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Session 2

Clarity

Session 2
Written: Oral:

Clarity

Class Elections

The ABCD of Effective Writing

Accuracy

Clarity
Clear Coherent Consistent Concrete

Correct Complete

Brevity

Concise

Dignity
Courteous Considerate

Correctness

Grammar Spelling Punctuation Format Facts and Figures

Clarity

Clarity is saying what you actually intend to say, and doing it in such a way that your reader understands you. Clarity is achieved when words are chosen carefully, not only from the point of diction, but from the point of correctness.

How do you achieve clarity?


Word Choice Sentence Structure Use of active vs. passive voice Parallelism Transitional words

Word Choice

Preferring Clear and Familiar Words

Strength of a Single Syllable: When you speak and write, no law says you have to use big words. Eleven words account for 25% of all spoken English and all are monosyllabic

I, you, the, a, to, is, it, that, of, and in

Omit superfluous words

Words are superfluous when they can be replaced with fewer words that mean the same thing. Sometimes you can use a simpler word for these phrases:

Superfluous vs. Simpler Words

Superfluous in order to in the event that subsequent to prior to despite the fact that because of the fact that in light of because, since

Simpler to if after before although because, since

Avoid clichs

Clichs are problematic because their overuse has diminished their impact and because they require several words where just one would do.

Agree to disagree Dead as a doornail Up in the air Last but not the least

Strategies for successful word choice

Be careful when using words you are unfamiliar with. Look at how they are used in context and check their dictionary definitions. Be careful when using the thesaurus. Each word listed as a synonym for the word you're looking up may have its own unique connotations or shades of meaning.

Strategies for successful word choice

Dont try to impress your reader or sound unduly authoritative. For example, which sentence is clearer to you: "a" or "b?

Under the present conditions of our society, marriage practices generally demonstrate a high degree of homogeneity. In our culture, people tend to marry others who are like themselves. (Longman, p. 452)

Strategies for successful word choice

Read your paper out loud and at a slow pace. When read out loud, your written words should make sense to both you and other listeners.

Sentence Structure

Sentence Clarity
Why do we need to be concerned with sentence clarity?

To communicate effectively to the reader To make writing persuasive To show credibility and authority as a writer

Common clarity problems


Misplaced modifiers Dangling modifiers Passive voice

Misplaced Modifiers

a word or phrase that causes confusion because it is located within a sentence so far away from the word(s) to which it refers

Misplaced Modifiers

Consider the different meanings in the following sentences:

The dog under the tree bit Carrie.


vs.

The dog bit Carrie under the tree.

Misplaced Modifiers

Sometimes misplaced modifiers are used for comic effect: The other day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know. -- Groucho Marx

How might you correct the following sentence?


Jennifer called her adorable kitten opening the can of tuna and filled the food bowl. Better: Opening the can of tuna, Jennifer called her adorable kitten and filled the food bowl.

How might you correct the following sentence?


Portia rushed to the store loaded with cash to buy the birthday gift. Better: Portia, loaded with cash, rushed to the store to buy the birthday gift.

Misplaced Modifiers

Some one-word modifiers often cause confusion: just hardly nearly merely simply only

almost even

Explain the meaning of each sentence:

Almost everyone in the class passed the calculus exam. Everyone in the class almost passed the calculus exam. Which sentence indicates that everyone in the class failed the exam?

Explain the meaning of each sentence:

John nearly earned $100. John earned nearly $100.


Which sentence indicates that John earned some money?

Dangling modifiers

a word or phrase that modifies another word or phrase that has not been stated clearly within the sentence

often occur at the beginnings and ends of sentences often indicated by an -ing verb or a to + verb phrase

Dangling modifiers

Having finished dinner, the football game was turned on. Having finished dinner, Joe turned on the football game.

Dangling modifiers can be repaired by:

placing the subject of the modification phrase as the subject of the independent clause:

Having finished dinner, Joe turned on the football game.

placing the subject of the action within the dangling phrase:

After Joe finished dinner, he turned on the football game.

How might you correct the following sentence?


Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours, Michaels paper was not completed.
Better: Playing solitaire on the computer for three hours, Michael did not complete his paper. Better: Because Michael played solitaire on the computer for three hours, he did not complete his paper.

How might you correct the following sentence?


Locked away in the old chest, Richard was surprised by the antique hats.

Better: Locked away in the old chest, the antique hats surprised Richard. Better: The antique hats locked away in the old chest surprised Richard.

How might you correct the following sentence?


To work as a loan officer, an education in financial planning is required.

Better: To work as a loan officer, one is required to have an education in financial planning.

How might you correct the following sentence?


Being a process that still needs to be refined, scientists are searching for a more effective plan for chemotherapy treatment.

Better: Scientists are searching for a more effective plan for chemotherapy treatment, a process that still needs to be refined.

Exercise in Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers


1.

2.

3. 4. 5.

The announcer reported that the singer was getting married on the six o'clock news. As a child, my mother took me to the Manila Zoo to see my favorite animal, the Indian elephant. To wash the car, soap and water is needed. He barely kicked that ball twenty yards. Randy has nearly annoyed every professor he has had.

The Effective Sentence


Vary the beginnings of your sentence Vary the kinds of sentences Vary the length of your sentences Very sentence construction

Variety in sentence beginning Variety by sentence combinations Variety of complication

Sentence Combining

Why should we know about sentence combining?


To build clarity To avoid wordiness To avoid redundancy Create adjectives Create properly placed modifying clauses Eliminate unnecessary or repetitive phrases

Keys to sentence combining:


Consider the following paragraph:


The boy struggled to ride his bike. The boy is four years old and he is feisty. The bike is new and it is a light blue color. The boy received the bike for his birthday. He struggled for two hours. However, he was unsuccessful in riding the bike.

