Contents: • Common Chinese Errors in English • Compound Adjectives • Definite Article: the • Clarity • Dangling modifier and confusion • Write as much as is appropriate • Writing Numbers
1. using an incorrect or inappropriate word. Don’t forget to eat your medicine – take 2. the error results from a conflict between Chinese and English grammar. I very like English. – I like English very much. (In English, “very” cannot modify a verb. ) Becausethe weather was nice today, so we decided to go out. (In English, the word “because” is not only related to cause and effect but also proofs to prove us how things happened.) Although I was busy, but I helped him anyway. We are difficult to find a job these days. – it is difficult…
3. confusing common pairs of words. He went aboard to study English. – abroad 4. using literal (word-for-word) translation of a phrase or concept that does not exist in English. Wish you have a success on the job interview. – good luck on your job interview.
5. Using grammatically correct expressions that do not exist in English - the expression sounds strange in English. We hope you achieve a success with your new book. - We hope your new book does well. 6. Using mixed or incorrect levels of formality. (the tone of one’s message must be consistent with the tone of the entire message as well as the purpose and the writer’s relationship to the reader) should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me immediately. – if you have any questions, please call or write me.
How to make an improvement? • The most effective way of overcoming these errors is by learning English in a natural way and not simply memorizing grammar rules and English words and phrase. • find materials suitable for your level, and read as much as possible. Reading is the best way to acquire new words, phrases, and expressions and review and reinforce the ones you already know. It also helps you learn new grammatical structures and sentence patterns. • try to apply what you learn. Copy words, expressions, and sentence patterns you like and use them in your emails to help to increase your fluency and accuracy.
Proofread carefully 1. Spelling 2. Verb forms 3. Punctuation 4. Pronoun agreement 5. Subject-verb agreement 6. Fragment 7. Parallel structure 8. Possessives 9. Shifts (voice – consistency with active or passive) (tense – consistency with past, present, future) 10. Misplaced modifiers 11. Correct word usage 12. Wordiness 13. Outdated language or informal language
A single adjective made up of two or more words is called a "compound adjective". • The words in a compound adjective are linked together by a hyphen (or hyphens) to show that they are part of the same adjective. • A compound adjective is a modifier of a noun. Compound adjectives do not always have hyphens. • They are hyphenated to avoid confusion.
Types of hyphenated compound adjectives A、名詞為主的複合形容詞: (1) Adjective (including comparatives and superlatives) + Noun A red-light district. A full-time employee. A high-level requirement. A large-scale development. A shorter-term solution (2) Numeric+ Noun (Singular) A seven-year itch. A ten-storey building. A five-minute walk (3) Noun + Noun (Adjectival phrases are often hyphenated to avoid confusion with nouns.) A parent-teacher conference. Some food-web dependencies. A crude-oil processing. An ice-cream shop
B、形容詞為主的複合形容詞: (1) Adjective + Adjective A dark-green dress. A bitter-sweet memory. (2) Noun + Adjective A water-proof jacket. A nation-wide campaign. A duty-free shop. A world-famous player.
C、分詞為主的複合形容詞:如果詞性是主動語態，用現在分詞；若是被動語態，則用過去分詞C、分詞為主的複合形容詞:如果詞性是主動語態，用現在分詞；若是被動語態，則用過去分詞 (1) Adjective (including comparatives and superlatives) + Participle An ugly-looking goose = A goose which looks ugly. A snow-covered mountain = A mountain which is covered with snow. An eye-catching girl = A girl who catches people’s eyes. (2) Adverb + Participle A never-ending story = A story which never ends. A well-paid salary. A well-respected teacher
(3) Noun + Participle An adventure-packed quest = A quest which is packed with adventures. A home-made cookie.= The cookie was made at home. A heart-broken story. A fun-loving person. (4) Numeric + Past ParticipleA one-eyed bear. A two-sided story (5) Past Participle + Adverb A laid-off worker = A work who is laid off. A scaled-down operation. (6) Past Participle + Preposition An agreed-upon solution.
We should not place a hyphen in a compound adjective if the adjectives are capitalized, such as when they are part of a title. (O) His book was entitled, "Gender Neutral Language in English Usage," and it revolutionized the way people think about sex roles. However: His book on gender-neutral language revolutionized the way people think about sex roles. (O) The students were participants in Chicago-Kent's vaunted Legal Research and Writing Program.
practice hand-made 1.This is a dress which was made by hand. This is a _________ dress. 2. It is a walk which takes just 7 minutes. It is just a ___________ walk. 3. I like the house which was painted brown. I like the ___________ house. 4. Can you see the star which is shining brightly? Can you see the _____________ star. 5. This is a cake which is made carefully. This is a ____________ cake. seven-minute brown-painted brightly-shining carefully-made
The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example: • "The dog that bit me ran away." Here, we're talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me. • "I was happy to see the policeman who saved my cat!" Here, we're talking about a particular policeman. • "I saw the elephant at the zoo." Here, we're talking about a specific noun. Probably there is only one elephant at the zoo.
