Technical and Business Writing
In English:
An Essential Introduction
S. Kong Wang
Department of Mechanical & Automation Engineering
I – Shou University
義守大學 機械與自動化工程系
Fall, 2009
Part I.
Review of English Grammar
Chapter 1. Articles………………………………………………4
Chapter 2. Prepositions………………………………………...41
Chapter 3. Adjectives and Adverbs……………………….…..91
Chapter 4. Verbs………………………………………………124
Chapter 5. Sentences……………………………………….…177
Chapter 6. Differences between English Writing and
Chinese Writing…………………………………..223
Appendix A. Common Mistakes in English………….……..229
Part II.
Technical Writing
Chapter 7. Introduction to Technical Writing……………..243
Chapter 8. Mathematical Expressions…………...…………254
Chapter 9. Punctuation………………………………………269
Chapter 10. Practical Issues in Technical Writing……..…..286
Chapter 11.
Chapter 12.
Chapter 13.
Chapter 14.
Construction of a Technical Paper…….…..296
Common expressions in technical writing...310
Sentence Structure…………………….……365
Part III.
Business Writing
Chapter 15. Ten tips for writing well in business….……422
Chapter 16. Writing, organizing, and producing your
Chapter 17. Model Business Letters……………….…….515
Chapter 18. Resumes and job application letters……….546
Chapter 1.
1.1 Articles (The Usage of “a(n)”, “the” or “ ”)
Using articles correctly is one of the most difficult grammatical tasks for non-native
English speakers. There are four articles in English: a, an, the, and  (no article),
called zero article.
The three articles — a, an, the — are a kind of adjective. The is called the definite article
because it usually precedes a specific or previously mentioned noun; a and an are called
indefinite articles because they are used to refer to something in a less specific manner (an
unspecified count noun). These words are also listed among the noun markers or determiners
(限定詞) because they are almost invariably followed by a noun (or something else acting as
a noun).
Exercise: Fill in the blanks with a(n), the or no article.
___ old man is walking with ___ boy. ___ man is tired, but ___ boy is hungry and
needs some food. ___ boy has not eaten for several days. He looks thin and unhealthy.
Suddenly, ___ man stops. ___ man calls out, “Would you like some bread?” ___ man
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1. All our kitchen appliances use
voltage of 110 - 117 volts AC.
honest is
secret that keeps our business booming.
Kaohsiung has
air distance between Taipei and kaohsiung. is 340 kilometers.
_ pressure that woman‘s high heel can exert is sometimes close to 10,000 pounds
per square inch.
population of 1.5 million.
6. A long-distance runner must have
strength and
excess of cholesterol in the diet can lead to blocked arteries.
8. This rope can resist
strength of 5000 pounds.
9. Under the right conditions,
bamboo can attain
growth rate of one inch per day.
10. __ electric current (I) is determined by dividing the potential difference (V) by the
impedance (Z).
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In selecting a correct article for ever noun, we must answer four questions:
1. Does the noun start with a consonant or a Vowel sound? (see 1.2)
2. Is the noun countable or uncountable? (see 1.3)
3. Is the noun definite or indefinite? (see 1.4)
4. General Characteristics or Definition (see 1.5)
5. Is the noun generic or specific? (see 1.6)
6. Is the noun common or proper (特有的)? (see 1.7)
7. Some idiomatic usages of articles (see 1.8)
1.2 “A” Verse “An”
“a” + Consonant
“an” + vowel
a human body
an hour
Note: pronounced as (a nhour)
___ FBI agent
a one-hour drive
an objective statement
(a nobjective statement)
___ NATO official
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___ student adviser at ___ university can help ___ student with ___ variety of problems.
___ undergraduate adviser can help ___ student to decide on ___ major and ___ course of
study. If ___ student is ___ honor student, the adviser can recommend ___ scholarship or
___ grant. If ___ student is ___ F student ( ___ failing student), the adviser can help with
personal problems if necessary and suggest ways to improve study habits. ___ foreignstudent adviser is often ___ helping friend to students who have come to study in ___ new
country for the first time.
1.3 Countable and uncountable nouns
It is necessary to decide whether most nouns are countable or uncountable. We can
count books, elements, and hypotheses. We cannot count wood, air, and chemistry.
Uncountable nouns can be made countable in several ways. SOLID and SPECIFIC
INFORMATION have “a piece of “ before the noun:
a piece of wood
a piece of information
a piece of cake
a piece of data
a piece of advice
a piece of furniture
a piece of equipment
a piece of research
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POWDERS, LIQUIDS, and GASES can be made countable by using more specific
words to describe the smallest unit:
a grain of salt
a molecule of water
a particle of sand
a molecule of oxygen
a speck of dust
POWDERS, LIQUIDS, and GASES can also be made countable by containing or
limiting them:
a teaspoon of sugar
a crystal of sugar
a glass of water
a jet of water
a tank of air
a blast of air
SUBJECTS, LANGUAGES, INTERESTS, and other abstract nouns can be made
countable only by changing them to adjective + noun or noun + noun (noun compound)
adjective + noun
noun + noun
a chemical analysis
a chemistry book
a medical report
a medicine man
a Chinese dinner
the China Sea
a photographic plate
a photography course
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Mass Nouns
There is a last group of uncountable nouns, and these may appear to be countable. For
example: You can count dollars or yens or coins or bills, but not money. The word money
belongs to the type of uncountable nouns called mass nouns – nouns that represent groups
of countable nouns.
Mass Noun
Individual example
dollars, pounds, yens, coins, nickels
chairs, tables, beds, lamps
thermometers, scalpels, test tubes
shirts, dresses, pants, suits
engines, bulldozers, sewing machines
stories, reports, bulletins, events
Mass nouns are often proceeded by the determiners some, and they may be made
countable through the use of a piece of:
We bought some new equipment for the lab.
The newest piece of equipment was bought in 2004.
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Dual Nouns
There are many nouns in English that may be both countable and uncountable. These
are called dual nouns. Such nouns may have a completely different meaning in each case:
iron (Fe, an element)
glass (a clear, hard silicate)
an iron (an instrument for smoothing clothes)
a glass (a container for liquid)
“A(n)” Verse “One”
In some cases, the article a(n) appears to be the same as the word one:
Our class meets five times a week (five times in one week).
He lost a hundred dollars (lost one hundred dollars).
She earns $25,000 a year ($25,000 for one year).
However, a(n) is not identical to one in some cases:
He used a pipe. = He used an instrument that is called a pipe.
He used one pipe. = He only used one pipe, he didn’t use two or three.
Exercise: Fill the blanks with a(n) or one.
Because there are many fascinating fields in science and technology, it is sometimes
difficult to decide on ____ major. Should ____ student study ____ subject that is really
interesting, or should the student study ____ subject that will pay ____ high salary? What
if the student is interested not just in ____ subject but in two or three? ____ solution is to
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select ____ combined major (for example, biology and engineering). Many people believe
that if ____ student studies for ____ reason only – money – his or her career will not be as
A(N) Verse  (The Zero Article)
Zero articles: Several kinds of nouns never use articles. We do not use articles with the
names of languages ("He was learning Chinese." [But when the word Chinese refers to
the people, the definite article might come into play: "The Chinese are hoping to get the
next Olympics."]), the names of sports ("She plays badminton and basketball."), and
academic subjects ("She's taking economics and math. Her major is Religious Studies.")
When they are generic, non-count nouns and sometimes plural count-nouns are used
without articles. "We like wine with our dinner. We adore Baroque music. We use roses
for many purposes." But if an "of phrase" comes after the noun, we use an article: "We
adore the music of the Baroque." Also, when a generic noun is used without an article
and then referred to in a subsequent reference, it will have become specific and will require
a definite article: "The Data Center installed computers in the Learning Center this summer.