Sentence Combining

The boy struggled to ride his bike. The boy is four years old and he is feisty. The bike is new and it is a light blue color. The boy received the bike for his birthday. He struggled for two hours. However, he was unsuccessful in riding the bike.

The feisty four-year-old boy struggled unsuccessfully for two hours to ride his new light blue birthday bike.

Sentence Combining
The animal trainer dove into the pool. The trainer was skilled and athletic. She was excited when she dove into the pool. She swam with two dolphins. The dolphins were babies. The dolphins were playful. The trainer swam with the dolphins for over an hour. When the trainer swam with the dolphins, she was happy.

Sentence Combining
The animal trainer dove into the pool. The trainer was skilled and athletic. She was excited when she dove into the pool. She swam with two dolphins. The dolphins were babies. The dolphins were playful. The trainer swam with the dolphins for over an hour. When the trainer swam with the dolphins, she was happy.

The skilled, athletic animal trainer excitedly dove into the pool and happily swam for over an hour with two playful baby dolphins.

Shaping Effective Sentences and Paragraphs


Use everyday, conversational words Keep most sentences short and simple Prefer active voice verbs, avoid passives

Shaping Effective Sentences and Paragraphs

Avoid long, obscure sentences


Hard to read Hard to write Risk grammatical errors Bury some ideas

Avoid too many ideas in one paragraph

Use of active vs. passive voice

Active Voice

The executive committee approved the new policy.

The subject and verb relationship is straightforward: the subject is a be-er or a do-er and the verb moves the sentence along.

Passive Voice
The new policy was approved by the executive committee.

The subject of the sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er, but is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed

Use the Active Voice with Strong Verbs

One of the quickest ways to ensure clarity is to use the active voice with strong verbs. Strong verbs are guaranteed to liven up and tighten any sentence, virtually causing information to spring from the page.

Use Active Voice

To be more Specific Personal Concise Emphatic

The board has decided to increase this years bonus. A decision was made to increase this years bonus.

Use Passive Voice

When you want to stress the object of the action When the doer is not important in the sentence When you want to avoid personal, blunt accusations or commands When it is required to maintain a parallel structure

Passive Voice
indicates what is receiving the action rather than explaining who is doing the action two indicators "to be" verbsis, are, was, were "by ________

Examples of Passive Voice


Mistakes

were made. The cats were brushed by Laura.

Passive vs. Active Voice

There is nothing inherently wrong with the passive voice, but if you can say the same thing in the active mode, do so. The worst offense of the passive voice is when business interests, government agencies, or the military (who must get weary of this accusation) use the passive voice to avoid responsibility for actions taken.

Passive vs. Active Voice

Thus "Cigarette ads were designed to appeal especially to children" places the burden on the ads as opposed to "We designed the cigarette ads to appeal especially to children," in which "we" accepts responsibility

How might you improve the following sentence?

The decision that was reached by the committee was to postpone the vote. Better: The committee reached the decision to postpone the vote. Best: The committee decided to postpone the vote.

How might you correct the following sentence?


The disk drive of the computer was damaged by the electrical surge.

Better: The electrical surge damaged the disk drive of the computer. Best: The electrical surge damaged the computer's disk drive.

Parallelism

Parallel Construction
Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method, while now the laboratory method is employed.

Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method; now it is taught by the laboratory method.

Keep Your Sentence Parallel

Parallelism reinforces grammatically equal elements, contributes to ease in reading, and provides clarity and rhythm.

If you want to buy shares in Fund X by mail, fill out and sign the Account Application form, making your check payable to The X Fund, and put your social security or taxpayer identification number on your check.

Improved Version

If you want to buy shares in Fund X by mail, fill out and sign the Account Application form, make your check payable to The X Fund, and put your social security or taxpayer identification number on your check.

Parallelism and Correlative Expressions


Correlative expressions (both, and; not, but; not only, but also; either, or; first, second, third; and the like) should be followed by the same grammatical construction. Many violations of this rule can be corrected by rearranging the sentence.

It was both a long ceremony and very tedious.

The ceremony was both long and tedious. My objections are first, the injustice of the measure; second, that is its unconstitutional. My objections are, first, the measure is unjust; second, that it is unconstitutional.

Parallelism Exercise

Raoul's motivation to succeed in this program seems to be greater than his sister. Espinoza's style was remarkable for its dexterity, grace, and she could play any position. Either you will begin to study now or risk failing the exam.

Transitional Words

Transitional Words

Using transitional words and phrases helps papers read more smoothly Transitions indicate relations, whether from sentence to sentence, or from paragraph to paragraph.

Examples of Transitional Words


Addition:

also, besides, furthermore, in addition, moreover, again


accordingly, as a result, consequently, hence, otherwise, so then, therefore, thus, thereupon after all, all in all, all things considered, briefly, by and large, in any case, in any event, in brief, in conclusion, on the whole, in short, in summary, in the final analysis, in the long run, on balance, to sum up, to summarize, finally

Consequence:

Summarizing:

Examples of Transitional Words

Generalizing:

as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, ordinarily, usually in essence, in other words, namely, that is, that is to say, in short, in brief, to put it differently contrast, by the same token, conversely, instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still, nevertheless, in contrast

Restatement:

Contrast and Comparison:

Examples of Transitional Words

Sequence:

at first, first of all, to begin with, in the first place, at the same time, for now, for the time being, the next step, in time, in turn, later on, meanwhile, next, then, soon, the meantime, later, while, earlier, simultaneously, afterward, in conclusion by the way, incidentally

Diversion:

Illustration:

for example, for instance, for one thing

Examples of Transitional Words

Similarity:

likewise, similar, moreover here, there, over there, beyond, nearly, opposite, under, above, to the left, to the right, in the distance

Direction: