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Standard Written English Tutorial

Ben Ector

on 2 September 2014

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Transcript of SWET

Standard Written English
Subject-Verb Agreement
Tense Sequence of Verbs
Pronoun Reference and Clarity
Using Words Correctly
Parallel Structure
Diction and Idiom
Sources of Wordiness
Punctuation and Capitalization

Subject-Verb Agreement
Singular: He or she or it does. He or she or it is.
Plural: He and she or they do. He and she or they are.

Tense Sequence of Verbs
Think of a timeline. Make sure events in a sentence are presented logically regarding sequence.
Pronoun Reference and Clarity
Students struggle with this in standardized testing and their own writing in a big way.
Using Words Correctly
Capitalization and Punctuation
Below, you will find a little bit of information about capitalization and quite a bit more regarding the specific punctuation marks.

For a sentence beginning with there, where, or here, try to rearrange the sentence in your mind so that the noun or pronoun which is doing the action or presenting the state of being begins the sentence. For example in “There goes the student,” the student goes. In “There are the students,” the students are.

Collective Nouns
When a collective noun functions as a single unit, that subject would require a singular verb: The team destroys its opponents.
When a collective noun shows that members of the group function individually, that subject requires a plural verb: The team have to return their uniforms by tomorrow.
Some collective nouns follow: audience, band, class, committee, covey, crowd, flock, group, herd, jury, orchestra, squad, and team.

Amounts and Names
An amount meaning a single unit requires a singular verb: Seven days makes one week.
An amount meaning separate units requires a plural verb: Twenty-two students are in the class.

Names that are single units that may appear to be plural should be treated as singular: The Boy Scouts of America is having difficulty accessing public facilities.
When a group functions as a collection of individuals, use a plural verb: The Girl Scouts sell cookies to raise money.

Compound Subjects
A compound subject connected by and requires a plural verb: The baby and the dogs are making a lot of noise.
In a sentence with a compound subject connected by or, the noun or pronoun closest to the verb dictates whether to use a plural or a singular verb. In other words, the verb must agree with the closest portion of the subject: The baby or the dogs are keeping me awake. The dogs or the baby is keeping me awake.

Special Nouns and Pronouns
Every and Many a are singular and require a singular verb.
Some nouns do not have singular forms but require singular verbs: civics, economics, mathematics, measles, molasses, mumps, and physics.
A few nouns without a singular form require plural verbs: scissors and pants for example.

Don’t let words, phrases, or clauses between the subject and verb distract you.
Don’t let the order of the words distract you.
Don’t let predicate nominatives confuse you: The reward is free tickets to the concert.

Past Perfect Tense
Use the past perfect tense for a completed action before another past action: had been, had gone, had been going. For example, I had been going to Covenant Day when I was little.
Past Tense
Use the past tense for a completed action or state of being: went, was going, or did go. For example, I was going to Latin last year.
Present Perfect Tense
Use the present perfect tense for an action that began at a set time in the past: have been, have gone, or have been going. For example, I have been going to Christian this year.
Present Tense
Use the present tense for an action or state of being that is happening now: am, go, am going, do go. For example, I am going to graduate from Christian.
Future Perfect Tense
Use the future perfect tense for an action that will be completed before another future event: will have been, will have gone, or will have been going. For example, I will have gone to Christian for three years by graduation.
Future Tense
Use the future tense for an action that is yet to happen: will be, will go, or will be going. For example, I will be going to Christian for two more years.
Pronoun Case
Nominative Case: Doers (subject, predicate nominative, appositive when renaming subject or predicate nominative), these pronouns initiate action or state of being: I, he, she, we, they, and who.
Objective Case: Receivers (direct object, indirect object, objective complement, object of a preposition, appositive when renaming one of these), these pronouns receive action: me, him, her, us, them , and whom.
Possessive case pronouns show ownership: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs, and whose.
Tip: Never use intensive or reflexive pronouns as subjects. I myself (intensive) saw him talking to himself (reflexive).

Pronoun Reference
A pronoun must have a single, clear antecedent, a noun to which the pronoun refers.
Agree with the antecedent in person, gender, and number.

Modifiers should be close to that which they describe and should not dangle at the beginning of a sentence.
Diction and Idioms
Double-check diction and idioms. Know how to spell homonyms. Use adverbs to modify verbs and other adverbs. Use adjectives to modify nouns and pronouns. Don’t confuse adverbs with adjectives.
Avoiding Awkwardness
Use active voice unless you have a clear reason to use passive voice.
Usually present action in the form of a verb.
Try to make sentences show action rather than state of being. Avoid linking verbs.
Avoid redundant modifiers, redundant pairs, meaningless modifiers, redundant categories, and pompous diction. A bad example follows: In the initial beginning, each and every student should generally avoid excessive sesquipedalian language in the area of communicating verbally. Simply put, avoid wordiness.

Use lower case except for the first letter of the first word of a sentence and for proper nouns (names).
Pet Peeves
A#1 Stop putting commas and periods outside closing quotation marks. Don’t do that. They go inside.
A#2 Stop putting quotation marks around titles of books and magazines. Italicize those titles.
A#3 Stop italicizing titles of poems and short stories. Place quotation marks around those titles.
B#1 Really?! You’re still having trouble with capitalization? Come on! When in doubt, use lower case.
B#2 Stop writing run-ons and fragments. You are far too old to be doing that by accident. Stick with the conventions if you have any doubts. The rhetorical fragment should be intentional and rare.

Use periods, ellipsis points, commas, hyphens, dashes, parentheses, semicolons, italics, quotation marks, colons, and apostrophes correctly.
Use a period to end a sentence and for abbreviations, but usually avoid abbreviations anyway.
Ellipsis Points
Use ellipsis points to indicate absent text. If you complete a sentence by using ellipsis points, add a period.
Only use commas to set apart non-essential words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence; to set apart introductory phrases of more than three words; to set apart items in a list, including the next-to-last item adjacent to the coordinating conjunction; between independent clauses when connected by a conjunction; to set apart nouns or pronouns of direct address; to replace an understood coordinating conjunction; before a quotation that begins within a sentence; to set apart the name of a state when preceded by the name of a city and other types of non-essential appositives; to add clarity by creating a brief pause, when necessary.
Hyphenate compound words functioning as adjectives prior to the words they modify.
Use dashes – not to be confused with hyphens – when separating informal interruptions in thought.
Use parentheses for more formal interruptions, like dates and other parenthetical information that cannot be set off with commas.
Use semicolons to separate independent clauses that are not connected with a coordinating conjunction in a single sentence. For clarity, also use semicolons to separate items in a list when you already have commas within the list.
Italicize or Underline
Italicize (underline) names of ships and titles of works that stand alone: albums, books, and periodicals. Italicize when typing; underline when handwriting. Do not do both.
Quotation Marks
Quotation mark titles of works that do not stand alone because they are part of larger works: a song from an album, a poem or short story in an anthology, and an article in a periodical.
Use the single quotation mark inside the double, and back and forth for quotations inside of quotations.
Don’t italicize or quotation mark your own work.

Punctuation Placement
If they are not part of a quotation, place exclamation points and question marks outside of closing quotation marks. Always place periods and commas inside adjacent closing quotation marks. Include a parenthetical within the preceding sentence or clause but do not place that notation inside quotation marks unless it is actually part of the quote.
Use a colon to introduce a list or a word, phrase, or clause which clarifies a preceding sentence, but don’t use a colon immediately after a linking verb. Also use a colon after the salutation in a formal letter and after to and from in a memo.
Errors in usage and style impact a reader's view of the writer.
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