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Writing Tips: 471 - 480

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Tip #471: "We read with our ears as well as our eyes."

This is a quote from James Kirkpatrick's headline in his syndicated column "Writer's Art." We can create mood and pace with words. For example, for the writer who wants to write "fast," she can write bolt, dash, hustle. If the writer wants to slow the pace, he can use words like dawdle, meander, trudge, etc. We can even have laugh words such as cackle, giggle, snicker, etc. Even in business writing, we can use verbs to create a mood. "My associate barked a command at the..."

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Rephrase the following awkward sentences:

1. We may have to invite my three sisters-in-law's parents too.

2. Mr. Allah's statement agrees with both attorneys general's views.

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Comments about questions from Tip #470:

Susan Cole commented: It all depends on the style guide you're using. AP style, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Oxford Style Manual tend to agree on these particular points, and evidently Gregg is also in line with these. When in doubt, turn to a style guide.

In example 1, capitalization depends on context. There isn't enough context for me to tell whether the hospital is acting as a recognized entity or whether the word is being used as a description. Compare these sentences:

a. The Hospital, under the guidance of its new CEO, has  instituted the International Outreach Program to bring medical relief to poverty-stricken areas of third-world countries.

b. The hospital has a dedicated team of doctors who last year made several important breakthroughs in oncology research.

Examples 2 and 3 are considered correct as written. Capitalize a title when it's used before the person's name as part of the name ("Director of Marketing Mary Fodor is happy to announce . . .") but not when following or replacing the name as in the examples given.

One exception to capitalizing the title before the name is in using it as an appositive, a description that should not be read as part of the name: former president Bush, German chancellor Merkel (but, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor). However, if your audience is a passel of lawyers, capitalize every Noun and Title that might be interpreted as reference to an Entity. This is the only way to make the Audience (i.e., "Lawyers" and "Legal Assistants") comfortable and happy.

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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he
stands at times of challenge and controversy."

(Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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Suggested answers:

1. We may have to invite the parents of my three sisters-in-law too.

2. Mr. Allah's statement agrees with the views of both attorneys  general.




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Tip #472: The names of many organizations and products contain words that could be considered either possessive or descriptive terms. As a rule, use an apostrophe if the term is a singular possessive noun or an irregular plural noun.

For example: Levi's jeans
Women's Wear Daily
Reese's Pieces
Macy's

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Choose the correct word:

1. I do not want anyone (else's/elses) job.
2. It's no (one's/ones) responsibility.
3. I think it's (anybody's /anybodys) guess.

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"Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it."
(Samuel Butler, 17th century English poet)

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Answers:

1. I do not want anyone (else's) job.
2. It's no (one's) responsibility.
3. I think it's (anybody's) guess.




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Tip #473: Several indefinite pronouns (any, each, few, most, none, and some) form the possessive only in "of" phrases (of any, of some). Others use an apostrophe (anyone's).

For example, here are some established idioms: a day's journey, a day's work, a moment's notice, at his wit's end, the law's delay

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Which word is correct?

1. The chairman of the (boards/board's) statement was brief.
2. The Department of (Energys'/Energy's) new budget shows an increase.
3. The colleague of (George/George's) was at the conference.

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"Reason often makes mistakes but conscience never does."
(Josh Billings)

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My answers:

1. The chairman of the (board's) statement was brief.
2. The Department of (Energy's) new budget shows an increase.
3. The colleague of (George's) was at the conference.



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Tip #474: If a preposition falls naturally at the end of a sentence, leave it there.

For example: I don't remember which file I put it in.

Be aware that a preposition at the end of a sentence can be an indication that the sentence is awkwardly constructed.

For example: The branch office is where he was at.

This sentence should be changed: He was at the branch office.

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Rewrite the following sentences by changing or adding prepositions:

1. The client arrived at about four o'clock.

2. He was oblivious and not distracted by the view.

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"When somebody lies, somebody loses."
(Stephanie Ericsson)

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My answers:

1. The client arrived at around four o'clock.
Or: The client arrived at four o'clock.

2. He was oblivious to and not distracted by the view.




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Tip #475: New words in 2007: Merriam-Webster Dictionary had asked the public for their "Favorite Word (Not in the Dictionary)." The 2007 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added such words as "crunk," a type of rap music, "ginormous," around since 1948 and means "big," "hardscape," a word that means outdoor things that aren't landscape, and "viewshed," that means no explanation necessary in this neck of the woods. (Source: The Asheville Citizen Times)

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Correctly punctuate the following sentences:

1. The chairman formally adjourned the meeting but the members of the committee continued to argue.
2. It was a fast simple inexpensive process.
3. We discussed the final report on the new project.

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"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always  another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."
(Mary Pickford, 20th century American actress.)

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My answers:

1. The chairman formally adjourned the meeting, but the members of the committee continued to argue.
2. It was a fast, simple, inexpensive process.
3. We discussed the final report on the new project.
(No additional punctuation is needed.)