The computers, unfortunately, don't work.“
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Common count nouns are used without articles in certain special situations:
1. idiomatic expressions using be and go
We'll go by train. (as opposed to "We'll take the train.)
He must be in school.
2. with seasons
In spring, we like to clean the house.
3. with institutions
He's in church/college/jail/class.
4. with meals
Breakfast was delicious.
He's preparing dinner by himself.
5. with diseases
He's dying of pneumonia.
Appendicitis nearly killed him.
She has cancer
(You will sometimes hear "the measles," "the mumps," but these, too, can go without articles.)
6. with time of day
We traveled mostly by night.
We'll be there around midnight.
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Exercise: Write a(n) or  in the blanks.
____ hospital is ____ place for the scientific treatment of ____ sick people. ____ many
modern hospitals are also ____ medical center where ____ doctor can send ____ patient
for ____ examination and ____ diagnosis as well as for ____ treatment. ____ some
hospitals are responsible for training ____ doctors, ____ nurses, and ____ other medical
personnel. ____ hospitals are also ____ research centers where ____ new drug or ____
special surgical procedures and ____ treatments are developed.
1.4 Definite and Indefinite articles
Non-unique Reference v.s. Unique Reference
Every room in this hotel has a window.
(window in general, non-unique reference.)
The window in Room 303 is broken.
(a particular window, unique reference.)
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First Mention Verse Second Mention
The first time a noun is mentioned in a paragraph is called “first mention”. We usually
use the indefinite article for first mention, according to the following rule:
“a(n)” + a singular countable noun (e.g., a book)
“ ” + a plural countable noun (e.g., books)
“ ” + an uncountable noun (e.g., air)
The second time a noun with the same reference is mentioned in a paragraph is called
second mention. We use the definite article “the” for second mention, according to the
following rule:
“the” + a singular countable noun (e.g., the book)
“the” + a plural countable noun (e.g., the books)
“the” + an uncountable noun (e.g., the air)
We submitted a proposal (first mention) to Taiwan Chemical
Company last week. The proposal (second mention) was
prepared by our R&D department.
The nurse ordered a sleeping pill (first mention) for the patient.
The medication (second mention) was very effective.
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____ simple experiment demonstrates how ____ alkali acts on ____ grease or ____ oil.
Put ____ spoonful of ____ washing soda with ____ water in ____ greasy frying pan. Boil
____ mixture. In ____ short time, ____ washing soda and ____ grease become ____
particles. ____ particles unite to form ____ new substance that we call soap. ____ soap
can be washed out, leaving ____ frying pan clean.
(First mention)
(Second mention)
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Using “the” without First Mention
Second mention can occur without first mention if (A) a ranking adjective occurs
before a noun and (B) if shared knowledge removes the need for first mention.
Ranking Adjectives
The rule for first mention and second mention is not required in English if a noun
is preceded by a ranking adjective. There are three types of ranking adjectives:
superlative, sequential, and unique. They all make the noun definite and thus require “the”.
•Superlative Adjectives: The superlative adjectives indicate the strongest form of
Yieh-Long is one of the biggest steel manufacturers in Taiwan.
The event of Tai-Kai inside trading was the most notorious scandal last year.
•Sequential Adjectives: The sequential adjectives indicate sequence in time or space.
They include the first, the second, the next, the following, the
last, etc.
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The second stage of this project is market evaluation.
The following are our associated firms: Acer, IBM, and AT&T Taiwan.
What are the others?
KPI was founded in the last year of the 80‘s. The next year, the student
population exceeded 3000. Next fall, the school’s name will be
changed to Kaohsiung Polytechnic University.
(Note: Next fall means next fall from now, so the definite article “the”
should not be used here.)
•Unique Adjectives: The following adjectives indicate that only one such noun is possible.
They include the same, the only, the one, the chief, the principal,
the main, the whole, the entire, the complete, etc.
Researchers are investigating the principal causes of cancer.
Natural oil is the one product on which the industrialized world depends.
an only child = a child who has no brothers or sisters
a chief
a principal cause = there are several major causes
a main
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1. The Soviet Union is ________ (large) country in the world.
2. Some arctic rocks have _________ (same) composition as rocks from Mars.
3. _________ (first) person to discover the application of penicillin was Alexander
4. The Pacific “ring of fire” is the location of _________ (extensive) earthquake
activity in the world.
5. Kangaroos are ______ (only) animals to carry their young in a pouch.
6. Pollution is _________ (principal) factor in smog formation.
7. ________ (light) metal used for construction is aluminum.
8. ________ (only) child faces different problems than a child with brothers and sisters.
9. A new oil policy is going to be implemented ______ (next) year.
10. An embryo is _________ (final) stage in the development of a zygote.
Shared Knowledge
A second condition that does not require the rule of first and second mention is shared
knowledge. The shared-knowledge rule states that if a noun is identified because we know
that there is only one of it or because we immediately know which one is meant, we always
use the article “the”.
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The sun warms the ocean.
We know which sun and which ocean (the whole ocean, not one of the individual one)
are meant. If we said,
A sun warms the ocean.
we would think that we were on a different planet with two or more suns. On this
planet, everyone in the world shares the knowledge that there is only one sun.
There are three different levels of shared knowledge : (I) world, (II) cultural, and
(III) regional/local.
(I) World Shared Knowledge
World shared knowledge applies to nouns that everyone in the world knows. These
include the sun, the moon, the earth, the sky, the world, the ocean, the universe, etc.
We do not say “the life” but rather “life”, not “the nature” but “nature”,
unless we intend to limit these nouns.
Life is short.
Nature selects the suitable.
the life of James Bond
the nature of a selfish man
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Exercise: Answer the questions with complete sentences.
1. What is the distance between the sun and the earth? (150 million kilometers)
2. Why is the sky blue? (Blue light has shorter wavelength)
3. What is the average concentration of salt in the ocean? (3.5%)
4. What is the diameter of the moon? (3479 km)
(II) Cultural Shared Knowledge
Cultural shared knowledge applies to concepts that everyone in a certain culture knows.
In the Westernized cultures, these include the television, the radio, the capital, the movie,
the theater, the newspaper, the time (that is, the present hour), etc.
Many of these “cultural concept” nouns can also be single items for
which we do not use cultural shared knowledge.
There‘s a good movie on television (concept).
There‘s a clock on the television (object).
I had a good time (an experience).
I don‘t have time (abstract idea).
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1. Answer ________ (phone), please.
2. They had _____________ (push-button telephone) installed.
3. Have _________ (good time) at the picnic tomorrow!
4. Do you have _______ (time), please?
5. If you can’t afford a taxi, take _______ (bus) instead.
6. A car hit ______ (bus) in front of my house last week.
7. They’re building _______ (new theater) next to ______ (opera house).
8. We saw a new play at ________ (theater) last night.
9. L.A. Lakers are playing on _______ (TV) tonight.
10. Put those flowers on _____ (TV), please.
(III) Regional/Local Shared Knowledge
Regional/local shared knowledge applies to nouns that everyone in a certain region or
area knows. These might include the university, the river, the city, the library, the park,
the street, the weather, and the Golden Gate Bridge, if such things exist in a certain region
and if there is only one of each. Regional/local shared knowledge also applies to nouns in
a room or a house. These might include the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, and the
living room in a house; the door, the window, the curtain, the floor, the light switch, and
other objects in plain sight in a room.
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Take the Chung Shan Highway to the bridge.
Left at the gas station.
Stop at the second house on right.
Open the door.
