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Writing Tips: 451 - 460

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Tip #451: Here is a 12-step program for e-mail addicts from Marsha Egan of Egan E-Mail Solutions in Reading, PA.

1. Admit you have an issue in managing your e-mail.
2. Turn off automatic send and receive.
3. Commit to leaving your inbox empty every time you go into it.
4. Create folders where you can file inbox material.
5. Title folders with broad subjects.
6. Deal immediately with e-mails that take two minutes or less.
7. Establish a schedule to check e-mail daily.
8. Don't use e-mail if a phone call can solve a problem.
9. Choose a date to clear the inbox in hour-long increments.
10. Use one subject for each e-mail.
11. Tell others you won't be checking your e-mail every five minutes, and don't expect an answer in five minutes.
12. Celebrate incremental e-mail improvements.

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Shorten the following phrases to one word:

1. at this point in time
2. with regard to
3. on a local basis
4. for the purpose of

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Comments:

Roger Groce commented about Tip #450: Thanks, Ms. Pincu, but syndicated columnist James J. Kilpatrick, author of The Writer's Art (among numerous other works) and former editor of the Richmond News-Leader disagrees. He is likely not the only authority to do so.

I am traveling and do not have ready access to Fowler's Modern English Usage, but I suspect this authoritative reference would also specify persons in this instance. Let us not be too hasty in bowing
to popular convention.

********

Alain Richard asked: I know some differences between American and British English. Do you know if there are a lot between Canadian and American English?

My answer:

Please see this web site for the answer to your question:
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/BritishCanadianAmerican.htm


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"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have." (Unknown)

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Answers:

1. at this point in time---Now
2. with regard to---About
3. on a local basis ---Locally
4. for the purpose of---To




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Tip #452: Guidelines for writing sales letters:

1. Identify and limit your audience.
2. Think like your reader and ask yourself: "What are we trying to do for our customers?"
3. Save elaborate explanations about a product or service for after the sale.
4. Use concrete, specific words instead of vague ones.
5. Avoid untruths, exaggerations, false comparisons, and unsupported generalizations.

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Correct the misplaced modifiers:

1. Hiding in the corner, growling and snarling, our guide spotted the frightened puppy.

2. When he answered the question, his calculator fell off the table.

3. All travel requests must be submitted by employees in  green ink.

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"When you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere." (A. Rooney)

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Suggested Answers:

1. Hiding in the corner, growling and snarling, the frightened puppy was spotted by our guide.

2. His calculator fell off the table as he answered the question.

3. All travel requests by employees must be submitted in green ink.




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Tip #453: To form the plural of numbers and capital letters used as nouns, including abbreviations without periods, just add "s." To avoid misreading some capital letters, however, you may need to add the apostrophe.

For example:

During the 1980s

His SATs

The 3 Rs

All perfect 10s

Several local YMCAs

Straight A's

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Change the incorrect word:

1. I should have taken Larry's advise.

2. Our lawyers adviced us not to sign the contract.

3. What was the affect on the new process?

4. We will try to affect a change in policy.

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"Indifference is the essence of inhumanity." (George Bernard Shaw, Anglo-Irish dramatist)

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Answers:

1. I should have taken Larry's advice. (recommendation)

2. Our lawyers advised us not to sign the contract. (to counsel)

3. What was the effect on the new process? (result)

4. We will try to effect a change in policy. (to bring about)





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Tip #454: To form the plurals of first names or other proper names, add "s" or "es" but do not change the original spelling.

Gladys - Gladyses

Ralph - Ralphs

Three Texans

The Emmys and the Grammys

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Can you answer Christine Carpentier's question?

Gloria, I am confused about a rule for their and there. I wrote a document and the word their was changed to there, because I was not talking about a person. The phrase is as follows:

"She knows how to correct sentences without changing their meaning".

Can you please let me know what the rule is?

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"Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say."
(Shakespeare from his play, King Lear)

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Answer:

"Their" is a possessive pronoun.
For example: Their complaints have proved to be unfounded. (Some people have complaints.)

"There" is an adverb.
For example: There are complaints that have proved unfounded. (This is a general statement that can be turned around: Complaints are there.)

Christine's sentence is correct by using 'their' since the sentences own the meaning.





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Tip #455: Capitalize formal titles of acts, laws, bills, and treaties, but do not capitalize common-noun elements that stand alone in place of the full name.

Capitalize: The Americans With Disabilities Act
Do not capitalize: the act

Capitalize: The First Amendment
Do not capitalize: the amendment

Capitalize: Public Law 480
Do not capitalize: the law

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Which is correct?

1. Newton's first law of motion

2. Newton's First Law of Motion

3. the first law of thermodynamics

4. the First Law of Thermodynamics

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"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread."
(Richard Wright, 20th century American author)

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Answers:

1. Newton's first law of motion

2. the first law of thermodynamics



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Tip #456: What is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

The mission statement describes the purpose or intent of a business. A vision statement describes the impact of the business.

For example, a company that manufactures children's toys (its mission) may do so because of a commitment to the importance of childhood intellectual development (its values). The company's vision may be for children who are better prepared to begin school because of the products they market.

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Place the word with its correct meaning:

WORDS: MEANINGS:

adapt to choose

adept to adjust

adopt proficient

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"Character is fate." (Heraclitus, ancient Greek historian)

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Answers:

1. adapt = to adjust

2. adept = proficient

3. adopt = to choose





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Tip # 457: Besides misplaced modifiers there are "squinting modifiers" - modifiers placed in such a way they can be interpreted as modifying either what precedes or what follows.

