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Grammar in postgraduate academic writing A/Professor Sue Starfield The Learning Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Grammar in postgraduate academic writing A/Professor Sue Starfield The Learning Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grammar in postgraduate academic writing A/Professor Sue Starfield The Learning Centre

2 Good presidents require three qualities: courage, perseverance, and dedicated. She knew she was headed for a major conflict. A serious fight against determined opponents. Looking very tired and worn, a decision was finally reached by the committee. Most people he encounters are impressed by his calm manner, meticulous attire, and being ambitious. When the time came for the representatives to sign the contract however the bid was withdrawn. Small companies suffer in a tight labour market. One of their problems being that they can't compete for qualified personnel. Employee pilferage though it can jeopardize a company's survival is often ignored by management. He focused all his energies on his personal goals he never wavered from his chosen path. I voted against the provision as a matter of principa l.

3 Workshop Overview The fifteen most common grammatical errors in academic writing

4 FYI What is the difference between a mistake and an error? An error is a systematic misuse of a form A mistake is a one off – usually an oversight in the editing process

5 Causes of Grammatical Errors Gaps in understanding 1.Need feedback to identify errors 2.Need explanations 3.Need practice Editing skills 1.Need to be able to identify errors 2.Need to develop editing skills 3.Need for time management skills – allow time to rest your writing

6 15 frequently occurring grammatical mistakes 1.Subject-verb agreement 2.Tense or verb form 3.Singular/plural agreement 4.Word form 5.Unclear pronouns 6.Articles 7.Prepositions 8. Superfluous commas 9. Omitted commas 10. Apostrophes 11. Word use 12. Sentence fragments 13. Run-on sentences 14. Parallelism 15. Modifiers

7 1. Incorrect subject-verb agreement The relationship between a subject and its verb Incorrect: Most forms of image production and creation has been treated in a similar manner throughout the twentieth century. Revised: Most forms of image production and creation have been treated in a similar manner throughout the twentieth century. Note:I/you/they/we have he/she/it has

8 2. Wrong tense or verb form The verb form that shows whether you are referring to the past, future or present Incorrect: It was not until a sociological view of the situation was combining with a psychological approach that some progress was made. Revised: It was not until a sociological view of the situation was combined with a psychological approach that some progress was made.

9 3. Incorrect singular/plural agreement Agreement between noun forms Incorrect: Tourism has been considered one of the most important factor in the towns economic development. Revised: Tourism has been considered as one of the most important factors in the towns development Note: Uncountable nouns such as knowledge, information, advice, progress, research and machinery can be problematic

10 4. Incorrect word form Using the wrong form – verb, adjective, noun or adverb – of a word Incorrect: The primary emphasis of early research on leadership was psychologically and focused on the personality characteristics typical found among success leaders. Revised: The primary emphasis of early research on leadership was psychological and focused on the personality characteristics typically found among successful leaders.

11 5. Unclear pronoun reference Unclear pronoun reference makes sentences confusing, vague, and difficult to understand. Incorrect: Both Isabel and Barbara loved her children. Revised: Both Isabel and Barbara loved Isabels children. Note: Find the pronoun and replace it with the antecedent. If the pronoun reference is clear, the sentence should make sense.

12 6. Incorrect use of articles The incorrect use or omission of a, an and the Incorrect: The meeting ended with a call for humanitarian approach to be taken over a plight of the refugees Revised: The meeting ended with a call for a humanitarian approach to be taken over the plight of refugees. Note: if a word begins with a consonant, but sounds as if it begins with a vowel it should be treated as if it starts with a vowel i.e. an hour, an heir

13 Uncountable nouns Not usually used with numbers or plural s: poverty, inflation, happiness, research A poverty? An inflation? A happiness? Research is an important activity in the university. The research begun by Dr Smith was continued by Dr Jones. ish/leap/grammar/grammartalk/menu/sinplu/

14 7. Wrong or missing prepositions Using the wrong preposition is a common error as most prepositions are not stressed or pronounced clearly in speech, they are also often left out accidentally in writing. Incorrect: The study emphasised on the need of further research to ascertain the influence by television violence to young children. Revised: The study emphasised the need for further research to ascertain the influence of television violence on young children. Note: Prepositions need copious practice.

15 8. Omitted commas Commas should be used in compound sentences, before conjunctions, after transitions and between clauses. Incorrect: When it comes to eating people differ in their tastes. Revised: When it comes to eating, people differ in their tastes. Incorrect: My sister who lives in New York is doing a PhD. Correct: My sister, who lives in New York, is doing a PhD.

16 9. Superfluous commas Unnecessary commas make sentences difficult to read. Incorrect: Field trips are required, in several courses, such as, botany and geology. Revised: Field trips are required in several courses, such as botany and geology. Incorrect: The term, computer literacy, has become almost a cliché, in educational circles. Revised: The term computer literacy has become almost a cliché in educational circles.

17 10. Apostrophe errors Apostrophes indicate possession for nouns, omissions in contractions and are not used to indicate plurals. Incorrect: In the current conflict its uncertain whose borders theyre crossing. Revised: In the current conflict it is uncertain whose borders they are crossing. Note: In academic writing you should avoid contractions.

