Are you committing these 10 common grammar errors?

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If you want to write in clear, correct English, you must pay attention to the rules of grammar.

To help you with that, Daily Writing Tips collaborated with Grammarly and Write To Done to create a list with 30 common grammar mistakes you should avoid. Here they are:

1. Using whom as a subject

Incorrect: Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, whom, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.

Correct: Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, who, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.

In this sentence, the pronoun is the subject of the verb appeared and therefore requires the subject form who. The object form of who is whom, which functions as the object of a verb or as the object of a preposition:

That is the man whom I saw at the window. (object of the verb saw)

Did he say to whom he sent the letter? (object of the preposition to)

The misuse of whom as a subject frequently occurs when a phrase intervenes between the pronoun and its subject. Be especially careful with such expressions as “according to so-and-so,” “in my opinion,” “one suspects,” etc.

Less frequently, but more embarrassingly, whom is sometimes substituted for who when little or nothing stands between it and its verb, as in this sentence taken from a news account: “An off-duty fireman whom lives in the area provided immediate assistance.”

2. Unnecessary would in a wish about the past

Incorrect: Ten Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Was 20

Correct: Ten Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was 20

The opportunity for knowing the 10 things existed in the past, but exists no longer. The tense required, therefore, is the past perfect (had + past participle).

3. Dangling modifier

Incorrect: At age 4, Sam’s family moved from Florida, Missouri, to Hannibal.

Correct: At age 4, Sam moved with his family from Florida, Missouri, to Hannibal.

Modifiers should be positioned as closely as possible to the element they modify. The modifying phrase “At age 4” modifies “Sam,” not “Sam’s family.”

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4. Subject-verb disagreement with delayed subject

Incorrect: There goes Sally and Greg on their way to the movies.

Correct: There go Sally and Greg on their way to the movies.

Subjects and verbs must agree in number. When a sentence begins with here or there, the true subject of the sentence follows the verb. “Sally and Greg” is a plural subject, so the verb go must also be plural: “Sally and Greg go.”

5. Incorrect use of object pronouns

Incorrect: Me and my brothers all have college degrees in business.

Correct: My brothers and I all have college degrees in business.

Several English pronouns retain different forms that indicate their function in a sentence. Me is an object form. In the example, it is incorrectly used as the subject of the verb have. Other object forms often used incorrectly are him, her, us, them and whom.

6. Incorrect use of subject pronouns

Incorrect: The owner was most kind to my wife and I as we toured the grounds.

Correct: The owner was most kind to my wife and me as we toured the grounds.

I is a subject pronoun form. It is correctly used as the subject of a verb. Its object form is me, which is used as the object of a verb or, as in this example, the object of a preposition (to). Not all English pronouns retain an object form. The pronouns that do have subject and object forms are he/him, she/her, we/us, they/them, and who/whom.

7. Inappropriate use of reflexive pronoun forms

Incorrect: Jack and myself built the company from scratch.

Correct: Jack and I built the company from scratch.

A pronoun that ends in -self or -selves is called a reflexive pronoun. This type of pronoun refers to a noun or personal pronoun that occurs elsewhere in the sentence. For example, “He cut himself shaving.” In this example, himself refers to the same person as the one meant by He. A typical error is to use a reflexive pronoun in place of a personal pronoun:

Incorrect: Thank you for everything you did for myself and my family.

Correct: Thank you for everything you did for me and my family.

Note: A more polite construction is to put me last in the phrase: Thank you for everything you did for my family and me.

8. Incorrect use of did instead of had in certain “if clauses”

One use of the conjunction if is to introduce a clause that states an action that would have changed an outcome. For example, “If I hadn’t missed the train, I would be in London now.” A common error is to use did instead of had, as in this headline:

Incorrect: [Celebrity] thinks he would be dead now if he didn’t give up alcohol and drugs

Correct: [Celebrity] thinks he would be dead now if he hadn’t given up alcohol and drugs

The person mentioned in the headline actually said (correctly), “I honestly don’t think I’d be alive if I hadn’t stopped drinking.” The tense required is the past perfect (had + past participle).

