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This packet is intended to help refresh and reinforce your understanding of some basic English reading and writing skills. As you prepare to take the COMPASS.

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Presentation on theme: "This packet is intended to help refresh and reinforce your understanding of some basic English reading and writing skills. As you prepare to take the COMPASS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to GMC’s Writing Skills Brush-up Packet for the COMPASS Placement Exam!

2 This packet is intended to help refresh and reinforce your understanding of some basic English reading and writing skills. As you prepare to take the COMPASS exam, this packet will provide you with rules, guidelines, examples, tools for practicing, and links to help enhance your education and improve your chances of success with the COMPASS.

3 An understanding of these 8 skill sets will help you ace the COMPASS:
WRITING SKILLS An understanding of these 8 skill sets will help you ace the COMPASS: Punctuation Spelling Capitalization Usage Verb formation and agreement Relationships of clauses Shifts in Construction Organization

4 Sentence Completeness
What is a sentence? A sentence is a group of words that 1. has a subject, 2. has a verb, 3. expresses a complete thought. If a sentence is missing more than one of these elements, it is incomplete. You are not allowed to write incomplete sentences. The completeness or incompleteness of a sentence has nothing to do with how long or short the group of words is.

5 Sentence Completeness
Sentences don’t have to be long to be complete. The following are examples of complete sentences: John runs. I am a biker. You threw the ball. The blue words are the subjects (the actors). The green words are the verbs (the actions).

6 Punctuation Understanding the rules of punctuation is like understanding the rules of the road. Traffic lights are effective at conducting traffic because everyone agrees on what they mean. Everyone agrees that red means stop and green means go, so (almost) everyone stops at a red light. Punctuation has the same function on the road of writing. A semicolon means there’s more information coming; a period means the sentence is over. Remember that the purpose of punctuation is to clarify your meaning or message so that your readers understand exactly what you intend for them to understand. There are many different punctuation marks and many uses for each one. This packet will look at the pieces of punctuation that are most commonly used and that will be most helpful for you.

7 Punctuation There are specific uses for each different kind of punctuation. If you feel like you want to use a comma in a particular sentence but you don’t know why you want to use a comma, then don’t use one. Sometimes you will think you need a comma when you really only need to take a breath. Commas are not used to mark when a person should take a breath while reading a sentence; they are used to clarify for the reader the relationships among words in a sentence. Only use a comma if you know that you need one.

8 Punctuation: Commas Along with the period, the comma is the most frequently used punctuation mark. However, while a period is used to end a sentence, a comma is used to add a short pause within a sentence. We will go over several specific types of pauses that a comma can add to a sentence in the next slides.

9 Punctuation: Commas Comma Use One: Listing
Jay had a hamburger, fries, and a Dr. Pepper for lunch. Tanya’s favorite animals are llamas, elephants, tigers, pterodactyls, dogs, cats, and parakeets.

10 Punctuation: Commas Comma Use Two: Joining two sentences
Use a comma and a conjunction (and or but) to join two independent clauses together. Darrell wanted to buy six tickets to the game, but he could only afford to buy three. Brittany knew the car was ready to pick up, and she couldn’t wait to see the new paint color. Note: It is widely considered acceptable to leave the comma out in this situation if both of the independent clauses are short (the COMPASS writing test makes use of this exception frequently).

11 Punctuation: Commas Comma Use Three: Inserting nonessential words or phrases at the beginning or end of a sentence Certainly, someone will adopt Fido. Todd gives money to most local charities, but not all of them.

12 Punctuation: Commas Comma Use Four: Inserting nonessential words or phrases in the middle of a sentence Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami, was among our country’s first Peace Corp volunteers. Peanuts, which cause some people to break out in hives, are often served boiled in Georgia.

13 Punctuation: Apostrophes
Apostrophe Use One: Forming contractions Do not = Don’t Cannot = Can’t You are = You’re We are = We’re They are = They’re We will = We’ll He is = He’s It is = It’s

14 Punctuation: Apostrophes
Apostrophe Use Two: Forming possessives The apple that belongs to Jim = Jim’s apple The budget of the US = The nation’s budget The password that belongs to all the tellers who work for CB&T = The tellers’ password Note: As in the third example above, if you need to make a word both plural and possessive, always make the word plural first (notice that the apostrophe comes after the s in the plural tellers—teller’s is the possessive of the singular word teller).

