Study It:
There are a number of reasons why some sentences become mixed-up.

In this section, we'll address a few of the more common reasons why writers inadvertently make mixed-up sentences.
The Basic Idea
A subject must be a noun.

Any kind of object must be a noun.
A prepositional phrase cannot function as a subject or an object. A verb cannot function as a subject or an object. A clause cannot function as a subject or an object.
How We Do It
A prepositional phrase is not a noun. Therefore, a prepositional phrase cannot be a subject or an object.
In Central Park can be dangerous at night.


This sentence is incorrect because there is no noun as subject. Central Park is a noun. However, Central Park already functions as the object of the preposition in, so Central Park cannot be the subject.

To fix this sentence, we could get rid of the preposition
in.
Central Park can be dangerous at night.


This sentence is correct. Without in, Central Park is no longer the object of the preposition. In this case, Central Park is the subject.
I enjoy in Central Park.
This sentence is incorrect because there is no noun as direct object. Central Park is a noun. However, Central Park already functions as the object of the preposition in, so Central Park cannot be the direct object.

To fix this sentence, we could get rid of the preposition in.
I enjoy Central Park.
This sentence is correct. Without in, Central Park is no longer the object of the preposition. In this case, Central Park is the direct object.
Beware
Although a noun can function as a subject or as some kind of object (like an object of the preposition), a noun cannot simultaneously function as both subject and object.
Look at this Example
At the beginning is always the best place to start.

Why is this a mixed up sentence?



How can you fix the structure of this sentence?



Write the edited form of the sentence.




How We Do It
A verb is not a noun. Therefore, a verb cannot be a subject or an object.
 


Study
Smoke cigars can damage your health.
This sentence is incorrect because there is no noun subject. Smoke is a verb and cigarettes is already functioning as the an object of the verb smoke.
To fix this sentence, we could convert the verb to a gerund. A gerund is created by adding the
ing ending to the base form of the verb. Although a gerund is built on a verb, it is, in fact, a noun.
Smoking cigars can damage your health.
This sentence is correct because the sentence now has a noun subject, smoking. Cigars is the object of the gerund, so smoking cigars is a gerund phrase.
I have never enjoyed smoke cigars.
This sentence is incorrect because there is no noun object. Smoke is a verb and cigarettes is already functioning as the an object of the verb smoke.
To fix this sentence, we could convert the verb to a gerund.
I have never enjoyed smoking cigars.
This sentence is correct because the sentence now has a noun as direct object, smoking. Cigars is the object of the gerund, so smoking cigars is a gerund phrase.
Look at this Example
Read The New York Times everyday can improve your writing.
Why is this a mixed-up sentence?



Write the edited version of the sentence and your explanation of your correction.

Beware
Gerunds and gerund phrases always agree with a singular verb.
How We Do It
A clause cannot function as a subject.
Study
Students come late to class causes a serious problem.
This sentence is incorrect because the subject of the sentence, Students come late to class, is a clause.
There are a number of ways to fix this kind of mixed-up sentence problem.
One possibility is to covert the clause to a gerund phrase:
coming late to class.
Students' coming late to class causes a serious problem.
This sentence is correct because coming late to class is a gerund phrase, which is a noun phrase, functioning as a subject.
Another possibility is to place the two clauses into two separate sentences.
Some students come late to class.
This causes a problem.
Now each of these sentences has an independent clause - both with a noun as subject.
The college is concerned about students come late to class.
This sentence is incorrect because the object of the preposition, students come late to class is a clause.
We can correct this sentence by converting the clause to a gerund phrase.
The college is concerned about students' coming late to class.
This sentence is correct because the object of the preposition
about is now a gerund phrase students' coming late to class.
Look at this Example
Children eat candy can make them hyperactive.
Explain in your own words why this is a mixed-up sentence.



How would you fix this sentence?

The Basic Idea
Inaccurately formulated relative clauses can be responsible for mixed-up sentences.
relative clause and relative pronoun location of relative clause
How We Do It
A relative clause begins with a relative pronoun.
Study
Sometimes writers forget to place a relative pronoun at the beginning of a relative clause.
Teachers should not give homework to students have full-time jobs.
This sentence is incorrect because the relative clause is missing the relative pronoun.
Teachers should not give homework to students who have full-time jobs.
This sentence is correct because we now have the relative pronoun who at the beginning of the relative clause.
Look at this Example
People use credit cards should pay the full balance at the end of every month.
Why is this a mixed-up sentence?



Write an edited version of this sentence.

How We Do It
The relative clause must be located next to the noun that it is modifying.
Study
Outside of the Met, I saw a very stately woman enter a limousine that was wearing a long, pink fur coat.
This sentence is incorrect because the relative clause that was wearing a long, pink fur coat is not located next to the noun it's modifying.
To fix this sentence we must move the relative clause so that it is located next to the noun that it's modifying.
Outside of the Met, I saw a very stately woman that was wearing a long, pink fur coat enter a limousine.
This sentence is correct. The relative pronoun that relates to the noun woman since the woman is the one who was wearing a long, pink fur coat. In this sentence, the relative pronoun that is located next to the noun that it's modifying, woman.
Look at this Example
Bert:   I know a man with a wooden leg that's named Smith.
George:   Oh really? What's the name of his other leg?
In this dialogue George misunderstands Bert. What does Bert really mean and what does George understand?



Why does George misunderstand Bert?



How can Bert fix his sentence so that George will understand him clearly?



Write the edited version of Bert's sentence.



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