Sentence Coherence

Topics: Syntactic entities, Sentence, Dangling modifier Pages: 5 (1274 words) Published: July 13, 2013
Sentence Coherence
Coherence means the quality of sticking together. a sentence has coherence when the sentence elements are so arranged as to show their relationship. Clarity in the sentence depends largely on proper word order

A. Achieving coherence through proper placement of modifiers

A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that describes, strengthens, or clarifies another word (or group of words) in a sentence. When a modifier is placed in its proper position in a sentence, a sense of clarity is established for the reader. Example: Confusion: He barely kicked that ball twenty yards. Repair Work: He kicked that ball barely twenty yards.

The issue of the proper placement of "only" has long been argued among grammarians. Many careful writers will insist that "only" be placed immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. Thus "I only gave him three dollars" would be rewritten as "I gave him only three dollars." Some grammarians, however, have argued that such precision is not really necessary, that there is no danger of misreading "I only gave him three dollars" and that "only" can safely and naturally be placed between the subject and the verb. The argument has been going on for two hundred years.

Other examples: (boardwork)
1. Mother loves the bungalow which she inherited from her grandfather. (Spanish- style, maternal)

2. The bride walked down the aisle on the arm of her father. (slowly)

A.1. Avoiding Misplaced modifiers

Misplaced modifiers-a word, phrase, or clause that is improperly separated from the word it modifies How to correct a misplaced modifier: Place the modifier close to the word it modifies

Error: I brought the dress from that store that I really wanted. Correction: I brought the dress that I really wanted from that store.

A.2. Avoiding Squinting Modifiers

Squinting Modifiers -a phrase or clause that seems to modify two words at a time Example: Students who miss classes frequently fail the course. We can't tell which part of the sentence the word frequently is supposed to modify. Look at these two possible meanings: Students who miss class frequently

frequently fail the course.
Correct a squinting modifier error by repositioning the modifier to place it next to the word it modifies. Example 2: Cycling up hills quickly strengthens your quadriceps. (In this example, the word "quickly" is a squinting modifier. It is not clear whether "quickly" pertains to "Cycling up hills" or "strengthens".)    

B. Achieving coherence by Avoiding Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers- It is a phrase or clause that is not clearly and logically related to the word or words it modifies How to correct a Dangling Modifier
1. Change the main clause of the sentence so that it begins with the word actually modified

Example 1. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car seemed to run better. Correction: Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Fred found he could get much better gas mileage.

Example 2: To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape, an exercise program was set up for the summer months.

Correction:To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape, the coaching staff set up an exercise program for the summer months.

2. Change the dangling modifier phrase to a subordinate clause, creating a subject and a verb

Example 1: Raised in Nova Scotia, it is natural to miss the smell of the sea. Correction For a person raised in Nova Scotia, it is natural to miss the smell of the sea.

The introductory phrase in the above sentence looks as if it is meant to modify a person or persons, but no one is mentioned in the sentence. Such introductory adjective phrases, because of their position, automatically modify the first noun or pronoun that follows the phrase -- in this case, "it." The connection in this case is illogical because "it" was not raised in Nova Scotia. You could revise the sentence in a number of ways: In correction: (the phrase...
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