electronic translators, electrical exam prep, scanners, spy gadgets, dvr, hidden cameras, weather radios
Bookmark and Share
Products Articles  Book Reviews  Brainpower Newsletter Contact Us      Home  Search

Writing Tips: 441 - 450

Use your browser's Find function to look for tips that apply to your particular situation.

These tips provided by: http://www.basic-learning.com

Books on writing.

Tools to help you include Bull's Eye Business Writing (a self-paced workbook) and How To Improve Your Business Reading Skills (also on CD-ROM)--all from Basic Learning Systems, Inc. 888-204-3600 * See our Web site at http://www.basic-learning.com

Tip #441: Be prepared to answer customers who ask for  bids/proposals. Write these questions to ask of the prospect:

1. What's the scope of the project?
2. What's the timeframe for the work to be started
and completed?
3. How soon will you be making a decision on a vendor?
4. How many bids are you getting?
5. What other alternatives are you considering?
6. What are the most important considerations in your
decision—price, quality, convenience?

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

Be aware that the correct verb and/or pronoun reference to a collective noun may sound funny. Please revise the following sentences:

1. The species is becoming extinct.
2. Greenwater Furniture Company are donating time and
money for their favorite causes.
3. The tribe are moving closer to one another.

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

Comments:

Roger Groce commented:
Thanks for the tip about Thesaurus.com. It's better than anything I've seen. I also learned about StyleWriter software from you several years ago and use it almost every day.

Another thing I use (although I read about it elsewhere) is something called Read Please Natural Voices (http://www.readplease.com/) a text-to-speech converter that lets you hear what you've written --- as
spoken by your choice of 4 different voices that sound like people, not computers. Hearing someone else read your words makes it easier to spot and smooth out the rough spots.

Don't know if any of your readers are that serious about improving their writing, but hearing your own words can magnify errors that spell-checkers don't pick up.

(Read Please was invented by a Canadian software developer whose father's eyesight was failing. He invented something that would allow his father to continue reading. A lot of writers have since found it
useful as a proofreading tool.) Thanks for all you do, week in and week out.

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

"A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular." (Adlai Stevenson II, 20th century American politician)

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

Answers

1. The species of ferns is becoming extinct.
2. The employees of Greenwater Furniture Company are
donating time and money for their favorite causes.
3. The tribe of monkeys are moving closer to one another.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

Tip #442: "Off" vs. "From": When you take something "off" a person, you take it from the surface of their body. When you take something "from" a person, you take it from their possession.

Examples:

Henry took the pin off Shirley's sweater.
She took the pin from Henry.

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

Please answer Vianne's question regarding punctuation and quotation marks.

I love your newsletter. You always provide us with great food for thought :) I appreciate the amount of work you put into your tips.

I have a question about the use of punctuation and quotes. I have always been taught to place punctuation inside quotations only if the punctuation applies to and was used inside the quotation. i.e. if the quote ended with a period, then I would "place the period within the quotation." But when I am using the quote "as part of a sentence", then I would place the punctuation outside of the quotation.

I am now being told that the "correct way of doing it," is to always "place the punctuation inside the quotation marks." I am just verifying if this is in fact "the correct way of doing it," or if it's a "matter of personal preference". Could you shed some light on this subject?

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

"Necessity is an interpretation, not a fact." (Fredrich Nietzche, 19th century German philosopher)

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

Answer:

Here is a quote from The Gregg Reference Manual, "Periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation marks. This is the preferred American style. Periods and commas also go inside the single closing
quotation mark."

Notice that the sentence above uses the inside punctuation. Some writers follow the British style that places the period outside when it punctuates the whole sentence, inside when it punctuates only the quoted material.

**************************************************************
Professional Effectiveness Seminars, workbooks & courses. Business Writing, Reading, Communication Skills. Books: Bull's Eye Business Writing - a self-paced workbook; How To Improve Your Business
Reading Skills; Effective Communication/Interpersonal Skills; Resume Writing For Students and Executives; and Dealing with Difficult People. Basic Learning Systems, Inc. TOLL FREE- 888-204-3600 See our Web site at http://www.basic-learning.com
***************************************************************



If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip # 443: Web site vs. Website.

Both spellings are correct. The acceptable spelling is still being debated.

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

Which of the following is correct?

1. What new website feature would you most like?

2. What new website feature would you like most?

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

Thanks to reader, Yossi David, for the answer to Vianne's question in Tip #442 regarding punctuation and quotation marks.

Why does punctuation go inside quotations? An expert answers.
December 04, 2006 General

The following is an answer by Craig Smith, editor, lecturor in languages and owner of Smithcraft Press.

The first thing to realize is that English, especially American English, is a mongrel tongue that often as not defies all logic. It's also changing and evolving, which infuriates sticks-in-the-mud like me, who would prefer rigid rules that never vary.

