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Basics of Composing

Messages (1)
What is Covered in This
Session?
• Write proper sentences
– Sentence types
– Sentence styles

Ø
Sentence Types
• Simple
– single subject and a single predicate
– example
• He resigned.


subject predicate

• He went home.
Sentence Types
• Compound
– two or more related thoughts of equal
importance
– example main idea
• The company has assigned the General
Manager to chair the team, and the team
will have representatives from different
departments.
 main idea
Sentence Types
• Complex
– express one main thought with subordinate
thoughts
– example subordinate idea
• Although you have been here for a long
time, you have no right to over-ride the
decision of your new boss.
main idea
Sentence Types
– placement of the subordinate thought
• in the beginning – most emphatic
– Because Tom is the tallest in the
class, he is sitting at the back.
• at the end – emphatic
– The boy sitting at the back is Tom,
who is the tallest in the class.
• within the sentence – least emphatic
– Tom, who is the tallest in the class, is
sitting at the back.
Sentence Types
• Which type?
– 2 ideas
• equally important
– 2 simple sentences
– 1 compound sentence
• one is more important than the other
– 1 complex sentence
Sentence Types
– effect
• simple sentences: can’t express relationship
of ideas
• compound sentences: sound monotonous
• complex sentences: hard to follow

Exercise: Sentence types
Sentence Types
• Simple sentence, compound sentence or
complex sentence?
– My family always have a big argument
every summer over where we should
spend our summer vacation.
• Complex sentence
Sentence Types
– Agnes loves to go to the beach and spend
her days sunbathing.
• Simple sentence
– Although they live in different countries,
they keep in constant contact on the
internet.
• Complex sentence
Sentence Types
– Judy dislikes apples, and she is not a big
fan of bananas.
• Compound sentence
– This year, after a lengthy discussion, they
decided to go to Thailand for their
vacation.
• Simple sentence
Sentence Styles
• Active voice
• Being Specific
• Brevity
• Clarity
• Correctness

Active Voice
• Active sentences are generally
preferable – dynamic
– They are easier to understand
• Active voice – subject comes before the
verb
– example
• You can enjoy 10% discount. (active)
– 10% discount can be enjoyed by
you. (passive)

Active Voice
• Use passive when you want to say
something negative or impersonal
– example
• The cheque is not signed. (passive)
– You have not signed the cheque.
(active)


Exercise: Active Voice
Active Voice
• Rewrite the sentence in active voice
– The system is updated each day at 9 pm.
– George updates the system each day at 9
pm.
Active Voice
• Rewrite the sentence in passive voice
– Billy made a number of serious
grammatical errors in the report.
– A number of serious grammatical errors
were made in the report.
Being Specific
• Concrete language
– is more effective because details are
provided
– is easier to remember
– minimizes misunderstanding
– example
• I bought a new vehicle yesterday.
• I bought a two-door sports car yesterday.

Being Specific
• Use general words in negative
messages
– downplay the negative tone
Exercise: Being Specific
Being Specific
• Rewrite the sentences making them
specific
– He told me that a weather disturbance is
approaching.
– He told me that a typhoon is approaching.
– I like the company’s new product.
– I like the company’s new cell phone-music
player.


Brevity
• = Conciseness
• Use short sentences
– by limiting sentence content
• combine thoughts only when you
have good reasons
Brevity
– break up strung-out sentences
– The deadline of the project is 4
January, and I’d better do this
survey quickly, if I want to
include the survey results in the
project.
a long sentence

– The deadline of the project is 4


January. I’d better do this survey
quickly, if I want to include the
survey results intwothesentences
project.
Brevity
– by avoiding repetition
• don’t repeat words
– He said that she believed that the
company is responsible.
– He said she believed the company is
responsible.
• don’t repeat ideas
– Please endorse and sign your name
at the end of the document.
– Please endorse the document.
Brevity
– by saying things directly
• The chairman is of the opinion that
the salary should be cut by 5%.
• The chairman believes that the salary
should be cut by 5%.

Exercise: Brevity
Brevity
• Rewrite the sentences making them
concise
– This is to advise you that beginning with
the date 1 November 2009 all charges
made after that date will be charged to
your new credit card account.
– After 1 November 2009 all charges will go
to your new credit card account.
Brevity
– In the normal course of events, we
would wait until such time as we
had adequate enough credit
reports.
– Normally, we would wait until we had
adequate credit reports.
Clarity
• Keep subject and predicate together
– The 10% salary cut, which was
announced last Friday by Mr
Andrew Kan, the Vice-president of
the company, was objected by the
Labour Union.
• What was objected by the
Labour Union? The Vice-
president?
Clarity
– The Labour Union objected the 10%
salary cut, which was announced
last Friday by Mr Andrew Kan, the
Vice-president of the company.

