Learning objectives On completion of this chapter students will know how to: • identify ways to improve writing independently • develop a strategic approach to editing written work • understand the basic features of specific grammatical constructions.
Grammatical constructions addressed in this chapter • Subject/verb agreement • Parallel construction • Verb tense • Article use • The apostrophe • Word form • Passive tenses • Gerunds and infinitives • So, neither and nor • Still and yet
Be proactive about learning how to write well • Students who adopt an independent and proactive approach to their language development are likely to make better progress than those who simply hope the problem of language will disappear.
How can you improve your English language skills? • Investigate any language support services your university offers, whether as workshops or online. In some universities you can make appointments with trained staff to discuss your written work. • Invest some money in a self-study grammar book with answers. Ask university staff for advice on useful texts. • Approach your university librarian for suggestions on how they can help you to improve your language and the resources and services they offer.
Activity 1 • Write down the resources available in your university that can help you to improve your English language. • Discuss the options you have tried and recommend some to other students.
Common grammatical errors • Errors are easy to overlook, particularly when working within tight deadlines. • Not all errors are detected by computer grammar checkers so edit your work after you have used the software. Remember: Poor grammar may change your meaning or make your ideas difficult to understand.
Sentence structure • There are two kinds of common error in writing sentences: • incomplete sentences • ‘run-on’ (or run-together) sentences.
Complete sentences A complete sentence must contain a subject and a predicate.(The rest of the sentence must contain a verb.) Example Our business partners will arrive tomorrow Subject Predicate The verb
Complete sentences (cont.) • In formal writing you must use complete sentences. • A group of words without a subject or predicate is NOT a sentence. For example: • And arrived later. No subject • He feeling very happy. Incomplete verb
Activity 2 • Complete Activity 2 on p. 96 of your textbook.
Complete sentences (cont.) • A complete sentence is also called an independent clause. • A clause may be independent (able to stand alone—a sentence) or dependent (cannot stand alone—is not a complete sentence). • A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb.
Run-on sentences • If two independent clauses are written together with • no punctuation • merely a comma • no joining word they are called a run-on sentence. Examples • He is a good manager all the staff like him • He is a good manager, all the staff like him (Both are run-on sentences and therefore incorrect.)
Using conjunctions to fix run-on sentences • Using coordinating conjunctions: • with a comma and one of the following words: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Example • He is a good manager, and all the staff like him.
Using conjunctions to fix run-on sentences (cont.) • Using correlative conjunctions: • use: both…and, not only…but also, either…or Example • Not only is he a good manager but also all the staff like him.
Using conjunctions to fix run-on sentences (cont.) • Using a semicolon (;) and a conjunctive adverb plus a comma (,): • common conjunctive adverbs: finally, then, consequently Example • He is a good manager; consequently, all the staff like him.
Using conjunctions to fix run-on sentences (cont.) • Using a subordinating conjunction: • one sentence is less important than the other Example • All the staff like her because she is a good manager.
Using conjunctions to fix run-on sentences (cont.) • Join the sentences with a relative pronoun such as who, which or that: • He is a good manager he initiated new business practices. (Run-on sentence) • He is a good manager who initiated new business practices. (Correct sentence)
Activity 3 • Complete activity 3 on pp. 97–98 of your textbook.
Subject/verb agreement • A singular subject must have a singular verb. • Plural subjects must have a plural verb.
Example Susan and Annaare excellent colleagues. Subject/verb agreement (cont.) The verb ‘to be’ must be plural too. Susan and Anna are two people so the subjects are plural.
Subject/verb agreement (cont.) Example The university is quite new compared to others in the state. The verb ‘to be’ must take the singular form ‘is’. The university is a singular subject
Singular words take singular verbs • ‘one’ words: anyone, someone, everyone, one, no one • ‘body’ words: anybody, everybody, somebody • ‘thing’ words: anything, everything, something, nothing • each, either, neither
Singular words take singular verbs (cont.) • Examples • Someone needs to oversee the changes. • Everybody is happy with the changes. • Everything has been agreed. • Each manager has granted approval.
Group words • The following ‘group’ words take a singular verb if you are thinking of the group as a whole, but they take a plural verb if you are thinking of the individuals in the group: • audience, band, class, family, kind, committee, crowd, dozen, flock, group, heap, herd, jury, lot, number, none, public, team, majority, minority, orchestra, pair, staff
Group words (cont.) • Examples • The jury are still arguing. (individuals in the group) • The team is on the field. (group) • The team are suiting up. (individuals in the group) • My family is behind me. (group) • The jury is ready. (group) • My family are all scattered. (individuals in the group)
Group words (cont.) • Subject/verb agreement may be confusing if these words are separated by others. Example • The colour on the walls matchesthe company logo. • Identify the verb in the sentence (‘matches’) and then ask what is being matched (‘The colour of the walls’).
