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I found this sentence in an English book which has some exercises to spot errors.

The sentence is this:

Conventionally speaking (1)

men are supposed to earn while (2)

women are supposed to sit at home, (3)

do housework and discipline the children. (4)

No error (5)

The book says that there is error in the line number (1). There is no explanation or anything as to what is wrong or why.

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    Perhaps the book wants a comma after Conventionally speaking, and I would put one there. Otherwise, it looks good to me. Mar 31 '16 at 15:59
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Unless the sentence is addressing men who speak in conventional ways, it is missing a comma.

With no comma, conventionally speaking appears to modify "men" (albeit in an awkward, non-idiomatic way.)

Conventionally speaking men are more likely to be hired as broadcasters than those with effeminate voices.

When a comma is included, "Conventionally speaking" qualifies the entire statement that follows.

Conventionally speaking, men are more likely to be hired as broadcasters than women.


Also - ruakh correctly points out that here "while" is being used to mean "whereas", rather than "at the same time as." Formal grammar would put a comma in front of it:

Conventionally speaking, men are supposed to earn, while women are supposed to sit at home, do housework and discipline the children.

If the author meant to say that men should be earning at exactly the same time as women do chores, the comma and the "are supposed to" could be removed.

Conventionally speaking, men are supposed to earn while women sit at home, do housework and discipline the children.

So 1 is definitely wrong, and 2 is formally incorrect also.

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    . . . though (2) is also missing a comma (between earn and while).
    – ruakh
    Mar 31 '16 at 23:12
  • Good point, @ruakh
    – Adam
    Mar 31 '16 at 23:28

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