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22.9: Try It: Other Parts of Speech

Adjectives and Adverbs

Read the following passage. Identify any errors in adjective or adverb use. Explain how to fix each error. The sentences have been numbered to aid your comments:

(1) Satyendra Nath Bose (1894–1974) was an Indian physicist specializing in mathematical physics. (2) He is most well known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate, which both took his name. (3) A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second most high civilian award, in 1954 by the Government of India.

(4) A self-taught scholar and a polyglot, he had a real varied range of interests in diverse fields including physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, philosophy, arts, literature, and music. (5) He served on many research committees in sovereign India.

Answer:
  • Sentence 2 uses the wrong superlative form. The sentence should read “He is best known. . . “
  • Sentence 3 uses the wrong superlative form. The sentence should read “. . . India’s second highest civilian award . . .”
  • In sentence 4, the adjective real appears where really should be used: “He had a really varied range of interests.”

As an aside, look at the adjective many in sentence 5. You may remember from our discussion of nouns that non-count nouns, like research require the adjective much not many. So why is many correct here? Because many is modifying the noun committees (a noun that is is also being modified by research).

Conjunctions, Prepositions, and Articles

Read the following passage. Identify any errors in the use of conjunctions, prepositions, or articles. Explain how to fix each error. Please note that the quoted letter has been left in its original form; you do not need to critique it. The sentences have been numbered to aid your comments:

(1) While presenting the lecture in the University of Dhaka on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe Bose intended to show his students that the current theory was inadequate, because it predicted results not in accordance to experimental results.

(2) In the process of describing this discrepancy, Bose for the first time took the position that the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution would not be true for microscopic particles, where fluctuations due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle will be significant. (3) Bose adapted this lecture into an short article called “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta” and sent it to Albert Einstein with a following letter:

Respected Sir, I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. I am anxious to know what you think of it. . . . I do not know sufficient German to translate the paper. If you think the paper worth publication I shall be grateful if you arrange for its publication in Zeitschrift für Physik. Though a complete stranger to you, I do not feel any hesitation in making such a request. Because we are all your pupils though profiting only by your teachings through your writings.

(4) Einstein, recognizing the importance of the paper, translated it into German himself and had it published in Zeitschrift für Physik under Bose’s name. (5) As a result of this recognition Bose was able to work for two years in European X-ray and crystallography laboratories; during this time, he worked with Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie and Einstein.

Answer:

Sentence 1 has three separate ideas in it, two of which have subordinating conjunctions:

  • While presenting a lecture in the University of Dhaka on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe
  • Bose intended to show his students that the current theory was inadequate
  • because it predicted results not in accordance to experimental results

There should be a comma after the first, but not before the third, which is the opposite of how the sentence currently stands:

  • While presenting a lecture in the University of Dhaka on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe, Bose intended to show his students that the current theory was inadequate because it predicted results not in accordance to experimental results

In the quoted letter, you may have noticed the sentence “Because we are all your pupils though profiting only by your teachings through your writings.” As we learned, subordinating conjunctions change an independent clause into a dependent clause. Thus, this clause shouldn’t exist on its own—especially in a formal context. However, exceptions are occasionally made in correspondence.

In sentence 5 the coordinating conjunction and is used twice. The first instance is used correctly: it doesn’t need a comma. The second and needs a comma beforehand. It’s joining items in a list, so it needs a serial comma.


Sentence 1 has two incorrect prepositions: in should be at, and to should be with:

  • While presenting a lecture at the University of Dhaka
  • Because it predicted results not in accordance with experimental results.

The prepositional phrase at the beginning of sentence 5 needs a comma afterwards:

  • As a result of this recognition, Bose was able to work for two years in European X-ray and crystallography laboratories; during this time, he worked with Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie and Einstein.

In sentence 1, the lecture should be a lecture because we haven’t defined a specific lecture yet. Thus the indefinite is needed, not the definite. Since lecture starts with a consonant sound, a is needed, not an.

In sentence 3, an short article should be a short article. This may have happened because the original draft read “an article,” but the adjective was added in later. Additionally, a following letter should be the following letter because the sentence is referring to a specific letter:

  • Bose adapted this lecture into a short article called “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta” and sent it to Albert Einstein with the following letter:
 
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