15 Punctuation: Colons and Semi-colons
Colons and semi-colons have similar purposes. The main difference is that a sentence using a colon does not have to have two independent clauses, but a sentence using a semi-colon does. This video explains the difference:

16 Punctuation If you feel your punctuation skills are rusty or you just want a little more practice, try some of these punctuation and sentence construction games:

17 Spelling Spelling is an important life skill. If you have consistently good spelling skills, your readers will know your work is more credible than that of a writer who cannot spell well. The best way to improve your spelling skills is to read a lot. Another effective way is to play games that involve spelling, such as Boggle and Scrabble.

18 Spelling Here are some websites to help make you aware of commonly misspelled words and to help you improve your spelling skills:

19 Capitalization Here’s a list of the things you should always capitalize: The first words of a sentence The pronoun "I" Proper nouns (the names of specific people, places, organizations, and sometimes things) Family relationships (when used as proper names) The names of God, specific deities, religious figures, and holy books Exception: Do not capitalize the nonspecific use of the word "god." Titles preceding names, but not titles that follow names Directions that are names (North, South, East, and West when used as sections of the country, but not as compass directions) The days of the week, the months of the year, and holidays (but not the seasons used generally) Exception: Seasons are capitalized when used in a title. The names of countries, nationalities, and specific languages The first word in a sentence that is a direct quote The major words in the titles of books, articles, and songs (but not short prepositions or the articles "the," "a," or "an," if they are not the first word of the title) Members of national, political, racial, social, civic, and athletic groups Periods and events (but not century numbers) Trademarks

20 Usage: Articles The only articles used in the English language are: a, an, and the. The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a or an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. For example: The Johnsons’ cat, Ozzy, probably killed the opossum (This sentence refers to a specific cat). A cat probably killed the opossum (This sentence refers to a hypothetical [non-specified] cat). An works just like a, except an is used before words that begin with vowel sounds. For example, you would write “an apple” instead of “a apple,” or “a Snickers bar” instead of “an Snickers bar.”

21 Usage: Adjectives vs. Adverbs
Adjectives modify (describe/go with) nouns. Examples of adjectives are blue (the word being modified is red): The new horse is beautiful. Our puppy is playful. Some fish have shiny scales. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Examples of adverbs are green (the word being modified is red): The new horse jumped beautifully. Our puppy is very playful. Some fish have blindingly shiny scales and swim swiftly. *Tip: Adverbs typically end in –ly.

22 Usage: Adjectives vs. Adverbs
Adjectives modify (describe/go with) nouns. Examples of adjectives are blue (the word being modified is red): The new horse is beautiful. Our puppy is playful. Some fish have shiny scales. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Examples of adverbs are green (the word being modified is red): The new horse jumped beautifully. Our puppy is very playful. Some fish have blindingly shiny scales and swim swiftly. *Tip: Adverbs typically end in –ly.

23 Clauses and Phrases Sentences are composed of clauses and phrases.
A clause has both a subject and a verb. A phrase has either a subject or a verb, but not both. There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent. If there is an independent clause present in a group of words, that group is a sentence. A dependent clause on its own is not a sentence.

24 Independent and Dependent Clauses
An independent clause has a subject, has a verb, and expresses a complete thought. A dependent clause has a subject and has a verb but does not express a complete thought. I drank a cup of coffee. = independent clause (I = subject, drank = verb/it expresses a complete thought) After I drank a cup of coffee = dependent clause (Wait, it has all the same elements as the independent clause; what is the difference)? Notice that it has an additional word in the second example. After is a dependent clause marker, also known as a subordinating conjunction. It is a word that makes the thought incomplete. You can find more words like that under the heading Dependent Clause Marker on this page (hold Ctrl and click the link below):

25 Independent and Dependent Clauses
Note: If you have an independent clause, you have a sentence, and you must treat it as a sentence. Any time you have more than one independent clause in a sentence (if you do not join the two or more properly) you have a run-on sentence. If you join two independent clauses together using only a comma, you have a comma-splice. These are both major errors.

26 Clauses Tip: If you think you have a run-on, look for subject verb pairs (as simple as “John jumps,” “Sally runs,” and so on). If you have more than one, and the extras are not part of a dependent clause or clauses, you have a run-on. Tip: If you think you might have a comma splice, put a finger on the comma. Read what is to the left of it; read what is to the right of it. If what is to the left could be a sentence on its own, and what is to the right could be a sentence on its own, you have a comma splice.

