By verbing, the actor accomplished something

By verbing,

Be very worried if your sentence begins with “By any verb ending in -ing.” The odds are about 50/50 you’ll fall into a syntax trap.

Good Work:

By justifying the actions of the FBI, Director Comey hopes to assure Americans that their constitutional rights are being respected.

  1. The opening phrase names an action taken by someone.
  2. The person who acted immediately follows.
  3. The phrases can be “flipped” and still make grammatical sense:
    1. Director Comey, by justifying the actions of the FBI, hopes to assure Americans that their constitutional rights are being respected.

By naming the actor immediately after the action, the author wrote a good sentence.
The author, by naming the actor immediately after the action, wrote a good sentence.

Needs Work:

  1. By diminishing our personal privacy, it is only a matter of time until we fall victim to constitutional abuses on every scale.

This sentence fails to identify how our privacy is diminished, or by whom. The only apparent subject for the action is “it.” And we have no idea who or what “it” is.

  • Solution 1: Provide an Actor for the Action of diminishing our privacy.
    • By diminishing our personal privacy, the American Patriot Act exposes us to constitutional abuses on every scale.
  • Solution 2: Eliminate the “by phrase” altogether.
    • The American Patriot Act diminishes our personal privacy, exposing  us to constitutional abuses on every scale.
  • Solution 3: When an actor cannot be provided, use passive tense.
    •  We are exposed to constitutional abuses on every scale by having our personal privacy diminished.

PROBLEMS FROM THE ESSAYS
(Not all sentences need to be corrected.)

  1. THE TERRORISM SERIES:
  2. By getting involved with Syrian refugees should convince the government that we should stay out of this disaster.
  3. By opening our borders, we are letting in refugees whose beliefs we’re unsure of.
  4. One way to protect our citizens is by closing the borders to refugees.
  5. Also by getting involved, we’d open up the doors to much bigger problems such as dealing with Russia.
  6. Now by the US launching such an awful attack, not only did they invite a counterattack by ISIS, but they also made ISIS feel stronger.
  7. By inviting Syrians in, you’re causing more problems than you’re solving.
  8. By not letting them in keeps them from inflicting harm on our own people.
  9. By letting these Syrians in, they will inflict their lifestyles on our people.
  10. By getting involved Syria’s conflict, we send our national security team into self-defense mode.
  11. By having Syrians stay in Syria, we contain ISIS to one area, allowing counter-terrorism programs to intervene more easily.
  12. By the US allowing these people to come into our own country causes many problems.
  13. By terrorists proving there strengths they might go on to do more drastic attacks to cause bigger problems.
  14. By intervening in a domestic dispute, many Americans may become the next target for terrorism.
  1. THE VANCOUVER SERIES:
  2. By having an addiction, it has made the addicts’ lives very hard to deal with.
  3. By providing the drug, the city keeps addicts off the streets and out of hospitals.
  4. By providing the drug, these addicts will be off the streets, which in turn will prevent them from committing minor street crimes.
  5. While the program doesn’t help addicts end their addiction, it reduces the crime rates in the city by providing the addicts free heroin in the cleanest way possible.
  6. By heroin users being addicted, they will do whatever they have to do to get their hands on the drug.
  7. This program is focused on reducing crime in the city by providing addicts free heroin in the cleanest possible way and thus keeping them off the streets.
  8. The program will also keep heroin users out of the hospital by reducing the use of laced drugs and unsanitary needles.
  9. The program reduces disease and hospital visits by giving free heroin to addicts in the cleanest way possible.
  1. THE GUN CONTROL SERIES:
  2. By controlling the use of guns such as people using them to protect themselves, is necessary because a study revealed that five women are murdered with guns every day in the United States.
  3. By saying this, Kopel stresses the fact that guns like the AR-15 function as normal hunting rifles do, and cannot create that havoc that assault rifles can.
  1. THE REGRESSIVE SALES TAX SERIES:
  2. If the sales tax does not tax  basic items that people need, the cost of essential items will not go up by being taxed.
  3. I can counter this argument by saying that coffee beans are not taxable.
  1. THE STEM CELL RESEARCH SERIES:
  2. By extracting one cell from an 8-celled embryo, technicians were able to use that cell to create more through mitosis.
  3. By extracting human eggs and emptying its nucleus, the group of MIT scientists were able to place donor skin cell nuclei into these cells.
  4. By definition, a zygote cannot be considered a human being until the about 4 weeks of age.
  1. THE RACIAL EQUALITY SERIES:
  2. Standardized tests actually help minority or low income students by displaying the biases and inequality of schooling.
  3. One example would be that there are benefits to being a certain race, such as earning college scholarships by identifying as African-American.
  4. In a time when Blacks were commonly found to be slaves, this one man was able to break expectations by becoming a respected general for the French army.
  5. Dialectical thinking leads to radical acceptance by teaching patients to become aware of their own judgments and accept them
  6. Test equity could be achieved by tailoring tests to students instead of attempting to tailor the students to the test.
  1. THE RANDOM COLLECTION:
  2. If football helmets aren’t actually working, the industries that make helmets should reduce concussions by adding more padding.
  3. Michael Brown posed a threat to officer Wilson by neglecting to respect the barrier that separates the inside of the car from the outside of the car, while attempting to retrieve officer Wilson’s gun.
  4. The family of Konerak Sinthasomphone was outraged by the reinstating of officer Balcerzak.
  5. By being introduced to this assignment, the Yap Fei, US gold, French francs, Brazilian cruzeros, and debit accounts now seem similar.
  6. By practicing how to make contact with a rising ball, batters then will expect it at bat.
  7. Technology makes our life easy by helping us conduct our day-to-day activities.
  8. By promoting “value deals,” professional sports concession stands are ignoring America’s growing obesity epidemic.
  9. Civic accomplishments are achieved by teaching mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  10. Steve Gass experimented with his own saw to prove that it works by using a hotdog as a substitute for a human finger.
  11. Childhood obesity would significantly decrease if sugary drinks were eliminated from a child’s everyday diet by putting an age restriction on it the same way there is an age restriction on tobacco and alcohol.
  12. By having a age restriction it will make it harder for children to purchase these products, and will reduce their consumption of non-nutritional beverages.
  13. By her making injuries plural, it states there is more than one injury and since her article is only talking about his PTSD it leaves it open to interpretation whether he is handling other issues.
  14. She then contradicts her self by basically describing what triggers his PTSD by saying that the rows of books reminds him of the rooftops on Ramada.
  15. By 2011, the prison population rose to almost double the prisons’ designed capacity.
  16. Taking a look at all the similarities that each of these occupations shows that by being a music educator it puts them at advantage.

Revise the sentences in a Reply below, either

  • by providing an actor for the action
  • by rephrasing with a passive verb, or
  • by eliminating the dangerous “by phrases” altogether.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s