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Writing Well 2
or
English is Fun

  • Goodbye, cruel words: English. It's Dead to me.
  • Writers should know basic parts of speech
    • Every sentence has at least a subject and a verb, at least understood.

    • Subject (noun, pronoun)

      • Noun (person, place or thing)

      • Pronouns (acts as & refers to noun: she, her, he, him, it, they, them)

    • Adjective (modifies nouns or pronouns; articles)

    • Verb (action or state of being)
      • Transitive verb takes an object
      • Intransitive verb does not

    • Adverb (modifies verbs, adjectives or other adverbs)

    • Conjunction (connectors: and, but, if, because)

    • Interjection (exclamation: wow, hey, lah)

    • Preposition (gives relation of a phrase to a clause)


  • Basic unit of English usage:
    • The sentence
      • (independent clause: subject, verb)
        • She cried.
        • NOT: After she cried. …. (dependent clause)
        • After she cried, I laughed.
        • Fr: fragment
        • RO: run on

  • Pesky Pronouns
    • Subject pronouns rename the subject of the verb.
      • I, he, she, we and they are subject pronouns.
      • You and I are learning to write well.
    • Object pronouns rename the objects of the verb.
      • Me, him, her, us and them are object pronouns.
      • You can talk to me.
      • Between you and me, she is going to ask him to marry her.

      • Subject Pronouns   Object Pronouns
        I   me
        He   him
        She   her
        We   us
        They   them
        Who   whom


    • Test yourself!
      • I plan to propose, and then me and her are getting married.


    • Subject pronouns are used as predicate nominatives when they rename the subject and the subject is the object.
      • It was I who broke the vase.
      • This is she.
      • It is we who are responsible for learning to write well.
      • It is he who has made us.
    • Remember with a simple sentence.
      • I want it.
        • Give it to me.
      • He is my husband.
        • I love him.
      • It is I.
        • I am it.

  • It
    • An organization is an it in formal writing.
    • We may use they informally in spoken English.
    • Use it in formal writing.
      • ABC sells liquor and wine. It has stores all over the United States.
      • ABC employees are friendly. They like to socialize after work.

  • Capitalization
    • First word in a sentence
    • First word in a quote that is a full sentence
    • Proper nouns (arguable)
    • Titles that precede the name in a sentence, as if part of the name.
      • The speaker is Professor I.M. Smart.

    • Not titles after the name or standing alone in a sentence
      • I.M. Smart, professor, will speak.
      • The professor from Ohio, I.M. Smart, will speak.
      • I.M. Smart is a physics professor.
      • The president of the United States lives in the White House.

    • Common capitalization errors
      • Do NOT capitalize
        • Majors and minors
          • unless they contain a proper noun, such as English
            • I am an English literature major.
            • I am a biology major.
        • Informal references to degrees
          • I have a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
        • Centuries: 21st century
      • CE: Capitalization error

  • Technically correct, but....
    • Sometimes things that may be technically correct sound wrong
      • Awkward (AWK)
      • Confusing phrases (huh? or WC)
      • Unclear sentences (huh?? or NC)
      • Illogical sentences (HUH??? or Ill)
      • Absence of transitions

  • Mix-ups & other misuses
    • Like/as
      • As is a conjunction used to introduce clauses (also functions as a prepostion and an adverb).
        • Jim blocks the linebacker as he should. (not like)
    • Like can be used as at least seven parts of speech
      • Like versus such as (correct the incorrect sentence)
        • Such as precedes an that represents [an] example[s] that represent[s] a larger subjects;
          such as includes the object.
          • I like vegetables like peas and carrots.
          • I like vegetables such as peas and carrots.
          • Classes such as this one involve a lot of writing.


        • A ‘slight distinction’
          “When the ancestors of ‘like’ and ‘such as’ entered English in Anglo-Saxon times, the meanings of the two terms were pretty much alike, according to citations in the Oxford English Dictionary.… “In Modern American Usage (1966), Follett says the two terms ‘may often be interchanged,’ but ‘such as leads the mind to imagine an indefinite group of objects’ while ‘like’ suggests a closer resemblance among the things compared.’”

          --Grammarphobia.com
          http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/02/like-such-as.html

        • Like indicates that two or more objects are comparable.
            • A tomato is like a vegetable, but it is a fruit.
            • Classes like this one are hard to find.

