توضیح مختصر: A common error occurs whenever a writer uses wording that suggests that a lot of people own or use just one thing, when really they all own or use their own separate things. This video will explain how to identify and fix this type of error.
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Do you remember the pop song from the 80s where the guy has a Chrysler that ‘seats about twenty?’ The idea of twenty people packed into a car makes for a funny image, but it’s also an idea that can help you catch a really common grammatical error and avoid losing points on standardized composition tests.
In fact, ‘All students should think about this as they take their test. ‘
Did you catch the error? It’s tough to spot if you haven’t really thought about it before, but once you look for this type of error, it’s pretty easy to catch.
Here’s the problem with that sentence. It’s an error to use wording that suggests that a lot of people own or use just one thing, when really they all own or use their own separate things.
Common sense tells us that it will never be the case that a whole roomful of students will be crowded around one sheet of paper on one desk, taking one test. But our sentence from earlier said that all students will be taking their test.
Note that the word ‘test’ in the sentence is singular - meaning that there is just one test - even though we have a lot of test takers. Even when we don’t mean to, we might create sentences that convey images as silly as twenty people packed into a car flying down the road.
These errors are common only because so many of us can’t spot them, and we can’t spot them only because we may never really have known to look for them.
Correcting these errors couldn’t be simpler, and you’ve likely already figured out how. Are you ready for the fool-proof solution to shooing all of those people away from that one desk in the testing room?
We simply give them all their own tests by making the word ‘test’ plural.
‘All students should think about this as they take their tests. ‘
Here’s another example. We all know that it’s a good idea for people to designate what will happen to their belongings after they die. But it’s not a good idea to express it in this way:
‘All people with homes and children should have a will. ‘
Sure, it’s a great idea to write a will, but we probably shouldn’t make all those homeowners and parents try to squeeze everything into just one shared will.
Instead, ‘All people with homes and children should have wills. ‘
And while we’re on the subject of home ownership, it might make sense to reflect on the idea that:
‘Many Americans want to buy their own home. ‘
However, because there are zoning laws that protect houses from getting too crowded, we’ll do well to remember that:
‘Many Americans want to buy their own homes. ‘
Making words plural in order to avoid making it look as though lots of people collectively own or use just one thing isn’t hard to do. The problem is that we all make these mistakes of stuffing cars and houses full of people when we speak, and sometimes we do it when we write. Train yourself to spot this type of error by doing a few of the provided quiz questions.
The trick is simply remembering that when you see wording that suggests that a lot of people own or use just one thing, when really they all own or use their own separate things, you should pluralize the thing that they are all owning or using to give all of those people their own cars and houses, thereby correcting the error. It’s a simple fix that can save you valuable points on graded essays and exams.