9. Incorrect irregular verb forms

Most English verbs form the past and past participle by adding -ed to the base form. For example:

  • Walk, walked, (has) walked
  • Believe, believed, (has) believed
  • Jump, jumped, (has) jumped

However, a few high-frequency verbs have irregular past forms, for example:

  • Run, ran, (has) run
  • Go, went, (has) gone
  • Come, came, (has) come

Errors with irregular verb forms are becoming common in the news media and in articles written by university graduates. Such errors are perhaps evidence that elementary school teachers no longer drill their students on the irregular verb forms. Here are typical errors:

Incorrect: Mary loves to read, has ran for office and has an articulate way of telling it like it is. —Biographical note, KZNU.

Correct: Mary loves to read, has run for office and has an articulate way of telling it like it is.

Incorrect: Deluna-Martinez is alleged to have went into one student’s account and dropped that student’s classes. —News item, KRCR

Correct: Deluna-Martinez is alleged to have gone into one student’s account and dropped that student’s classes.

Incorrect: Deep Impact could have just so happened to hit one of these cometesimals, while the gas seen before impact might have came from a different region on the comet with different chemistry. —Scientific article, NASA site.

Correct: Deep Impact could have just so happened to hit one of these cometesimals, while the gas seen before impact might have come from a different region on the comet with different chemistry.

Note: A cometesimal is a “mini-comet.”

10. Omitting that when it is needed after say

When there is no intervening conjunction, that may be omitted after the verb say:

The witness said she overheard the defendant threaten to burn the man’s house down.

However, if a conjunction such as after, although, because, before, in addition to, until, or while intervenes between the verb say and its object, that is needed to avoid ambiguity:

Incorrect: Santana said after he stopped recording, he watched for a few more minutes but never saw anyone perform CPR.

Correct: Santana said that after he stopped recording, he watched for a few more minutes but never saw anyone perform CPR.

A version of this article originally appeared on Daily Writing Tips.(Image via)

Ragan.com

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In South Carolina, using Facebook from prison is worse than committing a violent crime

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Hundreds of prisoners in South Carolina have been sent to solitary confinement for visiting Facebook, which is considered “on par with murder, rape, rioting, escape and hostage-taking” by a rule introduced in 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says.

Solitary confinement is perhaps the cruelest punishment allowed by the American legal system. (At least for prisoners in the United States — “detainees” in Guantanamo have endured crueler treatment.) And it’s becoming increasingly controversial, too.

Here’s what NPR said in a story about the debate over solitary confinement in 2013:

As prisoners testify about suicidal depression, self-mutilation, lethargy, hallucinations and other ills, more attention is being paid to inmates who have lived through the extreme, often uncertain isolation.

A prisoner in Texas offered a similar anecdote to the American Civil Liberties Union, which noted in its blog post that the description comes from a prison in Texas instead of “from some dystopian dictatorship,” for an ACLU report published on February 9:

Every day from dusk to dawn there’s noise, banging, clanking, yelling, screaming. Everyday someone is getting hurt or hurting themselves. Everyday there’s fire and floods and complete chaos & hate…Every day is a challenge here. A challenge against insanity.

This is the hell to which hundreds of prisoners in South Carolina have been sent for using Facebook. And because the rule about accessing social networks is so strict, an inmate who visits Facebook can end up with an unimaginable sentence, as EFF notes:

The sentences are so long because SCDC issues a separate Level 1 violation for each day that an inmate accesses a social network. An inmate who posts five status updates over five days, would receive five separate Level 1 violations, while an inmate who posted 100 updates in one day would receive only one.

In other words, if a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks.

Facebook doesn’t come out of the EFF’s report looking great, either. The company is known to take down inmates’ accounts at a warden’s request, often without requiring them to prove the account was abused. As Slate notes in its report on the censorship:

[Facebook] claims it doesn’t suspend prisoners’ Facebook pages for violating prison regulations, but rather for violating Facebook’s Terms of Service by giving their password to somebody else. But the EFF uncovered at least one instance in which Facebook suspended a prisoner’s account explicitly ‘for not following inmate regulations.’

The result: A system through which prisoners can be subjected to the cruelest treatment allowed on American soil while their holders are able to censor them by appealing to a company which doesn’t appear to care about inmates’ freedoms.

Still think Mark Zuckerberg isn’t full of it?

[illustration by Hallie Bateman]

PandoDaily

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