18 The Apostrophe Use to show possession or contraction One of the whales characteristics is its ability to communicate with other whales using lyrical sounds. Whales neck vertebrae are fused. Its (it is) clear that an apology should be made. outenglish/2009/02/090210_aae_apostrophe.shtml

19 11. Incorrect word use Using a word with the wrong meaning often due to similar spelling or pronunciation. Can occur when using spell check! Incorrect: There opinion was valuable. Revised: Their opinion was valuable. Incorrect: The porpoise of the visit was political. Revised: The purpose of the visit was political.

20 12.Sentence Fragment An incomplete sentence that is missing a subject or complete verb phrase. Incorrect: Having considered the implications of the theory and ascertained that it had little relevance to the question. Revised: Having considered the implications of the theory and ascertained that it had little relevance to the question, the researcher carried out a wider review of the literature.

21 13. Run-on sentence/comma splice Run-on sentences join two or more complete sentences with no punctuation. Comma splices join two complete sentences with a comma. Incorrect: International students face many challenges they have to study in a new environment and culture. Revised: International students face many challenges, for they have to study in a new environment and culture.

22 14. Lack of parallelism Faulty parallelism distracts the reader and disturbs the flow of the writing. All linked words should match in form. Incorrect: Good presidents require three qualities: courage, perseverance, and dedicated. Correct: Good presidents require three qualities: courage, perseverance, and dedication. Incorrect: In The Wind in the Willows, we empathise with Mole, more than with Rat. Revised: In The Wind in the Willows, we empathise with Mole, more than we empathise with Rat.

23 15. Dangling or misplaced modifier Phrases that are not located properly in relation to the words they modify. They lead to illogical sentences that are difficult to follow. Incorrect: A small book sat on the desk that Sarah had read. Revised: A small book that Sarah had read sat on the desk. Incorrect: The professor posted the notes for the students covered in class. Revised: The professor posted the notes covered in class for the students.

24 Some commonly confused words Principal/principle Whose/whos Your/youre Stationary/stationery Complement/compliment Affect/effect Their/there

25 Academic word lists emicwordlist/sublists

26 Useful websites For more info ish/leap/grammar/grammartalk/ ndex.shtml s/confused/?view=uk

27 Text Analysis Read through the texts Identify grammatical errors Have a chat to the person next to you Suggest changes

28 Text A In recent years, there has been a marked trend for business decisions to be made within groups rather than by individuals acting on their own (Gilligan et al, 1983:35). Vecchio (1994) states that group decision-making is better because informationØ and abilities can be pooled. Moreover, Gilligan et al (1983) note that a problem that has a high degree of complexity and uncertainty requires a team made up of people with diverse skills.

29 Text A ctd On the other hand, group decision-making has a number of potentially undesirable features which are not present in individual decision- making. Group decision-making sometimes involves conflict in achieving a consensus. Furthermore, Cornell (1985) states that in a minor decision or one in which a single individual has all the necessary skills to make an analysis, a group approach may be wasteful.

30 Text B The urbanisation process has accelerated since independence, due to a shift in population from rural to urban areas. The city became a focus of development with a vast need for labour and resources that could only be obtained from its rural surroundings. Migrations socio-economic and environmental dimensions are causing rapid expansion, following development and population growth until a point where the influence of the city goes beyond its boundaries. It is affecting inner city and rural communities forcing a change of skills, attitudes and behaviour patterns. Environmental quality is also decreasing through problems such as traffic congestion, air and water pollution. Additionally, the citys three major ethnic groups, Chinese, Malay and Indian, are experiencing a loss of identity and culture.

31 Text C Fill in the missing prepositions: This study sets out to answer the controversial question of whether increased food supply to a country makes a significant contribution to reducing malnutrition in children. It uses data collected in/from 75 countries between 1969 and 1987.

32 Text D As the average population of the United States has increased, so too has the number of hearing impaired individuals. Approximately 20 million Ø hearing aids are now in use, and this number is expected to rise. Although there have been Ø considerable advances in Ø hearing aid technology, hearing aids still have a number of drawbacks, one of the most notable ones being problems in dealing with Ø important environmental sounds. For example, Ø people who are deaf in both ears are unable to determine the direction of a sound with a conventional hearing aid. This limitation could result in accident or injury if the wearer cannot decide the direction of the siren or other warning sound. Another problem concerns people suffering from high-frequency hearing loss. This type of hearing loss removes many consonants and other useful environmental noises such as the ringing of the telephone.

33 Which sounds more academic? One of the most frequently expressed problems was that the preparatory program was very intensive and that they had difficulty in keeping up with it. One of the most frequently expressed problems was the intensity of the preparatory program and the difficulty in keeping up with it.

34 Which sounds more academic? The marketing blog project has two main objectives, first the project provides an experiential exercise in marketing as the students get closely involved with the marketing activities in their environment. The marketing blog project has two main objectives, first the provision of an experiential exercise in marketing entailing students close involvement with the marketing activities in their environment

35 Which sounds more academic? In their study, Tang and Chen (1998) compared groups of learners.... The researchers believed that when learners are helped to develop learning strategies, learner autonomy is achieved to some extent. A study by Tang and Chen (1998) comparing groups of learners concluded that helping learners to develop learning strategies leads to a degree of learner autonomy.

36 Thank you Please feel free to visit The Learning Centre or check out our website if you have further questions…www.lc.unsw.edu.au


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