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  • Strengthening your verbs requires differentiating between a linking and an action verb. A linking verb connects parts of a sentence without, in itself, communicating an action. The most common linking verb is “to be,” which as you can see in this chart, takes many forms.
  • In the sentence “Harriet was the CFO,” you can see that the verb “was” connects sentence parts but does not, in itself, communicate any meaning. In “Harriet served as CFO,” the verb “serve,” an action verb, does communicate meaning.
  • Consider this sentence, which uses the linking verb “is”: “The focus of this workshop is recent developments in computer scanning.” You could communicate the same idea more succinctly using the action verb “focuses”: “This workshop focuses on recent developments in computer scanning.”
  • Sometimes you can completely get rid of a linking verb. For example, instead of writing “This is a difficult problem that requires further investigation,” you could simply write, “This difficult problem requires further investigation.” By eliminating the linking verb, you cut three words, in this case one third of the sentence’s length. Imagine how much you could cut in an entire document.
  • Here’s another example of a linking verb obscuring clarity. This sentence, which relies on the linking verb “become” reads, “ Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.” Notice how much clearer it is when revised using the action verbs “recognise” and “struggle”: “Today’s corporations must recognize that most employees struggle to meet both work and family demands.”
  • Here’s another example of a linking verb obscuring clarity. This sentence, which relies on the linking verb “become” reads, “ Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.” Notice how much clearer it is when revised using the action verbs “recognise” and “struggle”: “Today’s corporations must recognize that most employees struggle to meet both work and family demands.”
  • Here’s another example of a linking verb obscuring clarity. This sentence, which relies on the linking verb “become” reads, “ Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.” Notice how much clearer it is when revised using the action verbs “recognise” and “struggle”: “Today’s corporations must recognize that most employees struggle to meet both work and family demands.”
  • Notice too that using strong verbs goes hand in hand with eliminating vague nouns. In this case, most readers would need to read at least twice the noun-heavy phrase “recognition of the importance of the co-existence” before they grasped its meaning.
  • To begin, let’s look at this sentence, which most us would struggle to understand upon first reading: “The identification and classification of the various types of impediments to change within our company are vital steps toward the introduction of new strategies and solutions. ” Here’s my question: Why is this sentence difficult to understand? You notice it contains no difficult words. At 26 words, it’s not short, but neither is it terribly long. What about it makes it so confusing?
  • But a closer look reveals something else as well. This sentence contains ten nouns and only one, weak verb.
  • Notice how much more quickly you can grasp this sentence’s meaning when I rebuild it using strong verbs: “We must identify and classify obstacles to change before we can introduce strategies and solutions.”

Transcript

  • 1. Part 2: How to Nail Your Essay November 17, 2009
  • 2. Today
    • Essay Workshop: Part 2
    • Jeopardy Quotation Selection (time permitting)
  • 3. Review from Part 1
    • Read comments from earlier
    • Talk to your instructor
    • Start early
    • Brainstorming
    • Outlining
    • Concession-refutation thesis
    • Paragraph mechanics
    • Quote integration
  • 4. 4. Brainstorming/Outlining Is Gertrude a good mother? Topic
    • Wants him to get out of his funk (1.2.68)
    • Unaware of Hamlet’s digs (1.2.75)
    • Wants him to stay at Elsinore (1.2.119)
    • More interested in R&G as Hamlet’s friends, not using him (2.2.19)
    Evidence Major Point 1 Major Point 3 Major Point 2 Thesis
  • 5. Part 2
    • Introduction
    • Topic sentences relating back to thesis
    • Quote integration (yes, again)
    • Citations
    • Avoiding plagiarism
    • Grammar/Punctuation
    • Low-content and wordiness
    • Conclusion
  • 6. 1. Introduction
    • Gripping first sentence
    • Background/context
    • Narrow thesis
    • No low-content spots
    • No diving into details yet
    • Write this last
  • 7. Attention-Grabber First Sentence
    • Significance of your subject
    • Well-phrased quotation
    • Startling statement
    • Ask a question
    • Begin with a generalization (be careful!)
    • Challenge a common opinion
    • Begin with a definition
    • Describe an interesting incident/anecdote
  • 8. 1. Introduction
    • Task 1:
    • Add an attention-grabbing first sentence
    • Make the background/context more specific
    • Eliminate low-content spots
  • 9. 2. Topic Sentences
    • All topic sentences should relate back to the thesis
    • Use key words from the introduction to remind reader of the structure
    • Always include transitions in each topic sentence
  • 10. 2. Topic Sentences
    • Task 2:
    • All topic sentences in the sample paper are great except one. Find it and make it better.
  • 11. 3. Quote Integration
    • Frame all quotes—never drop a quote on its own
    • Change the original pronouns and use present tense
    • Make it short—summarize, paraphrase, use square brackets, or use ellipses
    • Use proper punctuation: double quotations, and only a comma before a quote if replaceable by “that.”
  • 12. 3. Quote Integration
    • Claudius explains that “I have sent to seek him, and to find the body” (4.3.1).
    • Claudius explains that he has “sent to seek [Hamlet], and to find the body” of Polonius (4.3.1).
  • 13. 3. Quote Integration
    • Task 3:
    • Look at paragraph 4—there are three examples of the four quotation problems. Find these problems and fix them.
  • 14. 4. Citations
    • Cite the act, scene, and line(s)—in that order
    • Use Arabic numerals only
    • Put rounded brackets around the citation
    • Put it outside the quotations with punctuation following
    • Use a slash mark to indicate line breaks
    • If I cite act 3, scene 4, line 12:
    • “ blah blah blah” (3.4.12).
  • 15. 4. Citations
    • Task 4:
    • Paragraph 3 has bad citations. Fix them.
  • 16. 5. Plagiarism
    • Even ripping ideas from the internet is plagiarism
    • Recycling an old paper/your friend’s paper is plagiarism
    • Go through ideas practiced in workshop part 1.
    • Blood-red document
  • 17. 6. Grammar/Punctuation
    • Biggest errors
    • Comma splice
    • Independent clause, independent clause
    • Fragment
    • Dependent clause.
  • 18. 6. Grammar/Punctuation
    • Biggest errors
    • Possessive apostrophe Hamlet’s mother The two guards’ shields
    • Semi-colon
    • Independent clause; independent clause
  • 19. 6. Grammar/Punctuation
    • Task:
    • Find these grammar/punctuation errors in the essay
  • 20. 7. Low Content
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww
  • 21.
    • A verb that links sentence parts but does not communicate an action
      • “ To be” (is, was, were, etc.)
    7.What is a Linking Verb?                                                                                                                               
  • 22. 7.What is a Linking Verb?
        • Harriet was the CFO.
        • Harriet served as CFO.
    verb verb
  • 23. 7.Favour Action Verbs Over Linking Verbs
    • Linking verb:
    • The focus of this workshop is recent developments in computer scanning. (11 words)
    • Action Verb:
    • This workshop focuses on recent developments in computer scanning.
    • (9 words)
    Linking verb Action verb
  • 24. Eliminate Unnecessary Linking Verbs
    • Linking verb:
    • This is a difficult problem that requires further investigation. (9 words)
    • Action Verb:
    • This difficult problem requires further investigation. (6 words)
    Linking verb
  • 25. Favour Action Verbs Over Linking Verbs “To Be” is Not the Only Linking Verb
    • Why is this sentence difficult to understand?
    • Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.
  • 26. Favour Action Verbs Over Linking Verbs “To Be” is Not the Only Linking Verb
    • Why is this sentence difficult to understand?
    • Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.
    Can You Rewrite? Linking verb
  • 27. Favour Action Verbs Over Linking Verbs “To Be” is Not the Only Linking Verb
    • Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.
    • Today’s corporations must recognize that most employees struggle to meet both work and family demands.
    Linking verb Action verb Action verb
  • 28. Favour Action Verbs Over Linking Verbs: Avoid Vague Nouns
    • Recognition of the importance of the co-existence between family and work has become necessary in today’s corporate environment.
    • Today’s corporations must recognize that most employees struggle to meet both work and family demands.
    Vague nouns Linking verb Action verb Action verb
  • 29. In General, Avoid Overusing Nouns
    • The committee reached the conclusion that a great majority of students had a preference for mail-in registration.
  • 30.
    • The committee reached the conclusion that a great majority of
    • students had a preference for mail-in registration. (18 words)
    In General, Avoid Overusing Nouns Noun Noun Noun
  • 31.
    • The committee reached the conclusion that a great majority of
    • students had a preference for mail-in registration. (18 words)
    • The committee concluded that most students preferred mail-in registration. (10 words)
    In General, Avoid Overusing Nouns Noun Noun Noun
  • 32. Why is This Sentence Difficult to Understand?
    • The identification and classification of the various types of impediments to change within our company are vital steps toward the introduction of new strategies and solutions.
    ?
  • 33. Why is This Sentence Difficult to Understand?
    • The identification and classification of the various types of impediments to change within our company are vital steps toward the introduction of new strategies and solutions .
    Can You Rewrite Using Strong Verbs? verb
  • 34. Revision
    • We must identify and classify obstacles to change before we can introduce strategies and solutions.
    verb verb verb
  • 35. 7. Low-content/Wordiness
    • Fix the two wordy sentences in the seventh paragraph.
  • 36. 8. Conclusion
    • Restate topic sentences (using new wording)
    • Remind the reader of how great your paper was
    • Admit limitations of your study/what could also be looked at with further analysis
    • Write this second to last
  • 37.