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Writing Tips: 461 - 470

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Tip #461: "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." C. S. Lewis, English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)

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Jim Cook has a question:

Question...and if you've covered this in previous tips, my apologies...what are the rules surrounding "with regard to" vs. "with regards to?" I tend to think "regards" is incorrect but am not sure about that.

What do you think, readers?

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"Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times." (Anonymous)

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My answer:
The correct use is "in regard to." You can use "in regards" without the "to" if you want to mean the same
as "in regard to."



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Tip 462: Recommend actions rather than refer to individual mental states.

For example:

Use: We recommend names that parallel the age-old and pure qualities of the product.

Do not use: We believe you should use…." Or "We think," or "We imagine."

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Please rewrite the following to make one sentence:

Sales have increased more than 20 percent.

The reason is because our sales force has been more aggressive this year.

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Comments:

Fox Cole commented on Tip #461: I believe the use of "to" versus "with" in this phrase is a style choice rather than a matter of correct or incorrect usage. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2 ed., lists both usages and includes examples of both.

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"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is." (Francis Bacon)

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My suggestion: Do not use "the reason is because" since because, which in the sentence above, repeats the notion of cause, and it should be replaced with "that."

1. Sales have increased more than 20 percent. The reason is that our sales force has been more aggressive this year.

2. Sales have increased more than 20 percent this year because our sales force has been more aggressive.



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Tip #463: Policies vs. Procedures: A policy states an organization's posture, or stand, on a subject whereas a procedure provides instructions for carrying out the policy.

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Please answer this question:

One of my readers asked: What is the difference between "toward" and "towards"; "beside" and "besides"?

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Comments:

Mary Korch commented on Tip #462: Depending on which phrase you want to emphasize, another option for combining the sentences might be:

Sales have increased more than 20 percent. The reason is that our sales force has been more aggressive this year.

Your option: Sales have increased more than 20 percent this year because our sales force has been more aggressive.

Another option: Our sales force has been more aggressive this year, achieving a 20 percent increase in sales.

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"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." (Aesop, ancient Greek moralist)

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My answer:

"Toward" and "towards" are synonyms and can be used for each other. "Beside" is a preposition and means "at the side of." (The garage is beside the house.) "Besides" can be an adverb and mean "in addition to." (We will have entertainment besides food.) It can also be used as a preposition still meaning "in addition to." (Who will be at the party besides you?)



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Tip #464: Use repetition to emphasize a feeling or an idea.

For example: Atoms come and go in a molecule, but the molecule remains; molecules come and go in a cell, but the cell remains; cells come and go in a body, but the body remains; persons come and go in an organization, but the organization remains.

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Choose the correct word:

1. Our company (services/serves) the northwestern area of the state.
2. Please (sit/set) the trophy on the table.
3. The president and the treasurer agreed to withhold (their/his) information.

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Comments:

Carmen Laube commented about Tip #463: Re the toward and towards question, one is a British treatment and the other a Yankee treatment, but I can never remember which is which.

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"If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it."
(Lucy Larcom)

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Answers:

1. Our company (serves) the northwestern area of the state.
2. Please (set) the trophy on the table.
3. The president and the treasurer agreed to withhold (their) information.
 




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Tip #465: Problem-solving: Write down these questions and then answer them:

1. What is going well?
2. Why is that working?
3. What results do I want?
4. What is not quite right yet?
5. What am I willing to do, and what resources do I need?

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Choose the correct verb:

1. About one in every 523 young people (have/has) been diagnosed with diabetes.

2. The film concludes with two scenes that (leaves/leave) the door open for another installment.

3. The child is wise beyond, and only the grace and charm of Panabaker's performance (saves/save) her.

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"Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel." (Horace Walpole, 18th century English author)

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Answers:

1. About one in every 523 young people (has) been diagnosed with diabetes. (The subject is "one.")

2. The film concludes with two scenes that (leave) the door open for another installment. (The subject is "scenes.")

3. The child is wise beyond her years, and only the grace and charm of Panabaker's performance (save) her.
(The subject is "grace and charm.")



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Tip #466: Complement vs. Compliment:

A complement is anything that completes a whole, and in a sentence the complement can be found as a word, phrase, or clause.

For example: The two programs complement one another perfectly. (verb)

A compliment means praise. It too is used as either a noun or a verb.

For Example: The manager's compliment boosted the staff morale. (noun)

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Which sentences are clearer?

1. a) The assets we had, had surprised us.
b) We were surprised at the assets we had.

2. a) He is a conscientious, honest, reliable, worker.
b) He is a conscientious, honest, reliable worker.

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"If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it."
(Lucy Larcom)

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Answers: Both are b:

We were surprised at the assets we had.
He is a conscientious, honest, reliable worker.




