Sentence Structure/Bad Example


A friend recently sent me this sentence:

The clients home we worked on was very pleased and called me later to make sure I understood that she was thrilled.

The home was very pleased, and called to say so? I love it! This is a perfect example of poor sentence structure. It exemplifies poor syntax–that is, the relationships between words and phrases are anything but harmonious.

This wonderful sentence also shows what can happen when the writer is in a hurry and her mind is not clear. Had she taken a deep breath or two before composing this message, or simply read it before sending it, it probably would have read something like this:

The client was very pleased. She called specifically to tell me that she was thrilled with the work we did on her home.

For more free writing tips, guidelines, and articles, visit Treasurefield Communications.


About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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12 Responses to Sentence Structure/Bad Example

  1. Catherine says:

    is this a sentence with poor sentence structure?

    Antonio is a fast runner, strong student, and won the Best Athlete award.

    • 123clear says:

      Hi, Catherine.

      This is a fine sentence, but it does need some tweaking.

      “Fast runner” and “strong student” describe who Antonio is. Then “won the Best Athlete award” comes along and abruptly shifts from who Antonio is to what he did.

      Here are two ways to fix it:

      Change “won” (what Antonio did) to “winner” (who Antonio is):

      Antonio is a fast runner, a strong student, and winner of the Best Athlete award.

      Break the sentence into two:
      A fast runner, Antonio won the Best Athlete Award. He’s also a strong student.


  2. William Vanson says:

    I hope this blog is still working. It is wonderful. !

    • 123clear says:

      Thank you, William. I appreciate your kind words.

      I’m still here, responding to comments. I haven’t written any posts for a very long time and am on the alert for something pertinent that invites me to do so.


  3. ann says:

    I am seeing this a lot in professionally written text, including books, magazines and newspapers… Can’t people FEEL and UNDERSTAND the language they’ve been brought up with?
    There is a term to describe this poor sentence structure, I believe.
    “As a young boy his mother fed him roast meat regularly”…
    “As a customer Kmart is committed to providing great service”

    • 123clear says:

      Thank you for your comment, Ann, and especially for your question: “Can’t people FEEL and UNDERSTAND the language they’ve been brought up with?”

      After thinking it over, I’d say that most people probably CAN and DO!

      As I see it, we are simply witnessing the predictable results of the decline in the quality of public education in the United States today; budget cuts to education; the increased role of corporations in education–not a good fit, as the people who run corporations tend to focus more on making money than than on quality education; and our “hurry up” culture, which pressures everyone to produce more, more quickly, and for less money. As William Zinsser wrote, “The essence of good writing is rewriting.” Who has time to rewrite?

      • ann says:

        Hi, Tara. I am actually an Australian and I am seeing the decline of use of proper English here, in Australia. I was not born in this country, and was shocked to learn that I speak the language better than many average ‘natives’. But the thing is, the education system here does not teach the kids proper use of the language, nobody really cares whether people understand the basic concepts, such as parts of speech, punctuation, modifiers. That is why we are seeing such appalling writing everywhere, plus the huge impact text messaging and geek-spell are having on the language. It greatly upsets language nerds like me…

      • 123clear says:

        Hi, Ann. Thanks for this. Very interesting! It hadn’t occurred to me that text messaging and geek-spell are rampant in Australia, too. That obviously isn’t an issue at all for many (most?) people around the world.

        If my ailing body will allow it, I’d like to turn your comment and my response into a blog post. Would that be alright with you?

        Warm regards, Tara

      • ann says:

        Of course, Tara, no problem at all. Perhaps, you could send me a link to your blogs then? cheers, ann.

      • 123clear says:

        Hi, Ann. Thank you very much. If I’m physically able to turn your comment and my reply into a blog, so that more people will be likely to see it, I’ll mention that it came from Ann. If you like, I’ll mention your last name too. Which do you prefer? If the latter, please send your full name.

        My blog is

        My website is

        Cheers, Tara

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