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Writing Tips: 581 - 590

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Tip 581: Commas with omissions

Commas can be used when certain words are omitted from a sentence.
1. Commas are typically used when several clauses within a sentence are separated
by semicolons, and the writer does not wish to repeat the same words within each clause.
For example: The HR department will attend the training on October 15; OIT department,
on October 17; and the OAS department, on October 21. In this sentence, the comma
allows the writer to avoid repeating the words "will attend the training."

2. Commas can be used in place of the word "that." For example: instead of saying
"The problem is that she is not prepared," write "The problem is, she is not prepared."

3. Commas are also used to fill the break between information not filled with a preposition
or another connective. For example: The lecture series will run from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.,
Monday through Wednesday. A comma can be taken out if a word is put in to connect the
time and the date. For example: The lecture series will run from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from
Monday to Wednesday.


Quiz

Place a comma where necessary:
1. The fact is we need the supplies tomorrow.
2. The sales department will implement the new hiring procedures effective immediately;
the purchasing department beginning in November; and the quality control department
beginning in December.
3. We would like to conduct our meetings from noon to 3 p.m. October 15 and 16.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Profligate [PRA-fle-gut] (adj.): recklessly wasteful, wildly extravagant. Ex.: Frank's profligate nature can put his
business in financial ruin.


Quotation of the Week

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. ---Helen Keller


Quiz Answers

1. The fact is, we need the supplies tomorrow.
2. The sales department will implement the new hiring procedures effective immediately; the purchasing
department, beginning in November; and the quality control department, beginning in December.
3. We would like to conduct our meetings from noon to 3 p.m., October 15 and 16.




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Tip #582: Confusing prepositions

Beside vs. besides
Beside = by the side of; besides = in addition to
Examples: She was standing beside the car. Besides a new desk, you will receive a new computer.

Between vs. among
Between = in the middle of two objects
Among = surrounded by
Examples: You will find the manual between the two large binders. I can always relax among my friends.

In vs. within
In = at the end of a certain period; within = before the end of a certain period
Examples: The report will be ready in five days. The director wants to see you within an hour.

Quiz

Insert the right preposition:
1. _________ visiting Tampa, she will also stop in Orlando and Jacksonville. (beside/besides)
2. The new furniture will arrive [before the end of] _________ a week. (in/within)
3. He immediately stood out _________ his colleagues. (between/among)
4. Martha's desk will be placed _________ Jack's and John's. (between/among)
5. I can meet with you [after] _________ 30 minutes. (in/within)
6. The CEO stood _________ the employee receiving the award. (beside/besides)



Vocabulary Word of the Week

Sporadic [spa-RA-dik] (adj.): intermittent, occurring at irregular intervals. Example: The support of our IT team has
been very sporadic.


Quotation of the Week

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. ---John Lennon


Quiz Answers

1. Besides visiting Tampa, she will also stop in Orlando and Jacksonville.
2. The new furniture will arrive within a week.
3. He immediately stood out among his colleagues.
4. Martha's desk will be placed between Jack's and John's.
5. I can meet with you in 30 minutes.
6. The CEO stood beside the employee receiving the award.




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Tip #583: Dash in place of other punctuation

The em dash (so-called because it is as wide as a capital M) is often used instead of the comma, the semicolon, the colon, and parentheses. A dash can create a stronger emphasis on the break between words.

The dash can be used instead of the comma to set off nonessential information that needs emphasis. Example: The office—and everybody in it—should be checked for bacteria.

The dash can be used instead of the semicolon to unite closely linked independent sentences. Example: I track the changes—he puts them in the report.

The dash can be used instead of the colon to introduce explanatory words, phrases, and clauses. Example: The director has very simple expectations—everybody must report on time and give a hundred percent.

The dash can be used instead of parentheses to give emphasis to nonessential information. Example: Contact the new assistant director—she should be in the director’s office—and get the information.



Quiz

Replace punctuation with dashes whenever possible:
1. The new copier (the one on the third floor) works much faster.
2. Rita has not had a good year; for example, her last month's figures show a 10% decline.
3. In terms of the wall color, I see only one option, off-white.
4. Please prepare a few things for our meeting: five copies of the annual report and sales projections for the next quarter.



Vocabulary Word of the Week

Perfunctory (per-FUNK-te-ri) (adj.): done routinely with little interest or care; without attention to detail.
Example: The technician conducted a perfunctory inspection of the copier.


Quotation of the Week

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. ---William Penn


Quiz Answers

1. The new copier—the one on the third floor—works much faster.
2. Rita has not had a good year—for example, her last month’s figures show a 10% decline.
3. In terms of the wall color, I see only one option—off-white.
4. Please prepare a few things for our meeting—five copies of the annual report and sales projections for the next quarter.


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Tip #584: Who and whoever vs. whom and whomever

Who and whoever are used when he, she, they, I, or we can be used in their place. Examples:
Who is on the phone? (He is on the phone).
Whoever completes the task first, will win a prize (She will complete the task first and win a prize).
I will speak with whoever opens the door. (He will open the door).

