Simple Study Guides

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Make the subject and verb agree with each other, not with a word that comes between them.

Examples

  • Incorrect: The Thanksgiving dinner, right down to the beautiful centerpiece, were devoured by the escaped grizzly.

  • Correct: The Thanksgiving dinner, right down to the beautiful centerpiece, was devoured by the escaped grizzly.

  • Incorrect: The cart, as well as its contents, were gone.

  • Correct: The cart, as well as its contents, was gone.

  • Incorrect: The girl, along with her classmates, like the new teacher.

  • Correct: The girl, along with her classmates, likes the new teacher.

    References

    More information about this rule is available from the following sources.

    Printed Resources: (see Books on Writing section)
  • Strunk and White: 1-9
  • Hacker: G1, especially a

Be sure that a pronoun, a participial phrase, or an appositive refers clearly to the proper subject.

Examples

  • Incorrect: Its hump decorated in strings of flowers, the programmer rode the camel through the food court.

  • Correct: The programmer rode the camel, its hump decorated in strings of flowers, through the food court.

  • Incorrect: Filled with bad gas, he drove his car to Tucson despite the knocking.

  • Correct: Although it was filled with bad gas, he drove his car to Tucson despite the knocking.


    References

    More information about this rule is available from the following sources.

    Online Resources:
  • The Elements of Style: rule 7

Printed Resources: (see Books on Writing section)

  • Strunk and White: 1-11
  • Hacker: G3-b and E3-b

Use the active voice unless you specifically need to use the passive voice.

Examples

  • Incorrect: A refund was given to him by the hair regeneration company.

  • Correct: The hair regeneration company gave him a refund.

  • Incorrect: A good score was achieved by the team.

  • Correct: The team achieved a good score.

  • Incorrect: A box of chocolates and a dozen roses were presented to the girl by her boyfriend.

  • Correct: The boyfriend presented a box of chocolates and a dozen roses to the girl.

    References

    More information about this rule is available from the following sources.

    Online Resources:
  • The Elements of Style: rule 11

Printed Resources: (see Books on Writing section)

  • Hacker: G2-h

Use parallel construction to make a strong point and create a smooth flow.

Examples

  • Incorrect: I was glad to be departing for Australia but I was nervous when I left my apartment.

  • Correct: I was glad to be departing for Australia but nervous to be leaving my apartment.

  • Incorrect: The system excels at tasks such as communicating with other computers, processing records, and mathematical calculations.

  • Correct: The system excels at tasks such as communicating with other computers, processing records, and calculating mathematical equations.


    References

    More information about this rule is available from the following sources.

    Online Resources:
  • The Elements of Style: rule 15

Printed Resources: (see Books on Writing section)

  • Strunk and White: 2-19
  • Hacker: E1-a,b

Omit unnecessary words.

Examples

  • Incorrect: I would like to assert that the author should be considered to be a buffoon.

  • Correct: The author is a buffoon.

  • Incorrect: It would be safe to say that Gregor Samsa is not the only character in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis to undergo drastic changes.

  • Correct: Gregor Samsa is not the only character in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis to undergo drastic change.

  • Incorrect: Before going to the supermarket, we made a list of the groceries we needed in order to make the food that we intended to eat for dinner.

  • Correct: Before going to the supermarket, we made a list of groceries that we needed to prepare dinner.

    References

    More information about this rule is available from the following sources.

    Online Resources:
  • The Elements of Style: rule 13

Printed Resources: (see Books on Writing section)

  • Strunk and White: 2-17