WRITING: ANTECEDENTS January 28, 2018

WRITING:     ANTECEDENTS                                January 28, 2018 In writing, correct words and punctuation marks serve as traffic signals on the road of life to tell readers where to go and how to interpret instructions.  These are critical for accurate comprehension and to avoid mistakes and accidents.   For example, readers always need to be sure whom we’re talking about or referring to.  A pronoun reference to a noun is known as an antecedent.  Webster defines “antecedent” in this way: “1. A noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause referred to by a personal or relative pronoun.” Now, I must also define personal and relative pronouns so that you can be on your way to understanding antecedents and how they meet their missions. Personal pronoun:  I, you, he, she, it, we, they Relative pronoun:  who, whom, that, which To keep this lesson simple today, we will discuss only personal pronouns as antecedents.   Repeating nouns many times makes sentences sound odd and sort of difficult to read: Mark is happy because Mark is playing golf. The use of personal pronouns as antecedents keeps writers from having to repeat the nouns:  Mark is happy because he is playing golf. Next, let’s put pronouns to use in both unclear and then clear references.   Unclear antecedents: Mark said that Don has a secret but he isn’t glad about it. [Which man isn’t glad about the secret—Mark, or Don?] Joan urged Hannah to respect her opinions. [Whose opinions are not being respected—Joan’s, or Hannah’s?]   How to fix?  Sometimes a portion of a sentence must be rewritten or a word should be removed or added to make the sentence clear. Mark said that Don has a secret but Don isn’t glad about it. Mark said that Don has a secret and Don isn’t glad about it. Mark said that Don has a secret; Don isn’t glad about it, though. Mark said, “Don has a secret, but he isn’t glad about it.” According to Mark, Don has a secret that he isn’t glad about. Joan urged Hannah to respect her opinions. [Joan’s opinions] Joan said, “Hannah, please respect my opinions.” Joan urged Hannah to respect her own opinions. [Hannah’s opinions] Joan said, “Hannah, you should respect your own opinions.”   I’ll say it again:  Clarity is everything in our communications, whether we’re writing or speaking.  Let’s do our best for others. Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus of courses covering Grammar, Punctuation, Proofreading, and Editing.  If...

DANCING WITH THE STARS: EXCITING NEWS! 18 January 2018

EXCITING DANCING WITH THE STARS NEWS   18 January 2018   Hello, Dancing with the Stars fans!   Time for lots of news!   Preparations for the holidays were intense and extremely time consuming, further encumbered by emergencies, illnesses, and other unexpected happenings while little actual dancing news seemed to be available.  Along the way I heard rumors and wondered what we truly should expect to happen for the spring season of Dancing with the Stars.  The wait has brought more real news and, just within the past day, what seems to be concrete, reliable information from the producers for the spring.  So, in my usual fashion, I am organizing info by topics below so that you can skim or read more easily.   SPRING SHOW FORMAT I just learned from TVGuide.com that during the fall 2017 finale Tom and Erin supposedly referenced the spring 2018 show format; if that’s true, I totally missed it and haven’t known anyone who did hear it.  You may recall that the original plan for this spring, which I mentioned a few times last summer/fall, was to have a Dancing With The Stars Junior edition.  I thought it was odd that I didn’t hear anymore about that after Season 25 ended.  Did you wonder? Well, “TV Guide” recently asked some pointed questions to the President of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey.  It turns out that casting and scheduling for “Junior” couldn’t be done fast enough, but it’s still planned for the future.  Meanwhile, an all-sports/all-athletes edition will replace it this spring. A 13-week show schedule is tough to arrange around athletes’ tight schedules.  Working around ABC’s spring evening lineup, especially as we move later into the season, and around the end of the DWTS LIVE tour in mid-March, seems to be equally difficult.  When will we see it? That depends on “American Idol,” which ABC picked up, again starring the friendly Ryan Seacrest.  It is said that “Idol” will premiere on Sunday and Monday nights, starting on March 11, keeping its usual two-nights-per-week schedule for several weeks.  Then, on April 29, it will move to a Sunday nights-only format for the remainder of the season.  So, DWTS’s athletes edition will start on Monday, April 30 with “a mix of active and retired athletes” and will run for only four consecutive weeks instead of 13.  Newly-reigning pro Mirrorball champ Lindsay Arnold will participate—after attending a highly-anticipated wedding (read on, please). The months-long lack of certainty surrounding the spring show has been very surprising for us as fans. ...

