Spot the Errors

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Of the following twelve sentences, only three are correct. Can you spot the errors?

  1. Cats often pester Bruno’s dog, so he always carries pepper spray.
  2. Reading often improves concentration.
  3. Mildred, along with the other members of the Ti Chi club, were invited to attend the annual Ti Chi hot dog eating competition.
  4. My three brothers-in-law’s ex-wives have become good friends.
  5. Neither of the solutions offered were acceptable.
  6. Samantha wondered why her husband was not wearing his seat belt?
  7. Having tried and failed hundreds of times, Don’s hopes of teaching the cat to talk began to wane.
  8. Bruno had lain on the sofa for hours before he realized he was in the wrong house.
  9. Of the top two students in Dr. Quack’s carrot therapy class, Crystal was the best.
  10. In the winter Edmonton is to cold for people to have picnics.
  11. The burglars divided up the loot among themselves.
  12. Earl is one of the workers who are always on time.

Answers:

  1. This sentence is wrong because the pronoun “he” has no antecedent (a noun it can refer to). The antecedent can’t be a possessive—Bruno’s. The unnamed dog should be referred to as “it,” but in any case, it’s unlikely that the dog is carrying the pepper spray. A possible revision is “Bruno always carries pepper spray because cats often pester his dog.”
  2. The adverb “often” can modify either “reading” or “improving,” so the sentence is ambiguous. Possible revisions: By reading often, one can improve concentration. Often concentration can be improved by reading.
  3. Mildred was invited. The phrase “along with other members of the tai Chi club” is not part of the subject.
  4. Correct
  5. Neither of the solutions offered was acceptable. “Neither” is always a singular subject. 6. The sentence is a statement, not a question, so it should be punctuated with a period.
  6. No question mark because the sentence is a statement
  7. “Having tried and failed hundreds of times” is a dangling modifier. It wasn’t Don’s hopes that tried. The sentence has to be revised: “Having tried and failed hundreds of times, Don began to lose hope in the teaching the cat to talk.”
  8. Correct
  9. Crystal was the better. “Best” can be used only when comparing more than two.

10 “People” is a redundancy. In the winter Edmonton is too cold for picnics.

  1. The burglars divided the loot among themselves. “Up” is redundant.
  2. Correct.
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