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Writing Tips: 551 - 560

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Tip #551: Present Perfect vs. Past Perfect

Present perfect tense is used to describe actions that took place at an indefinite time before the present moment or that still continue into the present.

Example: I have already read this manual (indefinite time before present); I have begun to read this manual (continues into the present).

This tense often uses words for, since, already, and yet. Present perfect tense is formed with HAVE or HAS plus the past participle (third form of the verb).

Past perfect tense is used to describe actions that took place at an indefinite time before another action in the past. Example: I had read this manual before it went to print (indefinite time before a past event).

Past perfect is formed with HAD plus past participle (third form of the verb).


Quiz

Change each sentence to either past perfect or present perfect tense (as appropriate):
1. I work here for 20 years.
2. I took my vacation before I started this job.
3. I went to London prior to 2000.
4. I did not finish writing the letter yet.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Permeate (v.) [PUR-mi-ate]: to spread or flow through.

Ex: Anger permeated his speech to the uncooperative workers.

Quotation of the Week

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. ---Helen Keller



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Tip #553: Minutes

By mistake, the quiz answers were not included last week. We apologize for any inconvenience. Here are the answers:
Fill in the blanks with 'then' or 'than.'
1. This month's report is longer than the one from the previous month.
2. We must address the space issue first; then we can discuss additional personnel.
3. I prefer to work with the blue team rather than with the red team.
4. The new candidate will meet with the director and then go for a tour of the facility.
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Tip #553: Business minutes

When writing minutes of a business meeting, follow a few important steps:
1. Record the title, date, time, and place of the meeting.
2. Record the names of the attendees.
3. Record proposals/suggestions/motions made by the members.
4. Record decisions or votes made by the group.
Minutes should not be wordy. Do not write down details of the discussion, only the final actions to be taken by the group.

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Quiz

Reduce the following paragraph to a list of agreed upon actions.

Paul stated that we should create a search committee for the new coordinator position. We agreed. We discussed how the committee should operate. Lena will print out the resumes and circulate them among the committee members. We had a concern, however, that it would be too time consuming. Also, what if members start writing comments on the resumes? That can influence the opinions of some, and that would not be fair. We really want to keep the process neutral and impartial. Alyssa asked if we should tell everybody not to write any comments on the resumes, and we agreed. Instead, we will create a form on which members can record their comments.

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Volatile (adj.) [vah-le-tile]: explosive, unstable.
The volatile situation at the board meeting was resolved through intense negotiation.

Quotation of the Week
The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.
---Ray Kroc, McDonald's founder



Quiz Answers
Suggested quiz answer:
Paul suggested creating a search committee for the new coordinator position. The committee agreed. Operation of the committee was discussed and the following was decided:
* Lena will print out the resumes and circulate them among the committee members.
* Members will be asked not to write comments on the resumes.
* A form will be created on which members will record comments.



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Tip # 554: Placement of advebs

Adverbs are words that describe actions. Adverbs of time, for example, show when something is happening (rarely); adverbs of place show where something is happening (near); adverbs of manner show how something is done (quickly).

There are several simple rules on how adverbs are placed around other verbs:
1. Adverbs are placed after the verb to be. Ex: We are still here. He is never on time.
2. Adverbs are placed between the auxiliary and the main verb. Ex: We have never been to Tanzania. The committee will still be meeting at 5:00 p.m.
3. Adverbs are placed before a verb. Ex: We just called you.


Quiz

Insert an adverb into the following sentences.

1. We are planning to go to the concert. (still)
2. She is beautiful. (definitely)
3. The walls will be covered with a new coat of paint. (soon)
4. The meetings start on time. (never)
5. The comet has passed by Earth. (already)

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Ubiquitous (adj.) [yoo-BIK-wit-uss]: being or seeming to be everywhere.
Ex: We could not help but notice the ubiquitous presence of security guards in the bank.

Quotation of the Week

The following quote was sent in by subsciber Suyog Wagh from Mumbai, India.


Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
--- Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born physicist known for his theory of relativity



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Tip #556: Misused words

Between or among?
Between is usually used when referring to two individuals or things. Ex: The bonus will be divided between Cathy and Mark.

Among is used when referring to more than two individuals or things. Ex: The bonus will be divided among all group members.

Entitled or titled?
Entitled means "having the right to." Ex: Every employee is entitled to a paid vacation.
Titled means carrying a particular name. Ex: Our report is titled "Early Student Intervention."

Principle or principal?
The word principle is a noun. It means "a rule or code of ethics." Ex: Our approach to work is based on the principle that good customer service comes first.

The word principal can be either a noun or an adjective. As a noun it means "a person in charge." As an adjective it means "main" or "the most important." Ex: The principal dancer at the ballet earns a higher salary.

Quiz

Place the correct word in the blank.
1. I was called in by the school ____________. (principal, principle)
2. You are not _____________ to more than a 20-minute break. (titled, entitled)
3. Please distribute this ____________ the group members. (among, between)
4. The book on your desk is ____________ Entrepreneurial Spirit. (titled, entitled)
5. The printer should be placed ___________ the two bookshelves. (among, between)
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Sanctimonious (adj). [sun-kti-MO-nias]: hypocritical, pretending to be excessively virtuous. Ex: My supervisor likes to give me sanctimonious advice about dealing with customers.


Be the change you wish to see in the world.
---Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the nonviolent resistance movement in India




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Tip #556: Commas with introductory elements

1. Place a comma after an introductory request or command. Ex: Remember, the meeting will be canceled if the document is not received.
2. Place a comma after an introductory word or phrase that comes before the subject of the sentence. Ex: To make the right decision, we have agreed to extend the interviewing process. Ex: No, that is not correct.
3. Place a comma after an introductory comment. Ex: In our view, the remodeling project is overdue.
4. Place a comma after an introductory transitional expression. Ex: However, the funds currently cannot allow us to pursue the project.


Quiz

Place commas where appropriate.
1. As I mentioned before the project will require additional resources.
2. Yes the timesheets can be submitted tomorrow.
3. Before the proposal is submitted I would like to receive feedback from the committee members.
4. To begin with your input is very much appreciated.
5. Look I can meet with you if you have new information.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Word of the week:
Sanguine (adj.) [SAN-gwin]: cheerful, confident, optimistic. Despite the down economy, our CEO still maintains his sanguine outlook.

Quotation of the Week

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. —Sir Winston Churchill (1865-1925), British Prime Minister during WWII and from 1951-1955


Quiz Answers
1. As I mentioned before, the project will require additional resources.
2. Yes, the timesheets can be submitted tomorrow.
3. Before the proposal is submitted, I would like to receive feedback from the committee members.
4. To begin with, your input is very much appreciated.
5. Look, I can meet with you if you have new information.



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Tip #557: Adding emphasis

Emphasis in text can be added through underlining, italicizing, or using quotation marks. Italics are preferred unless their use would not be sufficiently noticeable.

Emphasis is typically added in the following cases:
* When identifying special words. The identified word is introduced with the phrase "the term" or "the word." Ex: The term "cougar" refers to older women dating younger men.
* When using foreign expressions that are not part of the English language. Ex: Pardone moi, I was not familiar with the rules.
* When identifying a word or phrase that would have been stressed in speech. Ex: The timesheets must be submitted before five o’clock.
* When writing titles of books, magazines, journals, or newspapers. Ex: Have you read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?


Quiz

Add emphasis where needed:
1. The article in the New York Times focused on the state of the current economy.
2. Safety rules absolutely have to be enforced.
3. The word bloke is used in Britain to refer to a man.
4. Dios mio! That was awful.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Word of the week:
Luminescent (adj.) [loom-en-ESS-ent]: emitting or capable of emitting light. Ex: After accepting her promotion and getting a raise, Emilia seems luminescent.


Quotation of the Week

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one other thing. ---Abraham Lincoln


Quiz answers

1. The article in the New York Times focused on the state of current economy.
2. Safety rules absolutely have to be enforced.
3. The word "bloke" is used in Britain to refer to a man.
4. Dios mio! That was awful.



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Tip #558: First annual?

Is it correct to say "first annual" about an event (ex: first annual company picnic) or is it a contradiction of terms? Annual implies that the event has been taking place once every year. Therefore, at the time of the initial event, the implication would be false because nothing has happened yet.

While beginning an annual tradition may be the intention, the event title or description should reflect the current state of affairs, not an intention of something happening in the future. Therefore, the first event cannot be called annual. It can, however, be called inaugural, which sufficiently signals the intention to make something into a series.

The second event can be called second annual. Some writers and editors, however, prefer to wait until the third year before they start calling it annual.

This rule does not apply to financial arrangements, in which the person is expected to follow a pre-determined payment schedule. Ex: first monthly payment; first annual contribution.

Quiz

Place proper punctuation and spell out numbers in the following paragraph:

We appointed a committee to plan for the (5) annual holiday party. The committee will focus on several issues. (1) it will identify the things that worked out well in the past (2) it will outline areas that need improvement and (3) it will come up with a proposal for what should be done to address the deficiencies.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Discord (noun) [dis-KORD]: lack of agreement between people or things. Ex: The discord between the front desk personnel makes routine tasks difficult to accomplish.

Quiz Answers

We appointed a committee to plan for the fifth annual holiday party. The committee will focus on several issues. First, it will identify the things that worked out well in the past; second, it will outline areas that need improvement; and third, it will come up with a proposal for what should be done to address the deficiencies.



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Tip #559: Are acronyms acceptable?

Acronyms are an acceptable part of every-day communication; for example, SEC (Student Educational Center) or HRD (Human Resources Department).

Many acronyms, however, are highly specialized, relating only to a particular organization, or to a particular department within a larger organization. Employees often become so comfortable with their own familiar acronyms, they forget that people outside of their narrow circle may not understand what those acronyms mean. Unfamiliar acronyms make people uncomfortable, because they force us to put extra effort into finding out what the acronyms mean.

Do not overuse acronyms when writing e-mails or letters. It is more appropriate to spell the words out, especially when communicating with those that are not involved in your department's day-to-day operations.

The use of simple Internet abbreviations, such as 'lol' and 'btw,' is also not appropriate in business communications.

Quiz

Write several sentences incorporating some of your common business acronyms. Consider if everyone within or outside of your organization will understand them. Rewrite the sentences spelling out the acronyms.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Plummet (v.) [PLUM-it]: to fall straight down, to plunge. Ex: We expect the sales department's profits for the third quarter to plummet below $100,000.


Quotation of the Week

Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.
---Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich

Quiz Answers

Each response will be different. Here is ours:
The FIU students at the SECs are expected to communicate with their FEC at the beginning of each semester. - The Florida International University students at the Student Educational Center are expected to communicate with their field experience contact at the beginning of each semester.



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Tip #560: Singular or plural pronoun?

When replacing a non-specific third-person noun with a pronoun, many writers mistakenly use a plural pronoun. The proper replacement for a third-person noun is a gender-neutral pronoun him or her.

Incorrect: "When helping a customer, make sure you inform them of their rights."

Correct: "When helping a customer, make sure you inform him or her of his/her rights."

Quiz

Correct the following sentences:
1. If you reach someone in the office, tell them we will be a few minutes late.
2. When I work with a client, I begin by telling them the "tree story."
3. If an insurance rep stops by the office, please provide them with everything they need.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Wheedle [WEED-L] (verb): to influence someone by flattering, sweet-talking, or coaxing. Example: I finally wheedled my manager into giving me a Saturday off.

Quotation of the Week

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish --- John Quincy Adams

Quiz Answers

1. If you reach someone in the office, tell him or her we will be a few minutes late.
2. When I work with a client, I begin by telling him or her the "tree story."
3. If an insurance rep stops by the office, please provide him or her with everything he or she needs.


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