Turn on the light.
In the instructions for the use of a device, we can imagine that an object is in plain sight.
Remove the tape from the box. Plug in the black power cord.
Press the red switch to operate the machine.
1.5 General Characteristics or Definition
When you describe the general characteristics or definition of an object, the object
should be preceded by “a(n)” or nothing depending on whether this noun is countable
and uncountable.
An agenda is the list of items to be discussed in a meeting.
Magnetism is the force that causes iron to be attracted to a magnet.
My niece says she wants to study business.
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Some common types of uncountable nouns are:
(I). Those representing an amorphous physical mass (a mass without definite shape):
sugar, sand, salt, rice, flour, any liquid or gas, etc.
(ii). Those representing an abstract concept: gravity, information, curiosity, satisfaction,
magnetism, etc.
(iii). Those representing a continuous process: pollution, combustion, etc.
(iv). Those representing a field of knowledge: mathematics, chemistry, business,
engineering, etc.
Review of the Article
Use a(n) or “ ”
1. for first mention
2. for general characteristics
3. in definitions
Use “the”
1. for second mention
2. for nouns with ranking adjectives
3. for shared knowledge
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Chart for Choosing the Correct Article
this noun
a unique
Use “the”
Is it a
Use no article
Is it
Use “a(n)”.
Use no article
and plural noun.
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Exercises: 1. ___ ideal machine is one that has no ___ friction.
2. Bill hopes to buy ___ computer someday.
3. ___ effective way of learning ___ business is by working with ___
4. ___ continuing depletion of ___ fossil fuels may be ___ signal of one of ___
most significant long-term issues facing ___ world. ___ impacts of ___
decisions made today will persist for ___ generations to come.
5. ___ newspaper has an obligation to seek out and tell the truth. There are
situations, however, when ____ newspaper must determine whether the
public's safety is jeopardized by knowing the truth.
6. "I'd like ___ glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put ___ glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.
"I put ___ big glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.
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1.6 Generic and Specific Articles
General Description of Generic Noun Phrases
There are two major classifications of noun phrases in English: (1) specific
noun phrases and (2) generic noun phrases. Specific noun phrases refer to actual
objects, people, quantities, or ideas.
Generic noun phrases refer to symbolic or representative objects, people,
quantities, and ideas. Their purpose is not to show a specific example but rather
to show what is normal or typical for the members of a class. For this reason,
definition always use the generic article.
Singular countable
Plural countable
Singular countable
Plural countable
SPECIFIC(first mention)
John bought a calculator.
John bought (some) books.
Add (some) water in the cup.
A calculator is a useful tool.
Books are valuable things.
Water is composed of hydrogen
and oxygen.
SPECIFIC(second mention) GENERIC
The calculator was great.
The atom bomb has changed
our lives.
The books John bought are ---------------------------------chemistry texts.
The water in the cup is
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Exercise: Indicate whether the underlined phrases is generic (G) or specific (S).
1. _____ The lion lives in Africa.
2. _____ The computer is down today.
3. _____ The neutron bomb was carefully placed in the plane.
4. _____ The nurse replaced the patient’s bandage.
5. _____ The lion is lying in its cage.
6. _____ Acceptance for publication depends on the significance of the study.
7. _____ The newest member of the nuclear arsenal is the neutron bomb.
8. _____ The computer is affecting the way we live.
9. _____ A bandage protects wounds while they are healing.
10. _____ The significance of the study was that it proved the existence of volcanoes in
outer space.
Since generic noun phrases tell us general information about groups or classes of things,
they usually appear in simple verb forms, not in the continuous tenses.
Tigers are (were, will be) living in Asia.
Tigers live (lived, have lived, had lived, will live) in Asia.
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However, a continuous form is possible with a generic phrase if it implies cause and
The computer is becoming a fact of life. (effect: “computer society”)
The computer is taking the place of workers. (effect: unemployment)
The computer is helping some students to improve their mathematical skills.
(effect: better learning)
Exercise: Decide whether the subject of the verb in parentheses is generic or specific and
cross out the incorrect verb.
1. Water (is consisting/consists) of hydrogen and oxygen.
2. The dentist (is sharpening/sharpens) her instruments for tomorrow’s patients.
3. “Yellow rain” is a toxin that (is being found/is found) in cereal grains.
4. The dinosaur, as a class, (was living/lived) at the time when flowering plants appeared.
5. Some researchers have found that vitamin C (blocks/is blocking) the beneficial effect
of copper in the body.
6. The depth of a burn (is being measured/is measured) by means of ultrasound.
7. CO2 in the atmosphere (is affecting/affects) the temperature of the earth.
8. In this picture, the cell (is undergoing/undergoes) mitosis.
9. These seeds (are not germinating/do not germinate) because the soil is too wet.
10. Nowadays optical circuitry (is competing/competes) with electronic circuitry in
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1.7 Articles with proper nouns
Proper nouns are names or titles of distinct persons, places, or things. Since they are
distinct, proper nouns occur only with the article the and , never with a(n). As a rule,
names require the zero article whereas titles require the.
President Bush
Mr. Churchill
Secretary Schultz
Dr. Lee
the president of the U.S.
the prime minister of England
the secretary of state
the dean of the School of Engineering
the People’s Republic of China
the Ukraine Republic
the state of California
the city of Taipei
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Proper nouns with the
Proper nouns require the if they refer (1) to certain geographical features (oceans, rivers,
canals, deserts, forests, and the plural form of islands, lakes, and mountains) or (2) to certain
cultural institutions (associations, commissions, libraries, and museums).
Geographical features
the Pacific Ocean
the Yangtze River
the Panama Canal
the Sahara Desert
the Black Forest
the Philippine Islands (the Philippines)
the Great Lakes
the Himalaya Mountains (the Himalayas)
Cultural institutions
the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions (NRC)
the British Museum
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Proper nouns with 
Proper nouns require the zero article if they refer (1) to certain geographical features
(areas, continents, valleys, and the singular form of islands, lakes, and mountains) or (2) to
certain cultural features (holidays, parks, and streets).
Geographical features
North Africa, Southern California
Asia, South America
Death Valley
Cultural institutions
Christmas, New Year Day
Hyde park
Washington Street
Proper nouns with both the and 
A few cultural institutions (buildings, businesses, and universities) occur with the or .
The zero article is usually used when the proper-noun phrase begins with a family.
with the
with 
the World Trade Center
Lincoln Memorial Hall
the Shell Oil Company
the University of California Harvard University
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Exercise: Fill the blanks with the or 
1. ____ Sears Tower in ____ city of Chicago is one of the tallest buildings in ____ North
2. ____ Suez Canal connects ____ Port Said on ____ Mediterranean Sea and ____ Port
Taufiq on ____ Gulf of Suez in ____ Red Sea.
3. ____ Little Colorado River begins at ____ Zuni Reservoir in ____ Arizona, just south
of ____ Petrified Forest, an extensive exhibit of petrified wood. It flows north of ____
city of Flagstaff and empties into ____ Colorado River, which passes through ____
Grand Canyon National Park.
4. ____ Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in ____ northern Tanzania between ____ Lake
Victoria and ____ Indian Ocean. ____ Serengeti National Park lies to the west of it,
____ Masai Steppe to the south, and ____ Yatta Plateau to the northeast.
5. ____ LeConte Hall houses ____ physics department at ____ University of California at
____ Berkeley.
6. ____ Library of Congress, ____ Air and Space Museum, ____ NASA (____ National
Aeronautics and Space Administration), and ____ Department of Agriculture are all
located on ____ Independence Avenue in ____ Washington, D.C.