    • More Mix-ups
      • Accept / except
        • Accept: Consent to receive; believe as valid
        • Except: Not including
      • Affect / effect
        • Affect (verb) to influence
        • Effect (noun) results
        • He affected my mood, so he had an effect on me.

        • Affect (noun) expressed feeling or emotion.
          • People may respond with depressed affect.
        • Effect (verb) to bring about
          • Activists can effect a change…

      • Between / among
        • Between you and me. Among us three.

        • Compliment / complement
          • Compliment: an admiring remark
          • Complement: goes well together; complete

      • Then / than
        • then for time; than for comparison

      • Fewer / less (countable vs. volume)
        • There were fewer states 60 years ago.
        • Arizona has less water than Florida does.

        Compose (to put together) / comprise (to contain)
        • The United States is composed of 50 states.
        • The United States comprises 50 states. (no of)

      • Use include when what follows is only part of the total.
        • The United States includes Hawaii and Alaska.
        • No need to add but not limited to....
        • The college's majors include speech and history.

  • Common problems

    • Agreement
      • Subject-verb:
        • The attention of students is / are needed.
        • SVA: subject-verb agreement error

      • Subject-antecedent pronoun
        • A refugee is someone who was forced to leave his / their home.
        • The class listened carefully so it / they could write good reports.
        • SAA: subject-antecedent error

    • Collective nouns

      • The team believed it / they could win.

      • The couple is / are in agreement.

      • Some collective nouns are treated as being composed of separate individuals, taking plural agreement, such as couple, majority and class.
        • Couple: The couple are married.
        • Majority: The majority believe in democracy.
        • Class: The class listened carefully so they could write good reports.


      • American English preference is singular verb with collective nouns such as government, team, rest, group, and faculty.
        • The government is responsible.
        • The team is confident.
        • The rest of the team is sitting down.
        • The group is going together.
      • "...British English is more flexible in allowing singular or plural verbs."
        Cambridge Grammar of English, 2006



    • British v. American verb forms
      • Learned / Learnt
      • Among / amongst

    • Intransitive versus transitive verbs
      • I graduated college.
      • I graduated from college.
        • Colleges graduate students. (transitive verb, taking a direct object)
        • Students graduate from college. (intransitive verb; no direct object)

    • Double prepositions
      • I'm interested in how we live off of animals.

    • Verb tenses
    • Irregular Verbs
      • Don't take the regular –d, –ed, or –ied spelling as do past simple or past participle.
      • More than 250; must be memorized =-0


    • Active v. Passive Voice
      • Active: More direct, lively, takes fewer words
        • Actor precedes action
          • Reports will be written by the class.
          • The class will write reports.
      • Passive: The object of the sentence becomes the subject.
        • Most sentences starting with “There is” or “There are” are passive.
          • Sometimes passive is best for instructive writing.
          • Sometimes the actor is not as important.
            • The victims were rushed by ambulance to the
              hospital. (An ambulance rushed the victims …)
    • Participles
      • Participle: a verb that can function as an adjective, often ending in –ing and -ed.
      • Participles should be placed next to the noun or noun phrase it modifies, separated by a comma.

        • Reading aloud, the teacher bored the students.

      • Dangling participles
        • Flitting gaily from flower to flower, the football player watched the bee.
          • The participle is left dangling without a clear antecedent, the noun to which the participle refers.
          • The antecedent must be clear to readers.
        • The football player watched the bee flitting gaily from flower to flower.

        • He went to watch his horse run around the track carrying a copy of the breeder’s guide under his arm.
        • Carrying a copy of the breeder's guide under his arm, he went to watch his horse run around the track.

        • "As an aethist, God must love me." -- Bill Mahr

        • Illogical sentences
          • DP: Dangling participle
          • MM: Misplaced modifier
          • Ill: Illogical

  • Appositive phrases
    • Appositive phrases (elements with identical, or identifying, reference)
      • Non-restrictive (non-essential) appositives are separated by a comma and often immediately follow the noun.
        • Linda Perry, your teacher, is standing here.
      • Restrictive appositive – necessary for the meaning of the sentence– is not separated by a comma.
        • My student Michael Smith and his wife, Mary, live in Ocoee.

    • That and Which
      • Which introduces non-essential (non-restrictive) clauses, which require a comma.
      • That introduces essential (restrictive) clauses, which do not require a comma.
        • This is the class that we must take.
          • Note that that can often be dropped entirely.
          • Which is not incorrect with an essential clause, but it also does not take a comma.
            • Which is more formal.

