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Phil Jamieson

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How to Repair Sentence Fragments and Run-On Sentences

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jul 18, 2019 7:30:00 AM

As people use technology more and more in their everyday lives, it’s becoming common to write and speak in fragmented and run-on sentences. Just think about the last batch of text messages or emails you wrote, or the last social media post you read

What Is a Sentence Fragment?

Sentence fragments are grammatically incorrect because they are incomplete. They are usually missing a subject, object, or verb, or they don’t express a complete thought on their own. But sentence fragments are used all the time in writing and speech so it’s easy to miss them or mistake them as being grammatically correct. Consider the following passages:

  • Looking forward to seeing you at tomorrow night’s gala.
  • Be sure to keep our customers satisfied. No matter what.
  • There are some documents that still need to be signed. The client agreement. And the manufacturer’s agreement.

Sentence fragments are used in everyday speech, especially during brief exchanges of dialogue. In fact, sometimes people seem stuffy or odd if they don’t use sentence fragments when interacting with others. For example, if someone asked you in an email, “Did Sue ever get back to you about tomorrow’s meeting?”, it would be perfectly okay to respond with, “Still waiting for her reply.”, although that reply is technically a sentence fragment. Many writers use sentence fragments for stylistic reasons to emphasize certain ideas, phrases or passages. Consider the following example:

Once Maria learned that the vaccine that she was using was causing unforeseen and fatal illnesses, she threw every vial she had of it away. Every single one. And never used or spoke of it again.

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Topics: sentence structure, sentence fragments, run-on sentences

QUIZ: Find the Best Option to Repair the Grammatically Incorrect Sentence or Phrase

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jun 21, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Sometimes there are multiple ways to edit and revise a sentence or phrase in order to make it more grammatically correct, but sometimes there aren’t. Review the sentences and phrases below and select the best option for repairing the grammar mistake that you find. And be sure to share your results with us in the comments.

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Topics: quiz, grammar quiz

Quiz: Can You Identify the Writing Mistake?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   May 2, 2019 7:48:41 AM

AchillesNearly everybody has an Achilles’ heel when it comes to writing…that one grammar rule you can’t remember without double-checking a grammar guide first, or that tough-to-spell word you have to check in the dictionary every time you write it (so you don’t look dumb). Some writers aren’t great with prepositions, yet they never confuse verb tenses, and other writers aren’t great with punctuation usage, but they never misspell any words, and so on. Such Achilles’ heels in writing are why writers prefer to rely on editors and proofreaders.

What’s your Achilles’ heel in writing? Take the quiz below to see if you come across it. Then be brave and share your results with the rest of us in the blog comments.  

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Topics: quiz, grammar quiz

QUIZ: Can You Identify and Name the Grammar Errors?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Apr 4, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Knowing that you’ve just read a sentence or passage with a grammar error in it and being able to identify exactly what that grammar error is are two separate things. Do you think that you’re good at naming common grammar errors when you see them, using the appropriate terms?

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Topics: grammar quiz

Exploring the Structure of the Perfect Paragraph

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 21, 2019 7:29:20 AM

Take a moment to consider what you learned about paragraph construction from your writing and composition course work in grade school.

Did you have to write standalone paragraphs with specific formulas and requirements about some sort of topic that you thought was mundane or boring? Were you able to write about your opinions and form arguments in standalone paragraphs? Or were you required to write paragraphs about more objective information that was provided to you beforehand? And did what you learn about writing paragraphs in high school, college, or the workplace change how you understand paragraph construction?

Now, do you think that there is a “perfect paragraph” formula? And do you think there is a one-size-fits-all paragraph structure for us all to follow?

How we construct paragraphs has a lot to do with how and what we were taught in the past, as well as what we read, write, or edit on a regular basis. Keep reading to see if what you understand about constructing paragraphs coincides with your training, learning experiences, and everyday reading, writing, or editing experiences.

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Topics: paragraph, paragraph construction

What Makes a Writer "Great"?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 8, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Some people might argue that a “great” writer is someone who sells a lot of books or writes a lot of articles that are published in renowned magazines and publications. Or perhaps a great writer is someone who has a prominent and well-known social media account, or someone who writes about controversial topics and gets a lot of media attention, or someone whose writing is dubbed “classic” in the current literary canon.

You get the picture being painted here. There are a lot of ways one could identify or classify a “great” writer. But are those ways fool-proof, logical, or all-encompassing? It does seem each writer has his or her own specialty and strengths. So, do “great” writers have similar qualities or characteristics?

When you’re asked to provide an example of someone who is a great writer, who do you think of immediately? J. K. Rowling? Tom Clancy? Stephen King? Shakespeare? Robert Frost? Margaret Atwood? George Orwell? Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings? Ayn Rand? Mark Twain? Jack Kerouac? And if you were asked what you think makes him or her “great,” how would you respond?

Writers who are “great,” or at the very least are more widely known, do seem to have certain common characteristics, as listed below. Do you agree?

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Topics: writers

10 Best Practices for Writing and Editing Technical Documents

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 14, 2019 7:00:00 AM

As technology and science become more pervasive and important in our everyday lives, expertly edited technical documents will become more and more in demand. They’re important to businesses, organizations, and consumers alike.

Whether you’re a novice or you’ve written and edited technical documents for decades, here are 10 best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.

1. Know Your Audience and Write Exclusively for Them and to Them

When writing or editing technical documents, it’s essential that you first understand your target audiences and their backgrounds and preferences, and that you conduct research and collect data about them.

For example, some things you’ll want to consider:

  • whether your document is aimed at marketers who are new to your organization
  • whether you’re writing a user manual for common consumers with little to no experience with your technology platform
  • whether you’re writing a manual for experienced coders who already use your technology platform on a deeper level

Essentially, it’s imperative that you understand your audiences’ demographic information and backgrounds, and that you cater your technical content to suit their needs and preferences. Otherwise, it will be impossible or challenging for them to understand, and it will not end up being helpful.

Also, be sure to use “you” and speak to your audience directly in your technical documents and provide plain and simple actions for them to take. Basically, remember to always provide your audience with helpful information in a way that’s easy for them to follow.

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Topics: technical writing, technical editing

Navigating the Different Types of Compounds

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 18, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Writers use compound words and sentences to add a little more color to their writing. But they can be tricky to write correctly, even for those who review written materials every day and stay up to date on new dictionary entries and yearly amendments to the more popular style guides.

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Topics: compound words, compound sentences, compound nouns, compound verbs, compound modifiers

Will Software Replace Human Writers?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Dec 14, 2018 10:49:11 AM

Many professionals and job seekers think that technology enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) will automate most (if not all) occupations within the next decade or so, while others aren’t yet convinced.

Some professionals believe that grammar-checking software, for instance, is the first step to replacing human writers and editors. And then there are services that will auto-write “textual content” for you.

But what do you think? Do you think that robots or software enhanced with AI will be able to completely replace human writers, editors, and proofreaders in the near or distant future? Keep reading to learn more.

How Grammar-Checking Software Works

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Topics: grammar checker, artificial intelligence

Advanced Syntax and Grammar Quiz

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Nov 30, 2018 8:03:59 AM

Do you know how to properly place and arrange words in a phrase, clause, or sentence—for every sentence you write? Or do you sometimes wonder when a comma is needed and where to place it in a sentence? Or whether you placed a modifier or an article in the right place?

Take this advanced syntax and grammar quiz to test your knowledge, and to see what you know. And then share your scores with us in the comments below. Also, be sure to share this quiz with other grammar aficionados, so they can test their grammar knowledge. Good luck!

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Topics: grammar quiz, grammar errors

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