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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).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Criminal Sentence 678: Stickler Mourns Death of Body

As a mother, I am always sad when I hear of a child dying. Likewise, as a grammarian, I am always aware of errors.

From today's newspaper (about the anniversry of a flood that swept away 12 people in Utah):

"The body of one boy, 6-year-old Tyson Black, was never found and is presumed dead."

After reflecting on the sadness of this sentence, we can turn to its grammar.

Let's take away some of the sentence so we can more clearly see the problem; we are left with "The body ... was never found and is presumed dead."

Here, the subject is "body." First, it was never found. Very sad. Very correct. Second, the body "is presumed dead." Sorry, but bodies used in this sense are always non-alive. To fix this, we just need to add one word: "he" and a comma before the "and."

"The body of one boy, 6-year-old Tyson Black, was never found, and he is presumed dead."

Very sad. Very correct.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Criminal Sentence 677: The Thread Police

The Phoenix area is home to a serial shooter, who has killed seven people. I hope they catch him pronto! This criminal sentence comes from an article about this criminal:

"The thread police say links the nine incidents to one another is forensics."

When I first read this sentence I asked myself what the thread police are.

It turns out that this sentence needs a strategically placed "that":

"The thread that police say links the nine incidents to one another is forensics."

Even better would be to eliminate the "to be" verb and more wordiness:

"Police say that forensics links the nine incidents."

By the way, I wondered whether "forensics" is singular or plural. When the word refers to the discipline of forensics, it is singular.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Criminal Sentence 676: Don't Be an "Ass"!

Happy Friday! I was looking at descriptions of new movies and came across this gem on the IMDb app about the film "How to Be Yours":

"Two people driven by their professional ambitions fall in love and are forced to reassess their goals ass they encounter the trials of a serious relationship."

The movie got a 7.2 rating, but I'll give that sentence a 10 for its entertainment value!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Criminal Sentence 675: This "Will Significantly Effect" You

Hello. I know it's been a while. The first sentence in an important newspaper story lured me from the kitchen table to the home office. (Yes, I am still in my pajamas.)

Here is the offender:

"Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a high-profile Texas abortion case will significantly effect how Arizona regulates abortion providers."

This article's lead grabbed my interest, but not in a good way. Politics aside, ugh! As this post's title suggests, there is a significant misspelling here: "effect" should be "affect." This error is pretty basic. If you Google "affect vs. efffect" you get 145 million hits, including a great explanation by my friend Grammar Girl.

For the most part, "effect" acts as a noun, as in "The effect of that blue eyeshadow is frightening." Most of the time when you need to use a verb, as in the offending sentence, you should use "affect" with an "a": "Will bad spelling affect my reputation?"

Yes, it will!