Eliminating shifts and mixed constructions

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Eliminating shifts and mixed constructions

  1. 1. Eliminating Shifts and Mixed Constructions Keeping your passengers comfortable
  2. 2. Keeping your writing on the road…• Good writers avoid anything that makes the audience stop reading (or go back and re-read) – Shifts in person and number – Shifts in tense – Shifts in mood – Shifts in voice and subject – Shifts between direct and indirect quotes – Mixed constructions – Illogical constructions – Faulty predication (ooh—that sounds horrible!)
  3. 3. Shifts in Person and Number• Person-occurs when pronouns are used Person in sentences about groups or unidentified people. (pronoun antecedent agreement) – When the researchers mixed the two chemicals, you saw a surprising reaction. – When the researchers mixed the two chemicals, they saw a surprising reaction.
  4. 4. Shifts in Person and Number• Person-Some writers shift from the Person third person (he, she, it, one, they) to the second person. – With the cost of prescription drugs spiraling upward, you can see that regulation of the drug companies is inevitable. – With the cost of prescription drugs spiraling upward, one can see that regulation of the drug companies is inevitable.
  5. 5. Shifts in Person and Number• Number shifts occur often when trying to avoid gender issues or when using indefinite pronouns. – Every employee sets their own pace. – Every employee sets his or her own pace. – Each has their duty. – Each has his or her duty. • Each has a duty.
  6. 6. Shifts in Tense• Tense places the action of the verb in time.• Maintain an overall sense of tense () – When the letter arrived, it says nothing about the contract.• When discussing literature or art, use the present tense. – In The Glass Menagerie, Tom realizes how trapped he is after the Gentleman Caller departs.
  7. 7. Shifts in Mood• When writing commands (imperative mood) and using the “you” understood subject—don’t shift back to indicative. (just read the following sentence) – First, cover your work surface with paper, and then you make sure your materials are within reach. – First, cover your work surface with paper, and then make sure your materials are within reach. • Second IC is also “you” understood
  8. 8. Shifts in Voice and Subject• Voice is either active or passive. – If the subject does it, it’s active. – If the subject is acted upon, it’s passive.• If a sentence has 2 verbs that share the same subject, it’s okay to shift voice (I know, we’re supposed to avoid it…) – The students completed the project first and were awarded the prize. • Completed is active, were awarded is passive— but since the one subject is students, it works.
  9. 9. Shifts in Voice and Subject• Avoid shifting from active to passive (or vice versa) if it requires a subject change. – As we peered out of the tent, the waning moon was seen through the trees. • Peered is active-subject we • Was seen is passive—subject the moon • This is also a dangling modifier. (re-write sentence) – As we peered out of the tent, we saw the waning moon through the trees.
  10. 10. Shifts between Direct and Indirect Quotes• Careful use of quotation marks clarifies statements for the reader. – Direct quote—it came out of someone’s mouth just that way – He insisted that he loved his wife and cried, “Why did she leave me?”
  11. 11. Shifts between Direct and Indirect Quotes• Indirect quote—repeating something that was said. – He insisted that he loved his wife and wondered why she had to leave him.him
  12. 12. Shifts between Direct and Indirect Quotes• Consider the following: – Dr. Ryan claims that the play was composed before 1600 and that it was written by the hand of Shakespeare. – Dr. Ryan claims that the play was composed before 1600 and that it “shows the clear hand of Shakespeare.” – Dr. Ryan claims that the play was composed before 1600. He says, “It shows the clear hand of Shakespeare.”
  13. 13. Mixed Constructions Revise for Clarity• A sentence that begins one way and then takes a turn in another way is a mixed construction: – By listening closely and paying attention to nonverbal signals helps a doctor make a better diagnosis. • By listening closely is a prep phrase-can’t be a subject • Revised: Listening closely and paying attention to nonverbal signals helps a doctor make a better diagnosis.
  14. 14. Mixed Constructions Revise for Clarity• Clauses and other phrases are often misused as a subject. – Because the doctor is an expert does not mean a patient shouldn’t get a second opinion. • Because the doctor is an expert is a subordinate clause—can’t be the subject • Revised: The doctor’s status as an expert does not mean a patient shouldn’t get a second opinion.
  15. 15. Mixed Constructions Revise for Clarity• Mixed constructions can happen with verbs, too. Main verbs of the sentence can’t be in verbal phrases or subordinate clauses. – The fact that most patients are afraid to ask questions which gives doctors complete control. • The verb give is in the sub-clause although it’s the main verb in the sentence. • Revised: The fact that most patients are afraid to ask questions gives doctors complete control.
  16. 16. Illogical Constructions Revise for Clarity• Things that make your reader say, “Hmmm, I wonder what that is supposed to mean.” – The opinion of most people believe that dogs are better pets than cats. • Revised: Most people believe that dogs are better pets than cats. – Repeat offenders whose licenses have already been suspended for drunk driving will be revoked. • Revised: Repeat offenders whose licenses have already been suspended for drunk driving will have their licenses revoked. – CAREFUL PROOFREADING SHOULD CATCH THESE!
  17. 17. Faulty Predication• Don’t use a clause beginning with when, where or because after a linking verb. – Pop art is where an artist reproduces images from commercial products. • Revised: Pop art is based on images from commercial products. – Sudden death overtime is when the game is extended until one team scores. • Revised: In sudden-death overtime, the game is extended until one team scores.
  18. 18. Faulty Predication• This is a tricky one: “The reason … is” often becomes faulty because writers don’t make both parts of the sentence match up. (can’t use “reason is because”) – The reason little has been done to solve the problem is because Congress is deadlocked. • Revised: Little has been done to solve the problem because Congress is deadlocked. » OR • The reason little has been done to solve the problem is that Congress is deadlocked.

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