Technical Writing for Researchers and Graduate Students Spring 2003 Lincoln Campus Instructor: Deborah Derrick.
Published byModified over 6 years ago
Presentation on theme: "Technical Writing for Researchers and Graduate Students Spring 2003 Lincoln Campus Instructor: Deborah Derrick."— Presentation transcript:
Technical Writing for Researchers and Graduate Students Spring 2003 Lincoln Campus Instructor: Deborah Derrick
Unit 5: Language/style OUTLINE OF TOPICS 1.Overusing the word “and” 2.Non-parallel construction 3.Handling pronouns imprecisely 4.Using too many prepositions 5.Being redundant 6.Missing articles
1. Overusing the word “and” The word “and” connects sentences, clauses and phrases. It connects lists of words and bulleted items. BUT, its overuse causes more poor sentences than any other problem! “And” can make sentences very long!
Overusing “and” To use “and” successfully, you should remember two points: “And” can make sentences very long. Items connected by “and” must be parallel.
Overusing “and” “And” can lead to long, run-on sentences. Here are 3 solutions to solve this problem: Break the long sentence into two or more smaller sentences. Use other connectives. Recast the sentence.
Overusing “and” Example: “For PAS in the infrared region, conventional infrared spectrometers can be utilized, and thus the only expense (if a spectrometer is available) is the cost of the construction of the PAS cell and the associated optics necessary to couple the PAS cell and the spectrometer.”
Overusing “and” Solution: Divide the sentence into two sentences; then use “with” to replace “and.” “For PAS in the infrared region, conventional infrared spectrometers can be used. Thus, if a spectrometer is available, the only expense is the cost of constructing the PAS cell and the optics needed to couple the cell with the spectrometer.”
Overusing “and” Example: “For the new drug entity, complete preclinical and clinical trials are required with satisfactory results to gain approval, and often post-approval surveillance is undertaken.”
Overusing “and” Solution: To improve this sentence, break it into two sentences. Then recast the first sentence. Approval of a new drug requires satisfactory results from complete pre-clinical and clinical trials. Often, post-approval surveillance is undertaken as well.
Overusing “and” Example: “The solvent ion-exchange process makes possible reduction of waste tailings, and also eliminates the classic recovery of copper from dilute solution by scrap iron and the subsequent pyrometallurgical processing with attendant air pollution and slag dumps.”
Overusing “and” Solution: Break the sentence into three, and then recast the first and third sentences. Use of the solvent ion exchange process reduces waste tailings. It also eliminates the classic recovery of copper from dilute solution by scrap iron. In addition, it eliminates the pyrometallurgical processing that results in air pollution and slag dumps.
2. Parallel construction Items connected by “and” must be PARALLEL. Consider: You can’t add different types of numbers without putting them into a similar form (e.g., two or more fractions need a common denominator). Therefore, you shouldn’t “add” or combine words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence without putting them into a similar form.
Parallel construction “Similar form” means using the same structural or grammatical form for all parts of the series. “To build this piece of equipment you will need nuts, bolts, and screws.” (series of nouns) For other examples, see handout.
Non-parallel construction Example: “The pulsed mode of (laser) operation leaves the adjacent material virtually unaffected and no chips or burrs are left as is common with conventional drilling.” In this sentence, the verbs in the two clauses are not parallel: one is active, the other is passive.
Parallel construction A better sentence would be: The pulsed mode of operation leaves the adjacent material virtually unaffected and eliminates the chips or burrs that are common with conventional drilling.
Pronouns Pronouns are shorthand forms that enable us to refer to previous concepts—words, phrases, sentences, or even entire paragraphs and sections. Correctly used, pronouns can reduce the number of words needed to express an idea.
Pronouns Pronouns cause problems: When the item they refer to is unclear or unidentified When they have different meanings in the same sentence When they “dangle” without an accompanying noun.
Pronouns See page 4 of today’s handout for examples of sentences with imprecise pronouns—and how to fix these problems.
4. Reduce preposition use Prepositions signal changes in: Direction (toward, from, to) Ownership (of) Time (before, after) Place (above, below) Prepositions are one of the worst problems for a non-native speaker of any language!
Reduce preposition use Reducing use of prepositions will simplify your sentences. You will be able to communicate in a direct, straightforward manner. Please turn to page 4 of today’s handout for examples.
Reduce preposition use Ways to decrease preposition use: Convert nouns into verb forms Convert nouns to adjectives or adverbs, or convert adjectives to adverbs Streamline commonly used prepositional phrases (see Unit 5 handout, pages 4-5)
5. Avoid redundancy Some redundant words are modifiers that merely repeat an idea already contained in the word being modified. Consider the phrase very unique. Actually, unique means one of a kind, so it is impossible for anything to be very unique.
