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Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar

Active and Passive voice

Sentences can be written or spoken in the active or passive voice. In the active voice, the actor of the sentence acts upon something or someone. In the passive voice, the actor is acted upon and the verb to be is used.  We are most accustomed to active voice, where we can answer the question 'who does what to whom?' in that order.

  • The passive voice often leaves out the 'who' or changes the order in which it appears.  

For example:

Active Voice: The twister left a path of destruction through the town.

Who: the twister; did what? left a path of destruction; to whom? the town

Passive Voice: A path of destruction was left by the twister.

                        or: A path of destruction was left.

Writers should usually use the active voice rather than the passive. It is considered to be a more powerful and straightforward form of expression. The active voice also uses less words to convey the same message.

   Press of the picture too zoom in 

Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence. Sometimes a fragment is missing a subject and/or a verb. Other times, a fragment has a subject and a verb, but the thought still isn’t complete.

Identifying the subjects and verbs in the sentence is the first step to being able to recognize any type of sentence fragment. If a sentence is lacking a subject or a verb, then it cannot be a complete sentence. 

First person pronouns

We use first person when talking about:

  • Ourselves (subjective)
  • Things that have happened to us (objective)
  • Item's I/we own (possessive)
Subjective Objective Possessive
Singular I Me My/Mine
Plural We Us Our/Ours

single guy, plural women

Example: 

I always bring my laptop with me

We need someone to help us with our homework


Second Person Pronouns

You normally write in second person when addressing your audience.

Second person pronouns include:

  • You
  • Your
  • Yours

Subjective and 

Objective

Possessive
Singular You Your
Plural You Your(s)

Example:

Do you listen to your inner voice?


Third Person Pronouns

Third person is the most common point of view, and is traditionally used in academic papers.

When composing a paper, authors usually use third person pronouns or the name of the person's occupation.

Subjective Objective Possessive
Singular He / She / It Him / Her / It His / Her(s) / Its
Plural They Them Their / Theirs

2 kids on bikes

Examples:

He sure seems happy to ride his bike with herShe adores her purple helmet, it has a new flower sticker.

They both got new bikes for their birthdays. They have been riding them all day!

Do you ever look at a text and wonder why it just doesn't make sense? Here are 5 of the common grammatical errors made in the English language. 


1. Your vs. You’re

All it takes to avoid this error is to take a second and think about what you’re trying to say.

“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your car” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re screwing up your writing by using your when you really mean you are.”

Image source: "Your Dinner vs You're Dinner".[PNG]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2017 from https://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/your-dinner-vs-youre-dinner-one-leaves-you-nourished-the-other-leaves-you-dead-correct-grammar-saves-lives-afbf1/

 

2. It’s vs. Its

This is another common mistake. It’s also easily avoided by thinking through what you’re trying to say.

“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost its mojo.” Here’s an easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds goofy, “its” is likely the correct choice.


3. There vs. Their

This one seems to trip up everyone occasionally, often as a pure typo. Make sure to watch for it when you proofread.

“There” is used many ways, including as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no 

hope”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Always do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.

*Note: "They're" is a contraction of 'they' and 'are'. While the author of the original document forgot to mention this, it is still as commonly used in error or forgotten as the other two. 

Image source: "You Had me at Your Proper USe of  There, Their, and They're".[PNG]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2017 from https://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMS02NDYxYzg5MjdkYWU2MDAw/ 


4. Affect vs. Effect

“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to communicate clearly will affect your income immensely.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a parent’s low income on a child’s future is well documented.” By thinking in terms of “the effect,” you can usually sort out which is which, because you can’t stick a “the” in front of a verb. While some people do use “effect” as a verb (“a strategy to effect a settlement”), they are usually lawyers, and you should therefore ignore them if you want to write like a human.


5. The Dangling Participle

The dangling participle may be the most egregious of the most common writing mistakes. Not only will this error damage the flow of your writing, it can also make it impossible for someone to understand what you’re trying to say.