7. ____ Apple Computer Company, situated in ____ “Silicon Valley” near ____ Stanford
University, competes with ____ IBM and other companies concerned with
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1.8 Some idiomatic usages of articles
(A) Idiomatic structures with a(n)
A few versus few. The phrases a few and few both indicate small quantities. However,
with the article a the phrase has a positive or neutral sense, whereas with the zero article it
has a negative one. The word only can occur only with a few; the word so can occur only
with few and little.
The satellite camera took a few excellent shots of Jupiter’s moon Io.
Only a few elements are liquids at room temperature.
Few animals live at the polar ice cap.
So few patients survived that the drugs banned.
A little alcohol acts as a stimulant to the body.
There was so little water that the animals died.
However, the negative sense with the zero article sometimes produces an overall
positive effect.
Few scientists have influenced scientific thinking like Einstein.
(i.e., he was a great scientist.)
Little time was lost in getting the patient into surgery.
(i.e., the patient was moved rapidly.)
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A quarter of versus half. Most fractions use an of-phrase with the article a(n) or the
number one:
a third of the population
a quarter of the population
an eighth of the population
Only the fraction half is commonly written without a:
half (of) the population
a(n) with how, so, as, too, and no less. Words such as how, so, as, too, and no less attract
an adjective and displace the article:
The doctor did not realize how weak a heart the patient had.
The coil developed so high a voltage that the rods arced immediately.
Alcohol does not have as high a boiling point as water.
The bridge collapsed because it had too weak a superstructure.
Nuclear power is no less a problem than nuclear weaponry.
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(B) Idiomatic structures with the
Most diseases have formal names with the  article:
dysentery (痢疾) hepatitis (肝炎)
typhoid (傷寒)
tetanus (破傷風) meningitis (腦膜炎)
diphtheria (白喉)
However, a few common diseases can have the article the:
(the) flu (influenza)
(the) measles
(the) mumps (耳下腺炎)
Simple ailments have the article a(n):
a cold
an upset stomach
a headache
a broken leg
Body parts are usually referred to with a possessive pronoun since they “belong” to each
human being:
The patient burned his arm.
The child hit her head.
However, in medical English it is sometimes convenient to objectify these nouns, and this
is done with the article the:
In this patient, the heart is still quite strong.
The mouth is covered with sores.
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Adverbial the. Adverbial the is used before comparatives (usually with all) to indicate
degree or amount:
The sun’s brightness makes it all the more difficult to study with an optical telescope.
Radiation in the damaged reactor vessel rendered it the harder to repair.
Adverbial the is also used to indicate a direct or an inverse relationship:
The faster a car moves, the more time it takes to stop.
The higher the birth rate, the greater the population.
The more oil we used, the less there will be for future generations.
The brighter the light, the smaller the lens aperture.
Exercise: Add the where necessary.
1. Hepatitis is a disease of liver.
2. The fog made it all more difficult for the plane to land.
3. An optometrist will examine eyes before prescribing corrective lenses.
4. Higher temperature, greater speed of sound through air.
5. The surgeons redirected the blood flow before they could open heart.
6. Less people smoke, better are their chances of survival.
7. Flu killed many Amazonian Indians, who had no resistance to the disease.
8. The high quality of the crude oil made the distillation all easier.
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(C) Idiomatic structures with 
The zero article is used in place of the when a countable noun is not specialized. This
occurs with (1) time expressions and events, (2) institutions, (3) means of transportation,
and (4) unfocused singular countable generic nouns.
Time expressions and events. The zero article occurs in prepositional phrases with day
and night, season, and meals. However, seasons may also be written with the.
Most people work by day and sleep by night.
It rains in California in (the) winter.
The patient fainted after dinner.
Institutions (instead of buildings).
She went to school at Harvard.
There was not much progress at work.
He goes to church once a week.
He works at home.
Means of transportation. The team traveled
by car.
by air.
by bus.
by sea.
by plane.
by land.
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by train.
by boat.
by donkey.
Unfocused singular countable generic nouns.
Food is classified as carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
Ethyl Acetate smells like banana.
There’s a movie on television.
The zero article also replaces the (1) with a rank, title, or unique post; (2) after noun
phrases with be or a “naming” verb; and (3) with certain traditional phrases.
Rank, title, or unique post.
Dr. Ernest Lawrence, founder of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, invented the cyclotron.
Mrs. Pirelli, director of the institute, welcomed the visitors.
Professor Waters, chairman of the department, presented his latest research.
Noun phrases after be or “naming” verbs (appoint, declare, elect).
Dr. Parker is chairman of the physics department.
The president appointed her director of the Office of Science and Technology.
Certain traditional phrases.
in fact
The center of the earth’s core is, in fact, solid.
in case
Break the glass in case of fire.
at last
The programmers worked until at last they found the bugs.
day by day
The patient is improving day by day.
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Other Rules Regarding Using the Articles
A. Articles with Relative Clauses and Prepositional Phrases
General rule:
“the” + NOUN + relative clause or prepositional phrase
relative clause
the experiment that was performed
the catalog that we sent
prepositional phrase
the project in progress
the air in the mountain
B. Articles with of-Phrases
An of-phrase is a prepositional phrase that modifies a head noun. There are two types
of of-phrases: descriptive of-phrase and partitive of-phrases.
(i). Articles with Descriptive of-phrases
If the head noun is an abstract noun (for example, limitation, study, wiring), the
of-phrase is almost always descriptive and must be preceded by “the”.
the combination of the effects
the precipitation of rain
the mystery of the Ness monster
the view of the Golden Gate Bridge
the discovery of fax machines
the development of physics
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(ii). Articles with Partitive of-phrases
If the head noun is a container, a measurement, or a word representing a piece of or a
part of something, the of-phrase is not descriptive. Instead, it represents the noun that is
divided or contained, and it requires the indefinite article a(n) or nothing.
a glass of water
a tank of fuel
a voltage of 110 Volts.
Pressures of 5700 psi are common at the bottom of the ocean.
a part of something
a ray of sunlight
pieces of information
Some measurement nouns are not always associated with an amount. Such measurement
nouns include the following words:
an increase of 25 % in shipping cost
a result of this proposal
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Chapter 2.
Exercise: Add at, on, or in to the blanks.
1. Is there a black hole __ the center of the Milky Way?
2. The great San Francisco earthquake occurred __ April 18, 1906.
3. The pressure __ the bottom of the sea may reach 16000 psi.
4. Scientists claim to be __ the verge of discovering the cause of some forms of cancer.
5. The time of delivery is one week __ the average.
6. Large-scale machines are usually assembled __ the site.
7. The reading __ a thermometer indicates room temperature.
8. This machine may experience malfunction __ a temperature of -252 ℃.
9. A body __ motion will never stop according to the Newton‘s law.
12. Monkeys typically die __ the age of 13 years.
13. Hibernation in the Northern Hemisphere usually ends __ March.
14. The meniscus is located __ the surface of a fluid __ a tube.
15. We can do these two project __ parallel rather than ____ series in order to complete
them ___ time.
16. The Boeing 747 is 231.9 feet ____ length.
17. The planets ____ the solar system lie for the most part ____ a plane.
18. The flow of a fluid ____ a pipeline can be measured with a venturi meter.
19. A force acting ____ a body produces an acceleration ____ the direction of the force.
20. A projectile moves ____ a parabolic path that falls ____ the midpoint because of air
resistance and gravity.
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Prepositions: “at”, “on”, and “in”
The preposition “at” refers to a position (position in time, place or measure) or to a
location that implies a function.
Position of time, place, or measure
The meeting was held at 1:30 PM.
The computer room is located at the center of the building.
