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Syllabus, ENG 102
Examples of unclear writing

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These are sentences taken from letters written by real people to the Welfare Department in application for Welfare support.

1. I am forwarding my marriage certificate and six children. I have seven, but one died which was baptized on half sheet paper.

2. I am writing the Welfare Department to say that my baby was born two years old. When do I get my money?

3. Mrs. Jones has not had any clothes for a year and has been visited regularly by the clergy.

4. I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why?

5. I am glad to report that my husband who is missing is dead.

6. Please find for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am now living with cannot act or do anything until he knows.

7. I am very much annoyed to find you have branded my son illiterate. This is a dirty lie as I was married a week before he was born.

8. In answer to your letter, I have given birth to a baby boy weighing ten pounds, and I hope this is satisfactory.

9. I am forwarding my marriage certificate and three children, one of which is a mistake as you can see.

10. My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven't had any relief since.

11. You have changed my little boy to a girl. Will this make a difference.

12. Unless I get my husband's money pretty soon, I will be forced to lead an imortal life.

13. I have no children, as yet my husband is a truck driver and works day and night...

14. In accordance with your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.

15. This is the eighth child. What are you going to do about it?

16. I want money as quick as I can get it. I have been in bed with the Doctor for two weeks and he doesn't do me any good. If things don't improve, I will have to send for another Doctor.

Most of the errors you see here are easy to make--they are grammatical or structural errors that become obvious to the reader when taken out of context. Notice the way it makes you think about the person who wrote the sentence.

Before you laugh too hard--take a look at your own work again! I have seen some very similar errors made be students in my ENG 101 and ENG 102 classes for years! Always proofread very carefully!