Very often, when I am marking someone's paper, I will run across a sentence or phrase that I can't correct. Either it doesn't make sense, or it doesn't mean what the writer wants (or needs) it to mean, or the construction (choice and arrangement of words) is so deeply flawed as to require a complete rewriting. When I see this, I usually circle or put parentheses around it and write "awk." Here are some examples taken directly from the Regents prep essays on Gil Hodges:
The Hall of Fame chooses baseball players to enter the all time greatest players.
The problem: misleading; means that the players chosen by the Hall of Fame are entering the all-time greatest players, perhaps going in through their ears. Also, the Hall of Fame doesn't choose. Solution:
The Baseball Writers' Association chooses baseball players to join the all-time greatest players in the Hall of Fame.
Bill Mazeoski may have won to the Yankees and made his team win the World Serious, but if he got inside the hall of fame with his scores, then so can Bill Hodges.
The problem: Several misused or nonsensical words and phrases, wrong prepositions, spelling errors, lack of context. Solution:
Bill Mazeroski may have beaten the Yankees with the famous home run that ended the 1960 World Series, but if he got into the Hall of Fame with his statistics, then so should Gil Hodges.
Hodges batting statistics in his eighteen seasons his RBI's were 1,274 Mazeroski were 853.
The problem: multiple noun and verb phrases, no punctuation, verbs misconjugated and misused. Solution:
In his eighteen seasons, Hodges had 1,274 RBI's; Mazeroski had 853.
or: In his eighteen seasons, Hodges drove in 1,274 runs; Mazeroski, 853.
Therefore a man like Hodges who pointed out many features should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The problem: misuse of the verb phrase "pointed out" and the noun "features;" they simply don't mean what the writer intends to mean. Also, no punctuation. Solution:
Therefore, a man like Hodges, who displayed many positive qualities, should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In William McGurn's article it once shows again his great character he wouldn't talk about cause of his modesty.
The problem: sentence makes very little sense. Multiple noun and verb phrases, unclear or incorrect noun-verb phrase and noun-pronoun relationships, abbreviated word (cause), vague descriptive, no punctuation. Solution is difficult to derive because the intended meaning is unclear. One possible solution:
In his article, William McGurn wrote that Hodges would not discuss his combat experience with anyone, not even his wife, which shows that he was a man of great character and modesty.
That a professional gives no matter to what the score is: It is based on who the person consider themselves to be.
The problem: extreme confusion; words seem to be missing, others needlessly present; pronouns do not agree, referents are unclear, improper punctuation; the meaning of the last clause is unclear; what is "It"? Solution, with context, guessing the meaning of latter clause:
Hodges taught Seaver that a professional gives his all no matter what the score is, and that success is based on whom the person considers himself to be.
There have been worse players then Hodges with lower votes, which still made it in the Hall of Fame.
The problem: misused descriptives, sound-alike error, wrong pronoun, wrong preposition; the statement about the votes is taken out of context and is thus both confusing and misleading. Requires context in order to make sense. One possible solution:
Several players who received fewer total votes than Hodges on the regular Hall of Fame ballot have since been inducted by the Veterans' Committee, despite less-impressive statistics and arguably inferior careers.
Hodges was a very liked baseball player, to the fans.
The problem: "very liked" is both a weak and nonsensical descriptive; improper use of comma to set off prepositional phrase. Solution:
Hodges was very well-liked by the fans.
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