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Writing Tips: 201 - 210

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Tip # 201:  Do not omit essential prepositions. 

For example:

  I need to buy a couple of shirts.
  (Incorrect:  I need to buy a couple shirts.)

  Of what use is this gadget?
  (Incorrect:  What use is this gadget?)

  We do not stock this type of shoe.
  (Incorrect:  We do not stock this type shoe.)

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Please answer Joel's question:

  What preposition should I use, in or on, and why?

  "Complete address of the company in/on the General
  Purpose Auditor's Report."

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Last week Sara Parsons asked:

"I had a question the other day that stumped me - what is the
difference between inquire/enquire and enquiry/inquiry?  I had lots
of input - American spelling versus UK etc. - and one dictionary says
one is just the variation of the other.  What do you think - are any
of these correct?"

**********

My comment:
 
According to the Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, the
words "inquire" and "enquire" are synonyms.  In American English use
"inquiry."





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Tip  #202:  Here are some foreign expressions used in English:

  Ad hoc  (meaning "for a popular purpose")

  M.O.  (modus operandi, meaning "the way in which something
        is done")

  Q.E.D.  (quod erat demonstrandum, meaning "in the next month")

*********************************************************

Joel Cezario Espejo asked: 
  When do we use N.B. (Nota Bene)? 

Please give him an answer for next week.

*********************************************************

Last week's question was asked by Joel Espejo, also.
Joel asked: What preposition should I use, in or on, and why?
"Complete address of the company in/on the General Purpose
Auditor's Report."

********

My comment is: 

"IN" is used to place something inside of; "ON"
is used to place on top of.  Use the word "in" for your
sentence.

*********************************************************

Thanks to Diane McKinnon for sending this quote:

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox, poet (1850-1919)




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Tip # 203: For the next couple of weeks, I will concentrate on common
resume blunders.  The first tip is: Don't be too focused on job
duties in writing your resume.  When developing your achievements,
ask yourself:

  How did you perform the job better than others?
  What were the problems or challenges faced?
  How did you overcome them?
  What were the results?
  How did the company benefit from your performance?
  Did you receive any awards, special recognition or
    promotions as a result?

*********************************************************

Please answer this question from a subscriber and give your reason: 

  Gloria, which one of these would be correct:
 
  Chairman of the Christmas Tree Sale or
  Chairman for the Christmas Tree Sale.
 
  Chairman of the Adopt a Highway Program or
  Chairman for the Adopt a Highway Program. 

  Chairman of the Marine Corps Ball or
  Chairman for the Marine Corps Ball.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise:
 
  Joel Cezario Espejo asked: 
  When do we use N.B. (Nota Bene)? 

Please give him an answer for next week.

********

Comments:

Paul's comments: "When do we use N.B?  I use it to bring the reader's
attention to a particular point that it is critical he/she know.  You
don't need to use it for general information, only those items that
may require some action by him/her or some action that may be taken
against him/her.  This is more critical if the document is long and
contains lots of information.  NB would then bring the pertinent
point to their attention more easily."

*******

Susan Thomas wrote: "My high school chemistry instructor used N.B. as
a cue when he wanted to make sure to remember something important. 
He taught that skill to his students when he lectured.  If he was
saying something that was certain to end up on an exam, he would
either verbally say, 'N.B., this chemical reaction...' or he would
highlight it in the paper notes he shared with us."

*********************************************************

Also, thank you Susan, Janice, Janet, Yossi, and Paul for pointing
out an error in the meaning of the foreign expression "Q.E.D."  The
meaning is "which was to be demonstrated."   Please make note of this
corrected meaning.   I was looking at something else when I wrote
this.  I occasionally have my "senior moments."

