Friday, February 5, 2010

Inconsistency in sentence structures

I read with interest a letter to the editor about the poor standard of English in flyers to be distributed to the public. As I scrutinised what was written, it was really incomprehensible. This is partly due to inconsistency in the sentence structures and horrible grammatical errors.

When we construct sentences, we must follow certain rules. For example, if you write it in the active voice, you must not change to the passive in between. Let us take an example, 'I took out a novel and read by me straight away.' This is inconsistent. You should have written 'I took out a novel and read it straight away.'

The flyer in question has all the sentences and part sentences following one another without subjects. Here it goes:

Easy and comfortably reshape burstline win confident and no more embarassing moments. Natural comfort fabric, accommodate for local climate. Ventilation power, help breast to breath. Absorb sweat easily, feel cooling comfort. Odour free, maintain healthy. Anti-bacteria, angainst itchiness.

If my student wrote such a poor piece of prose, I would have corrected his work as follows.

The bra has comfortable bust-line after being reshaped. Wearing such a bra will win you confidence and there will be no more embarrassing moments. Made of natural fabric, it can adapt to local climate. Ventilation is good and it can absorb sweat easily so that you will feel cool and comfortable wearing it. Besides, it is odour free and hygienic with anti-bacteria and anti-itchiness properties.

You see, you must have a subject in each sentence. In the first sentence, the subject is 'The bra'. 'Wearing such a bra' forms the first subject of the first half of the second sentence and 'there' forms the subject for the second half of the sentence. The subject for the third sentence is 'it'. As for the fourth sentence, the subject is 'Ventilation' for the first half and 'it' for the 2nd half. The last sentence has 'it' as the subject.

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