Does Your Writing Depend on Depends? Clean up This Messy Grammar Mistake.

You read that right. There are some sentences that depend on depends.

5818708995_435812dc4a_zAnd that stinks.

Of course, I’m not really talking about those Depends, but a grammar mistake exemplified by the following sentence:

Depending on the temperature outside depends on when you can plant the seed.

Taking this sentence literally, something is depending on the temperature (it looks like it’s the time of planting) and something else (it looks like the temperature) is depending on the time of planting. Well, both variables (the temperature and when you can plant) can’t really be each depending on each other. It doesn’t make sense. To fix this sentence, we have to ask ourselves what is really depending on what. What event has to happen for the other event to happen?

The fix: The temperature outside determines when you can plant the seed.

Or, to restructure a little:

The time when you can plant the seed depends on the temperature outside.

Easy, right? Now, let’s tackle this error’s sister, depending… determines.

Example: Depending on the temperature outside determines when you can plant the seed.

This error does something a little different. Unlike its sister, it doesn’t have two factors depending on each other in a way that doesn’t work. Instead, it has one factor depend on another, but it repeats itself with depending and determines, making it seem like the act of depending on the temperature is what determines the planting time. We can fix it exactly the same way as we did the depending… depends problem. We can use depends or determines, but not both.

Look back at your own writing. Are any of your sentences depending on determines or depending on depends? Now that you know the fix, take them over to the changing table and clean them up!

Image Credit: Heather, Flicker Creative Commons

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