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Grammar, Clarity and AP Style

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Title: Grammar, Clarity and AP Style


1
Grammar, Clarity and AP Style
2
The Writing Process
  • Research!
  • Know who will receive your communication and how
    to best reach them.
  • This means knowing your
  • Message
  • Public
  • Medium

3
Tips on Writing Well
  • How?
  • Keep most sentences short.
  • BUT, vary sentence length.
  • Avoid too many clauses.
  • Cut out unnecessary words.
  • Use more periods and fewer words.
  • Avoid overwriting.
  • Cut out personal commentary.
  • Avoid long words if possible.

4
Tips on Writing Well
  • Write clearly.
  • Make what you write interesting.
  • Simplify the complex.
  • Write for a 6th grade reader
  • Reading skills vary
  • When in doubt, use the readability tool in Word

5
Cut it Out!
  • Cut out excessive words
  • (ex. revolutionary, outstanding)
  • Cut out redundant words
  • (ex. young children, ATM machine)
  • Cut out long words if possible

6
Tips on Writing Well
  • Simplify the complex.
  • Give readers only the information they need to
    know.
  • Dont use euphemisms.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Introduce one new idea at a time, in a logical
    order.
  • Explain technical terms you cant avoid.
  • Explain the unfamiliar with the familiar.

7
Tips on Writing Well
  • Make the main idea stand out.
  • If possible, pretest drafts with intended
    audiences.
  • Edit, edit, edit!

8
Grammar
  • Why use proper grammar?
  • Poor grammar damages credibility.
  • Poor grammar affects readability.
  • Good grammar reduces ambiguity.

9
Grammar
  • Tips for good grammar
  • Read and revise.
  • Spell check misses some errors.
  • Learn the rules, but break them if you need to.

10
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Proper Nouns
  • Only capitalize proper nouns

Common Noun Proper Noun
singer cookie city restaurant Lady Gaga Oreo Tuscaloosa Pepitos
11
Possessive Nouns
  • Possessive nouns are used to show possession
    (owning, or having).
  • Add s to the end of singular noun to make it
    possessive
  • dogs collar
  • girls shirt
  • If a singular common noun ends in an s, add s
  • The boss's temper was legendary among his
    employees.

12
Possessive Nouns
  • If a singular proper noun (a name) ends in s, or
    an s sound, add an apostrophe only.
  • Chris' exam scores were higher than any other
    students.
  • If a noun is plural in form and ends in an s, add
    an apostrophe only
  • The dog catcher had to check all of the dogs'
    tags.
  • It is hard to endure the Marine Corps' style of
    discipline.

13
Possessive Nouns
  • If a plural noun does not end in s, add 's
  • Many activists in Oregon are concerned with
    children's rights.
  • Everyone was disappointed with the American
    media's coverage of the Olympics in Atlanta.
  • If there is joint possession, use the correct
    possessive for only the possessive closest to the
    noun.
  • Clinton and Gore's campaign was successful.
  • She was worried about her mother and father's
    marriage.

14
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • That vs. Which
  • That introduces essential clauses, which
    introduces nonessential clauses
  • If you use the word "which" to introduce a phrase
    or clause, precede it with a comma.
  • Do not precede the word "that" by a comma.

15
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • That vs. Which
  • Use "which" to introduce non-essential phrases
    and clauses, which can be eliminated from a
    sentence without changing its essential meaning
    (such as in this sentence).
  • Use "that" when you want to use a phrase or
    clause that cannot be removed from a sentence
    without changing its meaning (such as in this
    sentence).
  • Ex. The paper that won the award was mine. (tells
    which one) Vs. The paper, which can be found
    online, was interesting. (adds only a fact about
    the paper) Vs. The paper (that) I wrote in class
    was a winner.

16
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • That vs. Who
  • Who refers to people. That refers to groups or
    things.
  • Example
  • Kristen is the one who made this presentation.
  • The Crimson Tide is the team that makes people
    cry.
  • We go to a school that makes others jealous.
  • The students are the ones who make Alabama so
    great.

17
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Who vs. Whom
  • Use the he/him method to decide which word is
    correct.
  • he who
  • him whom
  • Who/Whom wrote the letter? He wrote the letter.
    Therefore, who is correct.
  • For who/whom should I vote? Should I vote for
    him? Therefore, whom is correct.

18
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Helps avoid confusion
  • Words that intervene between subject and verb do
    not affect the number of the verb.
  • Ex. Growing vegetables is interesting. Vs.
    Growing vegetables are interesting.

19
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Use a singular verb form after
  • Each (is)
  • Either (is)
  • Everyone
  • Everybody
  • Neither
  • Nobody
  • Someone

20
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • I vs. Me
  • If John and (I or me?) get married, we'll have
    two kids.
  • If me get married? NO
  • If I get married? YES
  • Therefore, If John and I get married, we'll have
    two kids.

21
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • I vs. Me
  • He told Tom and (I or me?) to get ready.
  • He told I to get ready? NO
  • He told me to get ready? YES
  • Therefore, He told Tom and me to get ready.

22
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Commas
  • Limit the use of commas
  • Non-restrictive clauses that dont change the
    meaning of the sentence should be set off by
    commas (Ex. The celebrity, who was battling
    addiction, finally went to rehab.)
  • Restrictive clauses that change the meaning of
    the sentence if left out, are not set off by
    commas. (Ex. Fans who show up early win a prize.)
  • Dont set off short titles by commas. (Ex. Vice
    president Dick Cheney did not run in the 2008
    election.)

23
Some Basic Grammar Rules
  • Quotation marks
  • Periods and commas belong inside quotation marks
  • Exclamation points and question marks can be
    placed according to the sense of the sentence.
  • Ex. Did you see The Daily Show? vs. She said,
    Wheres the beef?
  • Ex. My thought was, Who cares? vs. What
    companys slogan is We care?

24
Breaking Grammar Rules
  • You dont always have to use the active voice.
  • Sometimes you should split infinitives. (Ex. I
    cant bring myself to really like vampire movies.
    Vs. I cant bring myself really to like vampire
    movies.)
  • Its okay to end a sentence in a preposition if
    you want to.

25
Commonly Confused Words
  • All right
  • Alternate vs. Alternative
  • Among vs. Between
  • As yet and As to whether
  • Data
  • Disinterested
  • Effect vs. Affect
  • Farther vs. Further
  • Flammable
  • Gratuitous
  • Irregardless
  • Lay
  • Nauseous vs. Nauseated
  • One
  • Secondly, thirdly
  • Shall vs. Will
  • They, he or she
  • Unique
  • Utilize
  • A lot
  • Toward

26
AP Style
  • AP Style is used by most print journalism
    organizations
  • While publications differ, most use a style
    similar to AP Style
  • Writing with AP Style will give your piece a
    better chance of being picked up by the press
  • Only about 10 of the rules in the style book are
    used 90 of the time

27
AP Style
  • Common AP Style Errors
  • Datelines
  • Dates
  • Comma before and in a list of items
  • Titles after names (should be lowercase)
  • When in doubt, check it out.
  • AP Style quick reference handouts

28
Some Resources
  • Grammar Girl
  • AP Style on Twitter
  • Just for fun
  • Unnecessary quotes
  • Funny typos
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