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Tip #476: The word "committee" is a collective noun that takes a singular verb.

For example: The committee is to meet at 4:30 p.m.

If you wish to emphasize the individuals on the committee, use "the members of the committee" with the plural verb form.

For example: The members of the committee were all in agreement.

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Which is the correct verb?

1. Each of the companies (has ,have) filed for bankruptcy.

2. Our products, especially the electronics line, (was, were) all successful this year.

3. Their firm, like several other law firms, (was, were) caught unprepared for the new antitrust legislation.

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"To many people, virtue consists chiefly in repenting faults, not in avoiding them."
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg)

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My answers:

1. Each of the companies (has) filed for bankruptcy.

2. Our products, especially the electronics line, (were) all successful this year.

3. Their firm, like several other law firms, (was) caught unprepared for the new.




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Tip #477: Can something be "more accurate" than something else?

The word "accurate" comes from the Latin word "accuratus," which means "done with care." The Webster's New World Dictionary permits this sense for the word: adhering closely to a standard. Therefore, one thermometer could be "more accurate" than another.

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Rewrite the confusing sentence:

1. There are two statues on both sides of the entrance hall.

2. The parent corporation is comprised of three divisions.

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Suggested answers:

1. There are two statues on each side of the entrance hall.
OR
There is a statue on each side of the entrance hall.

2. The parent corporation is composed of three divisions.




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Tip #478: When making a comparison, make certain that both or all the elements being compared are clearly understood by your reader.

For example: "The third-generation computer is better than the second-generation computer." Do not use: "The third -generation
computer is better."

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Correct the sentences to make them clearer:

1. Imitation alligator hide is almost as tough as a real alligator.

2. Washington is farther from Boston than Philadelphia.

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"Those people who are uncomfortable in themselves are disagreeable to others."
(William Hazlitt, early 18th century English essayist and literary critic)

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My answer:

1. Imitation alligator hide is almost as tough as a real alligator hide.

2. Washington is farther from Boston than it is from Philadelphia.
OR
Washington is farther from Boston than Philadelphia is.




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Tip #479: Comparative Degree: Most adjectives and adverbs can be compared. Their common forms of comparison are as follows:
Positive---The new copier is fast.
Comparative---The new copier is faster than the old one.
Superlative---The new copier is the fastest I have ever used.

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Writers often use the comparative degree when comparing two things and the superlative degree when comparing three things. Choose the
correct words in the following sentences:

1. This is the (newest/ newer) of the three policies.
2. This is the (newest/newer) of the two jackets.

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"The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had the means, time, influence, and educational advantages, but what he
will do with the things he has." (Hamilton Wright Mabee)

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Comments:

Alma Mitchell asked:

Here's a question that has been confusing people, and there are differing opinions; we'd like yours. When a large dollar amount is used at the end of a quote in a sentence, what is the proper comma treatment? i.e., "The campaign goal is $10,000., " said Lois.

Financial people would not want to see $10,000," said Lois. Isn't it more correctly written to always use a period after that kind of a
dollar amount if you aren't adding cents? Please clarify this for me. Thanks very much.

My answer:
Use this: "The campaign goal is $10,000.00," said Lois. Place the cents in the sentence so it will be clear to the reader.

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Answers:

1. This is the (newest) of the three policies.
2. This is the (newer) of the two jackets.




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Tip #480: Linking Verbs: A verb that functions primarily to link the subject to a noun or modifier is called a linking verb. The most
common linking verb is a form of the verb "be." For example: Each department "is" important to the organization's overall performance.

However, other verbs may also function as linking verbs, including "become, remain, and seem." For example: He became an investment banker.

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Rewrite this sentence:

Dear Mr. Smith:

It has come to our attention that you have failed to remit your April payment, which became overdue on April 15.

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"Character is simply habit long continued."
(Plutarch, Roman biographer)

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Comments:

Becky Young asked: When processing a formal agreement is it acceptable to underline and bold say a title of a project or owner
name, etc. ("Private Project No." "Project Owner")?

My answer: Good question. In legal documents, many words that ordinarily would be written in small letters are often written with
initial capitals or all capitals and are bolded.

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On what Bill Bronner commented about: I have to disagree with you on the answer you provided for exercise #1 of tip #380. You state that:
It came out (differently) than we expected.

is correct, not:

It came out (different) than we expected.

The first problem is the use of "than" when "from" is correct. "Than" should be used only for comparisons of degree ("smarter than," "taller than," etc.), not for differences of kind. Secondly, both of the following are correct, although the meanings are different:
It came out differently from how we expected.

It came out different from what we expected.

The first of these applies if the manner of coming out is different (e.g., the cake batter poured very slowly from the bowl); the second applies if the end result is different (e.g., the cake turned out too dry).

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Suggested rewrite:

Dear Mr. Smith:

I am writing to let you know that your April payment (due on April 15) has not reached us yet.




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