Clarity
• Be careful with misplaced modifiers
– The young boy was walking the dog
in a red shirt.
• Who’s wearing a red shirt? The boy?
The dog?
– The young boy in a red shirt was
walking the dog.
Clarity
• Be careful with squinting modifiers
– Employees who seek their
supervisors' advice often can
improve their work performance.
• often “seek advice” or often “improve
their work performance”?
Clarity
– Employees who often seek their
supervisors’ advice can improve
their work performance.
– Employees who seek their
supervisors’ advice can often
improve their work performance.

Exercise: Clarity
Clarity
• Rewrite the sentences making them clear
– I heard that my friend intended to throw a
surprise party for me while I was outside
her room.
– While I was outside her room, I heard my
friend intended to throw a surprise party
for me.
Clarity
– He said tonight he would call me.
– Tonight, he said he would call me.
– He said he would call me tonight.
Correctness
• Write correct sentences
– meaning
– spelling
– grammar
• Some common sentence faults
– sentence fragment
– comma-splice sentence
– run-on sentence
– unparallel sentence
– dangling or misplaced modifier
Sentence Fragment
• A group of words that has been
broken off from the preceding or
succeeding sentence
• Cannot function as a complete
sentence
– When you come.
– Although Andrew is very experienced.
Sentence Fragment
• Avoided by making certain that each
sentence contains a subject and a
predicate (e.g. a verb) and makes
sense by itself
An apartment that was within walking
distance of his job. Where is the subject?
Where is the verb?
Jack found an apartment that was within
walking distance of his job.
Comma-Splice Sentence
• When two complete sentences are
incorrectly joined or spliced
together with a comma
Susie went to the grocery store, she
needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper. X
Comma Splice Sentence
• Methods of fixing commas splices
– replace the comma with a semi-colon
Susie went to the grocery store, she
needed to buy a turkey for the Christmas
supper.

Susie went to the grocery store; she


needed to buy a turkey for the Christmas
supper.
Comma Splice Sentence
– separate the two clauses into two
sentences by replacing the comma
with a period

Susie went to the grocery store, she
needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.

Susie went to the grocery store. She


needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.
Comma Splice Sentence
– replace the comma with a
coordinating conjunction
• e.g. and, but, or, for, yet, nor

Susie went to the grocery store, she


needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.

Susie went to the grocery store, for she


needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.
Comma Splice Sentence
– replace the comma with a
subordinating conjunction
• e.g., after, although, before, unless,
as, because
Susie went to the grocery store, she
needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.

Susie went to the grocery store because


she needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.
Comma Splice Sentence
– replace the comma with a semi-colon
and transitional word
• e.g., however, moreover, instead,
also, therefore
Susie went to the grocery store, she
needed to buy ham for the Christmas
supper.

Susie went to the grocery store;


otherwise, she would not have ham for
the Christmas supper.
Run-on Sentence
• Two complete thoughts are joined
without proper punctuation

Employees want to keep their jobs they will


work hard for promotions.

Employees want to keep their jobs. They


will work hard for promotions.
Unparallel Sentence
 Parallelism: express ideas for equal
importance in similar grammatical
structure

I like singing, dancing and play basketball.

I like singing, dancing and playing


basketball.
Dangling Modifier
• A modifier is placed incorrectly in a
sentence
 ?
Sitting in the car, the scenery was
breathtaking.

Who sat in the


car?

Sitting in the car, I saw the breathtaking


scenery.
Misplaced Modifiers
• Compare
– He nearly ate a whole box of
chocolates.
• He almost ate it, but he didn’t.
– He ate nearly a whole box of
chocolates.
• He ate a lot of chocolates, and he ate
almost a whole box.
Exercise: Correctness
Correctness
• Correct the sentences
– A story with deep thoughts and
emotions.
– (sentence fragment) Susan told a
story with deep thoughts and
emotions.
– After reading the article, the argument is
unconvincing.
– (dangling modifier) After reading the article,
I find the argument unconvincing.

Correctness
– It is raining heavily, bring an umbrella
with you.
– (comma-splice sentence) It is raining
heavily, so bring an umbrella with
you.
– George showed us his new shoes
someone gave them to him.
– (run-on sentence) George showed us
his new shoes. Someone gave
them to him.
Correctness
– He cares and kind.
– (unparallel sentence) He is caring and
kind. > He is kind and caring.
– He cares and is kind.