You’re not the only one who struggles to put together clear sentences.
Case in point, we offer this from an article on
how we’re totally doomed plankton in the ocean:
From the article:
An Edinburgh-based research team fears plankton, the tiny organisms that sustain life in our seas, has all but been wiped out after spending two years collecting water samples from the Atlantic.
You likely can figure it out just fine, but if you’re like EssaySnark, it may have taken a re-read or two.
Before we talk about what’s wrong with this, why not take a minute studying it for yourself, to see if you can spot what’s off here?
(Scroll down when you’re ready….)
The issue is that there’s a misplaced clause.
The phrase “after spending two years…” is modifying the subject of the sentence — the Edinburgh research team. But its placement in the sentence makes it seem like the plankton are the one who spent two years collecting samples.
There’s actually another issue with this sentence as well.
The way it’s used here, “plankton” is apparently a plural noun.
The writer defines “plankton” as “tiny organisms”; they use the plural of “organism” to explain what the word “plankton” means.
If therefore “plankton” is one of those words, like “fish” or “deer”, where you use the same word to refer to both the singular and plural, then the sentence does not work with the verb construct of “has been wiped out”.
It should say “have been wiped out” if “plankton” is plural.
This is the type of issue that can arise in two ways:
One is that, as the writer, you know what you’re trying to say. You have the intended meaning in your head as concepts, and your brain then translates those concepts into the language you’re using, by putting it into words on the page as you type.
However, since you have the meaning already established for yourself in your brain, if you’re not being careful in the original process of putting it on the page, then it may not have originally been produced in a form that other humans who are proficient in that language can decipher.
Each one of us has our own decoder rings installed in our heads, where we do this translation of concepts and symbols and thoughts into actual words. We rely on the probably that others who are socialized into our same language and culture will have a good chance of having a similar-enough decoder ring in their own heads, that we can convey meaning in written form in this way. But it’s up to the one producing the written word to confirm that their decoder ring was working well when they produced it in the first place. One of the key elements of us all having semi-similar decoder rings is how we all had to learn the rules of grammar when we were in gradeschool or went through our English learning classes. Grammar is what helps ensure that the decoder rings are calibrated to one another, even though they reside in totally independent and autonomous entities who usually have never interacted in real-time.
This issue also happens when things are rushed and the proofreading process is curtailed or skipped entirely. The process of writing isn’t just that first step of producing the words. It also requires at least one subsequent step of reviewing the words to be sure they make sense. If the writer didn’t double-check the words by re-reading them — and especially, by double-checking the clauses are created correctly — then there’s no assurance that things will be making sense.
When you are writing complex sentences with multiple clauses like this one, you need to break it apart and test that the core sentence, of the structure subject-> verb -> object, is intact and following the rules that your fifth grade English teacher imparted.
In this sentence, that core is:
Oh and hey: Can we please change it to:
As you read everyday news articles and consume whatever forms of the written word that you do, pay attention to the writing. What do you see that works well? Where are the sentences a bit wonky? How would you change them to make them more clear?
Practicing as you go about your everyday routine of written-word consumption can make you a stronger writer, which is at least half of what it takes to put together good essays for this endeavor you are trying for.
And… Pro Tip, if a “news article” that you find on the internet has such poor editing, then there’s a good chance it’s fake news! That article does not stand up to scrutiny. It does not have clearly cited scientific resources and it’s riddled with writing errors. The website looks legit but it seems to be some type of agenda-based propaganda shop.
Not that the planet isn’t in trouble. But we’re not finding any other reputable sources backing this one up.
Be discerning with where you place your attention!
It is because of these reasons that we have not linked to the actual source. We’re not interested in boosting the profile of a shady organization.