Ask Me a Question

If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.

Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!

If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Criminal Sentence 113: "That" Is Not How to Write It

From a book I finished on Wednesday (the book was about a writing class):

"The student submitted a piece for class discussion that was shockingly incoherent."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: make sure your "that" is next to what the "that" phrase modifies. In this case, "that was shockingly incoherent" refers to "a piece," not "a discussion." In fact, "that was shockingly incoherent" also refers to this whole sentence.

You can easily fix it by switching things around:

"The student submitted for class discussion a piece that was shockingly incoherent."


Tyler Hurst said...

What about "The student submitted a shockingly incoherent piece for class discussion"?

Seems to flow better.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

That's a good alternative. You could even say, "The student submitted a shockingly incoherent piece for the class to discuss."