Count and Noncount Nouns The can be used with noncount nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely. • "I love to sail over the water" (some specific body of water) or "I love to sail over water" (any water). • "He spilled the milk all over the floor" (some specific milk, perhaps the milk you bought earlier that day) or "He spilled milk all over the floor" (any milk). "A/an" can be used only with count nouns. • "I need a bottle of water." • "I need a new glass of milk." Most of the time, you can't say, "She wants a water," unless you're implying, say, a bottle of water.
Geographical use of “the” There are some specific rules for using the with geographical nouns. Do not use the before: • names of most countries/territories: Italy, Mexico, Bolivia; however, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States (X) The Yangs are going to move to USA next month. (O) The Yangs are going to move to the USA next month. • names of cities, towns, or states: Seoul, Taipei, Miami • names of streets: Washington Blvd., Main St.
names of continents (Asia, Europe) • names of lakes and bays: Lake Titicaca, Lake Erieexcept with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes • names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fujiexcept with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn • names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands
Do use the before: • names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Nile, the Pacific • points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole • geographical areas: the Middle East, the West • deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula
Omission of Articles Some common types of nouns that don't take an article are: • Names of languages and nationalities:Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian • Names of sports:volleyball, hockey, baseball • Names of academic subjects: mathematics, biology, history, computer science
Clarity • Make sure every pronoun has a clear antecedent.
Examples: Norden picked up the wrench, removed the nut, and handed it to Robert. Norden picked up the wrench, removed the nut, and handed the tool to Robert. Complaining angrily, John wrote it up and sent it to the newspaper. (what is it?) Angrily, John wrote up his complaint and sent it to the newspaper.
practice 1. I went with Brad to Phil’s place because he wanted company. 2. Peter spoke to the assistant, and he was very rude. 3. The division manger always favored Sam. This angered the other employees. 4. John showed the news reporter how to take good pictures, and his pictures turned out beautifully. Because Brad wanted company, I went with him to Phil’s place. Peter spoke very rudely to the assistant. This action angered… the reporter’s pictures
Gail’s hiring of the waitress was a wise move on her part. Gail hired the waitress. This move was wise on her part. 5. Gail hired the waitress, which was a wise move on her part. 6. After the electrician installed new switches in the motors, some of them did not work. 7. Plant three-food azalea in front of the seven-food rhododendrons to make them stand out. 8. As the ferry boat approaches the tugboat, it blows a warning. some of the switches did not work. the rhododendrons (or the azaleas) stand out. The ferry boat blows a warning as it approaches the tugboat.
Avoid the use of the indefinite it and they. In the college handbook, it lists the holidays we get in the winter quarter. The college handbook lists the holidays we get in the winter quarter. At DuPont, they provide very reasonable health insurance. DuPont provides very reasonable health insurance.
Eliminate the vague it, they, is when, and is where. 1. In Oregon, they have passed a law which encourages the recycling of waste materials. 2. In the instruction manual, it explains how to operate an chewing machine. 3. Inflation is when the dollar is worth less than previously. 4. At the Farmers’ Auction Block is where they have many buyers of truck crops. Oregon has passed a law which … The instruction manual explains how to operate… Inflation occurs when the dollar is .... Many buyers of truck crops are at the Farmers’ Action Block.
Modifier Placement – Dangling modifier 1 . When using participial phrases as modifiers: Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car seemed to run better. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Fred found he could get much better gas mileage. 2. Participial phrases cannot be combined with “it… “ or “there…”: Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, there is an easy way to keep your car running smoothly. If we change the oil every 3,000 miles, we can keep our car running smoothly. 3. Participial phrases cannot be combined with passive verbs either: Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car was kept in excellent condition. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, we kept the car in excellent condition.
4. Infinitives (to + verb) should clearly modify the doer: To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape, an exercise program was set up for the summer months. To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape, the coaching staff set up an exercise program for the summer months. 5. Squinting modifier: adverb can be placed nearly everywhere in a sentence, thus causing ambiguity: Students who seek their instructors' advice often can improve their grades. Student who often seek their instructors' advice can improve their grades. Students who seek their instructors' advice canoftenimprove their grades.
Confusion: Its Sources and Remedies 1. Adverbial phrases modify the subject, not serve as one: Although the season has not yet begun has caused the public to get over anxious for information about the team. Although the season has not yet begun, the public is overly anxious for information about the team. 2. Prepositional phrases modify the subject, not serve as one: In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets broke several rules about pre-season publicity. In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets, the basketball program broke several rules about pre-season publicity. The basketball program's attempt to spark sales of season tickets broke several rules about pre-season publicity.
