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How Your Sentence Structure Will Fail You in Quality!

Updated on August 17, 2017
pen promulgates profile image

Imran is an anthropologist, communications manager, and trainer who coaches people in self-improvement.

Argh! I Failed the Quality

You have written an article (in proper sentences) as best as you could. Finalizing the topic itself has taken significant efforts and deep thinking. Before writing, you spent hours doing extensive research. Penning an article, say, for around 800 to 1000+ words has taken plenty of your time; more than what you had planned and allotted. Editing has absorbed another couple of hours.

Don't all these make an article perfect and qualitative? You know they certainly do, so you have created a write-up that will give information useful to all. You have done a fabulous job. There is no doubt about that. The only step pending now is to get clearance from the quality team. That shouldn't be a problem. One simple click and your piece goes for assessment.

Since you submitted your work for monitoring, you have been patiently waiting for the article to pass. You are positive about its success. Only a matter of few moments and your write-up will be available for public viewing.

Confidently, you check the status. But wait. WHAT? You see your article has failed the quality parameter. The editorial team may or may not have given any reason(s).

Is that some joke? You haven't spun the article; you have diligently written it. You didn't do all the hard work to face such undeserving conclusion.

I entirely understand how you or anyone will feel in such a situation. It's like a slap in the face for doing a good job. It suggests the research done, the time invested, and the efforts put have been nothing but a waste of time.

Everyone thinks his/her writing is good.

Does anyone realize any article, however excellent, stand the deserving chance to fail the quality because of a poor sentence structure?

This article highlights most common errors writers make in their sentences.

By sentence structure, I mean the order of words especially the modifiers that, usually, define the article accurately and perfectly if used correctly. Otherwise, they wreck and damage your write-up.

If such a piece doesn't feature, it truly deserves the rejection. The reason is the incorrect usage of words, but the writer(s) realizes that not.

Let us understand the elements of a poor sentence structure.

Nouns/Pronouns Don't Match the Antecedent Subject

Match the nouns, pronouns, verbs, and quantifiers with the subject.

Wrong: 'The larvae of insects will eventually kill its host.

The subject (larvae) is plural (larva is singular whereas larvae plural), so the pronoun must match the subject in number too.

Correct: 'The larvae of insects will eventually kill their host.'

Wrong: 'When you feel sad, hopelessness, your house cries with you.'

Keep a parallel format for nouns, verbs, gerund, infinitives that connect with one another.

In the sentence above, the author first used adjective (sad), then he used the noun (hopelessness). That's unnecessary when you have the adjective form available.

Right: 'When you feel sad or hopeless, your house cries with you.

Wrong: 'Refugees from different nations want to go back to their country.
Refugees are not from one country; they are from more than one place. Words must match the order.
Right: 'Refugees from different nations want to go back to their countries.'

Wrong Order of Words

The words must be in the right order to make the meaning of the sentence clear and unambiguous.

Wrong: 'Years ago his eyeglasses were the thickness of coke bottle bottoms.'

Right: 'Years ago his eyeglasses were as thick as the bottom of a coke bottle.'

Modifiers Defining Some Other Words Than What You Intended

Dangling modifiers are very common in sentences of most of the writers. What happens is, writers, plan to modify a particular noun, adjective, or verb. They end up modifying some other word instead.

Wrong: 'Myopia is usually an easy fix for an eye doctor with glasses, contacts, or surgery.'

The author wants to say that an eye doctor can easily fix myopia with remedies like glasses, contacts or surgery.
But his/her sentence sounds like an eye doctor wearing glasses and contacts can fix myopia.

Right: 'An eye doctor can easily fix myopia with solutions like glasses, contacts, or surgery.

Incorrect Switch to Pronoun Group

If you write 'a person' at the beginning of your sentence, for example, 'A person must be wise.' when you use a pronoun next, it must match in gender and other contexts - use he/she. Another line relating to the above sentence should be, 'He should know how to talk to people.'

Wrong: 'Turning a vegan made my experience better. That once in a while unhealthy treat came to a halt and got deleted from our grocery list.'
The writer here wants to say that the entire family has been benefited in the conversion process, but he uses the wrong pronoun forms.

Right: 'Turning a vegan has made my experience better. That once in a while unhealthy treat has come to a halt and has got deleted from my grocery list.' or

Right: 'Turning a vegan has made our experience better. That once in a while unhealthy treat has come to a halt and has got deleted from our grocery list.'

Incorrect Verb Forms

When situations don't change, use the same verb forms throughout in a sentence.

Incorrect: 'That was not the only question I have thought about.'
The main verb is in the past (was); the next verb should match the main verb.

Correct: 'That was not the only question I thought about.'

Incorrect: 'Impairing the reflex will benefit the attacker as the prey would be unable to escape.'

Correct: 'Impairing the reflex will benefit the attacker as the prey will be unable to escape.'

Even better: 'Impairing the reflex benefits the attacker as the prey is unable to escape.'

Fewer words = sharper sentence.

Improper: 'In a conference on smartphones, people were not understanding the speaker.'

Improper: 'I was in a restaurant. I wasn't knowing what to do.'

Improper: 'Smartphones have become the requirement of everyone these days. People are needing it more and more now.'

Improper: 'Rebellions are wanting negotiation.'

In all the above sentences, there are no ongoing actions taking place. The verbs above express a state. The verb-forms are improper.

Verbs: understand, know, need, and want are static verbs. These verbs express a state. There is no action as such, so the correct form is the base form, not the progressive form.

Correct: 'In a conference on smartphones, people did not understand the speaker.'

Correct: 'I was in a restaurant. I didn't know what to do.'

Correct: 'Smartphones have become the requirement of everyone these days. People need it more and more now.'

Correct: 'Rebellions want negotiations.'

Incorrect Tenses

  • Write your article in one tense.
  • Don't shift in tenses unless there is a change of time.

Wrong: 'The last couple of months I had been reading recipes on dessert.'

The explanation is simple. Reading the recipe(s) has started in the past and is continuing in the present, so match the verb that way.

Correct: 'The last couple of months I have been reading recipes on dessert.'

The paragraph continues with the below words:

Wrong: 'The last couple of months I had been reading recipes on dessert and testing on my own. The results were tolerable. My taste buds didn't complain about them. But something else was missing.

The entire paragraph connects to a one-time frame, and there is no time change as such. Keep all the verbs in the same tense.

Right: 'The last couple of months I have been reading recipes on dessert and testing on my own. The results have been tolerable. My taste buds haven't complained, but something has been missing.

Note: 'testing on my own' relates and is working in conjunction with the same idea and verb (have). That's why 'have been' is used once. It all depends on context to context.

Incorrect verb forms and tenses occur mainly when your sentence is long and has clauses either related or dependent on one another. Be careful in such sentence constructions.

Remember, verb forms are entirely relevant to actions. If an action continues from the past to present, verbs must be in the perfect tense.

Wrong: 'Since becoming vegan, my taste buds stopped craving for processed foods.

The action has continued from the past into the present and has an effect in the present.

Right: 'Since becoming vegan, my taste buds have stopped craving for processed foods.

What Makes You Miss Such Mistakes

Anyone (including you and me) can make these errors. They may not be noticeable while you write, but they certainly catch the attention while reading.
Remember, if a sentence is unclear in meaning, it is not a proper and complete sentence. It doesn't make sense, so it won't pass the quality.

When you write your article, you know what you write. You understand all your words clearly. What you have to remember is, others (readers) can't go in your head and comprehend your ambiguous words and unclear references.

If your sentence structure is vague, you have failed in conveying your message. You don't want that. Do you? That is why it's imperative you write keeping in mind you have to make your topic understandable to all.

To write an error free article, look at the tip below!

An Excellent Tip

while writing, assume you are writing for students of 5th-grade. You will be able to write more clearly then.

© 2017 Imran Khan


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    Post Comment

    • pen promulgates profile imageAUTHOR

      Imran Khan 

      14 months ago from Mumbai, India

      Hey Tapas, I am glad my article could help. All the best for your venture on HP. It's a great portal. Trust me :)

      Feel free to ask any help. I will be happy to guide.

    • Tapas Choudhury profile image

      Tapas Choudhury 

      14 months ago from India

      Hey Imran, that was really informative and would help a novice like me. Thanks for sharing.


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