The shipping cost increases at an annual rate of 5 %.
Sulfur melts at a temperature of 386 K.
She is sitting at the desk.
We live at the corner of Main St. and Elm St.
When we were hunting, we shot at a deer.
(compare: We shot a deer.)
Other uses:
at the age of
at the beginning
at a point
at a stage
at a level
at the terminal
at the top
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at the surface
at the bottom
at the end
Location that implies function
The manager is at the lab today.
(The manager maybe inside or outside the actual lab. This sentence
indicates that the manager is doing the things one normally does in a lab.)
The secretary is at the post office.
My husband is at home today, but now he is not in the house.
Other uses:
at the airport
at home
at court
at the school
at work
at the hospital
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at the bank
at the store
In relation to time, the following diagram may help you remember the use of “at”, “on”,
and “in”.
(smallest area)
time: The meeting was held at 1 PM.
(largest area)
day: The meeting is on Monday.
date: We sent out the sample on July 2,1996.
month: in May
decade: in the 60s
season: in winter
year: in 1996
century: in the 19th century
The preposition “on” commonly refers to a surface or a line.
Check the chart on the screen.
Coating should be applied on the surface of a new car.
Building on the fault line is not advised.
We walked to the church on First Street.
The laboratory is on Willow Bay.
We can find a lot of information on the net.
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Other uses:
on the area
on the face (of)
on the edge
on the verge (of)
on the other hand
on the gauge
on a line
on a path
on the average
on the site
on a plane
on a scale
on a side
on one hand
The preposition “in” commonly refers to “containment” or “mode”.
The computer is still in the box.
The program fails because of bugs in the system.
Ozone occurs in the upper atmosphere (a limited area)
Other uses:
in the body
in a thermometer
in a position
in this case
in the ocean
in a range
in the circuit
in a situation
in a liquid
in this problem
in a tank
“mode”: measurement, direction, and action
The box is two feet in length.
Our salesmen are always in motion.
The error occurred in preparing the data.
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Other uses:
in boldface type
in a direction
in operation
in parallel
in a form
in a matter
in fact
in a way
in proportion
in question
in series
in a book
Prepositions of range, starting point, end point or limit,
and time period
A. Range: “from”, “to”, “through”, “between”, and “until”
The chance for obtaining the contract was very good ____ the company got
a financial problem.
The average shipping time of the package is ___ ten ___ twelve days.
The library is open ___ 10 A.M. ___ 4 P.M. on Sunday.
These prepositions indicate a range of time that (1) begins with the object of “from”
and ends with the object of “to”, “through”, or “until”, or (2) is described by “between”
and “end”.
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The contract was valid from March to May.
The contract was valid from March until May.
The contract was valid between March and May.
The contract was valid from March through May.
In these sentences, “from”, “from ...until”, and “between ... and” suggest “up to
the beginning of May,” whereas “through” means “up to the end of May.”
“Until” indicates that at the described time, the opposite action took place; in other
words, in May the contract becomes invalid. The idea of opposite action taking place is
important because, unlike “to, through, or between”, “until” can be used with a negative
verb to indicate a period of time before something begins. With a negative verb, “until”
indicates not a range but a starting point.
The store is having a big sale until Monday.
(Starting from Monday, there will be no sale.)
The computer was not functioning well until Friday.
(Starting from Friday, the computer has been functioning well.)
“Until” also functions as a clause subordinator:
The vibration would not amplify until the driving force has a frequency
very close to the natural frequency of the machine.
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B. Starting point: “since” and “for”
The antibiotic has been available ___ 1938.
Life on earth has existed ___ approximately 3.5 billion years.
Mount St. Helens, which became active in 1980, had not erupted
___ 127 years.
Both “since” and “for” indicate the time at which something begins. “Since” indicates
the name of a time (e.g., Sunday, 1976, 3 A.M., my childhood). “For” indicates the period
between the “name of the time” and the reference time (e.g., four days, 10 years, his entire
The sun has existed for 4.5 billion years.
Steam had existed for many years before Thomas Savery applied it
to an engine.
The space probe will have traveled for 16 years by the time it reaches
Mr. Smith has been in the hospital since Sunday.
since 1976.
since 3 A.M.
since his childhood.
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Mr. Smith has been in the hospital for two days.
for ten years.
for several hours.
for his entire life.
Exercise: Correct the following sentence:
Our company is the biggest computer manufacturer in Taiwan since 1990.
“Since” must be used with a perfect tense while “for” is not restricted to a perfect
perfect tense:
non-perfect tense:
has been (present perfect tense)
had been (past perfect tense)
will have been (future perfect tense)
will be
Mr. Smith is in the hospital for two days.
(was, will be, has been, will have been)
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C. End point/Limit: “by” and “(with)in”
The computerized office automation was completed ___ 1990.
The final plan for the project is due ___ 8 A.M. Monday morning.
The explosion takes place ___ a fraction of a second.
The prepositions “by” and “(with)in” represent a limit or the point at which something
ends. “By” is similar to “since” in that it indicates the “name of the time”. “In” is similar
to “for” in that it indicates the period between the moment of speaking and the “name of
the time.”
Exercise: Correct the following sentence:
The project, which was supposed to be completed by now, will not finish in
three weeks.
(With)in“ does not usually occur in negative sentences.
Correct: The project, which was supposed to be completed by now, will not finish for
three weeks.
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1. The Golden Gate Bridge was completed ____ 1937.
2. Some depressed patients feel better ____ the daytime.
3. The woolly mammoth was extinct ____ 10,000 B.C.
4. ____ the time the reactor was brought under control, most of the nuclear fuel was
5. Organs must be transplanted ____ forty-eight hours of removal.
6. All the fruit must be harvested ____ the first frost.
7. The ambulance rushed the unconscious man to the hospital ____ less than 8 minutes.
8. The medicine should be taken once ____ the morning and once ____ the evening.
D. Time period: “during”, “throughout”, and “over”
The preposition “during” indicates “at some point in a certain time period.”
The student fell asleep during the examination.
The proposal was turned down during the negotiation phase.
The object of “during” must be an event (e.g., the examination, the negotiation phase,
the war, my vacation, the month of May, the year of 1996), not the duration of that event
in units of time. Duration in units of time is shown by the preposition “for”:
I studied there during six years.
I studied there for six years.
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Note: “During” is rarely used with perfect tenses.
The student has fallen asleep during the examination.
The student fell asleep during the examination.
The preposition “throughout” indicates “for the whole time.”
It rains here throughout the year.
The patient was conscious throughout the operation.
Unlike “during”, “throughout” often occurs with perfect tenses, but like “during”, the
object of “throughout” must be a complete unit of time, not duration in units of time.
Mary was an excellent secretary throughout twenty years.
Mary has been an excellent secretary throughout her twentyyear career.
Mary was an excellent secretary for twenty years.
The preposition “over” indicates a repeated or continuous action leading to a particular
The action of wind and sunlight over time can change the complexion
and contour of your face.
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Exercise: Fill the blanks with , during, throughout, or over.
Wolves stay with one mate _________ their lifetimes.
Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park was formed _________ the last ice age.
The volcano continued to erupt intermittently _________ the next several weeks.
No one will be allowed to enter studio ________ the recording session.
Some tumors develop ________ periods of several years.
Ice can develop on the wings of planes ________ cold weather.
Radioactive-exposure badges must be worn ________ the test procedure.
Our planet was formed ________ millions of years from the same primordial material
as the sum.
9. Plants require sunlight ________ their growing periods.
10. The mayfly (蜉蝣) mates once ________ its brief existence.
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2.3 Prepositions of place
The prepositions of place describe relative position (stationary) and passage or direction
Relative Position
(i). Horizontal
Horizontal directions are described by prepositions indicating position and proximity.