Parallel construction • When using one sentence to express two ideas, both ideas should have the same type of construction. • You will also need to use the same construction when there are two sentences that are joined with conjunctions such as ‘and’ and ‘but’.
Parallel construction (cont.) • Which one of these sentences is correct? Why? • Enrolling in a course that is assessed on coursework is preferable to take one with a final exam. • Enrolling in a course that is assessed on coursework is preferable to taking one with a final exam. • The second example is correct. Both ideas in the sentence have matching verb forms. They both end in ‘ing’.
Parallel construction in verb phrases (dot points) • Example Management aims to: • introduce new safety measures • coordinate focus groups • establish a social club • investigate ideas from other companies.
Parallel construction in verb phrases (dot points) (cont.) • Each dot point begins with the verb in the same form. • Note that the verb after the dot point is not capitalised because it continues the stem sentence. It does not begin a new one.
Parallel construction in verb phrases (dot points) (cont.) • Rewrite using parallel construction: With regard to safety, management aims to: • to have the building officially inspected by a fire safety officer • that we should provide three more fire extinguishers on each floor of the building • instruct the students in fire drill evacuation procedures • always insist that the ‘No Smoking’ rules are observed • the lockers which cover the fire stair must be removed • there should be clearly marked ‘Exit’ signs in the corridors.
Verb tense • Tense indicates the time that action occurs. • There are six verb tenses. • The verb tenses fall into two groups • simple • perfect whichoccur in progressive/continuous (-ing form) and non-progressive/continuous forms. • You can use the term ‘progressive’ or ‘continuous’. In this presentation ‘continuous’ will be used.
Non-continuous tenses • The following tenses are not normally used in the present continuous tense (Murphy 2004): • like • love • hate • want • need • prefer. • Can you think of any others?
Activity 4 • Complete Activity 5 on p. 102 of your textbook.
Present tense • A present simple tense verb expresses action that is habitual, permanent or a general truth. It may also be used to express a scheduled future action. Example • He works late every night. • Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. • His plane leaves tonight at ten.
Present tense (cont.) • Present continuous tense verbs are used to indicate temporary actions happening now and actions in the present time or future. Example • John is presenting his idea to the board.(present or future)
Present perfect tense • The present perfect links past and present time, and indicates repeated actions that have happened very recently. • It is constructed using the verb ‘to have’ with the past participle. Examples • She has lost her keys (and is looking for them now). • She has written this twice. • They have bought a new house (recently).
Present perfect continuous tense (cont.) • The present perfect continuous tense is used to emphasise that an action started in the past is still happening or to indicate how long something has been happening. Examples • We have been working all day (and we are still working now). • I have been studying English for five years.
Past simple tense • Past simple tense indicates action that began and ended in the past. • Add ‘-ed’ with regular verbs: learn/learned. • Change the root word with irregular verbs: teach/taught. • It may also indicate habitual actions in the past: ‘We watched cartoons when we were young.’
Past continuous tense • This tense is used for actions in progress in the past when another action occurred, or for actions in progress at a specific time in the past. Examples • We were writing the report when the manager arrived. • He was studying at 5 pm. (It is now 10 pm.)
Past perfect tense • The past perfect is used for actions that happened in the past prior to another event in the past. Example • We had just finished the work when the manager arrived.
Past perfect continuous tense • This tense is used to emphasise the duration of an action in progress prior to another past action or to indicate the length of time of a prior past action. Example • The meeting had been going for an hour by the time I arrived.
Simple future tense • This tense is used to give predictions that are usual or to make another offer or promise. Examples • The bus will come around seven o’clock. • I will help you with your report.
Future continuous tense • This tense is used to express an activity that will be happening at a specific future time. Example • She will be working on Saturday.
Future perfect tense • The future perfect is used to indicate an event that will have happened before another time in the future. Example The staff will have discussed this before you arrive tomorrow. X__________X__________________X___ Now The staff discusses You arrive
Future perfect continuous tense • This tense is used to emphasise the duration of an activity at a specific future time. Example By the end of the month Brian will have been working here for thirty years. X_______________X__________X______ 1979 March 2009 April 2009 Brian started working Now Next month