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Writing Tips: 561 - 570

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Tip #561: Double negatives

To avoid confusion in writing, do not use two negatives to make a positive statement. For example: He is not unwilling to speak with you. Instead, use a positive statement. For example: He is willing to speak with you.

Quiz

Eliminate double negatives from the following sentences.
1. They are not unprepared for the meeting.
2. I am not unappreciative of your efforts.
3. This is not an unacceptable solution.
4. Our department is not unrepresented on the committee.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Decadence [DE-ka-dins] (n.) : Lack of moral discipline (when referring to a person); a process, condition, or period of deterioration or decline (when referring to a society). Ex: The decadence of some in the finance and mortgage industries has contributed to our current economic situation.

Quotation of the Week

For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us. ---Donald Williams, former NASA astronaut

Quiz Answers

1. They are prepared for the meeting.
2. I appreciate your efforts.
3. This is an acceptable solution.
4. Our department is represented on the committee.



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Tip #562: Spacing with symbols

Put a space before and after the following symbols @, &, =, and x.

Examples:
We ordered 200 pens @ $1.10 each.
He is employed by Wake & Waltsman.
Fall enrollment = 1,500; winter enrollment = 2,200.
The table you will receive is 5 x 7 ft.

Quiz

1. Her cubicle is only 3x3 ft.
2. 5x6=30.
3. Three chairs @$90 each come out to $270 total.
4. The attorneys of Bateson&Curey are coming at 5:00 p.m.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Paramount [par-a-MOUNT] (adj.): of chief concern or importance. Example: It is paramount that the discussions with the upper management are productive.


Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
---Anne Morrow Lindbergh, American aviator and wife of fellow aviator Charles Lindbergh


Quiz Answers
1. Her cubicle is only 3 x 3 ft.
2. 5 x 6 = 30.
3. Three chairs @ $90 each come out to $270.
4. The attorneys at Bateson & Curey are coming at 5:00 p.m.



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Tip #563: Closing lines

Many people like to include a standard closing line in all of their correspondence. Some even make it part of their saved e-mail signature so that it automatically appears on every message. Here are two real examples:
1. As always, your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
2. Thank you and have a great day.

While such lines are meant to convey a very warm and engaging message, when overused,
they run the danger of turning the message into the same old reply devoid of real warmth. Do not force your readers to be repeatedly faced with the same worn-out phrase.

Quiz

In the following list, select which SHOULD NOT become permanent closing lines in correspondence:
1. Blessings go with you.
2. Thank you.
3. I look forward to your reply.
4. Thank you for anticipated cooperation.
5. Regards.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Modicum [MOD-i-kem] (n.): a small or token amount. It is expected that all employees show our director a modicum of respect.


Quotation of the Week

A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it's a whisper.
---Barry Neil Kaufman, author of Happiness is a Choice


Quiz Answers
1. Blessings go with you. (reason: has a religious overtone)
3. I look forward to your reply. (reason: not every correspondence requires a reply)
4. Thank you for anticipated cooperation (reason: not every correspondence discusses a cooperative venture, and even if it does, this sounds coercive).



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Tip #564: i.e. or e.g.?

The difference between "i.e." and "e.g." is the following: "i.e." means "that is" and should only be used when providing a brief explanation of what was just said, while "e.g." means "for example" and should be used when offering examples.

Explanation: Sgt. Smith went AWOL, i.e. he is absent without permission or leave.
Example: Our firm provides a variety of services, e.g. professional printing, copying, and binding.

Quiz

Fill in the blank with "i.e." or "e.g."
1. The horrible atmosphere in the meeting was obvious, _______ everyone could sense the tension between Ruben and Mike.
2. We would like to proceed with the project, _______ we are ready to accept your conditions.
3. The site will require multiple renovations, _______ the roof needs to be replaced, several hallways must be completely retiled, and most of the walls need to be painted.
4. All members of our team are very talented, _______ Burton plays a guitar and Wilkins paints.
5. The new management team makes me happy, _______ it makes me hopeful that change is possible.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Transitory [TRAN-zi-to-ree] (adj.): short-lived, temporary. Ex: Effective planning is essential to ensuring that our success is not transitory.


Quotation of the Week

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
---Scott Adams (1957-present), creator of the Dilbert comic strip


Quiz Answers

1. The horrible atmosphere in the meeting was obvious, i.e. everyone could sense the tension between Ruben and Mike.
2. We would like to proceed with the project, i.e. we are ready to accept your conditions.
3. The site will require multiple renovations, e.g. the roof needs to be replaced, several hallways must be completely retiled, and most of the walls need to be painted.
4. All members of our team are very talented, e.g. Burton plays a guitar and Wilkins paints.
5. The new management team makes me happy, i.e. it makes me hopeful that change is possible.



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Tip #565: Compound adjectives

When several words are combined together to describe a noun, the new unit is called a compound adjective. Example: a million-dollar deal.

Compound adjectives typically replace longer phrases. The example above was probably converted from the phrase "a deal worth a million dollars." Compound adjectives are placed before the noun and are written with a hyphen. "Million-dollar" is the compound adjective and "deal" is the noun.

Quiz
Replace the following phrases with compound adjectives:
1. A speaker who is well known
2. A person who speaks softly
3. A building that is two stories high
4. A vehicle that is moving fast
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Propensity [pra-PEN-ci-ti] (adv.): a natural tendency, an inclination. Ex: My supervisor has the propensity to be overly talkative.


Quotation of the Week
Our chief want is for someone who will inspire us to be what we know we can be.
---Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quiz Answers
1. A well-known speaker
2. A soft-spoken person
3. A two-story building
4. A fast-moving vehicle


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Tip #566: Capitalization of titles

All official titles should be capitalized when they precede a personal name. For example: President Marci McLain; Professor Lori Smith; Governor Jerry Buns. The title is not capitalized if it follows the personal name or if the name is set off by commas. Examples: Next week, the president, Marci McLain, is expected to address the company. Next week, Marci McLain, the president, is expected to address the company.

Do not capitalize job titles when they stand alone. For example: Our senior accountant is on vacation. Capitalization is always used for the high-ranking national, state, and international officials. For example: the Vice President, the Pope, the Queen of England.


Quiz

Correct capitalization where necessary:
1. Our Director, Mary Blume, will see you at 4:00 p.m.
2. I would like to introduce you to ambassador Morris.
3. Barry Winter, the Senior Vice President, is on vacation.
4. Vice president Kline will attend the meeting.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Insipid [in-SI-pid] (adj.): dull and boring, lacking flavor or excitement. Ex: I am expected to read the insipid accounting report by Monday.


Quotation of the Week

Focus, not on the rudenesses of others, not on what they've done or left undone, but on what you have and haven't done yourself. --- Buddha

Quiz Answers
1. Our director, Mary Blume, will see you at 4:00 p.m. (Name is set off in commas)
2. I would like to introduce you to Ambassador Morris. (High-ranking title)
3. Barry Winter, the senior vice president, is on vacation. (Title follows the name)
4. Vice President Kline will attend the meeting. (Title immediately precedes the name)



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Tip #567: Spelling

Producing error-free documents is always important. Do not simply rely on your computer's spell check. This function fixes the spelling of the words, but it cannot ensure that words selected carry the appropriate meaning. Therefore, you might find yourself with a well-spelled but meaningless sentence. For example: I will meet you at the boarder of the property.
[The word needed here is 'border.' The word used means a person who pays for living space and meals.]

Quiz

Find and correct the misspelled word.
1. Showing up early for the meeting is unecessarry.
2. Yes, the meeting is definately scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
3. Management will not sensor the employees' correspondence.
4. I think he has a predjudice against people who challenge him.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Recalcitrant [ri-KAHL-si-trent](adj.): stubbornly resistant or defiant to authority. Ex: Mary’s recalcitrant attitude is starting to have a negative impact on the team.

Quotation of the Week

The purpose of life is a life of purpose.---Robert Byrne, champion American chess player

Quiz Answers

1. Showing up early for the meeting is unnecessary.
2. Yes, the appointment is definitely scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
3. Management will not censor the employees' correspondence.
4. I think he has a prejudice against people who challenge him.



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Tip #568: Avoid emotional e-mails

A lot of business communication takes place via e-mail. Voice inflection, intonation, and emotions that we usually hear in the person's voice during person-to-person interaction cannot be heard in an e-mail.

Instead, they are simply imagined by the reader. It is not surprising that they can often be misread and interpreted as more inflammatory than they were meant to be. Before sending e-mails, reread them to check if they have a neutral tone. Make sure that the language used is professional and non-inflammatory.

Quiz
Rewrite the following messages in a non-confrontational manner.
1. You all should talk to each other instead of exchanging e-mails. Can someone pick up the phone?
2. Well, well ... the project is finally done. I was wondering when that would happen.
3. We are quite disappointed that you did not close the deal.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Gesticulate [ji-STI-cue-leit] (v.): make expressive movements with one's hands for emphasis, especially while talking. Ex: Our workshop presenter gesticulated throughout her presentation.

Quotation of the Week

Nothing happens unless first a dream. ---Carl Sandburg, American writer, best known for his poetry
 


Quiz Answers

Possible answers;
1. I would suggest that you talk to each other over the phone. That might be more effective.
2. I am happy to hear that the project is completed.
3. It is unfortunate that the deal could not be closed.


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Tip #569: Moot vs. mute

People sometimes say "it's a mute point," confusing too very different words: mute and moot. The word mute is pronounced me-yoot and means silent, without a sound. The word moot is pronounced moo-t and has two meanings: debatable or irrelevant.

Most often, people use this word to mean irrelevant (typically after a change in circumstances). For example: Once each of us has a computer, creating a user schedule will become a moot point. (It will not be a mute point, because it has nothing to do with an ability to make sound.)

Quiz
Insert mute or moot as appropriate.
1. Please place the TV on __________.
2. Whether all children should be educated in public institutions is a __________ question.
3. If all of us bring our own lunches, looking for a caterer will become a __________ point.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Unconscionable [un-kun-she-ne-bel] (adj.): not restrained by conscience; beyond prudence or reason. Ex: The director's rude treatment of his support staff is simply unconscionable.

Quotation of the Week

Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly. --- Robert H. Schuller (1926- ), American televangelist and founder of the Crystal Cathedral

Quiz Answers

1. Please place the TV on mute.
2. Whether all children should be educated in public institutions is a moot question.
3. If all of us bring our own lunches, looking for a caterer will become a moot point.


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Tip #570: Well-known groups

Generic well-known groups are referred to by using "the" + adjective. For example: the poor, the unemployed. This can apply to very broad groups as well as to more targeted groups. For example: the insured. These expressions are always plural and cannot be used with a possessive 's. For example: houses of the rich, not the rich's houses.

Quiz

Correct errors in the following sentences: 1. The unemployed's needs are great. 2. Insureds depend on our first-class service. 3. The rich is always looking out for him or herself.

Vocabulary Word of the Week Alacrity [e-LAK-ri-ti] (n.): cheerful willingness, eagerness. Ex: The new employee responded to a difficult assignment with unexpected alacrity.

Quotation of the Week

There are two kinds of worries: those you can do something about and those you can't. Don't spend any time on the latter. ---Duke Ellington (1899-1974), American jazz composer and bandleader

Quiz Answers 1. The needs of the unemployed are great. 2. The insured depend on our first-class service. 3. The rich are always looking out for themselves.





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