Mixed sentences begin with one topic or grammatical pattern, then shift to another. (Usually this happens when a writer gets a new idea in the middle of writing a sentence.) Sentences with confusing shifts mislead readers by undermining patterns they rely on as they read.
- Mixed Sentence: Because of the rebellious atmosphere generated by protests against the Vietnam war helps explain the often outrageous fashions of the time. (When readers encounter a word like “because,” they expect it to be attached to some main statement and to add to (modify) the core statement in a sentence. But that doesn’t happen here. The sentence simply states the same thing twice: “because” and “helps explain.”)
- Mixed Sentence: The new procedures for testing cosmetics, we designed them to avoid cruelty to laboratory animals. (The writer seems to start this sentence over again with the word “we.”)
- Mixed Sentence: In 1872, Claude Monet exhibited the painting Impression, Sunrise was the source of the term Impressionism. (The writer uses the same term [Impression, Sunrise] as the end of one sentence, but then launches right into another sentence by re-using the same term. This is confusing for readers, who might not be able to follow the shift.)
- Mixed Sentence: By designing the questionnaire carefully made Valerie’s psychology study a success. (The “By” structure used to begin this sentence cannot stand on its own as a subject in this sentence pattern.)