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clarity starts with grammar! misplaced modifiers dangling modifiers

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1 clarity starts with grammar! misplaced modifiers dangling modifiers
parallel construction passive voice if you do not understand the meaning of any of these terms: ask now goto grammargirl.com goto owl.english.purdue.edu

2 grammar basics: clauses
know the difference: dependant vs. independent clauses WRONG: The World’s Fair was popular and it brought together different people. The World’s Fair was popular, and brought together different people. RIGHT: The World’s Fair was popular, and it brought together different people. The World’s Fair was popular and brought together different people. “comma splices”: two separate sentences cannot be joined by a comma WRONG The World’s Fair was expensive, it brought together different people. The World’s Fair was expensive; it brought together different people. The World’s Fair was expensive. It brought together different people. The World’s Fair was expensive, and it brought together different people.

3 Comma splices Look at the sentences that have commas.
Check to see if the sentence contains two main clauses. If there are two main clauses, they should be connected with a comma and a conjunction like and, but, for, or, so, yet. Another option is to take out the comma and insert a semicolon instead.

4 grammar basics: “quotations”
quote versus quotation Quote is a verb that means to repeat what someone else has said or written. Quotation is noun used to describe what you are quoting.

5 quoting/paraphrasing/summarizing
CITE YOUR SOURCES! (see owl.english.purdue.edu/owl) Quotations are identical to the original and use a small portion of the source. They match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing is putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original author. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Summarizing is putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material. Why use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries? Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries serve many purposes. You might use them to . . . Provide support for claims or add credibility to your writing Refer to work that leads up to the work you are now doing Give examples of several points of view on a subject Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own Expand the breadth or depth of your writing What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing? These three ways of incorporating other writers' work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing. Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material. Why use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries? Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries serve many purposes. You might use them to . . . Provide support for claims or add credibility to your writing Refer to work that leads up to the work you are now doing Give examples of several points of view on a subject Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own Expand the breadth or depth of your writing

6 using quotations Use direct quotations sparingly, choosing them carefully to make an impression. A quotation can be short–one or two words–or an entire paragraph or passage Only quote a long passage if you then proceed to discuss it at length, making it valuable for the reader. Do not quote a long passage because you are lazy! If you are quoting a long passage (usually more than5 lines), indent the quotation, setting it apart from the paragraph in which you analyze the quotation. Depending on the style guidelines you are using, single or double space the quotation. A paper composed mainly of quotations or ideas from other authors (à la Frankenstein) runs in to the plagiarism risk called “patchworking”! Plagiarism is not tolerated in any form.

7 using quotations: ellipsis
those little dot-dot-dots … The most common and formal use of ellipses is to indicate an omission. If you're quoting someone and you want to shorten the quotation, you use ellipses to show where you've dropped words or sentences. Original: “The World’s Fair is fascinating because of its scope, and it will be a rewarding study.” My professor said, “the World’s Fair is fascinating… and it will be a rewarding study.”

8 single vs. double quotation marks
are often used around titles: I recently read the article “This is the Title of the Article I’m Citing.” used to indicate that a word is special in some way - something called “scare quotes” (foreign terms, irony, sarcasm): Take me to your “leader.” when you want to refer to a word rather than use its meaning The term “scare quotes” is odd.

9 single vs. double quotation marks
SINGLE QUOTATION MARKS ‘ ’ when you are quoting someone who is quoting someone else; you enclose the primary speaker's comments in double quotation marks, and then you enclose the thing they are quoting in single quotation marks: He said “I think she said ‘you’re awesome,’ but I’m not sure.” when there's a quote in a headline: Harvard Archaeologist Finds ‘Awesome’ Old Thing to highlight words with special meaning in certain disciplines such as philosophy, theology, and linguistics

10 be concise more words  more better!
if you can remove words from a sentence w/out changing the sentence’s meaning, do it! use that vocabulary! a precise word choice can replace wordy extrapolation techniques Replace several vague words with more powerful and specific words. Interrogate every word in a sentence. Combine Sentences. some examples from Acadia University English Dept. (http://english.acadiau.ca/Grammar/): common useless words: generally - tend to - really - apparently - in my opinion - very basically - I think that - various - essentially - I feel in some ways - virtually - I believe - for all intents and purposes due to the fact that = because for the purpose of = for appear to be = appear with the possible exception of = except almost any use of “being” Conciseness The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. Concise writing does not always have the fewest words, but it always uses the strongest ones. Writers often fill sentences with weak or unnecessary words that can be deleted or replaced. Words and phrases should be deliberately chosen for the work they are doing. Like bad employees, words that don't accomplish enough should be fired. When only the most effective words remain, writing will be far more concise and readable. This resource contains general conciseness tips followed by very specific strategies for pruning sentences. 1. Replace several vague words with more powerful and specific words. Often, writers use several small and ambiguous words to express a concept, wasting energy expressing ideas better relayed through fewer specific words. As a general rule, more specific words lead to more concise writing. Because of the variety of nouns, verbs, and adjectives, most things have a closely corresponding description. Brainstorming or searching a thesaurus can lead to the word best suited for a specific instance. Notice that the examples below actually convey more as they drop in word count. 2. Interrogate every word in a sentence Check every word to make sure that it is providing something important and unique to a sentence. If words are dead weight, they can be deleted or replaced. Other sections in this handout cover this concept more specifically, but there are some general examples below containing sentences with words that could be cut. 3. Combine Sentences. Some information does not require a full sentence, and can easily be inserted into another sentence without losing any of its value. To get more strategies for sentence combining, see the handout on Sentence Variety.

11 tips on eliminating words
Eliminate words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers Omit repetitive wording Change Passive Verbs into Active Verbs Eliminating Words 1. Eliminate words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail Always consider readers while drafting and revising writing. If passages explain or describe details that would already be obvious to readers, delete or reword them. Readers are also very adept at filling in the non-essential aspects of a narrative, as in the fourth example. 2. Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers Writers sometimes clog up their prose with one or more extra words or phrases that seem to determine narrowly or to modify the meaning of a noun but don't actually add to the meaning of the sentence. Although such words and phrases can be meaningful in the appropriate context, they are often used as "filler" and can easily be eliminated. 3. Omit repetitive wording Watch for phrases or longer passages which repeat words with similar meanings. Words that don't build on the content of sentences or paragraphs are rarely necessary. rearrange words, omit redundant modifiers 3. Change Passive Verbs into Active Verbs

12 Sentence clarity Do your sentences "hang together?"
Readers must feel that they move easily from one sentence to the next, that each sentence relates to the one before and after it. Readers must feel that sentences in a paragraph are unified with each other. Paragraphs Will your reader quickly identify the "topic" of each paragraph? Two Principles Begin sentences with short, simple words and phrases that a) communicate information that appeared in previous sentences, or b) build on knowledge that you share with your reader. In a paragraph, keep your topics short and reasonably consistent. Revising for Cohesion This material (adapted from Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams) will help students revise sentences for cohesion. Two Principles Begin sentences with short, simple words and phrases that a) communicate information that appeared in previous sentences, or b) build on knowledge that you share with your reader. In a paragraph, keep your topics short and reasonably consistent. Exercise: Diagnosis, Analysis, Revision Diagnosis Underline the first few words of every sentence in a paragraph, ignoring short introductory phrases such as "In the beginning," or "For the most part." If you can, underline the first few words of every clause. Analysis Read your underlined words. Is there a consistent series of related topics? Will your reader see these connections among the topics? Decide what you will focus on in each paragraph. Imagine that the passage has a title. The words in the title should identify what should be the topics of most of the sentences. Revision In most sentences, make the topics the subject of verbs. Put most of the subjects at the beginning of your sentences. Avoid hiding your topic by opening sentences with long introductory clauses or phrases. Sample Passage Topics are crucial for readers because readers depend on topics to focus their attention on particular ideas toward the beginning of sentences. Topics tell readers what a whole passage is "about." If readers feel that a sequence of topics is coherent, then they will feel they are moving through a paragraph from a cumulatively coherent point of view. But if throughout the paragraph readers feel that its topics shift randomly, then they have to begin each sentence out of context, from no coherent point of view. When that happens, readers feel dislocated, disoriented, and out of focus.

13 Improving sentence clarity
Go from old to new information Introduce your readers to the "big picture" first by giving them information they already know. Then they can link what's familiar to the new information you give them. As that new information becomes familiar, it too becomes old information that can link to newer information. Be careful about placement of subordinate clauses Avoid interrupting the main clause with a subordinate clause if the interruption will cause confusion: clear (subordinate clause at the end): Industrial spying is increasing rapidly because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information. clear (subordinate clause at the beginning): Because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information, industrial spying is increasing rapidly. not as clear (subordinate clause embedded in the middle): Industrial spying, because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information, is increasing rapidly.

14 The committee decided to postpone the vote. not as clear (passive):
Use active voice Sentences in active voice are usually easier to understand than those in passive voice because active-voice constructions indicate clearly the performer of the action expressed in the verb. clear (active): The committee decided to postpone the vote. not as clear (passive): A decision was reached to postpone the vote. Use parallel constructions When you have a series of words, phrases, or clauses, put them in parallel form (similar grammatical construction) so that the reader can identify the linking relationship more easily and clearly. clear (parallel): In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs, (2) to know what precautions to take, and (3) to decide when to seek shelter. not as clear (not parallel): In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs. (2) There are precautions to take, and (3) deciding when to take shelter is important.

15 Avoid noun strings Try not to string nouns together one after the other because a series of nouns is difficult to understand. One way to revise a string of nouns is to change one noun to a verb. unclear (string of nouns): This report explains our investment growth stimulation projects. clearer: This report explains our projects to stimulate growth in investments. Avoid overusing noun forms of verbs Use verbs when possible rather than noun forms known as "nominalizations." unclear (use of nominalization): The implementation of the plan was successful. The plan was implemented successfully.

16 Avoid multiple negatives
Use affirmative forms rather than several negatives because multiple negatives are difficult to understand. unclear (multiple negatives, passive): 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. Choose action verbs over forms of be When possible, avoid using forms of be as the main verbs in your sentences and clauses. Unclear (overuse of be verbs): 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. Clearer: Television news reporting differs from that of newspapers in that television, unlike newspapers, can provide instantaneous coverage of events as they happen.

17 Avoid unclear pronoun references
Be sure that the pronouns you use refer clearly to a noun in the current or previous sentence. If the pronoun refers to a noun that has been implied but not stated, you can clarify the reference by explicitly using that noun. This, that, these, those, he, she, it, they, and we are useful pronouns for referring back to something previously mentioned. Be sure, however, that what you are referring to is clear.

18 proofreading tips Read your work backwards Read your work out loud.
Have a friend read it or read it to you. Always proofread a printed version of your work (though try to use scrap paper!). Give yourself some time!!! It is easier to see coherence and clarity in other people's writing; we become familiar with our content. Detached re-reading takes practice. PEER REVIEW. sources: grammargirlirl.com, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl Where do I begin? Though everyone has a unique proofreading process, there are some general strategies that can be helpful to most writers. Begin improving your proofreading skills by trying out the guidelines listed below. General Strategies Take a break! Allow yourself some time between writing and proofing. Even a five-minute break is productive because it will help you get some distance from what you have written. The goal is to return with a fresh eye and mind. Leave yourself enough time. Since many errors are made and overlooked by speeding through writing and proofreading, taking the time to carefully look over your writing will help you to catch errors you might otherwise miss. Always read through your writing slowly. If you read at a normal speed, you won't give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors. Read aloud. Reading a paper aloud encourages you to read every little word. Role-play. While reading, put yourself in your audience's shoes. Playing the role of the reader encourages you to see the paper as your audience might. Get others involved. Asking a friend or a Writing Lab tutor to read your paper will let you get another perspective on your writing and a fresh reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked. Personalizing Proofreading In addition to following the general guidelines above, individualizing your proofreading process to your needs will help you proofread more efficiently and effectively. You won't be able to check for everything (and you don't have to), so you should find out what your typical problem areas are and look for each type of error individually. Here's how: Find out what errors you typically make. Review instructors' comments about your writing and/or review your paper with a Writing Lab tutor. Learn how to fix those errors. Talk with your instructor and/or with a Writing Lab tutor. The instructor and the tutor can help you understand why you make the errors you do so that you can learn to avoid them. Use specific strategies. Use the strategies detailed on the following pages to find and correct your particular errors in usage, sentence structure, and spelling and punctuation. Suggestions for Editing (Proofreading) your Paper Read your Paper Aloud Any time your text is awkward or confusing, or any time you have to pause or reread your text, revise this section. If it is at all awkward for you, you can bet it will be awkward for your reader. Examine your Paragraphs Examine the overall construction of your paragraphs, looking specifically at length, supporting sentence(s), and topic sentence. Individual paragraphs that are significantly lacking length or sufficient supporting information as well as those missing a topic sentence may be a sign of a premature or under-developed thought. Track Frequent Errors Keep track of errors that you make frequently. Ask your teacher or visit the Writing Lab for assistance in eliminating these errors.

19 “order concerns” “Higher Order Concerns”: Big Picture
Topic Audience Thesis Statement & Purpose Organization Supporting data “Lower Order Concerns”: Mechanics spelling grammar punctuation sentence structure word choice syntax (word order) Higher & Lower Order Concerns necessary for success!

20 organizing papers is easy!
Tell what you're going to tell them (introduction). Tell them (body). Tell them what you told them (conclusion). see

21 argumentative thesis Clearly defined topic
Clearly defined thesis statement/argument Goal is to persuade audience to that point of view Must support thesis with proof (specific data) and sound reasoning use secondary and primary sources remembered source evaluation from Annotated Bibliography lecture

22 organizing information flow
within a paragraph, a reliable way to organize information is to move from general to specific: Transition sentence: relates to previous paragraph for clear progression of ideas Topic sentence: tells the reader what you will be discussing in the paragraph. Evidence and analysis: relates to your topic and provides detail Wrap-up sentence: tells the reader how and why this information supports the paper’s overall thesis statement; it demonstrates that the information in the paragraph is related to your thesis and helps defend the thesis

23 topic sentences A “topic sentence” is the main sentence (controlling idea) of an individual paragraph, which describes its content and direction. There is only ONE topic per paragraph. Information that is not related to the topic sentence does NOT belong in the paragraph. A new topic requires a new topic sentence and a new paragraph.

24 example of a poorly organized paragraph:
Knives were an integral part of Montagnais culture. The name Montagnais means “Mountaineers” in French. When the French originally came in contact with the Innu, which they prefer to be called today, they were impressed by the ability to survive in the harsh winters and thus called them “Mountaineers”. I am assuming the sheath was probably a present given to a husband, brother, or son in the community to commemorate a first hunt or a ritual hunt. The quills embroidered on the sheath also represent and important part of their culture because the Montagnais were also referred to as the “Porcupine Indians”. They thought the porcupine was a delicacy. The sheath was used to protect the tool that the Montagnais needed for their survival. What is the topic sentence? Do all the sentences relate to a single topic sentence? Do the ideas move logically from the general to the specific or vice versa? Does the paragraph move from transition (relating the previous paragraph to this one), to topic, to evidence, to wrap-up (relating this idea to the thesis statement)?

25 Concluding paragraphs
Conclusions summarize and wrap up your piece/argument. Your conclusion is marked by a move back to general information that restates the main points of your argument. restate your topic and why it is important, restate your thesis/claim, (perhaps) address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position, (perhaps) call for action or overview future research possibilities.


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