1. Position
Line: “behind”, “between”, “in front of”, “along”
A is behind B.
B is between A and C.
The computer is behind the table.
The library is between the theater and the
fire house.
Hold the chart in front of the audience.
There were cracks along the edge.
C is in front of B.
A, B, and C are along the same line.
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“among”, “amid”, “surrounded by”, “around”
E is among A, B, C, and D.
E is amid A, B, C, and D.
E is surrounded by A, B, C, and D.
A, B, C, and D are around E.
2. Proximity:
Monkeys live among the trees.
Faulty products were found amid the
Taiwan is surrounded by sea.
She got a lot of boyfriends around her.
distance between objects
next to
close to
not far from
in the neighborhood of
far from
a great distance from
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nowhere near
The ladder is against the wall.
The heart is next to the lungs.
John is sitting beside Linda.
Crabs live by the ocean.
The eyes are close to the brain.
The switch is near the door.
Coral lives not far from the surface.
Fossils were found in the neighborhood of the mountain area.
Pluto is far from the sun.
This work is far from completion.
The earth is a great distance from the galaxy‘s center.
The palms are nowhere near the snow line.
(ii). Vertical
Vertical directions are described by prepositions indicating contiguity and
1. contiguity (touching): “on”, “on top of”, “underneath”, “beneath”, “all over”
The report is on your desk.
The contract is on top of the pile.
Muscle is underneath the skin.
The patient had scars all over his back.
Her boyfriend is all over her.
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2. noncontiguity (separated): “above”, “over”, “off”, “below”, “under”
There is a clock on the TV.
There is a clock above (over) the TV.
Ozone forms above the clouds.
Position the drill over the hole.
Oil was found off the shore.
Algae lives below the sea surface.
Keep the plant under the light.
(iii). Volumetric
Volumetric relations are indicated by three prepositions: “inside”, “outside”, and
The virus lives inside the cell.
The male lion stays outside the den.
Cancer often spreads throughout the tissue it infects.
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Passage or Direction
Prepositions of passage and direction show movement. They can be described in terms
of either two or three dimension.
(i). Two Dimensions
1. Vertical
The plane flew over the city.
The plane flew above the clouds.
The river flows under the bridge.
The submarine dives below the polar ice cap.
The elevator moved up the shaft.
The weakened patient fell down.
The specimen slipped off the slide.
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2. Horizontal
by (to)
by (past)
A train moves on rails.
The plane flew along the coast line.
The submarine moved up the river.
The boat floated down the stream.
The ions move toward the cathode.
The doctor drove by the hospital to see his patient.
The doctor drove by the accident but did not stop.
The mud from the volcano flowed past the village.
3. Planar
The earth moves (a)round the sun.
The Na+ ions pass across the membrane.
The spaceship has now flown beyond the moon.
The proud father watched the new-born baby
through the glass.
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(ii). Three Dimensions
1. Open
The comet streaked across the night sky.
The bullet passed through the heart.
Particles move around the bottom of the tank.
(i.e., they move randomly and continuously.)
out of
all over
The chemist poured the solution into a beaker.
The young bird broke out of its shell.
The airline flies all over the world.
The cancer has spread throughout the patient‘s lungs.
Electrons move around the nucleus.
(i.e., they move in a roughly spherical pattern.)
2. Closed
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The Prepositions “As” and “Like”
The words “as” and “like” have many different functions in English.
Exercise: Add “as”, “like”, or “such as” to the following sentences.
The nose functions ____ both a filter and a warmer of incoming air.
___ Mars, the planet Neptune has two satellites.
A computer acts ____ both a typewriter and a calculator at the same time.
Jet propulsion is achieved by means of jet engines, ____ the turbojet, the ram jet,
and the pulse jet.
The sun, ____ other stars, was formed from a cloud of hydrogen has.
Many modern appliances, ___ dishwashers, consume a lot of energy.
The first graph is ____ the second except for the shaded portion.
The preposition “as” generally means “equal to”.
The heart functions as a pump for the blood.
(the heart = a pump)
Dr. Smith worked as a research biologist for many years.
(Dr. Smith = a research biologist)
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“like” The preposition “like” generally means “similar to”.
The pineal gland is like a small pine cone.
(the pineal gland is not a small pine cone)
“as” versus “like”
As a nurse, Mary assisted the surgeon in several operations.
(Mary is a nurse.)
Like a nurse, Anna‘s mother took care of her until she recovered.
(Anna‘s mother is not a nurse.)
Exercise: Correct the following sentences.
As all children, young birds depend on their parents for food.
There are several means of crossing a river, as a bridge, a ferry, and
a tunnel.
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Adverbial “as”
One of the uses of adverbial “as” in writing is to indicate a complete idea that has been
mentioned in another sentence. In this case, the subject is usually deleted.
Our company‘s net profit reaches a maximum in 1996, as shown in Figure 1.
(“as” = the fact that our company‘s net profit reaches a maximum in 1996)
As Mr. Johnson has mentioned before, the market trends fluctuate dramatically.
As has been demonstrated, robots do not always perform better than human.
Multiple-direct sale is booming in Taiwan, as will be discussed later.
Exercise: Correct the following sentences.
As Taipei, Kaohsiung has a problem with automobile pollution.
Like in Taipei, Kaohsiung has a problem with automobile pollution.
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2.5 Preposition of a relation
A preposition of relationship relates words indicating relationship between a part and
the whole, material or content, or purpose.
A. Relationship between a part and the whole:
One of her teacher gave her a book.
The book is the best of those she found.
B. Show material or content:
This book is made of wood.
Here is a basket of strawberries.
C. Show purpose:
We bought a new microscope for our laboratory.
This equipment is for determining specific gravity.
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Prepositions with Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs
Prepositions are sometimes so firmly wedded to other words that they have practically
become one word. (In fact, in other languages, such as German, they would have become
one word.) This occurs in three categories: nouns, adjectives, and verbs.
action on
approval of
awareness of
confidence in
division … into
fondness for
hope for
need for
reason for
respect for
understanding of
advantage over
application … to
at … angle to … 與…成…角
belief in
concern for
confusion about
dependence … on
desire for
experiment with
grasp of
hatred of
interest in
love of
participation in
ratio … to …
relate … to
resistance to
success in
transformation … into
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1. Efficiency is the ratio of output of power to the input of power.
2. One of the most important properties of magnets is their effect on each other.
3. We say that force is the action of one body on another.
4. Semiconductor devices have many important advantages over other type of electronic
5. Let us now make an experiment with more than one force acting on the body.
6. Whenever a body moves, it will meet with some resistance to its motion.
7. We have seen many cases of transformation of energy from one type into another.
afraid of
aware of
different from
familiar with
happy about
jealous of
perpendicular to
similar to
worried about
analogous to
capable of
equal to
fond of
identical with
made of
proportional to
sorry for
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angry at
careless about
equivalent to
free from
interested in
married to
proud of
sure of
available to
close to
essential to
full of
independent of
parallel to
relative to
tired of
1. Electricity, with which we are familiar, is widely used in everyday life.
2. Electron devices are very small and light in weight.
3. The weight of a hydrogen atom is different from that of the atom of any other element,
as for example oxygen.
