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Tag Archives: wrtingtips

5 Functions of Quotation Marks

This post discusses the use of quotation marks to distinguish dialogue, parts of compositions, phrases as phrases, scare quotes, and epithets. 1. For DialogueQuotation marks are placed around speech in fiction (to distinguish it from attribution and narrative) and nonfiction (for the same reasons, in addition to emphasizing that it …

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When to Use a Colon: Rules and Examples

The colon can be a tricky punctuation mark. You’ve probably grasped periods, question marks, exclamation points, and commas – but the rules surrounding colons may seem a bit trickier. There are two main ways to use colons: To introduce an item or a series of items.To replace a semi-colon between …

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Incomplete Thought Writing Mistakes

Writers sometimes sabotage their efforts to express themselves by leaving key information out of a sentence, resulting in confusing statements. Each of the following examples suffers from obfuscation due to one of more missing words. Discussion after each sentence explains the problem, and a revision provides a solution. 1. It …

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Non-standard English and the New Tribalism

Dave Frohnmayer, President Emeritus of the University of Oregon, defines the New Tribalism as, the growth of a politics based upon narrow concerns, rooted in the exploitation of divisions of class, cash, gender, region, religion, ethnicity, morality and ideology, ‘a give-no-quarter and take-no-prisoners’ activism that demands satisfaction and accepts no …

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12 Tips for Clipping Unnecessary Words

In workshops and in writing guides, the admonition “Use fewer words” is one of the cardinal rules. Although I resist the excision of allegedly superfluous adverbs and adjectives, I heartily acknowledge that many other parts of speech are often unnecessary. Here are other ways to reduce word count: 1. “The …

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“About” and “For” with Adjectives

The recent post on “excited for” got me thinking that a list of adjectives that take about and for might be useful. foreager forhappy for (as in I’m happy for you because you have succeeded.)therapeutic forunsuitable for aboutadamant aboutenthusiastic aboutexuberant aboutexultant aboutexcited aboutelated aboutflippant aboutguarded aboutgullible abouthappy about (as in I’m happy about my …

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Principles of Plain English

Perspicuous written communication is fundamental in every aspect of human interaction — or should I say, “Clear writing is important whenever people interact”? If I support the triumph of plain English over byzantine jargon and sesquipedalianism, I should. But rather than explain what plain English is, I’ll state what it …

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