence problems
Common Sentence Problems
Here are the most common sentence problems seen in
academic writing:
- Sentence fragments
- Subject-verb agreement
- Run-on sentences
- Comma splices
- Stringy sentences
- Dangling modifiers
Sentence fragments
• These are incomplete sentences or parts of sentences.
Remember: a complete sentence must contains at least
one independent clause (a complete thought).
Sentence fragments
Problem:
Because some students work part-time while taking a full load of
classes.
= dependent clause (begins with a subordinator, because.
There is no independent clause.
Correct: 1. Add an independent clause
Because some students work part-time while taking a full load of
classes, they have very little free time.
OR 2. Delete the subordinator
Some students work part-time while taking a full load of classes.
Remember
Subordinators (when, because, after, although, before)
connect dependent clauses with independent clauses.
I was still studying when the sun rose.
Suzy watched TV after she washed the dishes.
Remember
Coordinators (coordinating conjunctions) connect two
independent clauses together.
For
And
Nor
But
Or
Yet
So
Japanese people live longer than most other nationalities, for they eat
healthful diets
They eat a lot of fish, and they eat lightly.
Sentence fragments
Problem:
Teachers who give too much homework.
= This is an independent clause that never got finished.
Correct: Finish the independent clause
Teachers who give too much homework are unpopular.
Subject-verb agreement
The use of a singular or plural verb in a sentence depends
on the subject.
The students was late for class.
Problem: The subject, “students” is plural, while the verb
“was” is singular.
Correct: The students were late for class.
Run-On sentences
• A sentence in which two or more independent clauses are
written on after another with no punctuation.
Problem:
My family went to Australia then they moved to Canada.
Correct:
1. Add a period:
- My family went to Australia. Then they moved to Canada.
2. Add a semicolon:
- My family went to Australia; then they moved to Canada.
Run-On sentences
• A sentence in which two or more independent clauses are written
on after another with no punctuation.
Problem:
My family went to Australia then they moved to Canada.
Correct:
3. Add a coordinator:
- My family went to Australia, and then they moved to Canada.
4. Add a subordinator
- My family went to Australia before they moved to Canada.
Run-On sentences
Problem:
The group drove to the beach it was a beautiful day.
Correct:
The group drove to the beach. It was a beautiful day.
The group drove to the beach; it was a beautiful day.
The family drove to the beach, and it was a beautiful day.
Comma splices
• This is another common error that creates run-on
sentences.
• A comma splice happens when two independent clauses
are incorrectly joined by a comma WITHOUT a
coordinator.
• Example:
My family went to Australia, then they moved to Canada.
The baby is in his crib, he is sleeping.
Comma splices
• Fix the same as regular run-on sentences.
Correct:
1. Add a period:
- My family went to Australia. Then they moved to Canada.
2. Add a semicolon:
- My family went to Australia; then they moved to Canada.
3. Add a coordinator:
- My family went to Australia, and then they moved to
Canada.
4. Add a subordinator
- My family went to Australia before they moved to Canada.
A newly arrived international student faces several challenges; for
example, he or she has to cope with a new culture.
New York City is very cosmopolitan, for people from many cultures
and ethnic groups live there.
Learning a new language is like learning to swim it takes a lot of
practice.
Ask for assistance at the reference desk in the library, a librarian is
always on duty.
Skiing is a dangerous sport you can easily break your leg or your
neck.
Learning a new language is like learning to swim, for it takes a
lot of practice.
Ask for assistance at the reference desk in the library; a
librarian is always on duty.
Skiing is a dangerous sport because you can easily break your
leg or your neck.
Stringy sentences
A stringy sentence is a sentence with too many clauses,,
usually connected with and, but, so, and sometimes
because.
- This is sometimes called “writing the way you speak”.
- A stringy sentence goes on like a string without an end.
Stringy sentences
Example:
Many students attend classes all morning, and then they
work all afternoon, and they also have to study at night, so
they are usually exhausted by the weekend.
- To correct a stringy sentence, divide it and/or recombine
the clauses.
Stringy sentences
Many students attend classes all morning, and then they
work all afternoon, and they also have to study at night, so
they are usually exhausted by the weekend.
Many students attend classes all morning and work all
afternoon. Since they also have to study at night, they are
usually exhausted by the weekend.
Because many students attend classes all morning, work
all afternoon, and study at night, they are usually
exhausted by the weekend.
He enrolled in the intermediate calculus class, but he found it
too easy. As a result, he dropped it, and he signed up for the
advanced class.
Last-born children, on the other hand, often have little
responsibility, and they may be pampered as the “baby” of
the family. However, they are the smallest, and they have to
get people to like them, so…
The lack of rainfall has caused a severe water shortage, so
people have to conserve water every day. They also have to
think of new ways to…
Dangling modifiers
This is a word or phrase modifies a word not clearly stated
in the sentence.
Walking on the beach, the water touched my feet.
- In this sentence, the modifier “Walking on the beach”
appears to modify the water.
 While I was walking on the beach, the water touched my
feet.
Dangling modifiers
Strategies to revise dangling modifiers:
1. Name the appropriate or logical doer of the action as the
subject of the main clause.
Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was
needed.
Who arrived late? This sentence says that the written excuse
arrived late. To revise, decide who actually arrived late. The
possible revision might look like this:
Having arrived late for practice, the team captain needed a
written excuse.
Dangling modifiers
Strategies to revise dangling modifiers:
2. Change the phrase that dangles into a complete introductory
clause by naming the doer of the action in that clause:
Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
Who didn't know his name? This sentence says that "it" didn't
know his name. To revise, decide who was trying to introduce
him. The revision might look something like this:
Because Maria did not know his name, it was difficult to
introduce him.
Dangling modifiers
Strategies to revise dangling modifiers:
3. Combine the phrase and main clause into one:
To improve his results, the experiment was done again.
Who wanted to improve results? This sentence says that
the experiment was trying to improve its own results. To
revise, combine the phrase and the main clause into one
sentence. The revision might look something like this:
He improved his results by doing the experiment again.
Practice