27 Phrases A very small, wet, furry dog = a noun phrase—it has descriptive words (adjectives and an adverb) and a noun, but it never gets around to a complete subject-verb relationship. ran all across the neighborhood = a verb phrase—it does not include a subject. Neither one can function as a sentence by itself. You can add a phrase to an independent clause, though. A very small, wet, furry dog, Rex was loved by all the people in the neighborhood (Rex was loved = independent clause). Take a look here:

28 Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers
Misplaced modifiers: check below Dangling modifiers: check here Take a look here, also:

29 Mixed Construction Mixed construction often happens when a writer begins a sentence one way and ends it another way. We cannot really explain it better than the following module:

30 Grammatical Persons This is a fancy way to say who is talking or being talked to in a sentence. There are three grammatical persons: 1st Person, 2nd Person, and 3rd Person. 1st Person = “I” and “we” statements (statements in which you are talking about yourself) 2nd Person = “You” statements (statements in which you are talking to someone else) 3rd Person = “He, she, it” statements and “they” statements (statements in which you are talking about someone else).

31 Grammatical Persons Each grammatical person has a singular and a plural. Singular means we are talking about or to one person; plural means we are talking about or to two or more people. 1st Person Singular = I/1st Person Plural = We In English, we have the same word for 2nd Person Singular and 2nd Person Plural. We use you for both. 3rd Person = “He, she, it” and all singular nouns except for I and you are 3rd Person Singular. They and all plural nouns other than we and you are 3rd Person Plural.

32 Verbs When we think of verbs, we often think of action words. While it is true that action words are verbs, there are actually three kinds of verbs: action verbs, linking verbs, and helping verbs.

33 Verbs Action verbs show the action that the subject is doing. The subject is the actor or the doer, and the action verb is the action or what the doer is doing. Action verbs are not hard to pinpoint; just ask “does the verb show someone doing something?” Jump, run, think, eat, etc.

34 Verbs Linking verbs do just that—they link the subject to something.
Specifically, they link the subject to the subject complement. The subject complement describes or renames the subject. Example #1: “Johnny is a chef.” Johnny is not doing anything in the sentence. The linking verb is connects Johnny to chef (chef, the subject complement, renames him). Example #2: “Sally looks sad.” Sally is not doing anything. Looks connects Sally to the descriptive word sad. (NOTE: Words can mean multiple things. In the previous example, it means, roughly, appears to be or seems. Look can also be an action verb, as in “Tyrone looked at the magazine.” For that matter, appears can be an action verb, as in “The magician appeared out of nowhere.”

35 Verbs Helping verbs help change the tense a verb. We will go over helping verbs in the section on tense.

36 Verbs When dealing with verbs, we must be aware that subjects and verbs must always agree. When we say they must agree, we mean that the form of that subject and the form of the verb must match. Note the following example: I jump. You jump. We jump. They jump. He jumps. Wait, how come in the last example we add an s to the end of jump? We add an s to the end of a regular verb when the subject is third person singular. We would also add the s if instead of he, the subject were she, it, or any other singular noun other than I or you. The rules are different if we want to change the tense of the verb, but we will get to that in the tense section. Other regular verbs (verbs that follow the normal pattern/rules) will follow the same pattern that jump follows. We are dealing only with present tense verbs at the moment. Hold on and we will get to the other tenses soon.

37 Verbs Sadly, in English, we also have irregular verbs (not all languages have them). Irregular verbs do not follow the typical verb form patterns. For example: I am. You are. He (or any other singular noun besides I and you) is. We are. They (or any other plural noun besides we and you) are. All of these verbs are different forms/versions of be (the verb to be). Be does not follow the same pattern as jump. When we use be as a linking verb, it always follows the pattern above (it is am if paired with I, and so on). That is because jump is a regular verb, and be/to be is an irregular verb. Irregular verbs simply do not follow the normal patterns, so you just have to be familiar with each one. Tip: be, have, and do are some of the most frequently used verbs, and all three are irregular. A lot of subject-verb agreement errors come from people not knowing all the forms of those three words. The first chart on the following page contains the forms of those verbs: We are STILL dealing only with present tense verbs at the moment. Hold on and we will get to the other tenses soon.

38 Tense Tense is a fancy way of saying when something happens. Verbs express tense, and the tense of the verb tells you the time in which the sentence or the stuff referred to in the sentence happened. So far the verb forms we have been dealing with have been in singular and plural present tense. Present tense means that something occurs in the present—that is, right now.