*********************************************************

Thanks to Nancy J. Branch  for this quote: 

As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG.
                        -  Donald Trump




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Tip # 204: Here is another error people make in writing their
resumes:   a flowery or general objective statement.   Many
candidates lose their readers in the beginning. Statements like "A
challenging position enabling me to contribute to organizational
goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement" are
overused, too general and waste valuable space. If you're on a career
track, replace the objective with a tagline stating what you do or
your expertise.

*********************************************************

Please answer Bob's question:

Over the years I've heard countless people use the word "flounder"
when the context suggests that they should be using "founder."  Could
you address the proper use of these two words?  It drives me crazy
when even well-known reporters say that a company is "floundering",
which is a form of fishing involving a spear.

Many thanks,
Bob Schaettle

*********************************************************

Last week's question: 

Please answer this question and give your reason: 

Gloria, which one of these would be correct: 
  Chairman of the Christmas Tree Sale or
  Chairman for the Christmas Tree Sale. 

  Chairman of the Adopt a Highway Program or
  Chairman for the Adopt a Highway Program. 

  Chairman of the Marine Corps Ball or
  Chairman for the Marine Corps Ball.

***********

My comments:  You can use either preposition; however, "of" is more
commonly used.

Comment by Lenore Davis: "The answer is (of).  When using (of) it
indicates possession or association followed by a noun or pronoun."

Further comments about "on and "in."

Comments from Linda Chambers about "on and "in":  "'On' is also used
in some other situations. For example, you are 'in' Hawaii (the
state) or Honolulu (the city/county), but 'on' Oahu (the island), you
are also 'on' military installations. When it comes to
transportation, you are 'in' a car or truck, but 'on' a bus, boat or
ship."

Linda K. comments:  "Another meaning of 'on' can be 'related to' or
'about' as in this rewrite of the questioner's sentence: A complete
address was given on the General Purpose of the Auditor's Report."
The two sentences are a good illustration 'on' [or 'of'] how a little
word can easily change the intended meaning of a sentence. The
English language is fascinating, but rarely can it be said it is
completely direct."




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Tip #205:  There is no absolute rule about the appropriate length of a resume.  Ask yourself if your statements will help you get an interview.  Every word should sell you, so include information that gets a "yes" answer.

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I saw this headline:  "Here's seven reasons why you should learn to read." Is this correct or not?  Please explain.

*********************************************************

Last week Bob had a question: Over the years I've heard countless people use the word "flounder" when the context suggests that they should be using "founder."  Could you address the proper use of these two words?  It drives me crazy when even well-known reporters say that a company is "floundering", which is a form of fishing involving a spear.

*******

Diane McKinnon's comments: In response to Bob Schaettle's flounder/founder question:

A company can 'flounder' (make clumsy attempts and proceed awkwardly and in great confusion) before it 'founders' (completely breaks down and fails).  'Floundering' whether it is with hook or spear never showed up in the research I did.  That sounds as if someone used the noun 'flounder', as in the fish, to create the verb 'floundering' in place of 'fishing for flounder'.

Suzanne Cole's comments:

The verbs "flounder" and "founder" are in many ways related. In some definitions, the distinction between the two is blurred enough that they could be used interchangeably in the context Bob cited. As early as1592 the term "flounder" referred to failure or loss of control.

I expect there may be some argument as to whether floundering has more to do with foundering or with the actions of a horizontally structured fish. It is possible that the well-known reporters could have correctly used the term "floundering" in reference to
the condition of a business enterprise. I did not find any dictionary or thesaurus reference to "floundering" as a fishing method.




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Tip #206:  A resume should be concise and written in a telegraphic
style without using "I" or "me." 

For example:
"Developed new products that added $5 million in sales and increased
the company's gross margin by 15 percent."  (Notice the minimal use
of articles.)

*********************************************************
This week's quiz:

A television sportscaster announced that a golf match was to be
played on the most unique course in the country.  Is it correct to
say, "most or very unique?"  Please explain.

*********************************************************

Last week's question: 
I saw this headline:  "Here's seven reasons why you should learn to read."