Second, quotes do not always go to the right of a punctuation mark. While it's true that commas and periods generally fall inside closing quotes, that's not the case with colons and semicolons, which always go outside quotation marks. And question marks and exclamation points vary according to whether they are logically part
of the quoted material. For example, you'd say,

I don't believe that "might makes right."

but

Is it true that "might makes right"?

but also

The question "Does might make right?" has been debated for centuries.

Third, British English follows the more logical approach of putting all punctuation outside the quotation marks-it's only American English that is illogical. Then again, the Brits also use single quotation marks for first-level quotes, and double quotation marks for quotes within quotes-the exact opposite of what we do in America.

Fourth, and to the heart of your question: The American convention of putting the quotes outside of commas or periods seems to be the result of historical accident. When type was set by hand on big printing presses (some claim the practice stems from the printing practice of Ben Franklin), a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position because they were on half-size pieces of type, so the printers tucked the little devils inside the quotation marks to keep them safe and out of trouble. And according to the FAQ file of alt.english.usage, because the type on those presses were raised bits of metal, periods and commas were the most delicate, and were in danger of damage: the face of the piece of type might break off from the body, or be bent or dented from above, if they had a quotation mark on one side and a blank space on the other.

Other sources explain that typography often used a style called "hung" punctuation, in which terminal punctuation at the ends of lines of type was set outside the column margin. As a result, the "heavy" ink (characters that take up most of the typeface's x-height) form a visually strong vertical line; this line is disrupted when "light" ink (periods and commas and other characters that use up only a tiny fraction of the line's vertical space) fall at the margin of a page.

Hence the convention arose of always putting periods and commas inside the final quotation mark regardless of logic. In other words, it all had to do with the development of typography, not the rules
of grammar or logic.

On the other hand, it's a matter of convention. We do many things simply because they've always been done that way, not because there's a good, sensible reason for continuing to do them that way. It's really all the fault of English teachers (like Tritt) and editors (like me), anyway. As Dave Barry put it, "If you look at any
list of great modern writers such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, you'll notice two things about them: 1. They all had editors. 2. They are all dead. Thus we can draw the scientific conclusion that editors are fatal."

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

"The biggest lesson we have to give our children is truth." (Goldie Hawn, American actress)

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

Answers

"Most" is an adverb of degree and follows the verb it modifies. The second sentence is correct.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip # 444:
In the English language, the meaning of the word (connotation) may be more important than the definition. For example, what is the difference between using "if" or "whether" in a sentence? In the book, "Modern American Usage" by Bryan Garner, "if" is used for a conditional idea and "whether" for more or less specific alternatives. So, "Let me know IF you are coming" means, "I want to hear from you only if you will be coming. But, "Let me know WHETHER you are coming"
means "I want to hear from you only if you are coming."

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

Which of the following is correct?

1. She is the one that hurt him.
2. She is the one who hurt him.

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

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." (Dorothy Nevill)

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

Answers

Use "She is the one who hurt him." You would use word "who" because the antecedent is a person.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #445: A collective noun has a singular form, but it refers to a group. When the group to which it refers acts as one unit, the collective noun takes a singular verb and may be referred to be a singular pronoun.

For example: The new unit has organized itself into a separate group.

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

Which is correct?

1. Harold took the pencil from the desk. Next he took the book off the table.

2. Harold took the pencil off the desk. Next he took the book from the table.

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

"All serious daring starts from within." (Eudora Welty, American writer)

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

Answer:

Harold took the pencil from the desk. Next he took the book off the table.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #446: Make your writing more concrete. Before you write, ask yourself these questions:

Purpose: Am I writing to inquire, inform, persuade, motivate, or do I have more than one purpose? Maybe you want to go on record, or you want to protect yourself, or you want to gain visibility in the organization?

Scope: Given both my reader's needs and my own needs, how much information should I include?

Contents: What kinds of information will help me achieve my purpose? Do I have all the needed information?

Constraints: What can work against me, or make my task more difficult? Do I have time or cost constraints? What if my reader is hostile to me?

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

Place an apostrophe in the following sentences:

1. The company manufactures womens blouses.

2. I want to hear the last two witnesses testimony.

3. An investors objectives should largely define investment  strategy.

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

Here is a further explanation of last week's exercise (Tip #445):

The answer is 1. "Harold took the pencil from the desk. Next he took the book off the table" was the correct answer.

Time is involved in this answer. You took the pencil "from" or beginning from the desk. Next you took a book away or off the table.

That is why we say we traveled from Buffalo to Erie. (I would not travel to either in the winter). Another example is "My birthday is only three weeks off."

*****

Last week I did not include a clarification of the previous week's tip (Tip #444). The tip confused some readers.

Here was my explanation: "Let me know IF you are coming" means, "I want to hear from you only if you will be coming." But, "Let me know WHETHER you are coming" means "I want to hear from you with an answer
of yes or no."

I hope this explanation is a little clearer than mud. Sorry about the confusion.