3. Two “subjects” in one sentence without subordination or modification: • The new system of student registration, we began to use it in the fall. • We began to use the new system of student registration in the fall. 4. Adverbial phrases do not serve as the subject of a sentence: • By devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the registrar's job much easier. • Devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the Registrar's job much easier. 5. Adverbial clauses do not serve as the subject of a sentence: • Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration does not mean they will have to start the process over. • Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration, they will not necessarily have to start the process over. • Students do not have to start the process over if their records are lost in the registration shuffle.
6. “Reason” means “why” or “because”: Do not use phrases such as “the reason why is because” or “the reason is because”: The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is because they're trying to refurbish the old house. The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is that they're trying to refurbish the old house. They were so eager to sell tickets because they're trying to refurbish the old house. 7. Ambiguity in using pronouns: To encourage the recruits to blend in with veteran players, the coaches let them play in summer leagues. The coaches let the recruits play in summer leagues so they'd be able to blend in with veteran players.
8. Too many words between antecedent and relative pronouns: The recruits seemed to blend in with the team's master strategies and make friends on the team who played during the summer months. The recruits who played during the summer months seemed to blend in with the team's master strategies and make friends on the team. 9. Adjective clauses should clearly point to the antecedent: The new coach seemed to know nothing about his team's recent history, which reporters seem to pick up on quickly. Reporters quickly picked up on the fact that the new coach knew nothing about his team's recent history. 10. “It” must have a clear point of reference: Coach Espinoza made several recruiting trips around the country, but it came to no avail. Coach Espinoza made several recruiting trips around the country, but her efforts were not successful.
Practice – eliminate confusion by repositioning misplaced phrases or clauses next to the words they modify. 1. Concerned about the grain market, a call was made to the broker. 2. Although writing for several years, no articles have been published. 3. I received instructions for operating the 10-ton crane by mail. 4. Smiling courteously, her offer was accepted. Concerned about the grain market, the investor called his broker. Although writing for several years, she has never published any articles. I received by mail instructions for operating the 10-ton crane. Smiling courteously, Mary accepted her offer.
Too Many Passive Sentences Because passive sentence are usually longer and harder to read, using too many can make your writing slow and uninteresting. Active sentences, on the other hand, are generally clearer, more direct, and seem stronger. However, this does not mean you should stop using passive sentences. Use passive sentences only when you want to emphasize something important.
Suggestions about when to use passive sentences: 1.When the action is more important than the doer: The theater was opened last month. New students are invited to meet the dean in Room 126. 2. When the receiver of the action is more important than the doer: Everyone was given a key to the gym. The letters were faxed this morning.
3. When the result of the action is more important than the doer: Our advice was followed by our clients. The new computers were installed by the system staff. 4. When you don’t know the doer, don’t care, or don’t want your reader to know: A mistake was made, and all the scholarship application files. This report was written at the last minute. 5. When you want to sound objective: The pigeons were observed over a period of three weeks. The subjects were divided into three groups.
Sentences that are too long or too short (I). Too many long sentences: The following sentence may be confusing to read because of its length: My favorite place to visit is my grandparents’ house near the lake where we love to fish and swim, and we often take the boat out on the lake. (Breaking the sentence into two can make your writing clearer and more interesting.) My favorite place to visit is my grandparents’ house near the lake. We love to fish and swim there, and we often take the boat out on the lake.
(II). Sentences that are too short: Too many short sentences often makes the writing sound choppy: I knew my friends would throw me a party. It was for my birthday. There was something in the air. I felt it for a whole week before that. I was nervous. I was also very excited. I got home that night. My friends didn’t disappoint me. I walked in my house. All my friends yelled, “surprise!” To improve the above paragraph, you should join some of the short sentences using connectors.
Because it was my birthday, I knew my friends would through me a party. There was something in the air for a whole week before that. I was nervous but excited when I got home that night. I wasn’t disappointed. When I walked in my house, all my friends yelled, “Surprise!” A good style often involves the combination of both short and long sentences.
Write As Much As Is Appropriate “the professional writer writes in plastic; the amateur writer writes in concrete.” this means that the professional works his sentences over and over, knowing that the first version is seldom the best.
One of the most common errors is using unnecessary words. What is the obvious problem of the following sentence? “Many uneducated citizens who have never attended school continue to vote for better schools.”
Other examples Each and every employee will report in writing and complete and turn in form number 402 by August 31 not later. Each employee will complete and turn in form 402 by August 31. (10 words saved) The employers cooperated together and endorsed a confirmation of the important essentials of the concurring agreement. The employers cooperated and endorsed the essentials of the agreement.
Meaningless and Ineffective Usages List of words/phrases that be made simpler: