Sentence Clarity

A workshop brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡

Sentence Crimes Sentence Fragment Comma Splice Run-on/Fused Sentences Dangling Modifier

Sentence Clarity
Why do we need to be concerned with sentence clarity?
j

j j

To communicate effectively to the reader To make writing persuasive To show credibility and authority as a writer
Purdue University Writing Lab

Common clarity problems Sentence Fragments y Purdue University Writing Lab .

Sentence Fragments ‹ When the sentence does not contain an independent clause or is not a complete sentence Purdue University Writing Lab .

And bought her soup. bread and milk. bread and milk.Sentence Fragments ‹ He shopped for his sick friend. Purdue University Writing Lab ‹ He . shopped for his sick friend and bought her soup.

They talk for an hour. they talk for an hour about the class assignment. Purdue University Writing Lab ‹ Whenever . About the class assignment. he calls.Sentence Fragments ‹ Whenever he calls.

Common clarity problems Comma splice y Purdue University Writing Lab .

Purdue University Writing Lab .Comma Splice ‹ When a comma is used to connect two independent clauses.

so I will stay at home. I will stay at home ‹ The Purdue University Writing Lab . I will stay at home. ‹ The weather report says it will rain today. ‹ The weather report says it will rain today. I will stay at home. weather report says it will rain today. therefore.Comma Splice ‹ The weather report says it will rain today.

‹ The weather report says it will rain today. I will stay at home Purdue University Writing Lab . I will stay at home.Comma Splice ‹ The weather report says it will rain today.

Common clarity problems Run-on or Fused Sentence y Purdue University Writing Lab .

Run-on or Fused Sentence ‹ When two independent clauses are put together without a Š comma + FANBOYS Š semicolon Purdue University Writing Lab .

Run-on or Fused Sentence ‹ The weather report says it will rain today I will stay at home. I will stay at home Purdue University Writing Lab . ‹ The weather report says it will rain today.

Common clarity problems Misplaced modifiers Dangling modifiers y y Purdue University Writing Lab .

Misplaced Modifiers ‹a word or phrase that causes confusion because it is located within a sentence so far away from the word(s) to which it refers Purdue University Writing Lab .

Misplaced Modifiers ‹ Consider the different meanings in the following sentences: The dog under the tree bit Carrie. The dog bit Carrie under the tree. Purdue University Writing L ab . vs.

Groucho Marx Purdue University Writing Lab . How he got in my pajamas I'll never know.Misplaced Modifiers ‹ Sometimes misplaced modifiers are used for comic effect: The other day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. -.

Purdue University Writing Lab . Jennifer called her adorable kitten and filled the food bowl. Better: Opening the can of tuna.How might you correct the following sentence? Jennifer called her adorable kitten opening the can of tuna and filled the food bowl.

Purdue University Writing Lab . loaded with cash. Better: Portia.How might you correct the following sentence? Portia rushed to the store loaded with cash to buy the birthday gift. rushed to the store to buy the birthday gift.

Misplaced Modifiers ‹ Some one-word modifiers often cause confusion: just hardly nearly merely simply only almost even Purdue University Writing Lab .

Which sentence indicates that everyone in the class failed the exam? Purdue University Writing Lab .Explain the meaning of each sentence: ‹ Almost everyone in the class passed the calculus exam. ‹ Everyone in the class almost passed the calculus exam.

earned nearly $100. ‹ John Which sentence indicates that John earned some money? Purdue University Writing Lab .Explain the meaning of each sentence: ‹ John nearly earned $100.

Dangling modifiers ‹a word or phrase that modifies another word or phrase that has not been stated clearly within the sentence j often occur at the beginnings and ends of sentences j often indicated by an -ing verb or a to + verb phrase Purdue University Writing Lab .

Dangling modifiers Having finished dinner. Joe turned on the football game. the football game was turned on. Purdue University Writing Lab . Having finished dinner.

j placing the subject of the action within the dangling phrase: After Joe finished dinner. Joe turned on the football game. Purdue University Writing Lab .Dangling modifiers can be repaired by: j placing the subject of the modification phrase as the subject of the independent clause: Having finished dinner. he turned on the football game.

Even better: Because Michael played solitaire on the computer for three hours. Better: Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours. Michael did not did not complete his paper. Purdue University Writing Lab .How might you correct the following sentence? Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours. Michael¶s paper was not completed. he did not complete his paper.

Better: Locked away in the old chest. the antique hats surprised Richard. Even better: The antique hats locked away in the old chest surprised Richard.How might you correct the following sentence? Locked away in the old chest. Richard was surprised by the antique hats. Purdue University Writing Lab .

Purdue University Writing Lab . Better: To work as a loan officer.How might you correct the following sentence? To work as a loan officer. an education in financial planning is required. one is required to have an education in financial planning.

Purdue University Writing Lab .How might you correct the following sentence? Being a process that still needs to be refined. scientists are searching for a more effective plan for chemotherapy treatment. Better: Scientists are searching for a more effective plan for chemotherapy treatment. a process that still needs to be refined.

Best: The electrical surge damaged the computer's disk drive.How might you correct the following sentence? The disk drive of the computer was damaged by the electrical surge. Purdue University Writing Lab . Better: The electrical surge damaged the disk drive of the computer.

Sentence Combining ‹ Why should we know about sentence combining? j To build clarity j To avoid wordiness j To avoid redundancy ‹ Keys to sentence combining: j Create adjectives j Create properly placed modifying clauses j Eliminate unnecessary or repetitive phrases Purdue University Writing Lab .

Purdue University Writing Lab . To ride his bike. The bike is new and it is a light blue color. he was unsuccessful in riding the bike. The boy received the bike for his birthday.Consider the following paragraph: The boy struggled. However. The boy is four years old and he is feisty. He struggled for two hours.

He struggled for two hours. The boy received the bike for his birthday.Sentence Combining ‹ The boy struggled. However. Purdue University Writing Lab . he was unsuccessful in riding the bike. The boy is four years old and he is feisty. The bike is new and it is a light blue color. ‹ The feisty four-year-old boy struggled unsuccessfully for two hours to ride his new light blue birthday bike. To ride his bike.

Purdue University Writing Lab . The trainer swam with the dolphins. The dolphins were babies. She was excited when she dove into the pool. The trainer was skilled and athletic. The dolphins were playful. For over an hour. She was happy.Sentence Combining The animal trainer dove into the pool. When the trainer swam with the dolphins. She swam with two dolphins.

The trainer was skilled and athletic. The dolphins were babies. She was happy. For over an hour. athletic animal trainer excitedly dove into the pool and happily swam for over an hour with two playful baby dolphins. ‡ The skilled. She swam with two dolphins. She was excited when she dove into the pool. The dolphins were playful. The trainer swam with the dolphins. Purdue University Writing Lab .Sentence Combining The animal trainer dove into the pool. When the trainer swam with the dolphins.

the roof of the town library collapsed the roof of the post office did the same. Schools cancelled classes due to the white-out conditions. The blowing snow covered the county roads.Sentence Combining The blizzard brought strong winds and heavy snow. Purdue University Writing Lab . During the snowstorm.

Sentence Combining The blizzard brought strong winds and heavy snow. The blowing snow covered the county roads. ‡ Bringing strong winds and heavy snow. the blizzard caused the roofs of the town library and the post office to collapse. created whiteout conditions on county roads. and forced schools to cancel classes. the roof of the town library collapsed the roof of the post office did the same. Purdue University Writing Lab . Schools cancelled classes due to the white-out conditions. During the snowstorm.

english.edu or Ask your Instructor The End Purdue University Writing Lab Purdue University Writing Lab .Where can you go for additional help with sentence clarity? Purdue University Writing Lab ‹ Check our web site: ‹ http://owl.purdue.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful