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Shifts - Types - Common Mistakes We Make and It's Correction - 2


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Shifts


Shifts in Perspective

Shifts in Number

Person and Number with Collective Nouns

Shifts in Tone and Style

Case 1: Shifts in Perspective


Shifts in perspective are related to shifts in person in that both change the vantage point from which a piece of writing is told. As with other shifts, there will be occasions when it is desirable to shift perspective, but unnecessary shifts confuse always. In the following example, the perspective shifts from above the water to 'below' without adequate transition.

EXAMPLE:
Confusing: The frothy surface of the ocean danced with bursts of light and the fish swam lazily through the clear water and waving plants.
Revised The frothy surface of the ocean danced with bursts of light; below, the fish swam lazily through the clear water and waving plants.


Case 2: Shifts in Number


Number indicates one (singular) or many (plural). Shifts in number occur with nouns and personal pronouns because both change form to show differences in number. Confusion with number occurs especially often between a pronoun and its antecedent and between words whose meanings relate to each other. As a general rule, shifts in number can be corrected if singular pronouns are used to refer to singular antecedents and plural pronouns are used to refer to plural antecedents. The following examples show how shifts in number can be revised for greater clarity and improved style.

EXAMPLES:
Confusing: If a person does not keep up with household affairs, they will find that things pile up with alarming speed. (shift from singular to plural)
Revised:If a person does not keep up with household affairs, he or she will find that things pile up with alarming speed.
OR
If people do not keep up with household affairs, they will find that things pile up with alarming speed.
Confusing: All the repair stations have a good reputation. (repair stations is plural; reputation is singular)
Revised: All the repair stations have good reputations.

Case 3: Person and Number with Collective Nouns


Maintaining consistency of person and number is especially tricky with collective nouns, since many can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. Once you establish a collective noun as singular or plural within a sentence, maintain consistency throughout.

EXAMPLES:
Confusing: Because my company bases their bonus on amount of income generated yearly, we must all do our share to enable it to give a generous bonus.
Revised:Because my company bases its bonus on amount of income generated yearly, we must all do our share to enable it to give a generous bonus.
OR
Because my company bases their bonus on amount of income generated yearly, we must all do our share to enable them to give a generous bonus.
Confusing The jury is divided on whether or not they should demand additional evidence.
Revised: The jury are divided on whether or not they should demand additional evidence. (jury functioning as separate individuals)

Case 4: Shifts in Tone and Style


Tone in writing is the writer's attitude toward his or her readers and subject. As pitch and volume convey tone in speaking, so word choice and sentence structure help convey tone in writing. Tone can be formal or informal, humorous or earnest, distant or friendly, pompous or personal, or any number of different stances. Obviously, different tones are appropriate for different audiences.

Style is a writer's way of writing. Style comprises every way a writer uses language. Elements of style include tone, word choice, figurative language, grammatical structure, rhythm, and sentence length and organization.

Generally speaking, a piece of writing is more powerful and effective if consistent tone and style are maintained throughout. Needless shifts in tone and style confuse readers and weaken the impact of a piece of writing.

EXAMPLES:
Shift: Reporters who assert that freedom of the press can be maintained without judicial intervention are really bananas.
Revised: Reporters who assert that freedom of the press can be maintained without judicial intervention are greatly mistaken.

Shift: Their leave-taking was marked by the same cool that had characterized their entire visit with us. Later, we discussed their good humour, consideration, and generosity.
Revised: Their leave-taking was marked by the same affability that had characterized their entire visit with us. Later, we discussed their good humour, consideration, and generosity.


Sample Usage

Stated above with suitable examples.


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