Let us count the problems with this sentence

My students are currently using the case of Vanevery v. State, 980 So. 2d 1105 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), among others, to write a memo about second-degree murder.  Vanevery includes the following train wreck of a sentence:

“The truck which appeared to have struck, him was found abandoned near the scene of the accident.”

It’s clear from the previous sentence that “him” refers to “the victim,” so no problem there.  The comma after “struck” is incorrect.  Let’s be generous and call that a typo.  I tell my students that you’ll get most of your comma decisions right if you just read the sentence out loud and put commas in wherever you pause.  Nobody would pause after “struck.”

There is also a passive voice problem, although I would probably leave that as is.  Presumably police officers investigating the accident found the truck, but the identity of the truck-finders is not important.

“Which” is used incorrectly.  “Appeared to have struck the victim” is a restrictive clause, so “that” should be used instead of “which.”  I’m not a huge stickler on this rule, and this sentence doesn’t sound too bad with “which.”

Finally, I don’t know why we need the words “appeared to have.”  Appeared to whom?  Were there a lot of other abandoned trucks found near the scene of the accident?

Here is how I would rewrite the sentence:  “The truck that struck him was found abandoned near the scene of the accident.”

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