By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Apply knowledge of linguistic structures, including grammar and punctuation.
- Recognize and correct errors in mixed sentence construction.
Mixed Sentence 1: Learning to ballroom dance it has shown increased agility, and you live longer.
First Problem: The reader expects a verb to follow “learning to ballroom dance” so that learning will mean something. But the word it interrupts before the verb appears. It collides with the first part of the sentence rather than completing it, and the sentence ends up making little sense.
Second Problem: The second part of the sentence, “and you live longer,” is confusing because it introduces you instead of continuing the idea of learning to ballroom dance.
To eliminate confusion, you would have to rewrite either the first or the second part of the sentence.
Revised: Studies have shown that learning to ballroom dance increases agility and lengthens life span.
In fact, because it is the dancing itself and not the learning that has these effects, the sentence could be edited further.
Further Revision: Ballroom dancing has been shown to increase agility and lengthen life.
In the following examples, the writer needs to revise either the second part to fit with the first part or the first part to fit with the second.
Mixed Sentence 2: By starting my general studies classes last semester gave me the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.
Second Part Revised: By starting my general studies classes last spring, I had the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.
First Part Revised: Starting my general studies classes last spring gave me the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.
Read the following mixed-construction sentences, and note the ways they have been corrected.
Mixed Sentence 3: For people who have hobbies, they are happier than others.
Revision: People who have hobbies are happier than others.
Mixed Sentence 4: The required qualification is someone who writes well.
Problem: The qualification is the ability to write well, not the person.
Revision: The required qualification is the ability to write well.
Further Revision: The company requires someone who writes well.
Mixed Sentence 5: Nurses, an excellent career choice, involves an extra semester.
Problem: Nurses are not a profession, nursing is.
Revision: Nursing, an excellent career choice, involves an extra semester.
Just Because… Doesn’t Mean and Is When Constructions
Just because . . . doesn’t mean constructions are common in speech but should be avoided in writing. They are another example of mixed sentence construction.
Just Because . . . Construction: Just because I want to work in Washington doesn’t mean I’ll get a good job there.
Revision: Simply wanting to work in Washington doesn’t guarantee a good job there. Revision: Although I want to work in Washington, I will need to find a good job there.
Another common mixed construction in spoken English involves the use of is when. This construction should also be avoided in writing.
Is When Construction: A feeling of accomplishment is when I finish revising a paper.
Problem: “A feeling of accomplishment” is a noun phrase followed by a linking verb. This construction means that what follows the verb either describes the noun or renames it in different words. Therefore, to balance the sentence, you need an adjective or noun to complete the subject. When, however, is an adverb referring to time, and in this sentence, it begins an adverb clause. In other words, “a feeling” cannot be the same as or described in terms of time.
Revision: A feeling of accomplishment is finishing revising a paper.
Revision: I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish revising a paper.
Now, correct the following mixed-construction sentences. After you have finished, go back and check your rhetorical analysis for mixed-construction sentences, and revise them as needed.
- Putting your computer to sleep is when you can save the most electricity.
- If you plant your seeds too close, anyone knows tomatoes cannot grow with corn.
- Swimming in deep water is the danger of tides.
- Just because you like math doesn’t mean to eliminate classes in the humanities.
- For people who want to be firefighters may have to work long and often intense shifts.