  • Possessives
    • Man's hat
    • Men's hat
    • Lady's hat
    • Ladies' hat
    • Class' meeting time (or class's)
    • Yours, theirs, hers, his, ours
    • Its (not it's or its'; it's is a contraction for it is)

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  • Punctuation

    • Commas: guides to sentence meaning. Edit these:

      • Woman without her man is nothing.

      • The professor, who uses examples, helps us learn.

      • A panda eats, shoots and leaves.

      • We are learning to write well, and giving it our best effort.

    • Commas: A guide for readers
      • To set off items, as in dates and places
        • I was born on September 1, 1960, in Ocoee, Florida, during a hurricane.

      • To separate items in a series
          • The Oxford comma:
            • I like apples, oranges, and plums.
          • Final comma before and is often dropped:
            • I like apples, oranges and plums.

          • The final comma before and is dropped in AP style.
            • Occasionally comma is placed before and for clarity.

      • Conventions
        • Large figures: 1,000

      • Non-restrictive clauses: Professor Smart, who uses examples, helps us learn. (speaking of one prof)

      • But not in restrictive clauses: The professor who uses examples helps us learn. (professors in general)

      • Introductory clauses: After I finished cooking dinner, we sat down for a feast.
        • The comma is sometimes dropped in short introductory clauses:
          After dinner we had brandy.

      • Problems with commas
        • Comma splices
          • If two independent clauses are contained in one sentence, they MUST be connected by
            • A conjunction (such as and, but, because, except when it is causal (gives a reason for the first clause)
            • AND a comma (before the conjunction)
            • IF the clauses are strongly related, we may use a semicolon, but that is RARE.
          • WRONG:  We are brave, we are strong.
          • CORRECT: We are brave, and we are strong.
          • CORRECT: We are brave. We are strong.
          • OK: We are brave; our courage comes from strength.

      • Quotes:
        • American Standard:
          Commas and periods INSIDE “final quotation mark.”


        • “Semicolons go outside quotation marks”; however, they're seldom used, she said.

        • Question marks are dependent on usage.
          • “Are they correct?” he asked.
          • Who wrote “On Being Correct”?

      • Double quotation marks, with inside quotes taking single quotation marks.
        • She said, "Our teacher told us, 'The best is yet to come.' "

      • Yoda said, "Before end quotation, punctuation you must use."
      • "Before end quotation, punctuation you must use," Yoda said.

    • Hyphens and dashes
      • Hyphens join words
        • Compound modifiers
          • first-time homeowner
          • mobile-device-friendly ads
            • But not with adverb ending in ly in front
              • friendly fourth-year students
      • Dashes separate -- —
        • A restrictive appositive — necessary for the meaning of the sentence — is not separated by a comma.

Spelling

  • Homophones:
    • Its vs. it’s
    • Their, there, or they’re
    • Your vs. you're
  • American vs. British
  • AP vs. British (and everybody else)
    • Doubling final consonants: planned; preferred
    • Dropping an l in compounds of all, well and full
      • Exception: all right, which is always two words


Example of excellent writing:
https://theamericanscholar.org/like-a-mighty-stream/#.VV4fIV57D3A


Exercise

  • Correct these if necessary or mark correct:


    • 1. It is alright to set goals, I have many like living a healthy and prosperous life.


    • 2. The couple has two children.


    • 3. Inside the box was a man and a woman.


    • 4. Every fireman in the city, 250 in all were called out.


    • 5. The chairman stated that response to the committee’s activities has convinced him that the money for renovation can be raised.


    • 6. Canada is sending between 50 to 100 military advisers, and $1 million in aide.


  • Independent, dependent clauses: Underline independent; circle dependent

    • They agreed to open negotiations when both sides ceased fire.


    • They're going to their house, which is over there.


  • Diagramming sentences

    • They agreed to open negotiations when both sides ceased fire.



____________|____________

       

       



       

Here is a sentence to have fun with diagramming sentences.

       


______________|______________

       

       

       

       

       


http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/diagrams/diagrams.htm


Recommended texts on grammar

  • Harbrace College Handbook, 12th ed., John C. Hodges, ed., 1995.
  • Harbrace College Handbook, 13th ed., with 1998 MLA Style Manual Updates, John C. Hodges, et al., 1998.
  • The Hodges Harbrace Handbook, 18th ed., Cheryl Glenn & Loretta Gray, Wadsworth, 2012.
  • The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, http://www.grammarbook.com/
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