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Writing Tips: 631 - 640

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These tips provided by: http://www.basic-learning.com

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Tip #632: Possessives


To form the possessive of a singular noun that ends in an “s” sound, be guided by the way you pronounce the word.

A. If a new syllable is formed in the pronunciation of the possessive, add an apostrophe plus “s.”

Example: your boss’s approval

B. If the addition of an extra syllable would make a word ending in an “s” hard to pronounce, add the apostrophe only.

Example: Mrs. Phillips’ request

Note: When you become a subscriber of the Complete Edition, you will be able to test your skills each week with a quiz that relates to the tip. You will also get the quiz answers, a motivational quotation, a new vocabulary word defined and used in a sentence, and the 10-page special report.


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Tip #633: Accentuate the positive

Letters that have positive wording are generally more successful because people respond to them favorably. Be careful not to suggest resistance or elicit an unfavorable reaction. Negative connotations can lead to an undesired result.

What particular words should be avoided? The words no, do not, stop, or refuse may give the reader the impression that they are being denied something. The words unfortunately, unable to, cannot, mistake, problem, error, loss, failure, or damage may give the reader the impression of something unhappy or unpleasant.



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Tip #634: Colons


Writers often misunderstand the proper use of colons. Follow these guidelines for using this tricky punctuation:
• A colon can be used to show that an explanation or list
will follow.
• Use a colon only after a complete sentence.
• Do NOT use a colon after a verb or preposition.

CORRECT:
The recipe calls for several ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla. (A colon is needed as a list follows.)

INCORRECT:
The ingredients in this recipe are: flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla.
(A colon is not used after a preposition and an incomplete sentence.)




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Tip #635: Word emphasis


1. Enhance the message by repeating key words, especially in a series. Example: George Washington was first in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

2. Establish a pattern and then alter it for emphasis. Example: Enflyer is first in service, first in reliabilty, and last in customer complaints.


3. Emphasize by directly informing the reader the importance of your message by use of words such as particularly, most importantly, and above all. Example: Basic Learning Systems will help your professional growth, especially with its weekly tips, and above all, in elevating your writing expertise.



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Tip #636: Affect or effect?


Knowing when to use affect or effect in a sentence poses a challenge to many. These words are similar but serve different functions.


Affect is used as a verb meaning “to influence or change.” Example: The car accident affected me physically as well as emotionally.

Affect can also be used as a noun to describe a facial expression, feeling, or emotion. Example: She took the news of the job loss with little affect.


Effect is used as a noun when discussing an influence, result, consequence, or change. Example: What effect did the news have on the employees?

Effect is used immediately after the words "into," "on," "take," "any," "an," or "and." Example: We must take the cause and effect into consideration before making a recommendation. The medication did not have any effect on me.



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Tip #637: Use of "a" or "an"


Many people get confused by whether to use "a" or "an." The rule of thumb is that "a" is used before words that begin with a consonant sound (not letter) and "an" is used before words that begin with a vowel sound (not letter).

A history lesson (h is pronounced, producing a consonant sound)
An honor (h is not pronounced, leaving room for a vowel sound)
A 10-pound baby (t produces a consonant sound)
An $11.00 check (e produces a vowel sound).

Several exceptions exist. Words that begin with sounds "yu," "ya," and "ye" should be preceded by an "a." Examples: a user, a yard, a yet-to-be-determined time



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Tip #638: Brevity leads to clarity

Good writing should be short and to the point. Writers routinely use words that clutter writing instead of adding to its value. Before submitting your writing, mailing a letter, or sending an e-mail, go over each sentence and cut out all of the unnecessary words and phrases. The examples of things that can be eliminated are below:

* Qualifiers: This meeting was pretty much a waste of time ->This meeting was a waste of time.

* Adverbs: The unfinished report weighed heavily on her heart. -> The unfinished report weighed on her.

* Adjectives: He is a true patriot. -> He is a patriot.

* Exclamations: Honestly, this was the best event I have ever attended. -> This was the best event I have ever attended.

* Repetitions: At the time, when all this was happening, we decided to process all invoices manually. -> At the time, we decided to process all invoices manually.


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Tip #639: May and might

Some of us remember asking our parents, "May I go out and play?" We were asking for permission. Today, we rarely hear "may" used this way, as it is a rather formal way of speaking.

"May" is used to suggest that something is possible.
- It may snow this weekend.
- He may join us for dinner.

"Might" is used to suggest a lesser likelihood than "may." Use it when the outcome is uncertain or unlikely.
- She might be at home by now, but I am not sure.
- Based on the latest traffic report, I might not arrive on time to the holiday party.

"Might have" is used as the past tense of "may."
- He might have tried to call while I was out.
- I might have dropped it in the street.

Use "might" when writing about negative outcomes; otherwise, the reader may think you have not received permission for something.
- I might not go to the conference (instead of) I may not go to the conference.

 

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Tip #640: New words


Thirty-nine new words were added to the Oxford University Dictionary in 2010. See how many you know out of the five listed below.

1. Overthink: think about something too much or for too long.
2. Bromance: a close but nonsexual relationship between two men.
3. Exit strategy: a preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation.
4. Defriend: another term for unfriend or remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site.
5. Soft skills: personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. (Editor's note: I am glad that this word was selected, because soft skills e-workbooks and training kits are available on our site www.basic-learning.com)



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