Today's Lesson: Matters of Clarity and Style


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The lesson for the online class: The Lesson: Matters of Clarity and Style. TOEFL Grammar and Structure

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Today's Lesson: Matters of Clarity and Style

  1. 1. TOEFL Grammar and Structure <ul><li>Matters of Clarity and Style </li></ul><ul><li>Three grammatical issues can make the difference between clear, smooth sentences and sentences that are clunky and confusing: misplaced or dangling modifiers, parallel structure, and wordiness and redundancy. </li></ul>
  2. 2. MISPLACED AND DANGLING MODIFIERS <ul><li>Be sure to place words, phrases, or clauses that describe nouns and pronouns as closely as possible to the </li></ul><ul><li>words they describe. Failure to do this often results in a misplaced or dangling modifier and a sentence that </li></ul><ul><li>means something other than what was intended. This is especially problematic with phrases and clauses that </li></ul><ul><li>work as modifiers. Take a look at the following sentence, for example: </li></ul><ul><li>Swinging from branch to branch, I saw the spider monkey. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s quite obvious that it was the monkey, not the speaker, who was swinging from branch to branch. </li></ul><ul><li>But because the modifier ( swinging from branch to branch ) isn’t right next to what it modifies ( the spider monkey ), </li></ul><ul><li>the sentence actually says that I was swinging from branch to branch. Here’s the corrected version: </li></ul><ul><li>I saw the spider monkey swinging from branch to branch. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Sometimes these errors can be corrected simply by moving the modifier to the right place. Other times, </li></ul><ul><li>you may need to add a subject and verb to clarify who or what is modified by the phrase.Here are some more </li></ul><ul><li>examples of misplaced and dangling modifiers and their corrections: </li></ul><ul><li>Incorrect: My uncle told me about feeding cattle in the kitchen. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct: In the kitchen, my uncle told me about feeding cattle. </li></ul><ul><li>Incorrect: Broken and beyond repair, Grandma threw the dish away. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct: Grandma threw away the dish that was broken and beyond repair. </li></ul><ul><li>Incorrect: While driving to school, the dog ran right in front of my car. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct: The dog ran right in front of my car while I was driving to school. </li></ul>
  4. 4. PARALLEL STRUCTURE <ul><li>Parallel structure in sentences makes ideas easier to follow and expresses ideas more gracefully. Parallel structure </li></ul><ul><li>means that words and phrases in the sentence follow the same grammatical pattern. Notice how this </li></ul><ul><li>works in the following examples: </li></ul><ul><li>Not parallel: Every day I wrote, exercised, and was meditating. </li></ul><ul><li>(Two verbs are in the past tense, one is a past participle.) </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel: Every day I wrote, exercised, and meditated. </li></ul><ul><li>(All three verbs are in the past tense.) </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Not parallel: I am looking for an assistant who is smart, reliable, and will come on time. </li></ul><ul><li>(Two of the characteristics are adjectives while the third consists of a verb phrase </li></ul><ul><li>and prepositional phrase.) </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel: I am looking for an assistant who is smart, reliable, and punctual. </li></ul><ul><li>(All three characteristics are adjectives.) </li></ul><ul><li>Parallelism is important in lists, as in the examples above, and in the not only/but also sentence pattern. </li></ul><ul><li>He assured me that he not only saved the file, but also created a back-up. </li></ul><ul><li>(Each phrase has a past tense verb and a noun) </li></ul><ul><li>The failure was caused not only by an unintentional error but also by a deliberate miscommunication. </li></ul><ul><li>(Each phrase has a preposition, an adjective, and a noun) </li></ul>
  6. 6. REDUNDANCY AND WORDINESS <ul><li>Some TOEFL exam questions may ask you to identify or eliminate redundancy or unnecessary wordiness </li></ul><ul><li>within sentences. Redundancy is the unnecessary repetition of ideas.Wordiness is the use of several words </li></ul><ul><li>when a few can express the same idea more clearly and concisely. These two problems typically result from </li></ul><ul><li>three different causes: </li></ul><ul><li>■ The use of unnecessary words or phrases. </li></ul><ul><li>Redundant: The room was red in color. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct: The room was red. </li></ul><ul><li>■ Unnecessary repetition of nouns or pronouns. </li></ul><ul><li>Redundant: Thelma she ran into her room and slammed the door. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct: Thelma ran into her room and slammed the door. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>■ The use of wordy phrases instead of adverbs. </li></ul><ul><li>Wordy: He looked at me in a threatening manner. </li></ul><ul><li>Concise: He looked at me threateningly. </li></ul><ul><li>The following sentences all have unnecessary repetition or wordiness. Unnecessary words have been </li></ul><ul><li>stricken: </li></ul><ul><li>I returned back to my room after the meeting was over. </li></ul><ul><li>Please repeat again what you said. </li></ul><ul><li>The waiters and waitresses they really take care of you here. </li></ul><ul><li>Fundraising it provides just enough money for us to function. </li></ul><ul><li>The circumstances are very delicate in nature. </li></ul><ul><li>It was a story that was difficult to tell. Correction: It was a difficult story to tell. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Practice 7 P. 82-83 Rewrite the following sentences to correct any misplaced or dangling modifiers, unparallel structure, wordiness, or redundancy. <ul><li>1. Fried in butter, Sylvan likes eggs. </li></ul><ul><li>2. At the age of three, Grandpa took me fishing. </li></ul><ul><li>3. While barbecuing our steaks, a hungry salesman walked into the backyard. </li></ul><ul><li>4. The study focused on the effects of violence on television, in video games, and violent actions in videos with music. </li></ul><ul><li>5. She not only voted against the new policy, but also she was hoping to convince others to vote against it as well. </li></ul><ul><li>6. The film Apocalypse Now it took Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness and set it in Vietnam during the war. </li></ul><ul><li>7. I really like to read science fiction and enjoy reading it very much. </li></ul><ul><li>8. At Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix played a version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that was electrifying. </li></ul>