Workshop #4: Sentence Errors
There are four basic types of sentence errors:
Sentence FragmentsFused SentencesComma SplicesComma Error problems
In order to understand and avoid sentence errors, one must revisit brieflyPhrasesandClauses.
Remember, aPhraseis a group of words that is missing a subject or a verb (or both).
AClauseis what you get when you have at least a subject and a verb. They come in two types:Independent—has a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.Dependent—has a subject, a verb, but no complete thought.
If you have aPhraseor aDependent Clause, it needs to be attached to anIndependent Clauseto make it work properly.
Billy threw the ballthrough the glass window.He will have to pay for itbecause it shattered the glass.When he gets paid,Billy will write a check for the repairs.As a result,he will have no spare money.
If you have aPhraseor aDependent Clauseby itself, itis onlya part of a sentence. It is aSentence Fragment.
Billy threw the ball.Through the glass window.He will have to pay for it.Because it shattered the glass.Billy will write a check for the repairs.When he gets paid.As a result.He will have no spare money.
Notice that periods are crucial to this process. When you put down a period, you end a thought. You cannot just “tack on” more information after it like you might do when you are talking. Remember,talking is not the same as writing. People often speak using fragments in everyday conversation, so using fragments might “sound” normal, but it does not “read” normal to your reader. Instead, it just reads as incomplete and choppy.
BAD EXAMPLES OF FRAGMENTS:
PITFALL with fragments:When you write, you know what you meant to write. Because of this fact, your brain may “autocorrect” as you proofread your own writing, and it may read a sentence as correct when it is not.However, your reader does not or may not know what you meant to say, and his or her brain will not “autocorrect” as he or she reads. The reader will read the incomplete and choppy fragment and feel confused.Hence, when proofreading and editing, slow down and pay attention to the PERIODS.
The next type of error is aFused sentence.A fused sentence happens when you jam twoindependent clausestogether with no punctuation or coordination.
Billy went to the zoo he saw the tigers.Billy went to the zoohe saw the tigers.
These two independent clauses have been welded together with no flexibility or time for the reader to digest the two separate complete thoughts. As a result, it is too much too fast for the reader. To fix this problem, you have to learn to spot yourclauses.
Simply putting a comma there does not work. It just replaces one error with another error—theComma Splice.
Billy went to the zoo,he saw the tigers.Billy went to the zoo,he saw the tigers.
You make this error because you feel tempted to put a comma “wherever you take a breath” or when you feel there should be a pause. However, that is not a rule, and you are making a “writing like you talk” mistake. Both of these mistakes are easily fixed with one of a few rules.Remember……
The last sentence error is a traditional standard run-on due to comma error.You may be tempted simply to add aFANBOYS(coordinating conjunction) to join the independent clauses. However,you cannot do that without putting a comma before the FANBOYS.
Billy went to the zoo he saw the tigers.Billy went to the zooandhe saw the tigers.But this trick does not work because it is a comma error that makes a run-on.Again, you are just replacing an error with an error.
How do you begin to fix all these errors? There are a few ways…First, remember your coordinating conjunctions—FANBOYS:ForAndNorButOrYetSoThey help you remember how to put independent clauses together, but you will need a comma too.
You can make independent clauses each its own sentence.
Billy went to the zoo. He saw the tigers.
You can use a semicolon to join two independent clauses. However, the clauses must be closely related or strongly contrasted.Billy went to the zoo; he hates that place.NOT: Billy went to the zoo; cheeseburgers are yummy. BAD (unrelated)
You can turn one of the clauses into a dependent clause.Billy saw the tigerswhen he went to the zoo.ORWhen Billy went to the zoo, he saw the tigers.(Be sure to follow proper comma rules when you do this.)
Or you can join the independent clauses using a comma followed by a FANBOYS (coordinating conjunction).Billy went to the zoo,andhe saw the tigers.Billy does not like snakes,sohe avoided the reptile house.Billy neither likes spiders,nordoes he like scorpions.Billy slipped by the seal exhibit,forthe ground was wet there.He hit the ground hard,buthe was not hurt.He had a coupon for his ticket,yethe still had to pay full price.
Let’s playNAME THAT ERROR!
Look at the sentence in the examples. Then, name the type of error you see. Be careful, however, because a few will not have an error. If there is no error, then say “correct.” Knowing when there is no problem is just as important as knowing when there is one.Ready?Let’s Begin!
Motorcycles are enjoyable but they are also very dangerous.Comma error run-on.One can be hurt badly in an accident cars hit bikes a lot.Fused.Bikes and cars need to share the road, and both riders and drivers need to pay attention.Correct.Spiders are not always a bad thing, they eat other insects when they are outside.Comma Splice.Theschoolbusstopped at the railroad tracks. Because a train was crossing.Fragment.When you get to the store. Be sure to buy some milk.Fragment.I do not like to wake up early and when I do, I usually need coffee.Comma error run on….remember to spot the clauses.Mr. Johnson gives out the best Halloween candy lets trick-or-treat there first.Fused
Okay, for the next few sentences, describe how you would fix the error.I do not like sweets. Because all of my teeth fell out.Fragment—fix by removing the period and making all one sentence..There is a hole in the bucket and we cannot get the water properly.Comma error run-on—put a comma between “bucket” and “we.”.The highway exit is next so you should move over to the right laneComma error run-on—put a comma between “next” and “should.”.When Billy was six years old, he went to the zoo and fell down he hates that place now.Fused—use a semicolon, or make both separate sentences, or make one dependent..Marty like to eat ice cream, he hates cake.Splice—add a FANBOYS (coordinating conjunction) after the comma..When I grow up, I want to be Superman, I can do good deeds for people.Splice again!—put a FANBOYS (coordinating conjunction) after “Superman” and the comma.
One way to practice these skills everyday is to scan your friends’ social media posts (Twitter,Facebook) for errors to see if you can spot any. Text messaging is a great place to practice as well.Any Questions?