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Tip #467: Revision: The more natural a work of writing seems to the reader, the more effort the writer has probably put into the revision. In the writing process, you initially write a rough draft. The next step is to revise. Allow a couple of days, if possible, to go by without looking at the draft before beginning to revise your writing.
You know you are ready to revise if you ask yourself questions such as, "I wonder why I said that?"

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Becky Young asked the following question. Can you answer her?

I have a question for the group.

When writing correspondence, when should a person hyphenate "re" as in redo, resubmit, reseal?

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"There is always, always, always something to be thankful for."
(Source Unknown)

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My Answer:

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, "A hyphen is used after re- when the compound word that is formed would have the same spelling as another word with a different meaning" (Resort means "to turn to,"
but re-sort means "to sort again.") Sometimes a hyphen is used after re- when it is put before a word beginning with e (re-enact). However, you can still write "reenact."




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Tip #468: Piqued vs. Peaked: What's wrong with the following sentence: "I was peaked by his hostile comments"? The answer: The word should be "piqued," which means "offended" or "provoked." "Peaked" means "ending in a peak or point" or "weak and wan."

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Please answer our new reader JoAnn Long's question:

I stumbled across your tips site while working on a writing section of a lab manual for a "writing in the major" neuroscience class. I was looking up some examples based on Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," a recommended book on your site, for when to use an apostrophe to make a plural of a word. I have the Gotham Books 2003 edition, and on page 45 it shows a couple of examples, but I'm trying not to "borrow" anyone else's work and so was trying to think of other sentences.

A Web search brought me to your Tip #407, where I am confused with respect to "dos" and "don'ts" - Your exercises only gives me the option to omit the contraction apostrophe in "don'ts" or not (nothing about "dos"), but Truss mentions this as a case for "do's and don't's".

My understanding was that "dos" *could* (but doesn't have to) take an apostrophe ("do's") in order to avoid confusion with the
Spanish number two, and that "don'ts" only uses the contraction apostrophe (where Truss uses both), but I'm trying to think of other
times when the plural of a word (when the _word_, not its meaning, is what is being pluralized), would take an apostrophe. I realize Truss' book is British, so that may be part of the confusion, but I'm having a hard time finding a definitive answer for this in any guide to American or British English.

Can you clarify American vs. British or why else I would/would not use an apostrophe in the plural of a word used for its own sake?

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"A taste for simplicity cannot last for long."
(Eugene Delacroix, 19th century French painter.)

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My answer:

When words taken from other parts of speech are used as nouns, they are usually pluralized by the addition of "s or es": dos and don'ts. (the word "don't" already has an apostrophe because it is a contraction.)




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Tip #469: Do not mistake a descriptive form ending in "s" for a possessive form.

For example: sales effort, savings account, news release, earnings record.

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Correct the possessive forms. Which is correct?

1. Matisse's or Mattisses paintings are beautiful.
2. A two week's or two weeks vacation is planned.
3. IBM's or IBMs product line is being released.

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"Trouble is usually produced by those who don't produce much of anything else." (Unknown)

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Answers:

1. Matisse's paintings are beautiful.
2. A two week's vacation is planned.
3. IBM's product line is being released.

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Tip #470: Job Description:

This is a definition for those who have to write one and those who have to interpret one:

A job description is a document or summary that outlines tasks and duties of a particular job. The document should
be general enough to summarize what is expected from the position; it is not a description of a specific individual
who may fill the job.


(see Words to Know For Work by Margaret Dennison)

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Please answer Janice Clark's questions:

If I am writing a memo about the hospital, e.g.

1. "South Children's Hospital had 16 centers of excellence.
The Hospital ...."

Do we use the upper case in Hospital when we are referring to a specific hospital?

2. "The director of marketing is happy to announce that..."

Do we use the upper case for director and marketing?

3. "Mary Fodor, the director of marketing, will be out of
town...."

Do we use the upper case for director and marketing?

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"There's a hole in the moral ozone, and it's getting bigger."
(Michael Josephson, 20th/21st century American ethicist)

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My comment about last week's quiz (Tip #469):

A noun ending in the sound of s is usually in the possessive form if it is followed immediately by another noun.

My error: the answer should have been: "a three weeks' vacation" or "a three-week vacation." I apologize to my readers, especially those that told me about the error of my apostrophe placement.

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Answers:

1. According to The Gregg Reference Manual, capitalize a common noun when it is part of a proper name but not when
it is used alone in place of the full name. If you were referring the hospital in legal writing, use the capitalized
word.

2. Again, you do not need to capitalize company names except in formal or legal writing.

3. You do not need to capitalize the title when it follows the person's name.



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