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Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Effective Grammar and Style these are some tips and tricks to supplement the grammar and style editing info/advice in the.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Effective Grammar and Style these are some tips and tricks to supplement the grammar and style editing info/advice in the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Effective Grammar and Style these are some tips and tricks to supplement the grammar and style editing info/advice in the textbook Engl 2311

2 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke What are “simple” sentences? This slideshow describes a very simple writing style that works VERY well for practical workplace documents (like memos). This slideshow will help you if: You have a naturally wordy or complicated writing style and need some very clear guidelines for simplifying your writing. You tend to make a lot of grammar or clarity mistakes and need to simplify your writing to edit more effectively.

3 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke “grammatically” SIMPLE sentences: ONE subject  One thing is doing an action ONE action  One action is being done ONE object  One thing is being acted upon (is receiving an action) Jack stopped the evil plan. To really see these elements, try substituting pronouns. He stopped it. “Grammatically” simple sentences have only one single Subject/Action/Object. They are SUPER simple. They are SUPER easy to skim.

4 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke THIS is a “grammatically simple” sentence: Jack fought the evil President. It communicates JUST ONE complete thought It has ONLY ONE “subject” It has ONLY ONE “action” It has ONLY ONE “object” It has NO grammatical punctuation It is VERY easy to skim quickly It is VERY clear

5 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke “practically” SIMPLE sentences: ONE “main” (direct) subject  The thing that is doing the clearly most important action ONE “main” (direct) action  The clearly most important action in the sentence (2+ actions total) ONE “main” (direct) object  The thing receiving the main action (probably an entire phrase that includes some additional indirect subjects and actions) Jack stopped the evil President’s plan to blow up Texas. The object phrase has an additional action and several objects, but all these things are receiving the main action (all of them are being stopped) He stopped it. “Practically” simple sentences don’t have grammatical punctuation. They have just one MAIN thought. They are therefore really easy to skim.

6 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke “complex / compound” sentences: Perhaps more than one subject More than one main important action More than one main object receiving these important actions Grammar punctuation (like commas, conjunctions, etc) or phrases that require punctuation (like introductory or subordinate clauses, etc) to coordinate all the main thoughts that are jammed together Jack and all the other operatives at CTU quickly analyzed and completely foiled the evil President’s plan to equip monkeys with rayguns and, with the help of Russian mobsters, attack the United Nations (which was in session to consider sanctions for Russia’s invasion of a neighboring separatist state), thereby ensuring world peace.

7 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke THIS is a “complex” sentence: When Jack was in Texas, he met with the Justice League and then he ate a big meal before traveling back to Los Angeles where the Justice League will open a branch office. It has TWO OR MORE complete thoughts jammed together, so it is kind of hard to skim really quickly It has MORE THAN ONE main “subject” (not one clearly most important) It has MORE THAN ONE main “action” (not one clearly most important) It therefore has SEVERAL main “objects” It REQUIRES grammatical punctuation (commas, conjunctions, etc)

8 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke another example... Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water, and Kim Bauer went down the hill and used the water to interrogate the evil President. QUESTION: What is the clearly most important action, subject, and object in this sentence?

9 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Complex sentences want to be SIMPLE sentences Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water, and Kim Bauer went down the hill and used the water to interrogate the evil President. Jack Bauer climbed up the hill. Jack got a pail full of water. Kim Bauer then went down the hill. Kim used the water. Kim interrogated the evil President. Use GRAMMATICALLY SIMPLE for SUPER easy skimming !

10 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke WHY make things complicated? Simple sentences are: easier to skim quickly easier to skim clearly easier to edit HARDER to screw up Therefore, WHY use more complicated grammar if you don’t have to ? For technical writing, YOU DON’T HAVE TO !

11 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke To keep it SUPER simple, Use SUPER SIMPLE statements Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water, and Kim Bauer went down the hill and used the water to interrogate the evil President. Just write this instead: Jack Bauer climbed up the hill. He got a pail full of water. Kim Bauer went down the hill. Kim used the water. Kim interrogated the evil President.

12 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke OR, use PRACTICALLY SIMPLE statements Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water, and Kim Bauer went down the hill and used the water to interrogate the evil President. Just write this instead: Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water. Kim Bauer then went down the hill. Kim used the water to interrogate the evil President.

13 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke The key to SIMPLE writing KNOW what simple sentences are USE grammatically simple or practically simple sentences! One of the easiest ways to successfully communicate in the real work world is to simplify your writing.

14 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke HOW TO SPOT complex sentences: It is NOT a “grammatically simple” sentence if: There is more than ONE SINGLE subject, action, and object It is NOT a “practically simple” sentence if: There is more than one main subject There is more than one main important action There are commas, conjunctions, or other punctuation (UNLESS only used for “procedural” punctuation of dates, places, or lists)

15 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Here is a “grammatically simple” sentence: Jack Bauer fought the evil President. It communicates JUST ONE complete thought It has ONLY ONE “subject” It has ONLY ONE “action” It has ONLY ONE “object” It has NO grammatical punctuation

16 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Here is a “practically simple” sentence: Jack Bauer used guns, knives, and ice cream to do good work in Paris, Texas, on May 1, HE used THEM to do IT. There are technically two actions and several objects There is only one main SUBJECT doing everything There is only one clearly most important main ACTION There is no “grammatical” punctuation (only “procedural” commas to punctuate a place, a date, and a list)

17 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Here is a “complex” sentence: Jack Bauer climbed up the hill to get a pail full of water, and Kim Bauer went down the hill and used the water to interrogate the evil President. HE climbed up IT to get IT, and SHE went down IT and used IT to interrogate HIM. There are TWO main important subjects There are LOTS of important main actions The sentence needs a “grammatical” comma and conjunction to connect complete thoughts

18 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke THE OVERALL GOAL of technical editing: Use VERY CLEAR & CORRECT statements !!  First-person active voice (info on this in textbook)  AVOID using commas (& no semicolons!)  Use compound/complex sentences ONLY when necessary Stick to simple SUBJECT / ACTION / OBJECT. Example: The students are editing their memos. This will help you to:  Write clearly (simple sentences are clear)  Write efficiently (simple sentences aren’t wordy)  Write correctly (simple sentences use simple grammar)

19 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Work on FOUR things when you edit for style: 1. Eliminate wordiness (use the fewest words necessary) 2. Eliminate unclear grammar and undefined pronouns 3. Put important info first in a sentence 4. SIMPLIFY sentences (cut complex compound statements up into simple sentences)

20 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke #1: eliminate WORDINESS Ex: The purpose of this memo is to describe how I went about making edits to the resume part of the assignment which is due five days from today. This memo describes how I edited my resume. Unnecessary “filler” words: the purpose is to / how I went about making Information your audience already knows: part of the assignment / which is due five days from today

21 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke WORDINESS cont’d Ex: I think that, for the most part, Jack in a sense felt pretty much betrayed by the President. Jack felt betrayed by the President. “Filler” words that communicate nothing: I think that / for the most part / pretty much / in a sense Use the FEWEST WORDS NECESSARY by cutting out filler words, unnecessary words, and things the audience already knows. Use straightforward declarative statements.

22 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke #2: eliminate UNCLEAR GRAMMAR Make it EASY to understand what you’re saying Ex: I decided to type the entire thing instead of a bit at a time. I decided to type the entire thing all at one time instead of working a bit at a time. CLEARLY define pronouns (her, them, his...) Ex: I used a friend’s resume. His father is a HR director, and he helped him write his. I used a friend’s resume. My friend’s father, who is a HR director, helped to write my friend’s resume.

23 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke UNCELAR GRAMMAR cont’d Using simple sentences and avoiding pronouns makes clarity VERY EASY His father is a HR director, and he helped him write his. My friend’s father is a HR director. My friend’s father helped my friend write the resume. Remember the goal is overall clarity and efficiency. More words are therefore just fine if they help readers skim even faster.

24 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke #3: put IMPORTANT INFO FIRST Think about what the reader MOST wants to know Put this IMPORTANT info FIRST in the sentence EX: My advisor helped me to make a resume last semester, so I’m going to use my current resume. I’m going to use my current resume, because my advisor helped me make the resume last semester.

25 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke IMPORTANT INFO FIRST cont’d Putting important info first simplifies grammar by eliminating “introductory clauses” Because technical writing should be clear, you should state the main thought of a sentence first. You should state the main thought of a sentence first, because technical writing should be clear. Putting the MAIN thought first helps readers to skim really quickly. Burying the main thought at the end is really annoying.

26 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke #4: SIMPLIFY SENTENCES Ex: I found lots of different examples and I wasn’t sure what format to follow, therefore I just brainstormed details and put everything into a list that I will format later. I found lots of different examples. I was not sure which format to follow. I therefore just brainstormed details. I then put everything into a list. I will format this list later. The goal is OVERALL efficiency Don’t make your audience deal with a complex sentence jammed full of FIVE complete thoughts. Readers can skim FIVE SIMPLE SENTENCES more quickly, clearly, and easily (about 20% more quickly, in fact).

27 Copyright 2012 by Arthur Fricke Recap – edit FOUR things for style: 1. Eliminate WORDINESS 2. Use CLEAR GRAMMAR 3. Put IMPORTANT INFO first 4. Use SHORT AND SIMPLE statements Stick to SUBJECT / ACTION / OBJECT Example: The students are editing their memos.


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