October 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

How well do you know your phrases? A phrase is a group of words that lacks a subject, a predicate, or both, and does not express a complete thought. In a sentence, a phrase can serve one of several functions, acting as a noun, a verb, or a modifier, for example. Types of phrases include absolute, appositive, introductory, noun, prepositional, verb, and verbal (gerund, infinitive, or participial). Here’s a little quiz to see if you can recognize the types of phrases shown in bold in the sentences below.

  1. We posted the information above the coffeemaker, where we knew everyone would see it.
  2. The old, pitted parking lot was a public eyesore as well as a dangerous place.
  3. We found him in the archives, poring through old company files.
  4. To provide the best service is our goal.
  5. Suzanne, our new HR manager, led the training session.
  6. The project has been shelved in light of the new safety concerns.

You can find the answers at the end of this newsletter, along with more detailed descriptions of the various phrases used. (Also check page 367 in the index of Write for Business, 2nd ed., to locate more information.)

The Traits of Writing: Correctness

While quality content is, of course, paramount in your writing, correctness is also important. Careless writing errors can imply careless business practices. So before sending off any written materials, make sure they are correct in every way. Proofread, proofread, proofread—and then have someone else proofread as well.

Check the following areas:

  • Punctuation: Use punctuation marks correctly to clarify your ideas. Compare the meanings of these two sentences:
  • My hobbies are cooking, pets, and gardening. My hobbies are cooking pets and gardening.
  • Mechanics: Use capital letters, numbers, and abbreviations correctly to demonstrate attention to detail. For the same reason, always double-check your spelling.
  • Usage: Use the correct word, and beware of homophones (words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings).
  • Incorrect: Their are many ways to handle this situation. Correct: There are many ways to handle this situation.
  • Grammar—Use standard grammar in all business writing.

You can find more information about words beginning on page 51 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

How do you know you’ve achieved your training objectives? After a training session, ask participants to write about their feelings concerning the session. Do they believe it was worth the time and energy? Did they learn something new or increase their efficiency? What worked and what didn’t? Ask them for future training suggestions. With this kind of feedback, you can plan more efficiently.

That Little Extra

This month we discussed the importance of correct writing. Correctness is especially important for a business plan. The most clever, innovative idea will never be funded if it is presented in a plan rife with spelling and grammar errors. Potential investors look for careful attention to detail—in the plan . . . and in the writing.

   

October 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.

How do you handle “flaming” letters and emails from customers or clients?

E-mail your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “October 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 posted the information above the coffeemaker, where we knew everyone would see it. (A prepositional phrase includes a preposition—above—its object, and any modifiers. The phrase serves as an adverb in the example sentence.)
  2. The old, pitted parking lot was a public eyesore as well as a dangerous place. (A noun phrase includes a noun or pronoun—lot—plus all modifiers.)
  3. We found him in the archives, poring through old company files. (A participial phrase serves as an adjective and includes a participle—poring—and its modifiers.)
  4. To provide the best service is our goal. (An infinitive phrase includes an infinitive—to provide—and its modifiers. The phrase serves as a noun in the example sentence.)
  5. Suzanne, our new HR Manager, led the training session. (An appositive phrase includes a noun—manager—and modifiers, and it identifies or explains the noun or pronoun it follows.)
  6. The project has been shelved in light of the new safety concerns. (A verb phrase includes a verb—shelved—and any helping verbs.)

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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Coming in November

The Traits of Writing: Design

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