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Clear Writing:
language and grammar
by Dr Jennifer Minter
How to avoid common errors
and
How to write better sentences
Jim says:
“I am often marked down in
English because my
teacher says that my
expression is unclear or
clumsy. I thought id...
Dear Jim
• “This is a very common problem and you
are by no means alone. Your teacher is
drawing your attention to the fac...
Writing Better Sentences
• Sentences are the building
blocks of each of your
paragraphs.
• If words and phrases are put
to...
Sentence elements
Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 5-34; 46-60.
Common errors
• Follow the grammar tips
relating to common grammatical
errors such as:
• The clause lacks a subject.
• The...
Spot the error
• Jack writes:
“He believes that war have many
negatives, something which the rest of the
town don’t believ...
A clause must have a subject
• Sally writes: “Hence, showing
the reader that the senator does not
take her profession seri...
The present participle : “.. ing”
form of the verb
• Present participles, “going”, “having”
“showing” do not have a direct...
A transitive verb
must have an object
• Sally writes: “Ms Duff condemns
that there are parents who do not
vaccinate their ...
Other grammar tips:
use of pronouns
• The pronoun must clearly relate
to a previous noun or pronoun.
It must agree in numb...
Stand alone clauses
• An independent clause can
“stand alone”.
• A dependent clause cannot
“stand alone”.
• Jim writes: “B...
Longer (and
sophisticated) sentences
• When writing long sentences, watch out
for listing devices or multiple predicates.
...
Be careful with listing devices
• Kate writes: “In Macbeth, we see Macbeth’s
struggle for power and upholding this power.”...
A long sentence
• Jack writes:
“Scott feels guilty about leaving his family and the
townspeople scorn him because of his c...
Spot the error
• The author juxtaposes how dangerous the fireworks can be by
giving examples of Carlos’s death.
• This imp...
Resources include:
Clear Writing: language and
grammar
Better Essays and Persuasive
Techniques
Suggested responses
E-books...
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Writing better sentences

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How a knowledge of grammar and parts of speech, phrases and clauses can help you write better sentences and avoid common pitfalls.

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Writing better sentences

  1. 1. Clear Writing: language and grammar by Dr Jennifer Minter How to avoid common errors and How to write better sentences
  2. 2. Jim says: “I am often marked down in English because my teacher says that my expression is unclear or clumsy. I thought ideas were the thing that mattered.” Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111.
  3. 3. Dear Jim • “This is a very common problem and you are by no means alone. Your teacher is drawing your attention to the fact that there is a link between good expression and good ideas/clear thought processes. • If you are consistently losing marks in English, it is often because you have awkward phrases/expression. If the entire essay consists of clumsy, clunky grammar, it is hard to achieve an A.” Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111. Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 5-34; 46-60.
  4. 4. Writing Better Sentences • Sentences are the building blocks of each of your paragraphs. • If words and phrases are put together in a muddled way, the sentence, and hence your message, will be unclear. Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111. Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 5-34; 46-60.
  5. 5. Sentence elements Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 5-34; 46-60.
  6. 6. Common errors • Follow the grammar tips relating to common grammatical errors such as: • The clause lacks a subject. • The (transitive) verb lacks an object. • The tenses are incorrect. • The subject-verb agreements are incorrect. Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111.
  7. 7. Spot the error • Jack writes: “He believes that war have many negatives, something which the rest of the town don’t believe.” Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 41-46.
  8. 8. A clause must have a subject • Sally writes: “Hence, showing the reader that the senator does not take her profession seriously.” • This sentence does not have a grammatical subject. • Correction: “Hence, the author shows the reader that the senator does not take her profession seriously.” Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 41-46.
  9. 9. The present participle : “.. ing” form of the verb • Present participles, “going”, “having” “showing” do not have a direct subject. • Sally writes: “Owing to his bad temper, … “ • Sally’s next clause must include a grammatical subject. • “… Sam did not want to join in.” Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp. 15-20.
  10. 10. A transitive verb must have an object • Sally writes: “Ms Duff condemns that there are parents who do not vaccinate their children. • The verb “condemns” must take a grammatical object. • Correction: “Ms Duff condemns the fact that many parents do not vaccinate their children. Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 43-44.
  11. 11. Other grammar tips: use of pronouns • The pronoun must clearly relate to a previous noun or pronoun. It must agree in number and gender. • The relative pronoun is incorrect. • Do not use “that” to refer to a person. Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 10-13.
  12. 12. Stand alone clauses • An independent clause can “stand alone”. • A dependent clause cannot “stand alone”. • Jim writes: “Because he was denied access to the station.” (Because = subordinating conjunction and the clause cannot stand alone.) Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 52-56.
  13. 13. Longer (and sophisticated) sentences • When writing long sentences, watch out for listing devices or multiple predicates. • If sharing a grammatical subject, we cannot join two different parts of speech with “and”. Clear Writing: language and grammar, pp 66-67.
  14. 14. Be careful with listing devices • Kate writes: “In Macbeth, we see Macbeth’s struggle for power and upholding this power.” • Kate uses a listing device: in this case two phrases are joined by “and”. The “struggle for power” is a noun phrase and “upholding this power” is a verb phrase. • If sharing a grammatical subject, we cannot join two different parts of speech with “and”. Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111.
  15. 15. A long sentence • Jack writes: “Scott feels guilty about leaving his family and the townspeople scorn him because of his cowardice. As a result, Scott is torn between staying with Elroy, fleeing to Canada or returning home and going to war.” • (Notice the effective list based on the “….ing” verb (present participle). Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques: pp. 97-111.
  16. 16. Spot the error • The author juxtaposes how dangerous the fireworks can be by giving examples of Carlos’s death. • This implies that illegal fireworks should be monitored and encourages the use of fireworks in celebratory events. • Evidence such as the reference from the past about a stolen child and if she had this product we would have found her. • The author also uses emotive connotations such as “anxiously searching”. • Alliteration such as “care and concern”, this focuses on the attitude of the parents. • With the comparison of a well known pet, it demonstrates the unnecessary actions. See Writing Better Sentences: E-book 5 (plus responses)
  17. 17. Resources include: Clear Writing: language and grammar Better Essays and Persuasive Techniques Suggested responses E-books with exercises (downloadable and writable) An e-licence (and class sets)

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