Grammar Coach

Illogical Statement or a Paradox?

Nobody goes there anymore: it’s too crowded. 
Problem: Is this statement simply illogical, or is it a paradox?
Answer: Yogi Berra’s amusing observation is a paradox.
               A paradox is an apparent contradiction that reveals a truth.
 Explanation: The statement means that the place had become so
                crowded that its habitual visitors no longer patronized it.
                Seemingly self-contradictory, but perfectly logical! In other
                words, a paradox.
See Paradox, chapter 48b, The Cooper Hill Stylebook
 

Circular Reasoning §43b

Example: Because the candidate has great name recognition, he’s very familiar to the electorate.

Problem: The statement is circular because having great name recognition means being very familiar.

Correction: The electorate is very familiar with the candidate.

Redundancy §36 in The Cooper Hill Stylebook

Example: If Ed Sullivan would have had black performers on his show in the 1950s, his ratings would have risen among minority viewers.

Problem: If and would have are both conditional. They both mean in case or on the condition that. Never use would in an if clause.

Correction: If Ed Sullivan had had black performers on his show in the 1950s, his ratings would have risen among minority viewers.

Note: had had is neither a typo nor a stutter — it is the correct way to indicate the past perfect of the verb to have.

Misplaced modifiers §9

Example: We’re still in a big struggle against Islamic extremism as a country.

Problem: As a country is misplaced.

Correction: As a country, we’re still in a big struggle against Islamic extremism.

Gerunds and participles §8

GRAMMAR CHALLENGE

The big news was Attorney General Eric Holder stepping down.

Problem: Doesn’t use a possessive in front of a gerund. See Chapter 8.

Correction:  The big news was Attorney General Eric Holder’s stepping down.

Frequently misused words §25

Problem: AARP condemned the agreement between employers, insurance companies, and state officials.
Explanation: Between refers to 2 parties only.
Correction: AARP condemned the agreement among employers, insurance companies, and state officials.

Misplaced modifier §9 Cooper Hill Stylebook

Last year I gave a concert of all the Chopin études in Nebraska.

EXPLANATION: In Nebraska is misplaced.

CORRECTION: Last year in Nebraska, I gave a concert of all the Chopin études.

Incorrect Comparison: §27a Cooper Hill Stylebook

Female unemployment is five times higher than men in Saudi Arabia.

EXPLANATION: UNEMPLOYMENT is being compared to MEN.

CORRECTION: Female unemployment is five times higher than men’s in Saudi Arabia.

Grammar Coach

Welcome to The Cooper Hill Stylebook Grammar Coach! Please check back for regular updates.