Whom and whomever are used when him, her, them, me, or us can be used in their place. Examples:
With whom did you speak? (I spoke with her).
He will hire whomever he likes. (He likes me).
The person whom I asked to write this report is not available. (I asked him).

Quiz

Select who, whoever, whom, or whomever for the blank.
1. I will invite ____________ she suggests.
2. Martin is the one _____________ can do the job best.
3. __________ is going to the conference will stay at the Holiday Inn.
4. ___________ were you talking about?


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Frugality [fru-GA-li-ti] (n.): the practice of economic or limited spending. Ex: My boss’s frugality has helped
this company get through the hard economic times.


Quotation of the Week

The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity. ---Anais Nin

Quiz Answers

1. I will invite whomever she suggests. (She suggests [him, her, them]).
2. Martin is the one who can do the job best. (He can do the job best)
3. Whoever is going to the conference will stay at the Holiday Inn. ([He, she] is going).
4. Whom were you talking about? (You were talking about [him, her, them]).



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Tip #585: Parallel structure

Parallel ideas should be expressed in parallel form, i.e. nouns need to be paralleled by nouns, adjectives
by adjectives, and verbs by verbs, etc. For example, the following is an incorrect sentence: The new proposal is
interesting (adjective) and an innovative idea (noun).

The correct format is: The new proposal is interesting (adjective) and innovative (adjective).


Quiz

Correct the following sentences to create parallel structures.
1. Our meeting will address new hurricane procedures and let's plan the holiday vacations.
2. The new copier is convenient, easy, and efficiently.
3. I want you to type the document, checking for errors, and printing out 10 copies.
4. Our department has already begun utilizing the new software and to explore reporting options.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Corroborate [ko-ROB-e-rate] (v.): strengthen or support with other evidence; make more certain. Ex: The car buyer's bank statements corroborated his claim about net income.


Quotation of the Week

When you blame others, you give up your power to change. ---Robert Anthony


Quiz Answers

1. Our meeting will address new hurricane procedures and plans for the holiday party.
2. The new copier is convenient, easy, and efficient.
3. I want you to type the document, check for errors, and print out 10 copies.
4. Our department has already begun utilizing the new software and exploring reporting options.


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Tip #586: Verbs with unnecessary adverbs

In verb and adverb phrases where a verb already contains within it the meaning that is expressed by the adverb, the adverb should not be added. For example, the verb "assemble" means to put something together. Therefore, saying "assemble together" is incorrect, because the meaning of "together" is already contained within the verb.


Quiz

Eliminate unnecessary adverbs:
1. Please return the report back to our office.
2. You may continue on with the second phase of the test once the first one is completed.
3. Do not forget to cancel out the negative balance of the client.
4. The director will see you when she finishes up the meeting.
5. If you have any questions, please refer back to the manual.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Subjugate [SAB-je-gate] (v.): to make subservient or submissive. The VP of operations seems to like to subjugate anyone who works for him.


Quotation of the Week

Nobody can be successful if he doesn't love his work, love his job. ---David Sarnoff


Quiz Answers

1. Please return the report to our office.
2. You may continue with the second phase of the test once the first one is completed.
3. Do not forget to cancel the negative balance of the client.
4. The director will see you when she finishes the meeting.
5. If you have any questions, please refer to the manual.



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Tip #587: Use of the diagonal

The diagonal (/) has several functions in writing:
1. It is used in abbreviations and expressions of time. For example, c/o (care of); n/30 (net amount due in 30 days).
2. It is used to express alternatives. For example, he/she; and/or; input/output.
3. It is used to show that a person has two functions or a thing has two components. For example, the owner/manager; a client/server network.
4. It is used in fractions. For example, 4/5.

Do not include spaces before or after the diagonal.

Quiz

Insert a diagonal where necessary:
1. The sales report for 08 09 has been placed in the library.
2. The new AM FM radio has improved the mood of the group.
3. Please write the introduction and or the first section of the proposal.
4. About three quarters of our sales revenues came from Paolo’s team.
5. The commercial industrial activities of this division are being closely monitored.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Germane (jer-MEIN) (adj.): relevant, appropriate, fitting. Smith's production numbers are germane to his performance evaluation.


Quotation of the Week

About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends. ---Herbert Hoover


Quiz Answers

1. The sales report for 08/09 has been placed in the library.
2. The new AM/FM radio has improved the mood of the group.
3. Please write the introduction and/or the first section of the proposal.
4. About of our sales revenues came from Paolo’s team.
5. The commercial/industrial activities of this division are being closely monitored.



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Tip #588: Time abbreviations

The standard method for expressing time is to use lower case letters with a period after each letter - a.m./p.m.

Do not abbreviate days of the week unless there is limited space or if they appear in a table. In those cases, days of the week can be abbreviated as follows: Sun., Mon., Tues. (or Tue.), Wed., Thurs. (or Thu.), Fri., Sat.

The time zones within the United States are abbreviated as follows:
EST Eastern standard time
CST Central standard time
MST Mountain standard time
PST Pacific standard time

Quiz
Correct mistakes in the time abbreviations.
1. The meeting will take place on Fri., April 15.
2. Please arrive at the office by 9am.
3. The webinar will take place at 10 a.m., ECST.
4. Tue. and Tu. are both acceptable abbreviations for Tuesday.

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Antipathy (an-TI-pa-thi) (n.): an intense feeling of aversion, dislike, or hostility. Ex: Mary's antipathy toward the accountant is quite obvious.


Quotation of the Week

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.
---Franklin D. Roosevelt


Quiz Answers

1. The meeting will take place on Friday, April 15.
2. Please arrive at the office by 9 a.m.
3. The webinar will take place at 10 a.m., EST.
4. Tue. and Tues. are both acceptable abbreviations for Tuesday.



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Tip #589: Repetition
Avoid unnecessary repetition of words or phrases, so that your writing will not sound monotonous and clumsy. To make the writing more interesting, use a variety of different
sentence structures and diverse vocabulary.


Quiz
Revise sentences to eliminate unnecessary repetition:

1. What is the department's monthly goal? The department needs to achieve a 20% increase in productivity.
2. The speaker will be brought to the conference room. We will meet him in the conference room.
3. We purchased the black filing cabinet because Ms. Jennings liked the black filing cabinet.
4. The company submitted the company's annual report.


Christmas Trivia

1. In "Frosty the Snowman," who brought Frosty back to life?
2. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, what biological shortcoming made the Grinch so mean?
3. Where was I when I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus?
4. What is the biggest selling Christmas single of all time?
5. In what city did the Miracle on 34th Street take place?

Find the answers below the tip answers.

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Scrounge (v.) [SKROUNJ]: to get something by borrowing or begging with no intention of repayment or return. Ex.: We scrounged our storage area for an old desk.

Quotation of the Week

Failure is success if we learn from it. --- Malcom Forbes

Quiz Answers
1. What is the department's monthly goal? It needs to achieve a 20% increase in productivity.
2. The speaker will be brought to the conference room, and we will meet him there.
3. We purchased the black filing cabinet because Ms. Jennings liked it.
4. The company submitted its annual report.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christmas trivia answers:
1. Santa Claus

2. His heart was two sizes too small.
3. On the stairs
4. "White Christmas" (written by a Jewish composer, Irving Berlin)
5. New York City




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Tip #589: Semicolon

Basic Learning Systems made a numbering mistake (easy to do). We aren't renumbering the tips, as that would lead to further confusion. Just noting here that there are two tips with the same number.


A semicolon can be used to connect two clauses even if they are connected with coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor).

1. A semicolon can be used to create a stronger break between the clauses than a comma can provide. For example: Many employees admit to being dissatisfied with the current management, but no one is proposing any feasible solutions to the situation. (A semicolon should be placed after "management").

2. A semicolon can be used to avoid a misinterpretation that may be caused by using a comma. For example: We contacted you on the 5th, the 10th, and the 13th, and
the 27th is the first time we heard back from you. (A semicolon should be placed after "13th.") Please note that rewording the sentence (instead of using a semicolon) may be a better solution to the misreading.

Quiz
Place a semicolon where appropriate.
1. We have incurred high costs with the Benton product, but the costs we are likely to incur with the Marcy product will overshadow everything we have seen before.
2. The new building will be used by the purchasing, sales, and human resources departments, and the payroll department will stay in the old location.
3. Please submit to us all receipts, travel authorization forms, and itemized descriptions, and the travel reports should go to your immediate supervisor.


Quotation of the Week

A man is but a product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes. ---Mahatma Gandhi

Quiz Answers
1. We have incurred high costs with the Benton product; but the costs we are likely to incur with the Marcy product will overshadow everything we have seen before.
2. The new building will be used by the purchasing, sales, and human resources departments; and the payroll department will stay in the old location.
3. Please submit to us all receipts, travel authorization forms, and itemized descriptions; and the travel reports should go to your immediate supervisor.



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Tip #590: Welcome back letter
Start the new year by writing a welcome back letter to your employees. Whether they have taken an extended holiday vacation or were gone for only one day, December puts most people in a holiday mood.

A welcome back letter will send a message that it is time to refocus. Make sure, however, that you don't sound like Scrooge: "Party is over, get back to work." Instead, make it a message of excitement about the new beginning and opportunities that the year will bring.

Quiz
Choose which of the following sentences should be included in a welcome back letter:
1. I am glad to see everyone is refreshed and reenergized.
2. The valuable time we spent on vacations can never be recovered.
3. I don't want to hear any more discussions about the holidays. It is time to get back to work.
4. I look forward to a new and productive year.


Vocabulary Word of the Week

Debacle [di-BA-kel] (n.): disaster, failure. Example: The meeting with the
investor was a complete debacle.


Quotation of the Week

The harder I work, the luckier I get. ---Samuel Goldwyn


Quiz Answers

1. I am glad to see everyone is refreshed and reenergized.
4. I look forward to a new and productive year.



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