commonerrors1Choose the grammatically correct options in the email extract below. Then check the answers and read our feedback. Try not to look at the answers first!


Subject: Late Delivery of Order No. 39587

I (1) (refer / refer to) your letter of 16 November regarding them delay in (2) (delivering / deliver) your order for electronic (3) (component / components) Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

I have checked the matter with our distribution (4) (officer. He / officer, he) informed me that

we (5) (have experiencing / have been experiencing) a number of problems with the new transport company. I am afraid that the delay in delivery was due to (6) (they are unreliable / their unreliability).


Answers / Feedback

1.         refer to

The verb ‘refer’ is always followed by the preposition ‘to’ + noun (something).

2.         delivering

This is a common structure: noun + preposition + gerund (verb+ing). When the noun ‘delay’ is followed by an action, it is followed by the preposition ‘in’ + the gerund.

3.         components

Leaving the ‘s’ off the ending of countable nouns is a common error. Always check the noun endings.

4.         officer. He

Sometimes a comma can be used to separate two full clauses especially when they are very closely related. In this case we need to start a new sentence because the writer goes on to make a new point.

5.         have been experiencing

We must use the present perfect continuous tense in this case since the action - of experiencing problems - is on-going. It’s not an isolated case which happened once.

6.         their unreliability

‘Due to” is followed by a noun – due to + something. ‘Due to the fact that’ is followed by a full clause. So, we could say ‘due to the fact that they are unreliable’. However, this is rather long-winded. The shorter alternative is clearer.