Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Eliminating Sentence Structure Errors

[Instructors: Download the exercise and key at the end of the post.]

Some of the most common complaints about writing in the workplace involve three sentence structure errors.


A fragment is usually a broken-off part of a sentence. Fragments often can be identified by the words that introduce them–words such as although, as, because, even, except, for example, if, instead of, since, such as, that, which, and when.

Example: Jeremy loaded his résumé with keywords and relevant skills. Which is why he            couldn’t understand receiving no responses.

Improved: Jeremy loaded his résumé with keywords and relevant skills, which is why he couldn’t understand receiving no responses.

Run-on (fused) sentence. A sentence with two independent clauses must be joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but) or by a semicolon. Without a conjunction or a semicolon, a run-on sentence results:

Example: Becca considered an internship she also thought about graduate school.

Improved: Becca considered an internship, but she also thought about graduate school.

Improved: Becca considered an internship; she also thought about graduate school.

Comma splice. When a writer joins (splices together) two independent clauses without using a coordinating conjunction, a comma splice results.

Example: Jeremy disliked networking, however he knew how important it was.

Improved: Jeremy disliked networking; however, he knew how important it was.

ImprovedJeremy disliked networking, but he knew how important it was.

Study the following. Identify fragments, run-ons, and comma splices. For each item write an improved version. If a sentence is correct, write C.

  1. Jeremy mailed over a hundred beautifully written résumés. Which is why he was depressed when he didn’t receive quick responses.
  2. To come up with a tagline that describes what you do and who you are. Ask yourself questions about what you are really good at.
  3. Candidates can’t anticipate precise questions, however they can expect to be asked about their education, skills, experience, and availability.
  4. An elevator speech is a pitch you can deliver in 60 seconds it tells who you are and what you can offer.
  5. Becca hoped to find a job in marketing, however she was willing to consider other offers.
  6. If possible, call in advance to inquire about what to wear, also ask how to prepare.
  7. Some job candidates go a step further they prepare professional-looking business cards with their name and tagline.
  8. In today’s challenging and digital job market, the focus is not so much on what you want but on what the employer needs.
  9. Although you may be changing jobs and careers in the future. You still need to train for a specific career area now. 
  10. Zack saw no value in preparing a résumé at this time. Because he was only a sophomore and searching for a job was a distant and distressing task.
  11. Employment counselors suggest learning more about careers they recommend taking a summer job, an internship, or a part-time position in your field.
  12. Having a current résumé makes you look well-organized and professional. If an unexpected employment opportunity should arise.
  13. With over 50,000 job boards and employment websites deluging the Internet. It’s hard to know where to start.
  14. Early in her academic career, Becca begin monitoring advertisements and websites in her career area, Jeremy preferred to wait.
  15. Recruiters seem to favor chronological résumés. Which is good because they are easier to write than functional résumés.



To Lie or to Lay: That is the Question

To Lie or to Lay: That is the Question                       


The verbs lie and lay are among the most frequently confused words in the language. The following chart can help you use the correct form.                                                                           

Present Past Part Participle Present Participle
lie (to rest) lay (rested) lain (have, has, or had rested) lying (resting)
lay (to place–   requires an object) laid (placed) laid (have, has, or had placed) laying (placing)


She usually lies down (rests) before dinner.

He told his dog to lie down. (Commands are given in the present tense.)

Yesterday she lay down (rested) for two hours.

The papers have lain (rested) on his desk for days.

They were lying (resting) there in a big pile.

Please lay (place) this report on the top of the stack. (Notice that lay must have an object.)

He laid (placed) tiles for the kitchen backsplash.

He has laid (placed) tiles expertly for years.

She is laying (placing) her report on his desk right now.

Try your skill in using lie or lay in the following sentences. Write the correct form in the space provided.

  1. I am sure that I (laid/lay) the book on the desk yesterday.                                    _______________
  2. Jason angrily told his dog to (lay/lie) down.                                                               _______________
  3. This month’s bills have been (lying/laying) in the drawer for weeks.                    _______________
  4. The worker was (laying/lying) concrete blocks for the foundation.                       _______________
  5. Let the first draft of your report (lay/lie) there for a while before you revise it.  _______________
  6. Yesterday I (lay/laid) in my room before the exam.                                                 _______________
  7. Will you be able to (lie/lay) down before the presentation?                                   _______________
  8. How long have these papers been (laying/lying) here?                                           _______________
  9. Will the mason (lay/lie) bricks over the concrete patio?                                          _______________
  10. Mothers complain about clothes that have been left (laying/lying) around.       _______________
  11. I’m sure I (laid/layed/lied) my keys on this counter.                                                _______________
  12. The lost contract has (laid/lain) on her desk for weeks.                                         _______________
  13. Please tell your very friendly dog to (lay/lie) down.                                                 _______________
  14. When you were (lying/laying) the groceries down, did you see my keys?           _______________
  15. Returned books (lie/lay) in a pile at the library until the staff can return them to the stacks.                                                                                                                              ______________

Lie-Lay Writing Exercise

Lie-lay Key


Misuse of Myself

[Instructors: PDFs of this exercise and its answer key are at the end of this post.]


The personal pronoun myself is often used incorrectly, making the speaker sound uninformed. To use myself correctly, remember that all personal pronouns have a matching reflexive pronoun: me-myself, you-yourself, she-herself, etc. Being reflexive means the word reflects on something you do yourself (I ate the whole pie myself.) A reflexive pronoun is always the object in a sentence, never the subject, so saying Myself will lead the meeting or Mr. Singh and myself will handle the account is incorrect; myself is never a substitute for me or I.

To make sure you are using myselfcorrectly, consider these points.

  • When reflexive pronouns are used to show emphasis, they are called intensive pronouns: I wrote the report myself. The sentence would be correct without myself.
  • When the speaker is both the subject and object of the sentence, use the reflexive: After the presentation, treated myself to a night out with friends.

Correct the following sentences containing myself. Note whether the rewritten sentence uses myself as the object [O], as an intensive [I], or as subject/object [S/O]. Mark the sentence with a [C] if myself is being used correctly and note why.

  1. Please contact Maria, Sooyi, or myself with questions about the new regulations.
  2. Let myself know when you’ve completed reviewing the attached report.
  3. I can see me in the photo.
  4. Give the package to Joe or myself.
  5. I myself saw the result of the quake’s damage.
  6. For people like myself, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a good job.
  7. The manager and myself met to discuss the matter, and we were in complete agreement.
  8. My colleagues and myself worked through the night to make the deadline.
  9. I brought in the client myself and should therefore be the liaison.
  10. Mark said he’d be delighted to set up a phone call for myself and Ben.

Misuse of Myself Exercise

Misuse of Myself-Answer Key