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Common Errors in Student Writing. Wordiness Use only the essential words to get your message across: Wordy: The sale of surplus rotor blades is almost.

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Presentation on theme: "Common Errors in Student Writing. Wordiness Use only the essential words to get your message across: Wordy: The sale of surplus rotor blades is almost."— Presentation transcript:

1 Common Errors in Student Writing

2 Wordiness Use only the essential words to get your message across: Wordy: The sale of surplus rotor blades is almost certainly one of our first and foremost concerns. (15) Concise: We must sell our surplus rotor blades. (6) Wordy: This manual of instructions was carefully prepared by our company to aid all our dealers in being helpful to their customers. (22) Concise:We prepared this instruction manual to help our dealers serve their customers. (12) Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers: Wordy: Any particular type of desert is fine with me. (9) Concise: Any desert is fine with me. (6)

3 Wordiness Change phrases into single words: Wordy: The employee with ambition… (4) Concise: The ambitious employee… (3) Change unnecessary that, who, and which clauses into phrases: Wordy: The report which was released recently…(6) Concise: The recently released report… (4) Avoid using expletives at the beginning of sentences: Wordy: It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills. (9) Concise: The governor signs or vetoes bills. (6)

4 Redundant pairs: various differenceshistory basic fundamentalsend results true factsunexpected surprise important essentialssudden crisis future planstotally unique past memoriesfree gift usual customclearly evident Redundant categories: large in sizehonest in character of a bright colourin a confused state at an early timeunusual in nature of cheap qualityof a strange type equally as good asa polite manner

5 Active voice is usually preferred because it is more direct and less wordy Passive:Inflation is a threat to our economy. Active:Inflation threatens our economy. Passive:The document was signed by Smith. Active:Smith signed the document. Occasionally the passive voice is preferable: Active: Because Ed Jones forgot to include a price list in the information package, we lost the client. Passive: The price list was inadvertently left out of the information package, which led to the client signing on with a competitor.

6 Unclear: One difference between television news reporting and the coverage provided by newspapers is the time factor between the actual happening of an event and the time it takes to be reported. The problem is that instantaneous coverage is physically impossible for newspapers. (42) Clearer: Television news reporting differs from that of newspapers in that television, unlike newspapers, can provide instantaneous coverage of events as they happen. (22)

7 Unclear: With the spread of globalized capitalism, American universities increasingly follow a corporate fiscal model, tightening budgets, and hiring temporary contract employees as teachers. This has prompted faculty at many schools to join unions as a way of protecting job security. Clear: With the spread… as teachers. This trend has prompted faculty…

8 Vague: Contact Specific: call, write, visit, Vague: soon Specific: by March 21 st Vague: This television set is top of the line. Specific: All components in this television set meet or exceed government specifications for use in manned satellites. Vague: This television set is expensive Specific: This television set cost $ 3,

9 Jargon: A myocardial infarction was contraindicated Plain English: No heart attack Business Jargon: We adhered to our policy of alternative employment facilitation for this junior manager. Plain English: We transferred this junior manager to a different division within the company. Slang: The sales team put on a kick-ass presentation. Formal: The sales team conducted an effective presentation Colloquial: After the settings have been tweaked, the temperature is cranked up. Formal: After the settings have been adjusted, the temperature is raised. Colloquial: Give the sales reps a heads up. Formal: Keep the sales agents informed.

10 Keep contractions out of formal writing: Shouldn’t = should not Didn’t = did not Isn’t = is not It’s = it is [Note: its is the possessive form] Can’t = cannot [Note: one word, not two]

11 Unclear: Less attention is paid to commercials that lack human interest stories than to other kinds of commercials. Clearer: People pay more attention to commercials with human interest stories than to other kinds of commercials.

12 Example: snake Denotative meaning: “ any of numerous scaly, legless, sometimes venomous reptiles having a long, tapering, cylindrical body and found in most tropical and temperate regions” Connotative meaning: evil, dangerous, treacherous, contemptuous (refers to a person)

13 Avoid worn out figures of speech: Like a bolt from the ________, our coach entered the room. In a calm, cool, and ______ voice he told us to strike while the ______ was hot; in other words, we were to get in there and ___________ otherwise, we were in for a rough______. Truer words were never_______. Thanks to his giving us a _______ in the arm, we threw caution to the ________ and gave our opponents a sound ____.

14 1 st person: In my opinion, the causes of inflation have been wrongly identified by most economists. 2 nd person: You need to realize that the causes of inflation have been wrongly identified by most economists. 3 rd person: A strong case can be made that the causes of inflation have been wrongly identified by most economists.

15 Gender neutral writing is still a contentious issue in certain academic circles Mankind = humanity, people, human beings Man-made = synthetic, manufactured, machine-made Businessman = business executive Chairman = coordinator, head, presiding officer Original:Give each student his paper. Alternative: Give the students their papers. [recast in the plural] Incorrect: Give each student their paper. Original: If a student is satisfied with his performance on the pretest, he may take the post test. Alternative: A student who is satisfied with his or her performance on the pretest may take the post test. Incorrect: A student who is satisfied with their performance on the pretest may take the post test. Original: Let each student participate. Has he had a chance to participate? Could he feel left out? Alternative: Let each student participate. Has she had a chance to participate? Could he feel left out? [alternating male & female]

16 Choppy: The Bush administration may have gone too far. They have stripped away the education system. The health care system has been gutted as well. They are trying to reduce the deficit as well. Americans are wondering if it may be worth it in the long run. Smooth: In an attempt to reduce the deficit, the Bush administration has introduced massive cuts to the health and education systems. Americans now wonder if Bush has gone too far.

17 Deliberate repetition can be an effective rhetorical technique: eg. I came, I saw, I conquered. eg. Women love him. Men admire him. Teenage boys want to be him. One thing is certain: everyone will want to see him when his new movie comes out. Unintended repetition, however, gives the impression of laziness or lack of imagination: Usually through overuse of transition words, especially at the beginning of a sentence e.g. Also, However, In fact…

18 When listing a series of ideas/items joined by and/or phrases, use the same grammatical elements of meaning (adjectives, nouns, infinitives, prepositional phrases etc.): Faulty parallelism: His new car was sleek, powerful, shiny, and it cost a fortune. Proper parallel structure: His new car was sleek, powerful, shiny, and expensive.

19 Make sure relative clauses and prepositional phrases modify the appropriate noun: Misplaced modifier: The robber was described as a 185 cm tall man with a moustache weighing 70 kg. Correct: The robber was described as a 70 kg, 185 cm tall man with a moustache.

20 Identify the subjects of the two clauses to see if they match: Dangling Modifier: Jogging along the sidewalk, a truck swerved and nearly hit me. Correct: When I was jogging along the sidewalk, a truck swerved and nearly hit me.

21 Unnecessary commas make sentences cumbersome and difficult to read. Original: Tutorials are optional, in several programs, such as, history, psychology, and sociology. Revised: Tutorials are optional in several programs, such as history, psychology, and sociology. Note: The presence or absence of a comma can sometimes change the entire meaning of a sentence: Let’s eat, Grandpa! [try reading the sentence without the comma]


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