Grammar Essentials 3rd Edition

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Copyright 2006 Learning Express, LLC.All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.Published in the United States by LearningExpress, LLC, New York.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataGrammar essentials—3rd ed.p. cm.Rev. ed. of: Grammar essentials / Judith F. Olson, 2nd ed. c2000.ISBN 1-57685-541-41. English language—Grammar—Handbooks, manuals, etc.I. LearningExpress (Organization) II. Title.PE1112.O43 2006428.2—dc222006000600Printed in the United States of America9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Third EditionFor information on LearningExpress, other LearningExpress products, or bulksales, please call or write to us at:LearningExpress55 Broadway8th FloorNew York, NY 10006Or visit us

CONTENTSIntroduction: How to Use This Book1 The Right Way to Writevii12 What Is a Sentence, Anyway?113 Filling Out Sentence Fragments174 Putting a Stop to Going On and On255 Good Beginnings, Good Endings376 Comma Sense497 More Jobs for Commas578 Getting Fancy with Semicolons and Colons679 Controlling Quotation Marks7510 The Mysteries of Apostrophes and Dashes8311 The Finer Points of Punctuation9112 Verbs That Follow the Rules9913 Rebellious Verbs10914 Don’t Be Tense about Verbs11915 Making Subjects and Verbs Agree12716 Beating the Pronoun Odds13917 Problem Verbs and Pronouns14918 Modifier Etiquette15919 Tricky Words17120 More Tricky Words183Conclusion191Grammar IQ Final Exam and Answers193Appendix A: Two-Word Verbs203Appendix B: Additional Resources207v

INTRODUCTIONHow to Use This Bookriting is a lot like playing the piano. SomeWpeople enjoy it more than others, and people who are good at it studyand practice it. No one is born playing the piano, but anyone can do it if he or shewants. The same goes for writing. If you’re interested in learning about writing andin becoming a better writer, this book will help you demystify and acquire the coveted power of the pen.This book covers the basics of writing: punctuation, usage, and diction.There’s no fluff here; this book is for busy people who want to learn as much asthey can as efficiently as possible. In 20 chapters, each of which you can completein 20 minutes, you can improve your grasp of grammar. Each chapter contains aGrammar IQ Quiz, lots of examples that illustrate the grammatical rules, andplenty of opportunities for you to practice the skills.vii

INTRODUCTIONMany people are afraid of writing. They look at a blank sheet of paper or anempty computer screen and say, “I just don’t know what to write. Even when Iknow what I want to say, I’m afraid it will come out looking wrong and sounding stupid.”But writing has three distinct advantages over speaking.1. You can take it back. Although writing is not instant communication andit doesn’t allow for immediate response and exchange, written communication can be retracted. Once words are spoken, you can never unspeakthem. However, writing can be revised until you’ve written the exactwords in the exact tone you want. It’s a more careful, thoughtful way ofcommunicating.2. You can make it clear. The second advantage is that writing forces you toclarify your thoughts. If you’re having trouble writing, it’s usually becauseyou’re not yet finished with the thinking part. Sometimes, just sitting downand writing whatever is on your mind helps you discover and organize whatyou think.3. It lasts. Another advantage is permanence. Ideas presented in writing carryfar more weight than spoken ideas. Additionally, these ideas can be reviewedand referred to in their exact, original form. Spoken ideas rely upon thesometimes inaccurate memories of other people.Writing is nothing more than carefully considered thoughts on paper. Manygreat ideas and observations are never born because their creators don’t expressthem. You may have some wonderful concepts inside your head with no way toget them out where others can see them. This book can help you express your ideas.Develop your own plan for completing the 20 chapters in this book. They’redesigned to be completed in 20 minutes a day, but you may want to take more orless time with each lesson—or more time with chapters you find difficult and lesswith those you know cold. You could do a chapter each weekday and come out witha better knowledge of grammar in only a month. Or you may want to do more orfewer chapters at a time. You should, however, plan to complete at least two chapters a week. If you leave too much time between lessons, you’ll forget what you’velearned.By the time you finish this book, you’ll have much more confidence in yourwriting, and you’ll probably be a better thinker. If you practice what you’velearned, it won’t take long for other people to notice the new and improved you.viii