4. The steam engine was the first machine that made power available to industry.
5. Force and work are independent of time.
6. This electrical situation is quite analogous to the corresponding case of mechanical
7. The current through a circuit is directly proportional to the electromotive force and
inversely proportional to the resistance in the circuit.
act as
agree with
apply … to
arise from (out of)
associate with
arrive at
attend to 留意於
attribute to
bear in mind
begin with
bring about 引起
bring up
care for
carry out
compensate for
compare … with
conform to 符合
cope with
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apologize for
ask about
attain to 得出
attest to 證實
belong to
bring out 顯示
change … into
compare to 比作
consist of
apply for
ask for
attempt to
awake to 領會
behave as
call for
check up
confront with
convert … into
differ from
devote to
depart from
dispose of 處置
divide … by
divide … into
exert … on
find out
engage in
fill in
fill out
fit into
follow from
gain an insight into keep with
know about
give up
grow up
impose on (upon) lead to
lie in
link … to
look for
look forward to
look up
make from
make of
make up
pay for
prefer to
point out
put aside
put into practice
put off
prepare for
refer to
reckon up 計算出
result in
result from
remind … of
study for
take account of 考慮到
talk about
think about
trust in
vary with
work for
worry about
1. Most of electric cells change chemical energy into electrical energy.
2. Water is the compound which is composed of two volumes of hydrogen and one of
3. The second law of motion deals with the change in motion of a body when a force is
applied to it.
4. Our physical world consists chiefly of mixtures.
5. The study of electricity is associated with that of magnetism.
6. Inertia is closely related to the mass of a body.
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Prepositional idioms
The use of prepositions is often idiomatic. Here are some examples:
bored of
capable to
independent from
interested about
similar with
puzzled on
bored with
capable of
independent of
interested in
similar to
puzzled by (at)
A verb followed by a different preposition may have a completely different meaning.
•agree to a proposal, with a person, on a price, in principle
•argue about a matter, with a person, for or against a proposition
•compare to to show likenesses, with to show differences (sometimes similarities)
•correspond to a thing, with a person
•differ from an unlike thing, with a person
•live at an address, in a house or city, on a street, with other people
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Unnecessary Prepositions
In everyday speech, we fall into some bad habits, using prepositions where they are not
necessary. It would be a good idea to eliminate these words altogether, but we must be
especially careful not to use them in formal, academic prose.
She met (up with) the new coach in the hallway.
The book fell off (of) the desk.
He threw the book out of the window.
She wouldn't let the cat inside (of) the house. [or use "in"]
Where did they go (to)?
Put the lamp (in back of) the couch. [use "behind" instead]
Where is your college (at)?
Prepositions in Parallel Form
When two words or phrases are used in parallel and require the same preposition to be
idiomatically correct, the preposition does not have to be used twice.
You can wear that outfit in summer and (in) winter.
The female was both attracted (by) and distracted by the male's dance.
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However, when the idiomatic use of phrases calls for different prepositions, we must be
careful not to omit one of them.
The children were interested in and disgusted by the movie.
It was clear that this player could both contribute to and learn from every game he
He was fascinated by and enamored of this beguiling woman.
Prepositional idioms
“as” prepositional idioms:
as an example
as an approximation
“after” prepositional idioms:
above sea level
above all (things) 首先
above the average
above measure 非常, 極度
above the rest 格外
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“after” prepositional idioms:
after the model 仿此模型
after all one’s efforts 盡一切力量
after all
after a sort 稍微
after while
“about” prepositional idioms:
about the X-axis
comments about the software
(named) after somebody 以…命名
one after another 順序
after a fashion 勉強
after the fashion (manner) of 模仿
time after time
book about C++
“across” prepositional idioms:
across a one-ohm load
across a bandwidth B
“along” prepositional idioms:
along the axis of rotation
along some arbitrary path
along the positive X-axis
“around” prepositional idioms:
magnetic field around a conductor
around a million years
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the line integral of B around a closed path
around this problem
“at” prepositional idioms:
at the first glance
at the time of (this) writing
at the point given by Eq. (2)
at right angle to each other
at a later time t = 2 s
at the pole 在極點上
at the center of a circle
at the bottom end
at hand
at the station
at the beginning of
at the expense of
at all hazards 不惜任何代價
at points of continuity
at our request
at a discount rate
at a party
at first appearance
at the end of
at a constant speed
at a time of t
at the equator
at an altitude
at each instant
at a depth about 30 m below
at the meeting
at will 任意地
at a density of
at full length 詳細地
at the market price
at our invitation
at the back of the book
at Harvard University
at full speed
“behind” prepositional idioms:
the idea behind 背後的思考
the principle behind the method
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“beside” prepositional idioms:
beside the question (mark, point) 離題
“beyond” prepositional idioms:
beyond the range of
beyond control
beyond one’s authorization
beyond effort
beyond question 毫無疑問
beyond description
beyond the reach of
“by” prepositional idioms:
by definition
term by term
item by item
by writing
by proper choices
by the yard
by implication 隱含地
sponsored by
one by one
step by step
by experience
by use of
by absolutely necessary
by a rough estimate
by chapters
by mistake
“for” prepositional idioms:
for x > 0
for various reasons
for a fixed value of k
for engineering purposes
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for purposes of application
for variety
for test and evaluation
a formula for the relationship between
for prerequisites
for convenience in
for brevity (simplicity)
for the success of
the highest value for y = x-2
the graph of Eq. (1) for x = 1
special attention for
for the sake of
“from” prepositional idioms:
from Fig. 1
from the fact that
prevent something from
second from the left
from top to bottom
from the result
from this discussion
judge from appearances
from (the) beginning to (the) end
from cover to cover
“in” prepositional idioms:
in practice
in this chapter
in unit of km
in many examples
in the numerator (denominator)
in the absence of
in Theorem 1
in physics
in deriving Eq. (1)
in a similar manner
in the early days of
in different application
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in today’s technology
in the vicinity of f(2)
in the domain (-1, 1) (compare with on the domain [-1, 1])
in summary of our discussion
in handbooks
in the remainder of this chapter
in the SI units
in more detail
in agreement with Newton’s 2nd law
in fact, in reality
in the time interval between
in the same time
in common use
in using…
in equilibrium
in an experiment to measure
in the range of
in preparation for
in acknowledgment of
in advance
in the aggregate 總計
in alternate lines
in (good, bad) repair
in the interests of 為了… (compare with “to the best interest of”)
in the balance 懸而未決
in capsule form 以簡略形式
in consultation with
in contradiction with
in duplicate
in extreme case
in round figures (numbers) 以約數(千, 萬)計
in the final analysis 歸根究底
in full 全文
in generalizing Eq. (1) 推廣
in an infinite sequence
in honor of 記念
in the sequel 在後面
in proportion
in the right proportion
in harmony with Theorem 1 一致
in characterizing the behavior of 76
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in the newspaper
in pen (ink)
in three-dimensional Euclidean Space in South-East Asia
in this notation 符號
in summary
“on” prepositional idioms:
on the left
on the positive half-cycles of cos x
on the order of
on the assumption that
on demand
on evidence
on page 10
on business
on TV
on both sides of Eq. (1)
“of” prepositional idioms:
of the latest design
of long duration
of great moment 意義重大
affiliation of author
the interpretation of data
on logarithmic abscissa (ordinate)
on multiplying Eq. (1) by sin 
on this account 因此緣故
on the (an) average
on the edge of
on behalf of
on pp. 18 ~ 24
on the radio
on the telephone
on a circle centered at the origin
of the total sum
of the first magnitude 最重要的
of little moment
the explanation of the phenomenon
the investigation of this transition 77
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the study of probability
the collection of information
the analysis of variance
the derivation of Eq. (1)
the observation of Fig. 2
“over” prepositional idioms:
over the interval (0, T)
over the air
over 1000 people
a constant over a wide range
“to” prepositional idioms:
to a good approximation
to accuracies of 精度達
to put in another way
to the benefit of
to a considerable degree
120 pieces to a box
legends to illustration
the key to the problem (theory)
100 km to the station
an exception to the rule
the improvement of accuracy
the representation of a mass of data
the proof of the theorem
the citation of the paper
over a range of
over the telephone
over only positive values of N
to a great extent
to the best advantage
to a further approximation
to the best of my knowledge
accurate to 1 part in 10,000
be drawn to scale 按比例
the preface to the book
the answer to the question
200 persons to the square kilometer78
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“under” prepositional idioms:
under certain circumstances
under the conduct of
under constraint
under correction
under the direction of
under … grants
under investigation
under review
under the auspices of 贊助
“upon” prepositional idioms:
upon making use of Eq. (1)
upon inspection of this network
under (a) cloud 受到懷疑
under the consideration
under construction
under development
under discussion
under the influence of
under the hypothesis that
under repair
upon solving Eq. (1) for f(x)
upon the condition that
“with” prepositional idioms:
with reality 逼真的
with the same magnitude and direction
with equality if and only if s = a
with this slight change
with accuracy of
with this approximation
with great confidence
with an effort
with the exception of
with the naked eye
with an eye to (on) 著眼於
with focus on
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with the base 2 二進位
with the help of
with our perspectives
“within” prepositional idioms:
within accuracies of
within the restriction given above
within a given band of frequencies
within the range (bound) of
within the limits of
“without” prepositional idioms:
without preliminaries 直截了當的
without effort
without regard for (to)
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within the limits of validity of Eq. (1)
within this interval
within a solid
within reach
without doubt
without any exception
without loss of generality
Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and another word or phrase, usually a preposition.