Check out these two examples from Tom Sant’s book Persuasive Business Proposalshttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=copyblogger-20&l=ur2&o=1:

  • After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.
  • Uhh… keep your decomposing brother away from me!

Now check out these two:

  • Featuring plug-in circuit boards, we can strongly endorse this server’s flexibility and growth potential.
  • Hmmm… robotic copy written by people embedded with circuit boards. Makes sense.

The problem with both of the above is that the participial phrase that begins the sentence is not intended to modify what follows next in the sentence. However, readers mentally expect it to work that way, so your opening phrase should always modify what immediately follows. If it doesn’t, you’ve left the participle dangling, as well as your readers.

Image source:"Dangling Participles". [jpg]. (n.d.).  Retrieved June 7, 2017 from http://www.write.com/2014/03/12/dangling-participles/ 

This wonderful source of information was taken from "5 grammar mistakes that make you look dumb" http://www.copyblogger.com/5-common-mistakes-that-make-you-look-dumb/

 Check out this comics from Oatmeal about top 10 Misspelled words.

Transitional Words and Phrases

Transitional expressions can indicate the direction of your thought as you pass from one topic to another. They provide logical and coherent organization allowing the paper to flow from the first supporting point to the last. They also show that you are beginning a new idea or subtopic in your writing. 

Like signposts, they inform your reader that one part or stage of the discussion has ended, and they also give a hint of what connection the next section of thought has with the just-completed section.  In this way, a transition helps your reader follow the flow of your ideas and identify the relations between separate ideas. The following examples illustrate how a transition placed at the beginning of a new paragraph not only shows a step forward in the thought, but also relates to the new material that preceded it.

 Example 1: On the other hand, going out tonight would reduce my stress level, and then I’d probably study better anyway.

  • The transition shows that the new paragraph is to present ideas that contrast with those the preceding paragraph or section of the essay.)

 Example 2: Consequently, I may need to re-take the course.

  • The transition shows that the new paragraph is to explain a result of statements previously made.)

Example 3: In addition to retaking the course, I need to pay back my parents for the tuition.

Example 4: Finally, the best thing about me is that I love to spend time with my friends.

Example 5: Furthermore, my study time suffered from the amount of time I dedicated to socializing throughout the year.

Transitional words and phrases may also help you achieve sentence variety, whether you place them at the beginning of a sentence or after the subject of the sentence.

Time Transitions

soon

not long after

at length

at last

finally

some time ago

later

afterwards

presently

from this time on

from time to time

after

before

until

at present

all of a sudden

 

immediately

instantly

at this instant

suddenly

now

without delay

in the first place

forthwith

straightaway

quickly

at this point

a few minutes later

formerly

yesterday

later in the day

since then

 

when

whenever

next

as

once

since

occasionally

henceforward

then

meanwhile

thereupon

in the meantime

sometimes

in a moment

shortly

whereupon

Additions & Conclusions

and

moreover

too

next

in fact

likewise

as a result

further

also

therefore

accordingly

in other words

furthermore

besides

 

equally important

much more interesting

of even greater appeal

just as surely

at the outset

as mentioned

more specifically

undoubtedly

indeed it is certain

in truth

last

over and above

to conclude

finally

 

in the same way

then, too

consequently

thus

again

for

in as much as

so that

hence

for this reason

under these conditions

first/second/third/

in addition to

another

Contrast & Comparison

but

however

yet

whereas

on the contrary

on the other hand

still

notwithstanding

in contrast to

nevertheless

 

rather

on the other hand

although

though

as

as if

as though

in spite of

otherwise

similarly

 

either

or

neither

nor

quite as evident

equally important

much more interesting

of even greater appeal

just as surely

likewise

Place

 

from

where

beyond

over

in the middle

around

here

there

near

in front of

in the distance

farther

here and there

above

below

at the right

before

between

in the foreground

on this side

beside

wherever

opposite

Reason, Condition, Purpose, Result

 