CHAPTER 1 GRAMMAR IQ QUIZWhich of the following sentences would be more appropriate in a business communication?The answers and explanations follow the quiz.1a. Josh is wishy-washy.1b. Josh is indecisive.2a. It was agreed upon by the editorial department that Maria would lead all meetings with the design team for the purpose of avoiding a “too many cooks spoilthe broth” situation.2b. In order to avoid confusion, the editorial department delegated Maria to lead allmeetings with the design team.3a. Your supervisor informed the CEO that you do not support the company'sspending plans for the upcoming fiscal year.3b. The CEO has been informed by your supervisor that you are not on board withthe spending plans that have been made for the company's upcoming fiscal year.4a. It has been discussed at great length by the board members that vacation time beincreased from two weeks to three for employees who have been with the company for three years.4b. The board members have seriously discussed increasing vacation time from twoweeks to three for employees who have been with the company for three years.5a. We have been referring to this policy.5b. This is the policy to which we have been referring.Answers1b. is the better choice because the language is less colloquial.2b. is the better choice because it is written in the active voice, and is less wordy and colloquial.3a. is the better choice because it is written in the active voice, is less wordy, and containsno colloquialisms.4b. is a better choice because it states the idea more clearly using fewer words, and usesthe active voice.5a. is a better choice because it is not wordy.

CHAPTER1THE RIGHT WAYTO WRITESometimes, the words we use when we speak aren’teffective when we use them in writing. This chapterdiscusses the difference between spoken and writtenEnglish, informal language, wordiness, and preciselanguage.Grammar concepts to know: colloquial [ka LOW kwee ‘l], colloquialism [kaLOW kwee ‘l izm]—an informal word or phraseused in conversation, but not appropriate for business communication or other formal writing active voice—a sentence in which the subject(underlined) is performing the action of the verb(John read the letter.) passive voice—a sentence in which the subject(underlined) receives the action of the verb (Theletter was read by John.)ritten language makes a permanent impres-Wsion, one that can’t be changed by rephrasing the words the way you canin a conversation. That’s why it’s important to think carefully before you write. Takea look at the note on the following page. What kind of an impression will it make?1

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSManny,Got your note today. Thought I’d get right back to you. Keep you fromgetting in a tizzy about this whole moving thing. It’s still kinda early topack stuff for the move cause the new building isn’t even done yet.Might as well wait til it is.Seems like Jack has been chosen by the top dogs to head up theentire moving process with all its various aspects. Due to the fact thathe hasn’t started doing a thing yet, there’s no sense in the rest of usgetting panicky about it. Don’t freak out; it’ll get done.J.C.SPOKEN ENGLISH VERSUS WRITTEN ENGLISHMany of the speaking patterns we use are not suitable in business writing. Forexample, if you listen to a conversation, you might hear incomplete sentences, sudden subject changes, or abbreviated versions of words and phrases. Althoughthese expressions are common in casual conversation, they are confusing and inappropriate when you are writing to a customer, supervisor, or employer. Avoid thesethings in written communication.Incomplete SentencesQuite often, we use fragments when we speak. We count on our tone of voice andour expression or the reaction of the listener to fill in the spaces. In writing, thisisn’t possible, so it’s important to write complete sentences that express completethoughts. See Chapter 3 to learn how to avoid sentence fragments.Sudden Subject ChangesIn everyday conversation, we switch subjects easily. Two speakers can exchange farmore information in two minutes than a reader can absorb in the same timeperiod. That’s why it’s important to use the reader’s time efficiently. Switching subjects requires time and mental energy. Write everything you have to say about onesubject before moving on to the next. Link subjects together to make it easier fora reader to go from one idea to another. See Chapter 15 on making subjects agreewith verbs.2

