What are predication errors?
A predication error is when.....
I just made one!
A predication error occurs when the subject of the sentence does not match its predicate. (That's better!)
Remember that a sentence is made up of two parts: the subject, which is the person, people, thing, or things being described or performing the action; and the predicate, which is the verb and all the other parts of the sentence. You can spot predication errors (also called "faulty predication") by asking yourself some pertinent questions.
For instance, if the main verb of your sentence is a form of the verb "to be," ask yourself:
Can the subject really be this?
In the sentence beginning "A predication error is when," the answer is no. The subject, "a predication error," is a noun, which the rest of the sentence promises to describe. But the word "when" indicates that an adverbial clause is coming. Remember that adverbs answer questions like "how," "when," "how much," etc.; they describe verbs, not nouns.
As a noun, therefore, "a predication error" cannot be "when." It can be awful, embarrassing, unnecessary, and a wide range of other adjectives. The verb "occurs," however, can be described by an adverb, so the second version of the sentence is correct.
In writing sentences that describe or define a noun, avoid using the phrase "is when," and you'll cut down on a lot of errors.
Other common types of predication errors
It is also quite possible to make predication errors when using action verbs. When a writer makes this kind of mistake, it is usually because the writer has a different subject in mind than what comes out in the sentence.
Television violence continues to scoff at parents' and psychologists' concerns about children's viewing habits. (Can you spot the error?)
If the main verb of your sentence is an action verb, ask yourself:
Can the subject really do this?
Again, for the sentence above, the answer is no. "Television violence" is a thing, and an abstract thing at that. It cannot "scoff," or even "continue to scoff." People, however, can. What the writer probably had in mind was something more like this:
The producers of violent television programs continue to scoff at parents' and psychologists' concerns about children's viewing habits.