WRITING: DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW January 16, 2018

WRITING:  DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW             January 16, 2018 DASHES VS. COMMAS & PARENTHESES:  Part A  The Dash/Dashes In writing, correct punctuation marks are critical to readily clarify relationships and meanings for readers, thereby avoiding confusion that cannot readily be resolved.  Writing is normally more formal than speaking, where listeners can say they’re confused, ask for clarity and receive it on the spot. Dashes, commas, and parentheses can be used effectively to set off material that interrupts the main sentence.  Today, we will deal only with dashes to keep readers’ attention.  We will have lessons on commas and parentheses very soon. DASHES emphasize the interrupting material.  Like the white-gloved traffic cop whose raised palm tells you to stop, the first dash points to the interrupting material and announces, “Time out! Stop, look, and listen!” Then, like the traffic cop who points to you when you’re permitted to resume driving, the closing dash points toward the remainder of the core clause, saying, “And, now, back to our show.”   The irritable child–with her constant complaining and crying–causes much distress. Notice how a dash is typed: with two unspaced hyphens when the en dash or em dash* are not available, without spaces between them and the word that precedes or follows:  child–with her constant complaining and crying– Do not use lone hyphens (spaced or unspaced) where dashes are necessary. Dashes: Can be formed in three ways, in three lengths, depending on their role within the sentence. When a dash separates numbers (often meaning “to”), it’s typed as a hyphen: pages 22-99              October 18-24           Social Security Number 193-48-2765 A dash often indicates a break in thought: Race me–if you think you have a chance to win. They try–but do not always meet–the professor’s impossible deadlines. Four unspaced hyphens are used as a dash that replaces an omitted word: It’s a secret! I can’t tell the name of her lover, Mr. —-!  [Only this kind of dash is preceded by a space.] A dash or a pair of dashes sets off and emphasizes a key insertion. Many men have adored Sophia Loren–one of the loveliest women alive. Sophia Loren–one of the loveliest women alive–has been adored by many men. If your sentence continues after an interruption, you must end it with a second dash. Note that your sentence must make sense if the interruption is removed. Although Beth took up painting–somebody said she had a natural talent–she soon realized that she lacked sufficient training. Again, your sentence should make perfect sense, logically and grammatically (be...

WRITING: TRANSITIONS January 2, 2018

WRITING:  TRANSITIONS                                                January 2, 2018 When writing, we must create a road map of sorts for our readers to follow.   Readers need to be able to understand how and why our thoughts–phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and sections–are related to one another. To that end, our thoughts must be connected appropriately and clearly via the use of transitions–specifically, sentence adverbs and transitional phrases–to make reading and comprehension fluid and easy. As you will see, a sentence adverb and a transitional phrase relate and connect the second sentence with the first.   Example: Without sentence adverb: I had planned to go to the movies last night.   After a hard day at work I went home and slept all evening. With sentence adverb: I had planned to go to the movies last night.   However, after a hard day at work I went home and slept all evening. With transitional phrase: I had planned to go to the movies last night.   Surprising to no one, after a hard day at work I went home and slept all evening. See the difference?  The first set of two sentences has a choppy sound to them because they are not connected by a sentence adverb; conversely, the other sets flow smoothly because they are connected by transitions. Anything that writers and editors can do to make text readily understandable for readers is well worthwhile! Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus of courses covering Grammar, Punctuation, Proofreading, and Editing.  If you need help, we’re here for you.        ...

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