THE RIGHT WAY TO WRITEAbbreviated WordsMany words we use in conversation are not used when we write. Following is a listof words frequently used in speech; however, the written versions are different.Spoken VersionWritten Versioncause, becausecould havegoing tohave tokind ofshould havesort ofuntilwant towould haveSymbols instead of WordsDon’t use symbols in place of words, even if it seems simpler or more efficient.Write out the complete word in any written communication if you want to betaken seriously.four (not 4)to, too, two (not 2)and (not &)extra (not x-tra)COLLOQUIALISMS [ka LOW kwee ‘I izmz]Colloquialisms are informal words and phrases such as in a bind, pulled it off, realgood, etc. These words and phrases are widely used in conversations betweenfriends, but in business writing, they portray an attitude of familiarity that maycause your message to be taken less seriously than you intended or even insult yourreader. A friendly, colloquial tone is fine in a personal letter; however, a more formal tone is better for business communication. Compare the following paragraphs. If you received these two memos from your employees, which would youtake more seriously?We’re really in a bind on our end. Seems like every time we turnaround something else comes up. Today was one of those days. A few3

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSof the guys who decided to live it up last night couldn’t get over it thismorning. Since we were shorthanded, we didn’t come close to ourdaily quota. This is really ticking me off.We’re having trouble meeting our quota as new problems keep arising.Today was a difficult day because several employees who stayed out latelast night were unable to make it to work on time. Because we wereshorthanded, we missed our quota. This is extremely upsetting.The following sets of sentences illustrate the difference between colloquialand standard diction. The colloquial sentences in the first column are rewrittenin the second column using more standard language.ColloquialStandardThe car works real good.Ben got sick of waiting.I’m awful thirsty.The car works well.Ben tired of waiting.I’m very (or quite or extremely)thirsty.It looks as if (or as though) they’llbe late.The cake was very (or quite) good.We’re in trouble.Drew postponed it until tomorrow.I don’t have a very good chance.Rosa arrived in time.Jill received the order.I like to spend time with her.Kip conveyed the wrong idea.I just don’t understand.Why are you leaving?Why?I understand your point.Leah had a difficult day.Rodney can’t decide.Robin will watch things.They’re going to celebrate tonight.The Knicks succeeded.It looks like they’ll be late.The cake was real good.We’re in a bind.Drew put it off till tomorrow.I don’t have that much of a chance.Rosa got there in time.Jill got the order.I like to pal around with her.Kip got the wrong idea across.I just don’t get it.How come you’re leaving?What for?I see where you’re coming from.Leah had one of those days.Rodney can’t make up his mind.Robin will keep an eye on things.They’re going to live it up tonight.The Knicks pulled it off.4

THE RIGHT WAY TO WRITEWORDINESSNot only do extra words waste space and time, but they may also distort the message or make it difficult to understand. Get in the habit of streamlining your writing, making your sentences as concise as possible. If you use five words where threewould do, delete the extra words or structure your sentences to avoid them. Readthe following examples.Wordy: It was a twenty-minute period of time after the accident hadoccurred when the emergency vehicles arrived to lend assistance.[21 words]Revised: The emergency vehicles arrived twenty minutes after theaccident. [9 words]Wordy: It was decided that the club would organize a committeefor the purpose of conducting a search for a new chairperson.[21 words]Revised: The club organized a committee to search for a new chairperson. [11 words]The additional words add no information. All they do is take up space.Buzzwords and FluffBuzzwords are words that sound important but don’t add much meaning towriting. They include words such as aspect, element, factor, scope, situation, type,kind, and forms. Fluff words such as absolutely, definitely, really, very, important, significant, current, major, quite, etc., also may add length to a sentence, but like buzzwords, they seldom add meaning.Wordy: The nature of the scheduling system is a very importantmatter that can definitely have a really significant impact on themorale aspect of an employee’s attitude. Aspects of our currentscheduling policy make it absolutely necessary that we undergo a significant change.Revised: The scheduling system can affect employee morale. Ourpolicy needs to be changed.5

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSWordy PhrasesThe following table lists several phrases that can be reduced to one or two words.WordyConcisepuzzling in naturepuzzlingof a peculiar kindpeculiarat this point in timenow, todayat that point in timethenregardless of the fact thatalthoughdue to the fact thatbecausein order totoby means ofbyof an indefinite natureindefiniteexhibits a tendency totends toconcerning the matter ofaboutin connection withwithin the event thatifin relation towithSome wordiness is created by using the passive voice. In the active voice, thesubject of a sentence is the source of the action in the sentence. In the passive voice,the subject receives the action.Passive: Jeff and Dara were rejected by the board because they didnot meet all of the requirements outlined in the guidelines.Active: The board rejected Jeff and Dara because they did not meetall of the requirements outlined in the guidelines.Passive:The non-profit agency was not given funds by the foundation this year due to a lack of private donations.Active: Due to a lack of private donations, the foundation did notgive the non-profit agency any funds this year.6

THE RIGHT WAY TO WRITEWriters sometimes stretch their sentences by using unnecessary words. Thefollowing table illustrates stretched sentences rewritten to be more concise.Stretched SentenceConcise SentenceAlex seems to be impatient.We must know what it is that weare doing.These requests will be considered by uson an individual basis.The musicians, who were distressed,left the hall.There are new problems arising daily.Due to the fact that we were early, wefound great seats.The consideration given in the latestevaluation is an example of how I wastreated unfairly.Alex seems impatient.We must know what we’re doing.We’ll consider these requestsindividually.The distressed musicians left the hall.New problems arise daily.We came early and found great seats.My last evaluation was not fair.PRECISE LANGUAGEWork to make your writing as precise as possible. In doing so, you will communicate your meaning more effectively while using fewer words. In other words, youwill make your writing more concise. Choose words to help you transmit anexact meaning.7

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSImprecisePreciseHomer managed the project.Homer organized the staff and monitored their progress.Melody yells at and insults coworkers.Richard understands Patty’s position.This proposal explains the problemand suggests a solution.These disorganized, vague instructionsleft me with no idea how to fix the stool.We enjoyed eating, chatting, andswimming at your house.I can never get this truck started.Melody doesn’t handle people well.Richard can relate to Patty.This is a good proposal.These bad instructions confused me.We had a nice time with you.I always have trouble with thismachine.I like to have fun at the companypicnic.We need to clean up before we go.I like to eat, mingle, and play gamesat the company picnic.We need to put away the supplies andshower before we go.REVIEWRemember the memo at the beginning of this chapter? Go back and readit again. Try to rewrite it by revising colloquial and informal language,eliminating wordiness, and using precise language. You can do this inmany ways. Then turn back to this page and read the memo below as anexample of one way of rewriting it.Dear Manny,I’m replying to your note about packing to move to the new building.Jack is in charge of organizing the entire process. However, since thebuilding is not yet finished, he hasn’t started the process yet. I’m sure thatif we’re patient, everything will turn out fine. Don’t worry. I’ll let youknow as soon as Jack begins work on the move.J.C.8

CHAPTER 2 GRAMMAR IQ QUIZTell whether the following sentences are compound or complex. Answersand explanations follow the quiz.1. After I peeled the potatoes, Marcus cut them into small pieces for thestew.2. I ordered the cheesecake, and Toya ordered the ice cream sundae.3. Erika designed the house, and Paul furnished it.4. Every time I hear that song, I think of my birthday party.5. I wanted to go swimming, but Alec preferred to play tennis.Answers1. complex—the sentence contains a dependent clause (After I peeled thepotatoes) and an independent clause (Marcus cut them into smallpieces for the stew).2. compound—the sentence contains two independent clauses(I ordered the cheesecake. Toya ordered the ice cream sundae.).3. compound—the sentence contains two independent clauses (Erikadesigned the house. Paul furnished it.).4. complex—the sentence contains a dependent clause (Every time Ihear that song) and an independent clause (I think of my birthdayparty).5. compound—the sentence contains two independent clauses(I wanted to go swimming. Alec preferred to play tennis.).

CHAPTER2WHAT IS ASENTENCE,ANYWAY?This chapter teaches you about the basic unit ofcommunication in the English language: the sentence. Mastering this chapter will give you the key tomastering everything else in this book—and in yourwriting!Grammar concepts to know: subject—the part of a sentence that names theperson, thing, or idea predicate—the part of a sentence that contains“the verb that tells” clause—a groups of words with a subject and apredicate independent clause—a clause that can standalone and express a complete thought dependent clause—a clause that needs an independent clause to complete its meaning complex sentence—a sentence containing anindependent clause and a dependent clause compound sentence—a sentence containingtwo or more independent clausesAsentence is the basic unit of thought in theEnglish language. This chapter will help you learn to write a complete,coherent sentence.11

