Sentences are groups of words arranged to express a complete thought.
A sentence becomes faulty when the idea expressed is incomplete or when it doesn’t make sense. Example:
My research report in business communication took a long time to prepare. And then turned out badly. (Incomplete idea in the second sentence.)
Prices ranging from $40 to $160 for courses gift certificates are available. (Doesn’t make sense. Is it the price of courses?)
Typical sentence faults are:
Sentence Fragments are groups of words that do not make sense because: The words are not arranged in proper grammatical order
Either the subject or the predicate is missing
We are looking for a potential manager. An individual who can accept responsibility and supervise others.
The first sentence is correct because it makes complete sense. It has a subject (we)
a predicate (looking)
an object (potential manager)
But the second part is a fragment. Why?
When left as 2 sentences, the second sentence has a subject (an individual), but there is no verb to show the action that is done by the subject/individual or done on the subject/individual. The words “who can accept responsibility and supervise other employees’ are just complements of the subject, ‘individual’ (they give more details/information about the subject/individual). It lacks the object or the predicate part of the sentence. Therefore this group of words cannot stand alone as a sentence. How can we correct this?
By merging sentences and removing the redundant words.
We are looking for a potential manager, who can accept responsibility and supervise other employees.
Why is it correct now?When the sentences are merged, the 2nd part (An individual who can accept responsibility and supervise others) becomes the complement or the section that tells more about the object of the first sentence (a potential manager) instead of standing separately a sentence fragment (a broken piece of sentence).These the words ‘an individual’ is removed because they are redundant when the sentence has the noun ‘potential manager’ and the relative pronoun ‘who’ which refers to the manager.
A run-on sentence joins two or more complete thoughts without punctuation. This can be corrected by punctuating the sentence correctly or by correctly combining the thoughts/ideas in the sentence using appropriate conjunctions.
Example: Send an email message to all committee members tell them that our next meeting is planned for Friday.
Send an email message to all committee members. Tell them that our next meeting is planned for Friday. Send an email message to all committee members and tell them that our next meeting is planned for Friday.
Comma splice happens when two sentences are incorrectly joined or spliced together with a comma. Commas are used to separate three or more elements of equal value in a series. A comma cannot be used to combine 2 sentences together.
Comma splice Example 1: You must fill one more purchase order, then your work is finished.
Correction: You must fill one more purchase order. Then your work is finished.
Comma splice Example 2: Many applicants responded to our advertisement, however only one had the proper training.
Correction: Many applicants responded to our advertisement; however, only one had the proper training. [In this sentence a subordinate clause is connected to the main clause using the conjunction ‘however’ therefore it needs a semi colon before it and a comma after it.
Writing Efficient Sentences
Sentences are efficient when they convey a thought:
Revising wordy phrases
To convey an idea/thought using fewest possible words:
Avoid wordy phrases and substitute them with single precise words Example: We will be meeting the director in connection with the new project.
Correction: We will be meeting the director regarding the new project.
Eliminating Redundant Words
Eliminate redundant (needlessly repetitive) words or phrases to make sentences efficient.
Example: The example shown in Figure 2 illustrates letter styles.
The redundant words are:
‘example’ means a sample that illustrates a general rule ‘illustrate’ means to explain or make clear by using examples
‘shows’ also means illustrates or points out
Improved sentence: Figure 2 illustrates letter styles. / Figure gives an example of letter styles. / Figure 2 shows letter styles.
Writing Unified Sentences
A sentence is unified if the ideas expressed in it are unified
Example: Retailers must have a system of inventory control, and they must keep updated on reorders [wrong sentence]
What is wrong with this sentence?
Lacks unity of information
The first (Retailers must have a system of inventory control) and second part of the sentence (and they must keep updated on reorders ) are 2 independent clauses. They contain information that is not flowing logically. Therefore, they do not support each other.
Logically the sentence should begin with the primary information/main action - Retailers must keep updated on reorders. After that tell the secondary information or what is to be done later in order to complete the action successfully, which is Retailers must have a system of inventory control. The sentence should read as: Retails must keep updated on reorders; therefore, they must have a system of inventory control.
Sentences lack unity if they are overloaded with information
Example: A report can be important, but it may not be effective or be read because it is too long and bulky, which will also make it more difficult to distribute, to store and to handle, as well as increasing its overall cost.
What is wrong with this sentence?
It is a long compound-complex sentence with too much of details and wrong grammatical parallelism
Analyze the sentence
A report can be important,
But it may not be effective or be read because
It is too long and bulky,
Which will also make it more difficult
And to handle
As well as increasing its overall cost.
An important report may be ineffective or may not be read because it is too long. Its bulk may make it difficult to read, distribute, store, handle and increase its overall cost.
Parallel construction helps to give clarity to sentences and make them effective
Parallelism is achieved in a sentence by using similar grammatical structure to express similar ideas. In a list of words there must be uniformity
Example: The machine printed, sorted, and stapled the copies. (All verbs in the same tense form) Or: prints, sorts, and staples / printing, sorting, and stapling NOT: Prints, sorts and stapled
In phrases contained in one sentence there must be uniformity Example: Safety must be improved in the house, in the classroom, and in the office. Not : Safety must be improved in the house, in the classroom, and for the workers. Misplaced Modifiers affect sentence clarity and hence its effectiveness
Modifier must be placed close to the item that it is modifying. Example: We provide a map for all visitors reduced to a one-inch scale. (faulty sentence) Modifier- reduced to a one-inch scale- is related to ‘map’ not to ‘visitors’, so it must be positioned close to the noun it modifies. We provide a map reduced to a one-inch scale, for all visitors. (correct sentence)
Pronouns without clear antecedents spoil the clarity of the sentence and destroy its effectiveness
Problems are caused mainly by the pronouns this, that, which, and it when they have an entire clause as their antecedent.
Example: Installation of computerized billing system has improved our cash flow and reduced our accounts receivable. This helps our entire operation run more efficiently and profitably. (Confusing sentence)
The pronoun ‘This’ in the second sentence doesn’t clearly help to show what is it standing for (antecedent). Is it indicating- 1. Computerized billing system, 2. Cash flow or 3, accounts because all those factors can contribute towards efficient and profitable operation.
There are many clauses in the sentence.
This is not only pushing the antecedent far from the noun but also causing confusion as there are many nouns. Correction
Substitute the pronoun with the noun itself to make it clear. Correct sentence: Installation of computerized billing system has improved our cash flow and reduced our accounts receivable. The computerized billing system / This new system helps our entire operation run more efficiently and profitably
Writing Emphatic and Coherent Sentences
Emphasis through Subordination
Keep principal information in the independent clause and secondary (less important) ideas in the subordinate clause. Link then together using suitable subordinate conjunction or relative pronoun to achieve appropriate emphasis. Subordinate conjunctions –if, because, since, when
Relative pronouns –who, which, that
Principal idea: Your account is now three months overdue.
Secondary idea: You have been a good customer in the past.
Sentence: Although you have been a good customer in the past, your account is now three months overdue.
Compucorp recently entered the microcomputer market. (Main clause) Compucorp is a division of Intel. (Sub clause)
Compucorp which is a division of Intel has recently entered the microcomputer market.
Emphasis through the Use of Concrete Words
Concrete words are specific
Concrete- Turn the lever 60 degrees to the right.
Abstract -Turn the lever to the right
Concrete-Your shipment will arrive on October 1.
Abstract - Your shipment will arrive soon.
Concrete words bring to mind sharp images
Example: This model comes only in a light blue color.( concrete) This model comes only in a sky blue color (abstract)
Concrete words arouse strong feelings.
Example: I value his integrity above all his other qualities. (Concrete) I value his integrity very much. (Abstract)
Coherence through the Use of Transitional Words or Phrases
Transitional expressions are words and phrases that connect an idea to the following ones and help to achieve coherence among the sentences in a paragraph. Examples of transitional expressions:
therefore in this way in addition,
for example however moreover
for this reason on the other hand finally
in the end there after
Example: A bank endorsement enables anyone in possession of a cheque to cash it. A special endorsement, on the other hand, enables only specific person to negotiate the cheque.
Here the transitional expression ‘on the other hand’ links 2 information and facilitates smooth logical flow of information.
They also serve as signals to the reader that ideas are being contrasted. (Contrasting general endorsement and special endorsement)
They also serve as signals to the reader that ideas are being amplified. Example: When the federal government purchases goods on a cost –plus contract, it requires detailed accounting reports. In this way, it can monitor the production operation and costs.
In this way –introduces the details (amplifies) as to why ‘detailed accounting reports are necessary’ for federal government purchases.
Sentence Types and Punctuations
Statements-make assertions and ends with a period / full stop. Example: The mails are sorted at the registry.
Questions –direct questions end with a question mark.
Example: How many emails do you receive in a day?
Indirect question is embedded in a statement so do not put a question mark for it. Instead end with a period like a statement. Example: I cannot remember when was the last time I went for a movie.
Commands – The subject is normally left out. It ends with a period /full stop. Occasionally ends with an exclamation mark Example: Shut the door.Be punctual. Stop it!
Exclamations – Shows surprise, disbelief or strong feeling. May or may not be expressed as complete thought. Example: Oh! What a tiresome day.
Get out! (Both subject and predicate may be implied.)
Gosh! I almost missed the bus.
What a remarkable student she is!