Spotting Errors

errors

Only one of the following sentences is correct. Can you spot the errors in the others?

  1. If Tom would have been there, he would have known what to do.
  2. Edmonton is colder than almost city in Canada.
  3. Garth skipped the party, which was stupid.
  4. Brad was both interested and repelled by the idea of eating worms.
  5. Neither of the escape plans Miranda and Sally came up with were reasonable.
  6. I don’t like the way that company treats their employees.
  7. The exercise equipment and weights George keeps in his basement are like a gym.
  8. Nobody but Jake and me really understands the psychology of ferrets in captivity.
  9. Of the two grammar questions on the test, the one about comparatives was the easiest.
  10. The waitress gave better service to the customers whom she believed would leave the biggest tips.
  11. Steven viewed a general economic collapse little more than a blip, however, the collapse lost him the election.
  12. A three weeks vacation were not enough to restore Sedgwick’s frazzled nerves.
  13. The agency requires that all requests should be submitted by July 1.
  14. A recession is when you’re out of work; a depression is when I’m out of work.

 

Answers:

 

  1. If Tom had been there… (or Had Tom been there). In conditional sentences with “if clauses,” the “if clause” never takes the conditional “would.”
  2. Edmonton is colder than almost any other city in Canada. Without the “other,” it sounds as if Edmonton isn’t a city in Canada.
  3. The problem in this sentence is that we don’t know whether “which was stupid” refers to the party or the fact that Garth skipped. Here are two possible revisions depending on the intended meaning: Garth skipped the stupid party. It was stupid of Garth to skip the party
  4. Brad was both interested in and repelled by the idea of eating worms. When verbs take different prepositions, both prepositions are required.
  5. Neither of the escape plans Miranda and Sally came up with was reasonable. “Neither” is the singular subject of the sentence.
  6. I don’t like the way that company treats its employees. The plural pronoun “their” can’t refer to the singular noun “company.”
  7. The exercise equipment and weights George keeps in his basement are like a gym’s (or those in a gym).
  8. Correct.
  9. Of the two grammar questions on the test, the one about comparatives was the easier. The superlative “easiest” is used only when comparing more than two things.
  10. The waitress gave better service to the customers who she believed would leave the biggest tips. Who = they/whom = them. She believed they (not them) would leave the biggest tips.
  11. Steven viewed a general economic collapse little more than a blip; however, the collapse lost him the election. When “however” is joining two clauses, it has a semicolon before it and a comma after it. You could also write two sentences.
  12. A three weeks’ vacation was not enough to restore Sedgwick’s frazzled nerves. A three weeks’ vacation = a vacation of three weeks.
  13. The agency requires that all requests be submitted by July 1. After “that” clauses that express requests or commands, the simple subjunctive “be” is required. She asked that I be (not should be) present.
  14. Because a recession is a thing, not a time, the expression “a recession is when” is wrong, at least in formal English. The sentence is better recast: When you’re out of work, it’s a recession; when I’m out of work, it’s a depression.
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