Avoid redundancy One car manufacturer designed its advertising campaign around the slogan new innovations. (Is there such a thing as an old innovation?) The best way to spot redundancy is to ask what a word is “buying” in a particular phrase. Is it adding meaning? See page 6 of today’s handout for examples of redundant phrases.
6. Use articles correctly The English language has two types of articles: Definite (the) Indefinite (a, an)
Indefinite articles: A, An Use a or an when you refer to one particular person or thing when the reader/listener does not know which one is meant, or when it does not matter which one. A doctor must like people. (Any doctor, it does not matter which one.) Could you lend me a pen? (This means that any pen is OK; it does not matter which one.) She lives in a house in Lincoln. (Exactly which house is not known.)
When the noun is plural, use the corresponding indefinite quantity word some. Some students are not paying attention in class. (It is not known who they are.)
Indefinite articles: A, an The rule is: a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a user (sounds like ‘yoo-zer,’ i.e. begins with a consonant ‘y’ sound, so ‘a’ is used) some + plural noun: some girls
Indefinite articles: A, an If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article: a broken egg an unusual problem a European country (sounds like ‘yer-o-pi- an,’ i.e. begins with consonant ‘y’ sound)
Indefinite articles: A, an A or an is used to indicate membership in a profession, nation, or religion. I am a teacher. Brian is an Irishman. Seiko is a practicing Buddhist.
Definite article: the Use the when you refer to a specific person or thing, or when what is being referred to is known to both the writer/speaker and the reader/listener. Use the before singular and plural nouns when the noun is particular or specific.
Indefinite, definite articles Indefinite (a or an) Definite (the) Singular A dog (any dog) The dog (that specific dog) Plural Some apples (any apples) The apples (those specific apples)
Definite article: the The is NOT used with non-countable nouns referring to something in a general sense: [no article] Coffee is a popular drink. [no article] Japanese was his native language. [no article] Intelligence is difficult to quantify.
Further uses of articles The use of a, an, and the also depends on whether the noun following the article has one of these paired qualities: Countable vs. non-countable First vs. subsequent mention General vs. specific
Further uses of articles A and an are used if the noun can be counted. I drank a glass of milk. (Glasses of milk can be counted.) I saw an apple tree. (Apple trees can be counted.)
Further uses of articles The must be used when the noun cannot be counted. I dove into the water. (How many waters did you dive into? The question doesn’t make any sense because water is not countable. Therefore, use the.) I saw the milk spill. (How many milks? Milk cannot be counted.)
Further use of articles Use a or an to introduce a noun when you mention it for the first time in a piece of writing. Use the each time that same noun is mentioned afterward. I saw a car yesterday. The car was red. (The car in the second sentence was mentioned in the first sentence.)
Definite article: the The is used with non-countable nouns that are made more specific by a limiting modifying phrase or clause: The coffee in my cup is too hot to drink. The Japanese he speaks is often heard in the countryside. The intelligence of animals is variable but undeniable.
Definite article: the Use the when a noun refers to something unique: The White House The theory of relativity The 2003 federal budget
Geographical uses of “the” Do NOT use the before: Names of countries (Italy, Mexico, Bolivia) except the Netherlands and the U.S. Names of cities, towns, or states (Seoul, Manitoba, Miami) Names of streets (O Street, West Dodge Road) Names of lakes and bays (Lake Michigan) except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
Geographical uses of “the” Do NOT use the before: Names of mountains (Mount Everest, Mount Fuji) except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn Names of continents (Asia, Europe) Names of islands (Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians or the Canary Islands
Geographical uses of “the” DO use the before: Names of rivers, oceans and seas (the Nile, the Pacific, the Mississippi) Points on the globe (the Equator, the North Pole) Geographical areas (the Midwest, the Middle East) Deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas (the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula)
Omission of articles Some nouns never take an article-- definite or indefinite. Here are some common types of nouns. 1. Names of languages and nationalities (Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian) 2. Names of sports (football, basketball, soccer) 3. Names of academic subjects (mathematics, computer science, chemistry)
Omission of articles The omission of articles also expresses a generic (or general) meaning. Tigers are dangerous animals. (all tigers) Anger is a destructive emotion. (any kind of anger)
Further uses of articles For more information on use of a, an, and the, see today’s handout from Purdue University, pages 3-5. Other online resources: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/11c/writecenter/ web/esl.html [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Writing Center] http://www.rpi.edu/dept/11c/writecenter/ web/esl.html