January 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

How well do you know your nouns? Yes, nouns name persons, places, things, or ideas; but did you know that nouns are divided into classes? Nouns can be proper, common, concrete, abstract, or collective. The quiz below will test your knowledge of nouns.

Decide which class (in parentheses) correctly describes each of the boldfaced nouns in the following sentences. And since nouns can belong to more than one class, select all that apply.

  1. We polled the group to decide on a place for dinner. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  2. Joanne demanded the respect she felt she deserved. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  3. We decided to meet in Chicago on that Tuesday. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  4. After his experience in Tibet, Geoff converted to Buddhism. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  5. The aroma in the kitchen was enticing. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)

Answers can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Relative Pronouns and Clauses

Relative pronouns include who, whom, whose, that, which, and also whichever, whoever, and whomever. These pronouns introduce relative clauses, so named because they “relate” to another part of the sentence.

Here are some rules about which relative pronouns correctly refer to people, and which correctly refer to things.

  • Who and whom always refer to people:

    She is the one who made the suggestion.
    The sales rep whom we hired last month is working out well.

  • Which refers only to things:

    We decided to use his idea, which eventually turned production around.

  • That and whose can refer to either people or things:

    Ira was the person that we chose for the job.
    I read one proposal whose topic especially sparked my interest.

 

When a relative clause is needed to understand the sentence, do not use a comma to separate it.

Doreen is the accountant who found the error.

When a relative clause contains information that is interesting but not necessary to the meaning of the sentence, use a comma to separate it.

We hold a dinner/dance to thank our sponsors, who seem to truly enjoy it.

That or which: Use that to introduce a relative clause that is required to understand the sentence.

It was her offhand remark that led to the investigation.

Use which to introduce a relative clause that is not required to understand the sentence.

I finally located the cheese, which happened to be rancid.

You can find more information about relative pronouns and clauses on pages 260 and 305-306 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

If you’re looking for a good way to train new hires in your business, consider starting a mentorship program. Pairing someone new with an experienced employee in the same department can help the new hire get acclimated quickly and fit in with the team. The mentorship can involve everything from job shadowing to scheduled meetings about specifics to a general availability for answering questions. Always supply written forms that both parties can fill out at the end of the prescribed mentorship period, and include space for comments on what did and didn’t work.

That Little Extra

As the new year gets under way, it is time to review the effectiveness of your business plan over the last year. Did you reach your goals? If not, think about what can you do differently this year. What worked? What fell short? Write it all out—seeing the pluses and minuses of your year in black and white will put them in perspective and help you adjust your methods and goals. List the changes you’d like to make and then reset your business thermostat. A little time spent now will likely bring the kinds of improvements you want and give you a more satisfactory assessment next year at this time.

   

January Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

This month’s forum centers on technology: How has the growth of social media changed or influenced the way you do business?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “January Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Answers to This Month’s Quiz

  1. We polled the group to decide on a place for dinner. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  2. Joanne demanded the respect she felt she deserved. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  3. We decided to meet in Chicago on that Tuesday. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  4. After his experience in Tibet, Geoff converted to Buddhism. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective)
  5. The aroma in the kitchen was enticing. (proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective) Note: Surprised that it’s concrete? Keep in mind that while an aroma cannot be seen or touched, it can be smelled; and anything that can be heard, smelled, or tasted is also considered to be a concrete noun.

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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