Common Mistakes

Sentence Fragments (Incomplete Sentences)

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1. A sentence must have a subject and a verb if it is to make sense.

Incorrect: John, being a friendly computer salesman and baseball fan.
(No verb)
Correct: John, being a friendly computer salesman and baseball fan, refused to argue.
(John–the subject–is doing something, namely, refusing.)

2. A subordinate clause (also sometimes called a dependent clause) is not a complete sentence if it does not have a main clause even though it may have a subject and verb.

Incorrect: Because we are baseball fans.
Correct: We watched the All-Star Game because we are baseball fans.

There is nothing wrong with beginning a sentence with the word because as long as the clause with because is followed by a main clause.

             Correct: Because we are baseball fans, we watched the All-Star Game.
3. Sometimes in conversation only sentence fragments make sense.

OK, if you are recording a conversation, otherwise incorrect: She asked, “Why did you watch that baseball game?”
“Because we are baseball fans.”

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Common Mistakes

Irregular Comparatives

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Sometimes an irregular label on an item of clothing indicates that something about it is slightly different. Similarly, irregular comparatives function the same way regular comparative adjectives do, but they aren’t formed the same way.

A few of the comparatives and superlatives in English do not follow the usual pattern. Here is a list of common exceptions.

PositiveComparative   Superlative
badworseworst
badlyworseworst
far(distance)fartherfarthest
far(extent)furtherfurthest
goodbetterbest
illworseworst
latelaterlatest or last
lesslesserleast
little(amount)  lessleast
manymoremost
muchmoremost
wellbetterbest

The comparisons for well apply to both the adjective meaning “healthy” and the adverb meaning “in a good manner.”

For more on how to use some of these see the Common Mistakes section on good/well and bad/badly. Also see Common Mistakes section for the difference between further and farther and between littlest and least.

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