inevitably

in as much as

in order that

under these conditions

as a result

because

for this purpose

in this way

since

hence

if

thus

provided that

so that

for this reason

therefore

granted that

on that account

admittedly

notwithstanding

in case

unless

consequently

Emphasis & Repetition

 

for

for example

in particular

for instance

in other words

in fact

in the same way

that is to say

certainly

indeed

undoubtedly

as mentioned

more specifically

of course

to be sure

on that account

thus

therefore

naturally

obviously

emphatically

most important

in truth

                                                                                Created with resources from Bow Valley College Learning Resource Services

Noun - A person, place, thing or idea

e.g. Dog, house, student, mother, democracy

Pronoun - takes the place of a noun

e.g. he, she, it, they

Adjective - describes a noun or pronoun

e.g. small, big, intelligent, caring

Verb - shows action or state of being

e.g. laughing, jumped, ran, running, skipped

e.g. We are friends, this is my house

Adverb - Modifies a verb

e.g. Fast, high, quickly, slow

Interjection - interrupts a sentence

e.g. Hey! Wait! Oh!

Conjunction - joins two sentences together

e.g. and, but, so, or

Preposition - show place

e.g. under, over, beside

- Show time

e.g. on, in, since, for, before

A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in distinctive ways. There are hundreds of figures of speech!

Figurative language is often associated with literature - and with poetry in particular. But the fact is, whether we're conscious of it or not, we use figures of speech every day in our own writing and conversations

For example; common expressions such as "falling in love", "racking our brains", "hitting a sales target", and "climbing the ladder of success" are all metaphors.

Likewise, we rely on similes when making explicit comparisons ("light as a feather") and hyperbole to emphasize a point ('I'm starving!")

When discussing poetry or literature, it is important to be able to use appropriate vocabulary. Once individuals understand a common vocabulary, it makes it possible to discuss the literary works in more specific detail. 

A coordinating conjunction is a word which joins together two clauses which are both equally important. This page will explain the most common coordinating conjunctions and how to use them.

1. What is a clause?

A clause is a unit which contains a subject and a verb. For example, "It was raining" is a clause; the subject is 'it', and the verb is "was raining". Every sentence MUST contain at least one clause, but it may contain more than one. 
For example: 

It was raining, so I took my umbrella.

This sentence contains two clauses, "it was raining" and "I took my umbrella." They are independent clauses because each one would be a good sentence on its own. 

2. Joining clauses together with coordinating conjunctions

Examine the example sentence one more time: 

It was raining, so I took my umbrella.

The two clauses in the sentence are joined together with the word "so". This is a coordinating conjunction. it is used to join two independent clauses which are equally important. A coordinating conjunction usually comes in the middle of a sentence, and it usually follows a comma (unless both clauses are very short). These are the most important coordinating conjunctions: 

 Conjunction  Function Example
and Joins two similar ideas together He lives in Victoria, and he studies at UVic
but  Joins two contrasting ideas John is Canadian, but Sally is English
or Joins to alternative ideas I could cook supper, or we could order pizza
so Shows that the second idea is the result of the first She was sick, so she went to the doctor

These conjunctions are also used: 

  • For (meaning "because")
  • yet (meaning "but")
  • Neither/nor (joining two negative alternatives - must be used together)

3. Using coordinating conjunctions 

There are three things to remember when using coordinating conjunctions: 

  1. Coordinating conjunctions join independent clauses. Each clause must be a "complete thought" which could be a sentence on its own.
  2. With coordinating conjunctions, put the conjunction in the middle. You may see some sentences starting with "but" or "and", but this is usually wrong, so it's best to avoid it. 
  3. With coordinating conjunctions, use a comma unless both clauses are very short. 

An easy way to remember the 7 coordinating conjunctions is the acronym FANBOYS; For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.

Adapted from University of Victoria's English Language Centre and from http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/coordinatingconjunction.htm

Did you know the difference between to say and to tell? Take a look at this quick guide to learn!

Go to the English Club at http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/cw-say-tell.htm 

 

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