Some Confusable Situations in Grammar: Avoid These Errors

Many a time, I found even professional writers confusing me when they trip out of the normal frontiers of grammar and punctuation, and create sentences like “John likes countryside more than Alexa.” Here, I will explore some of these confusable situations.

Double Negatives

We have usually come across double negatives in the spoken discourse. In dialogs, where that not-so-grammatically-knowledgeable character shouts, we can read sentences like “I ain’t done no mistakes!” But, when you narrate, be yourself, the author, and don’t make this mistake. You know grammar unlike your friend, the character. So, avoid sentences like these:

The students hardly found it not worthy to study.
Peter wasn’t scarcely moving at all.

Misplaced Modifiers

This is another area of confusion to the readers. When you put down a sentence, with a modifier at another place, away from the element it modifies, we get sentences like “Johnny only completed the exercise in the allotted time.”

The modifier should come right before the element it modifies. Otherwise, the sentence would mean, “Johnny did only one thing, and that is completing the exercise in the allotted time, while others did several things in that time (thus scoffing the ability of Johnny).”

To correct the sentence to mean, “Johnny was the only person that completed the exercise in the allotted time,” we should write it as “Only Johnny completed the exercise in the allotted time.” (Thus praising Johnny for doing that.)

Avoid sentences like:

Tim barely wrote the poem three lines when Kathy called.
Jim captured two sets and ate an apple after the game.
Tom found that the computer was infected by virus, which he had bought a week ago.

Rewrite them as:

Tim barely wrote three lines of the poem, when Kathy called.
Jim captured two sets, and after the game, he ate an apple.
Tom found that the computer, which he had bought a week ago, was infected by virus.

Dangling modifier is another important area for writers to profusely confuse the readers. View this article to know more about dangling modifiers.

Comparison Confusion

Often in spoken discourse, sentences like “I love him more than my wife” are acceptable, and your wife will understand it quite that “you love someone more than she does”. But in written discourse, it is advisable to complete these sentences to avoid confusion. Examples:

I love Lara Croft movies more than my friends.
Tim had more knowledge about Jim’s wife than Jim about Tim’s wife.
The difficulty to score in a basketball game is more than swimming.

Rewrite as:

I love Lara Croft movies more than my friends do.
Tim had more knowledge about Jim’s wife than Jim did about Tim’s wife.
The difficulty to score in a basketball game is more than the difficulty in swimming.

Here is more about Comparative Form Errors.

Abrupt Tense Shifts

Another issue is with shifting your verb’s tense frequently. You should retain a sentence in one tense, as much as possible, and should try your best to keep a whole paragraph in one tense. Jumping in between present and past can easily confuse the reader. For instance, see this paragraph:

Judith found it intimidating to visit her son’s school, when he will be released tomorrow. Her son had scored less than other students, and she will be belittled for that. That fear was stalking her to make other plans for tomorrow. Now, John comes, and he was a great friend of Judith’s. He had planned a party and he will now invite Judith for that.

Writing a paragraph as above, you are throwing your reader into a total garbage expecting him to pick his ways in it. Try to avoid such sentences.


You should proofread your writing well to avoid mistakes. Grammar is really very important in writing. When proofreading for mistakes, get your writing read to you by a Text-to-speech program, such as ReadPlease. This will be very helpful to spot errors faster.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

4 Opinions:

  1. Nice Post! Good to find someone helping out bloggers on writing skills. Will come again some time later to check out your other posts.

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  2. Thanks, sir.
    Good to know you liked the articles.


  3. Yes indeed I come across many articles with misplaced modifiers and abrupt tense shifts. Time and again I have noted some outstanding contributions from your blog posts. I must say this one too is very well explained. Cheers!

  4. Hey, Bluetooth, thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.



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