Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finding Errors, Periodically

Preliminary sentences have their flaws, and sometimes the readers occasionally miss them. I didn't miss the flaw in the pictured sentence. Did you? Did you spot the same flaw when I reintroduced it in the opening sentence of this blog post?

What we're dealing with is redundancy. Read the paragraph's opening sentence closely, slowly. Focus on what comes after the comma, but disregard the material between the dashes. We're left with:

... and sometimes the voters occasionally miss on top-five teams.

Sometimes means "from time to time." So does occasionally. The sentence needs only one of these synonymous adverbs, not both:

... and sometimes the voters miss on top-five teams.

–OR–

... and the voters occasionally miss on top-five teams.

Once in a while, use sometimes. At times, use occasionally. Now and then, check your work to be sure you haven't used both.

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