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSTHE PARTS OF A SENTENCEA sentence has both a subject and a predicate and expresses a complete thought.For example, read the following.The snow is falling.This is a sentence because it names a thing (snow) and tells us something aboutit (that it is falling). It also expresses a complete thought.The SubjectThe part of the sentence that names the person, thing, or idea is called the subject. The subject can be one word or several words. The complete subject consistsof the person, thing, or idea and all of its modifiers, such as adjectives and adverbs.The complete subjects are highlighted in each of the following sentences.A loud argument broke out at the game.The young, worried pilot read the storm warning.The newspaper article mentioned our newest menu item.Every complete subject contains a simple subject. The simple subject, whichis a noun or pronoun, is the most important word in the complete subject. It isthe word that names the person, thing, or idea the sentence is about. Look at thecomplete subjects highlighted in the previous sentences. Which word is the mostimportant in each complete subject? The simple subjects are highlighted below.A loud argumentThe worried, young pilotThe newspaper articlePracticeRead the following sentences. In each one, underline the complete subject. Thencircle the simple subject, or the person, thing, or idea the sentence is about. At theend of the chapter, you will find the complete subjects, with the simple subjectsin bold.1. My severe stomachache seemed better at the doctor’s office.2. Our new mail carrier slipped on the ice this morning.3. The longest, dreariest road lies between the Nebraska borders.12

WHAT IS A SENTENCE, ANYWAY?The PredicateThe part of the sentence that contains the verb that explains something about thesubject is called the predicate. The predicate can be one word or several words.The complete predicate consists of the verb and all of its modifiers. The completepredicates are highlighted in each of the following sentences.A loud argument broke out at the game.The young, worried pilot read the storm warning.The newspaper article mentioned our newest menu item.Mrs. Dawson is our most difficult customer.My neighbor rarely complains about snow.Every complete predicate also contains a simple predicate, or verb. The simple predicate is the word that shows action or helps to make a statement about thesubject. Look at the complete predicates highlighted in the sentences above.Which word shows action or helps to make the statement about the subject? Thesimple predicates are highlighted below.broke out at the gameread the storm warningmentioned our newest menu itemis our most difficult customerrarely complains about snowPracticeRead the following sentences. In each one, underline the complete predicate.Then circle the simple predicate, or the word that shows action or helps to makea statement about the subject. At the end of the chapter, you will find the completepredicates, with the simple predicates in bold.4. The purple curtain ripped at the seams.5. Our president always buys some of our competitor’s products.6. Dotted print backgrounds are difficult to read.COMPOUND SUBJECTS AND PREDICATESA sentence can have more than one subject joined by and, or, or nor that sharesthe same verb. This is called a compound subject. The compound subjects arehighlighted in the following examples.13

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSHorace and Beth both asked for a promotion.Hannah and Terri are the shift supervisors in this department.A sentence can also have a compound predicate: more than one simplepredicate that shares the same subject. The predicates may be joined by and, or,or nor.Dimitri wrote a letter and sent it to the personnel department.Horace called his supervisor and asked for a meeting.CLAUSESLike sentences, clauses are groups of words that have a subject and a predicate.Clauses are either independent or dependent.Independent ClausesIndependent clauses are groups of words in a sentence that can stand alone,because they express a complete thought. The simple sentence consists of oneindependent clause:The snow is falling.Sometimes, more than one independent clause is included in the same sentence,which is known as a compound sentence. When this happens, the clauses are separated by a comma and a conjunction, or joining word (and, but, or, for, nor, so,yet). The independent clauses are underlined in the following sentences.I gave her good advice, and she took it.My dentist pulled my wisdom teeth, but it didn't hurt as badly as Ithought it would.I don't like brussels sprouts, and my sister doesn't either.Dependent ClausesDependent clauses, also known as subordinate clauses, are groups of words in asentence that have a subject and predicate but can’t stand alone because they don’texpress a complete thought. They are dependent on independent clauses.When I saw the snow was falling14

WHAT IS A SENTENCE, ANYWAY?An independent clause can complete the thought:When I saw the snow falling, I went to get my snow shovel.Sometimes, sentences are made up of one independent clause and one or moredependent clauses. These are known as complex sentences. In the following sentence, the independent clause is in bold and the dependent clause is underlined.I put on my heavy coat when I saw the snow was falling.PracticeUnderline the independent clauses in the following sentences. Check your workwith the answers that follow.7. Believing that the pages were in the right order, I mailed the manuscript.8. Even though I couldn’t afford the house anymore, I wanted to renew my leaseon it.9. Whenever the weather forecasters predict rain, the sun shines.10. In the box sitting underneath the desk, I found my hat.11. I called Tom again, and the new programs finally arrived.12. I went for a walk today, and I mailed your letter.Answers1. My severe stomachache2. Our new mail carrier3. The longest, dreariest road4. ripped at the seams5. always buys some of our competitor’s products6. are difficult to read7. Believing that the pages were in the right order, I mailed the manuscript.8. Even though I couldn’t afford the house anymore, I wanted to renew my leaseon it.9. Whenever the weather forecasters predict rain, the sun shines.10. In the box sitting underneath the desk, I found my hat.11. I called Tom again, and the new programs finally arrived.12. I went for a walk today, and I mailed your letter.15

CHAPTER 3 GRAMMAR IQ QUIZDetermine whether the following groups of words are sentences or fragments. Answers andexplanations follow the quiz. the street.Stringing her new tennis racquet.A small studio with a view of the park.Ori received the highest grade on the math final.Although it had already started to rain.Answers1.—the group of words contains neither a subject nor a verb.fragment—the group of words contains no subject.fragment—the group of words contains no verb.sentence—the group of words contains a subject (Ori) and a verb (received).fragment—although the group of words contains a subject (it) and a verb (hadstarted), the word Although makes it a dependent clause that does not express a complete thought.

CHAPTER3FILLING OUTSENTENCEFRAGMENTSDon’t stop. Before the sentence is done. Sentencefragments—incomplete sentences—are popular toolsfor advertisers, but they have no place in your writing for work or school. By the time you finish thischapter, you’ll be able to recognize and correctincomplete sentences in your writing.Grammar concepts to know: fragment—a group of words, punctuated as asentence, that does not express a completethought subordinating conjunction—a joining word thatcreates a dependent clausen the English language, we write in completeIsentences because they accurately communicate our ideas. A wellwritten sentence leaves little room for confusion. The memo on the following pageis nearly impossible to understand because the writer uses incomplete sentences,or sentence fragments, rather than complete sentences. Bob has no idea what Bartneeds.17

GRAMMAR ESSENTIALSBob,Can’t get this to work. Think it’s got something wrong with the alternator. Been a problem already. You remember. Can you fix this? Needit before the convention next week.BartREVIEWIn the last chapter, you learned that independent clauses can stand alone, whiledependent clauses can’t stand alone because they do not express a completethought. Sometimes, dependent clauses are mistakenly used in the place of complete sentences. When this happens, they are considered sentence fragments. Anygroup of words that is punctuated as a sentence but does not express a completethought is called a sentence fragment.DEPENDENT CLAUSES AS SENTENCE FRAGMENTSA dependent, or subordinate, clause cannot stand by itself as a sentence; it needsan independent clause to support it. Read the following groups of words. Eventhough they contain a subject and a verb, their meaning is incomplete. The subject in each dependent clause is in bold, and the verb is underlined.Before we went on to the next projectWhenever this company changes its policiesIf the road is too icy for trafficRead the following examples carefully. They illustrate the difference betweenan independent clause and a dependent clause. The subjects are highlighted andthe verbs are underlined in each example.I left an hour later than normal. (Independent clause: sentence)If I left an hour later than normal (Dependent clause: fragment)When our group finished its report (Dependent clause: fragment)Our group finished its report. (Independent clause: sentence)Whenever Rita tried to explain herself (Dependent clause: fragment)Rita tried to explain herself. (Independent clause: sentence)18

FILLING OUT SENTENCE FRAGMENTSSubordinating ConjunctionsAgain, read the previous examples carefully. Notice that each dependent clause islonger than the independent clause. The groups of words are the same, but thedependent clauses have an extra word at the beginning. These words are calledsubordinating conjunctions, because they modify a dependent, or subordinate,clause in some way; and join it with a dependent clause.If a group of words that