For example:

Squinting: Traveling abroad frequently can become exhausting.
(Does "frequently" modify "traveling abroad" or "can become exhausting"?)

Change to: Frequently traveling abroad can become exhausting.

Or change to: Traveling abroad can frequently become exhausting.

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Change these misplaced modifiers:

1. Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.

2. I suspect my assistant accidentally dropped the speech I had been drafting in the wastebasket.

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Comments:

Don Lileneld commented: "Thanks,... (referring to tip #456), the difference between Mission, Vision and Values are the clearest I have ever seen.

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"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
(James Madison, 19th century American president)

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Answers:

1. Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while traveling to Gettysburg.

2. The speech I had been drafting has disappeared. I suspect my assistant accidentally dropped it in the wastebasket.




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Tip #458: Interesting pronunciations:

Greenwich: This name, whether it refers to the town in Connecticut or the borough in England or the village in Manhattan, N.Y., is pronounced GREN-nitch. However, the town in Rhode Island - East Greenwich - is pronounced GREEN-witch. Notice the spelling does not change.

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Please send us your answer to the question asked:

Victoria Macdonald asked the following:

This sentence prompted a lot of conversation the other night, regarding what is grammatically correct:

I said, "My mother was concerned about us getting a good education."  Some believed it should be "My mother was concerned about our getting a good education."

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"People seldom improve when they have no model but themselves to copy."
(Thought of the year, 2007 Farmers' Almanac)

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My suggested answer:

I would say both of your sentences are correct. They both use the gerund phrase: getting a good education.




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Tip #459: Comma Usage: When a phrase introduced by "as well as, in addition to, besides, along with, including, accompanied by, together with, plus," or a similar expression falls between the subject and the verb, it is set off by commas. However, commas may be omitted if the phrase fits smoothly into the flow of the sentence or is essential to the meaning.

For example:
Everyone, including the top corporate managers, will be required to attend the in-house seminar.

Sally as well as Jo should be invited to participate.
(The "as well as" phrase fits smoothly in this sentence.)

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Place commas where they belong:

1. It was a busy but enjoyable trip.
2. Paula rather than Ed has been chosen for the job.
3. The Smiths are willing to sell but only on their terms.

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Comments regarding Tip #454:

Christine Carpentier's question: Gloria, I am confused about a rule for their and there. I wrote a document and the word their was changed to there, because I was not talking about a person. The phrase is as follows:

"She knows how to correct sentences without changing their meaning".

Can you please let me know what the rule is?
******

Gloria Huerta commented: I'd like to take a stab at answering Christine's question. While the common use of the word "their" is to refer to people it is a possessive word. In other words, no matter what or who is being referenced in a sentence, the use of the word "their" is valid and appropriate. I am writing a few sentences to
illustrate my explanation.

The children watched their class win a soccer match.

The forest rangers had to drive their trucks out of harms way after the flooding rains.

The firefighters fighting wildfires have had tremendous strain put on their equipment.
*****

Fox Cole commented on Victoria Macdonald's question on tip #458. She asked the following: This sentence prompted a lot of conversation the other night, regarding what is grammatically correct:

I said:
"My mother was concerned about us getting a good education." Some believed it should be "My mother was concerned about our getting a good education."

Fox's explanation:
Both sentences use the gerund phrase as a noun, but isn't the question actually about "us" versus "our"? The mechanics of the grammar depend on whether the gerund phrase is being used as a participial phrase modifying "us" (per the Chicago Manual of Style, 15 ed., 5.109, parallel to the example "she pointed to the chef drooping behind the counter"), or whether it's being used as the object of a verb so it takes the possessive "our" (see for example CMS 5.110). The meanings are slightly different and the choice depends on what the sentence should emphasize.

In the first example, the emphasis is on "us" as the object. My mother was concerned about us, with regard to getting a good education. Her worries center on our future well-being. The second example emphasizes the action of getting a good education, so her concern is more about whether or not one would be available to us; she's perhaps worried about how to provide it.

The difference is subtle, but to me, that's the beauty of our language: it can be that gently precise in nuance.
*****

Mary McLaughlin adds: In determining which sentence is correct, we need to know the intent of the sentence. If Mother is simply concerned that all of her children get a good education, then the second sentence is correct. The emphasis here is on "education," not the people getting it. However, if there is some reason that
everyone except her children would get a good education, and Mother wants to make sure her children get one too, then the first sentence is correct. The emphasis here is on the people who are getting the education, not the education itself.

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"Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment."
(Maxwell Maltz, 20th century American psychologist and motivational
writer)

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Answers:
1. It was a busy but enjoyable trip.
2. Paula, rather than Ed, has been chosen for the job.
3. The Smiths are willing to sell, but only on their terms.




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Tip #460: Should we write "Legal Times' Directory of Litigation" or "Legal Time's Directory of Litigation?" This depends on the correct name of this Directory. Since the name is Legal Times, use the plural
possession: Legal Times' Directory.

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Please insert the apostrophe/s in the correct place.

1. The National Association of Broadcasters met at the other hotels lobby.

2. Law firms and lobbyists paid top dollar at the National Press Foundations 24th awards dinner.

3. Scrushys lawyers in the second trial tried many tactics.

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"People seldom improve when they have no model but themselves to copy." (Thought of the year, 2007 Farmers' Almanac)

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Answers:

1. The National Association of Broadcasters met at the other hotel's lobby.

2. Law firms and lobbyists paid top dollar at the National Press Foundation's 24th awards dinner.

3. Mr. Scrushy's lawyers in the second trial tried many tactics.




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