39 Tense In addition to present tense forms, verbs have past tense forms and perfect or participle tense forms (there are some additional tenses, such as future, future perfect, progressive, and perfect progressive, but let’s keep things simple for now). Past tense means that the stuff of the sentence occurred in the past. Typically, we add ed to a verb to get its past tense form, as in “Today Johnny jumps. Yesterday he jumped.” The ed that we added to jump tells us that the action happened in the past Note also that we drop the s from jumps when we form the past tense version of the word—all of the other grammatical persons should also be paired with the past tense form jumped as in “you jump,” “they jump,” and so on. Of course, not all verbs follow the regular pattern/form. An irregular verb may form its past tense version in another way. Check the following website for more details and plenty of examples:

40 Tense The perfect tenses show things continuing through time, or happening in sequence. Perfect tense uses helping verbs. For example “I jumped” is past tense. “I have jumped” shows that I have continued to jump through a period in the past (and into the present). Adding have to jumped accomplishes that. In this case, have is a helping verb because it helps jumped to do that (to show the action continuing through time). “have jumped” is present perfect tense.

41 Tense Another perfect tense is past perfect. In this case, we will say “I had worked at GMC.” Note that we use had instead of have. Had changes the it to past perfect tense, which indicates that an action continued for a time in the past, but at some point ended. “I had worked at GMC” means that at some point, something caused me to cease working at GMC (“I have worked at GMC” does not necessarily imply that I no longer work there).

42 Tense It is important to remember that even when forming tenses, we must make sure that our subject and our verbs agree. The helping verb must also agree with the subject. You have already seen the following link, but it explains which forms of have (for example) go with the different grammatical persons (have with I—we say “I have” rather than “I has,” and so on). Check below for information on subject verb agreement.

43 Tense
Remember that, when forming perfect tenses, some verbs (those pesky irregular verbs) have a different form for pairing with helping verbs in the perfect tenses. The past tense of be is usually was. But remember, verbs like work and jump are regular verbs, so we say “I have worked” or “I had jumped,” but when we use perfect tenses, irregular verbs sometimes have a special form for perfect tenses. When using be in the perfect tense, be becomes been (“have been,” “had been,” and so on). Check below again for more info (and note that the past participle form of the verbs listed on that page also applies to present and future perfect tenses):

44 Tense
Check below for more information on tense:

45 Tense It is important that we use the correct tense, and that we do not change tenses improperly or unnecessarily. Unnecessary tense shifting will irritate your teachers. For example “I had worked at GMC, and I work there now.” is weird. Why would I use had instead of have if I still work here? At the very least, some information is missing from the sentence (it is possible that I quit for a time and came back, but that explanation should come between “I had worked at GMC” and the rest of the sentence. Check below for some more information on tense shifting, including some exercises:

46 Tense
If you would like to explore some additional tenses, or would like more info on the tenses we have covered, look below (but do not overload yourself!): Use the menu links on the left of that website to access info on different tenses, and also note that there is also a menu on the left of the OWL at Purdue page which we have linked to here—explore the OWL (Online Writing Lab) menu for even more tense info.

47 Organization: Paragraphs
In any kind of writing, organization is very important. Even if your essay has a lot of good ideas and insightful points, your reader won’t get the most out of the essay unless it is organized clearly. For most essays and papers you’ll write at the college level, you can use a simple 3-part structure: an introduction paragraph, multiple body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. Within this structure, the best way to achieve good organization is to include in each paragraph only what is relevant to that paragraph; in other words, always stay on topic!

48 Organization: Paragraphs
Good Paragraph Bad paragraph One reason to drive a hybrid car is that it is less expensive than driving a gas-only car. Some people like hybrid cars because they look cooler than old gas cars, but I like them because they are more fun to drive. They’re eco-friendly too, and lots of hybrids have seats that fold down so you can sleep in the back if you need to. One reason to drive a hybrid car is that it is less expensive than driving a gas-only car. A hybrid car uses gasoline and electricity, so about half as much gas is needed to power it. The less gas it requires to power the car, the less gas the driver has to pay for. There are many benefits to driving a hybrid, but in this economy, cost is a critical consideration.

49 Organization: Transitions
In addition to organizing each paragraph on its own, it is important to provide transitions between paragraphs so that your readers know where your essay is going. Instead of treating paragraphs as separate ideas, transitions can help readers understand how paragraphs work together, reference one another, and build to a larger point. The key to producing good transitions is highlighting connections between corresponding paragraphs. Take a look at the next slide to see a list of transition words and when to use them.

50 Organization: Transitions
To add information: again, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, too, next, lastly, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.) To compare information: whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, compared to, although, conversely, meanwhile, in contrast, although this may be true To support your proof: because, for, since, for the same reason, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact To show exception or contrast: yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, sometimes To show progression: thereafter, finally, next, then, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.) To emphasize: definitely, in fact, indeed, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, emphatically, without a doubt, certainly, without reservation

51 Sources used and helpful sites
Practice exercises Punctuation Spelling Capitalization

52 Sources used and helpful sites
Usage Verb formation/agreement Relationships of clauses Shifts in construction Organization

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