There are two sentences in my homework that I can't explain why they are ungrammatical. How to correct them?

1) The students heard the teacher's rumors about each other.

I guess there is something wrong about the word 'each other.' For me, this sentence is ambiguous too. But I'm not sure what exactly make this sentence ungrammatical.

2) John was preferred to have brought some snacks.

I have no idea for this sentence. Though I think the passive form of the verb "prefer" is not usually seen, it is grammatical.

Thanks for all your help.

  • Each of these two sentences should be discussed in a separate question.
    – Jasper
    Nov 22 '16 at 16:23

"Each other" is a dangling modifier. Dangling modifiers create the ambiguity you saw.

The second sentence is sufficiently ungrammatical that I can't feel confident that I know what it was meant to mean. Possibilities are:

"John would prefer to have brought..." (or "...would have preferred to bring....")

"The rest of the group would have preferred that John bring..."

Or the example with "expected" given by Shruti.


If you are allowed to change some words in the sentence and this is what your sentences are expected to say. Take a look at solutions below:

  1. The students heard the teacher's rumors about themselves.

  2. John was expected to have brought some snacks.

  • Can you explain why the word "each other" cannot be used in the first sentence?
    – DaffyM
    Sep 23 '16 at 11:23
  • @TRomano Does the word 'each other' refer to 'the teacher'? Isn't it 'the students'?
    – DaffyM
    Sep 23 '16 at 11:53
  • You're right! I was identifying the error as one of number agreement (teachers were spreading rumors about each other which the students came to hear); but it could equally well be an error of the pronoun (with a single teacher spreading rumors about more than one student). Comment expunged :) Sep 23 '16 at 12:13

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