Is this correct or not?  Please explain.

*****

My comments: 
The headline was incorrect because "here's" is a
contraction for "here is"; the headline needs a plural verb "here are
seven reasons.."

*****

Kristine Latta's comment: 
The sentence should read:  Here are seven reasons why you should
learn to read.  The subject of the sentence--"reasons"--is plural,
therefore the verb should be "are" and not "is".

*****

Linda Anger's comment:
Dear Gloria: 
In response to the quiz -- "Here's seven reasons why you should learn
to read"  is incorrect.  "here's" == here is "seven reasons" is the
subject of the sentence. This is incorrect because the subject and
verb tense must agree. Therefore, the correct statement, as a
sentence, would be "Here are 7 reasons...."  As a seasoned press
release writer, editor and journalist, I can say that headlines are
rarely complete sentences. They need to be tight, they need to be
direct.  One quick way to fix this one would be to chop "here are"
right out of it, making the headline "Seven Reasons Why You should
Learn to Read."

Please see my article, 'Better Business Letters,' published in "Great
Results," volume 3 , number 2.

Cordially, Linda C. Anger, President, The Write Concept, Inc. 
(www.thewriteconcept.com).


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Tip  #207: More resume tips.  Personal information, such as date of
birth, marital status, height, and weight is not needed on a resume
unless you are an entertainment professional or a job seeker from
outside the USA.

*********************************************************

Yossi David has a question for us:

As a follow-on to last week's question, I'd like to ask about the
correctness of using question words as nouns.   Long ago I learned
that this practice is wrong and that "Seven reasons why you should
learn to read" and "Here's how to order"  are incorrect usage. Can
you comment?



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Tip # 208:  Percent vs. percentage:  Use the word "percent" with
numbers; use "percentage" without using a number.

Examples: 
  Over 20 percent of our gross profit came from previous sales.
  A large percentage of bachelors live in Alaska.


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Tip #209:  Be careful in choosing the right word. 

For example, people write the word "balance" when they mean
"remainder."   "Balance" means "a degree of equality," e.g., wanting
to balance the checkbook.  "Remainder,"  or  "what is left," is used
in all other instances, e.g., put the remainder of his food in the
dog's bowl.

*********************************************************

Please choose the correct word in the following sentences:

1. His (reaction, response) to the crisis was immediate.
2. Harry expected to send the (balance, remainder) of
   your notes to Sally.
3. The comments (infer, imply) that our architectural
   design has basic structural weaknesses.
4. The checklist (assures, ensures) the accuracy of the
   client base.
5. The picture (which, that) appears in the first page
   is not in focus.



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Tip # 210: The expression "a couple of" is usually plural in meaning.

For example: A couple of customers have reported a shortage in their
orders. 

However, when using the expressions "a couple of days" and "a couple
of dollars," use a singular verb. 

When the expression "a couple of" is used with a period of time, an
amount of money, or a quantity that represents a total amount, treat
the expression as singular.

For example: 
  "A couple of days is all I need to complete this report."

*********************************************************

M.S. had asked which phrase is more appropriate, "I look forward to
hearing from you," or "I look forward to hear from you." 

Please comment and discuss the reason for the choice.

*********************************************************

Last week's practice:  Please choose the correct word in the
following sentences:

1. His (reaction, response) to the crisis was immediate.
2. Harry expected to send the (balance, remainder) of your
   notes to Sally.
3. The comments (infer, imply) that our architectural
   design has basic structural weaknesses.
4. The checklist (assures, ensures) the accuracy of the
   client base.
5. The picture (which, that) appears in the first page
   is not in focus.
 
The answers are:

1. Both response and reaction are correct.  The word
   usage depends on how you would interpret the sentence.
   If you believe he gave a physical reply then "reaction"
   is correct.  If you believe he gave a verbal reply,
   then "response" is correct.
2. remainder
3. imply
4. assures
5. that




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