Tutorial for Mixed Constructions
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What are they?
A mixed construction is a sentence containing parts that do not sensibly fit together. It may contain phrases or clauses that do not fit together logically or a subject that does not work grammatically with a predicate.
Rising health care costs decrease health insurance for many people.
(The subject rising health care costs does not work grammatically with the predicate; it does not make grammatical sense to say that “costs decrease health insurance.”)
How to find them
A mixed construction contains phrases or clauses that do not work together logically and that cause confusion in meaning. Look for sentences in which the structure changes midway through the sentence:
The fact that the marathon is twenty-six miles, a length that explains why I never have finished it.
(The sentence begins with a subject, the fact, followed by a dependent clause, that the marathon is twenty-six miles. The sentence needs a predicate to complete the independent clause; instead it includes a noun [a length] and another dependent clause [that explains why I never have finished it]. The independent clause that begins with the fact is never completed.)
Faulty predication is a type of mixed construction that occurs when the subject and predicate in a sentence are not consistent. Read sentences carefully, paying attention to the relationship between the subject and predicate, to find this type of error.
The most valued trait in an employee is a person who is loyal.
(A person cannot be a trait.)
Another common error involves the use of the constructions is when, is where, or the reason is…because.
Indigestion is when you cannot digest food.
The reason I enjoy horseback riding is because it provides outdoor exercise.
How to correct them
The fact thatthe marathon is twenty-six miles, a length that explains whyI never have finished it.
The most valued trait in an employee is
a person who is loyal.
Avoid the constructions is when, is where, or the reason is…because.
when you cannotdigest food. The reasonI enjoy horseback riding is because it provides outdoor exercise.