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

"We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery." (H. G. Wells, author 1866-1946)

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

Answer:

1. The company manufactures women's blouses.
2. I want to hear the last two witnesses' testimony.
3. An investor's objectives should largely define investment strategy.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #447: Can you use "critique" as a verb? According to some dictionaries such as Webster's New World Dictionary, you can. Many writers rejected the word "criticize", which implies finding fault or disapproving. If you are not comfortable with this use of "critique", use words such as "appraise" or "evaluate."

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

Which sentence is correct?

1. The restaurant is known for its' fine food.

2. The restaurant is known for its fine food.

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

Gloria Pincu is out of the office this week. Comments from Tip #446 and this tip, #447, will be posted next week in Tip #448.

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

"Criticism is prejudice made plausible." (H. L. Menken, author 1880-1956)

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

Answer:

2. The restaurant is known for its fine food.

The word its' does not exist.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #448: Some adjectives and adverbs such as "square, round, unique, completely, universally, correct, perfect, always, never, and dead" do not logically permit comparison. A square cannot be any squarer, and
a circle cannot be the roundest of all circles. However, a number of these words may be modified by "more, less, nearly, hardly, virtually" and similar adverbs to suggest something less than absolute perfection
in each case.

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

Which sentences are correct?

1. He is looking for a more universally acceptable solution.
2. Handicrafts of this caliber are virtually unique in these days.
3. We almost never increase our prices more than once a year.

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

Comments:

Patricia Lee commented about tip #447:
In your previous memos, you have pointed out that all punctuation belongs inside quotes; yet you put the comma outside the quotes after critique!
*****

My comment:
Thanks for your question about using the comma inside the quotation. You are correct in your comments since in American style, you would place the commas inside the closing quotation mark. Some writers in
the USA follow the British style that places the comma outside, since it always punctuates the sentence, not the quoted material. I obviously used my source of information from a British style reference book

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

"Ask advice only of your equals." (Danish proverb)

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

Answer:
They are all correct.




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #449: Compound personal pronouns end in "self /selves: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves."

Use them to direct the action expressed by the verb back to the subject: Gail found herself the only one in favor of the move.

Use them to emphasize a noun or pronoun already expressed: I myself am bewildered.

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

What's wrong with this sentence?

I myself am personally bewildered.

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

Comments:

Jane Hoffman, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation asked: We are having a hard time deciding whether Veteran Services, Veteran's Services, Veterans' Services or Veteran Services is correct. Can you
help us?

My answer:
Thanks for the great question. The choice depends on what has been used as the standard form in the government. Check with your boss, or check with the federal government. I looked at what the federal
government has on the web, and the federal government uses "veteran services." However, some states, such as Arizona, use "veterans' services."

I would suggest speaking to your boss.

*****

Here's another question regarding the apostrophe: Christine, Translator of English into French asked: I have a follow-up question about this week's topic, the "apostrophe S" I have been told by numerous English mother tongue colleagues, translators and interpreters, that "user's manual" is not correct and that the correct form is "user manual", on the ground that, primarily, it is a manual created for the user and not a manual that belongs to the owner. Now in "The company manufactures women's blouses", I would obviously not dream of talking of a "woman blouse"... So, where does that user manual Vs user's manual stand?

My answer:
That's a good question. I have seen an "owner's manual." Therefore, I would think a "user's manual" is correct.

I would like to hear what my reader's think about each of these questions!!

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

"Management is nothing but motivating other people." (Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler executive)

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

Answer:

Using "myself" and "personally" in the same sentence creates redundancy rather than emphasis.



If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #450: Which is the preferred style for news releases?: "Three people or persons were involved in the project." The Associated Press Stylebook prefers the word "people" to "persons" in all plural uses.

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

Which word is incorrectly used in the following sentence?

"From our 47-story Atrium to our unique décor to our sumptuous dining, the incredible XYZ Hotel is now the penultimate business travel experience"?

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

"Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood." (Mary Hirsch)

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

Answer:

"Penultimate" means "next to last" and does not mean "ultimate."




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

 

Writing Quicklinks

Writing tips:
101 - 110 | 111 - 120 | 121 - 130 | 131 - 140 | 141 - 150
151 - 160 | 161 - 170 | 171 - 180 | 181 - 190 | 191 - 200
200-210
| 212-220 | 221-230 | 231 - 240 | 241 - 250
251 - 260
| 261 - 270 | 271 - 280 | 281 - 290 | 291 - 300
300 - 310

441 -450 | 451 - 460 | 461 - 470 | 471 - 480 | 481 - 490 | 491 - 500
501 - 510 | 511 - 520 | 521 - 530 | 531 - 540 | 541 - 550
551 - 560 | 561 - 570 | 571 - 580 | 581 - 590 | 591 - 600
600-610 | 611-620 | 621 - 630 | 631 - 640 | 641 - 650 | 651 - 660
671 - 680 | 681 - 690 | 691 - 700 | 701 - 710

Writing for Trade Publications | Active Voice | http://www.atozwriting.com


To turbocharge your own writing skills, visit http://www.basic-learning.com

Articles | Book Reviews | Free eNL | Products

Contact Us | Home

This material, copyright Mindconnection. Don't make all of your communication electronic. Hug somebody!