Phrasal verbs can be both intransitive (The children were sitting around, doing nothing.
The witness finally broke down on the stand.) and transitive in meaning (Our boss called off
the meeting. She looked up her old boyfriend.) The word that is joined with a verb in this
construction (often a preposition) is called a particle.
Separable phrasal verbs
The object may come after the following phrasal verbs or it may be separated into two parts:
You have to do this paint job over.
You have to do over this paint job.
When the object of the following phrasal verbs is a pronoun, the two parts of the phrasal
verb must be separated:
You have to do it over.
blow up
bring up
bring up
call off
do over
(mention a topic)
(raise children)
(repeat a job)
The terrorists tried to blow up the railroad station.
My mother brought up that little matter of my prison record again.
It isn't easy to bring up children nowadays.
They called off this afternoon's meeting.
Do this homework over.
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fill out
fill up
find out
(complete a form)
(fill to capacity)
Fill out this application form and mail it in.
She filled up the grocery cart with free food.
My sister found out that her husband had been planning a
surprise party for her.
give away (give something to The filling station was giving away free gas.
someone else for
give back (return an object) My brother borrowed my car. I have a feeling he's not about
to give it back.
hand in (submit something) The students handed in their papers and left the room.
hang up (put something on She hung up the phone before she hung up her clothes.
hook or receiver)
hold up (delay)
I hate to hold up the meeting, but I have to go to the bathroom.
hold up (rob)
Three masked gunmen held up the Security Bank this afternoon.
leave out (omit)
You left out the part about the police chase down Asylum Avenue.
look over (examine, check) The lawyers looked over the papers carefully before questioning
the witness. (They looked them over carefully.)
look up (search in a list)
You've misspelled this word again. You'd better look it up.
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make up (invent a story or lie)She knew she was in trouble, so she made up a story about
going to the movies with her friends.
make out (hear, understand) He was so far away, we really couldn't make out what he was
pick out (choose)
There were three men in the line-up. She picked out the guy
she thought had stolen her purse.
pick up (lift something off The crane picked up the entire house. (Watch them pick it up.)
something else)
point out (call attention to) As we drove through Paris, Francoise pointed out the major
historical sites.
put away (save or store)
We put away money for our retirement. She put away the
cereal boxes.
put off (postpone)
We asked the boss to put off the meeting until tomorrow.
(Please put it off for another day.)
put on (put clothing on
I put on a sweater and a jacket. (I put them on quickly.)
the body)
put out (extinguish)
The firefighters put out the house fire before it could spread.
(They put it out quickly.)
read over (peruse)
I read over the homework, but couldn't make any sense of it.
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set up
(to arrange, begin) My wife set up the living room exactly the way she wanted it.
She set it up.
take down (make a written These are your instructions. Write them down before you forget.
take off (remove clothing) It was so hot that I had to take off my shirt.
talk over (discuss)
We have serious problems here. Let's talk them over like adults.
throw away (discard)
That's a lot of money! Don't just throw it away.
try on
(put clothing on
She tried on fifteen dresses before she found one she liked.
to see if it fits)
try out (test)
I tried out four cars before I could find one that pleased me.
turn down (lower volume) Your radio is driving me crazy! Please turn it down.
turn down (reject)
He applied for a promotion twice this year, but he was turned
down both times.
turn up (raise the volume) Grandpa couldn't hear, so he turned up his hearing aid.
turn off (switch off
We turned off the lights before anyone could see us.
turn off (repulse)
It was a disgusting movie. It really turned me off.
turn on (switch on the
Turn on the CD player so we can dance.
use up (exhaust, use
The gang members used up all the money and went out to rob
some more banks.
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Inseparable phrasal verbs (transitive)
With the following phrasal verbs, the lexical part of the verb (the part of the phrasal verb
that carries the “verb-meaning”) cannot be separated from the prepositions (or other parts)
that accompany it:
Who will look after my estate when I’m gone?
call on
(ask to recite
in class)
call on (visit)
get over (recover from
sickness or
go over (review)
go through (use up;
look after (take care of)
look into (investigate)
run across (find by chance)
run into (meet)
The teacher called on students in the back row.
The old minister continued to call on his sick parishioners.
I got over the flu, but I don't know if I'll ever get over my broken
The students went over the material before the exam. They
should have gone over it twice.
They country went through most of its coal reserves in one year.
Did he go through all his money already?
My mother promised to look after my dog while I was gone.
The police will look into the possibilities of embezzlement.
I ran across my old roommate at the college reunion.
Carlos ran into his English professor in the hallway.
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take after (resemble)
wait on (serve)
My second son seems to take after his mother.
It seemed strange to see my old boss wait on tables.
Three-word phrasal verbs (transitive)
With the following phrasal verbs, you will find three parts:
My brother dropped out of school before he could graduate.
break in on
catch up with
check up on
come up with
cut down on
drop out of
I was talking to Mom on the phone when the operator
broke in on our call.
(keep abreast)
After our month-long trip, it was time to catch up with
the neighbors and the news around town.
The boys promised to check up on the condition of
the summer house from time to time.
After years of giving nothing, the old parishioner was
able to come up with a thousand-dollar donation.
(curtail expenses) We tried to cut down on the money we were spending
on entertainment.
(leave school)
I hope none of my students drop out of school this
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get along with
get away with
get rid of
get through with
keep up with
look forward to
look down on
look in on
look out for
look up to
make sure of
(have a good
relationship with)
(escape blame)
I found it very hard to get along with my brother
when we were young.
Janik cheated on the exam and then tried to
get away with it.
The citizens tried to get rid of their corrupt mayor
in the recent election.
When will you ever get through with that program?
(maintain pace with) It's hard to keep up with the Joneses when you lose
your job!
(anticipate with
I always look forward to the beginning of a new
It's typical of a jingoistic country that the citizens
look down on their geographical neighbors.
(visit somebody) We were going to look in on my brother-in-law, but
he wasn't home.
(be careful,
Good instructors will look out for early signs of
failure in their students.
First-graders really look up to their teachers.
Make sure of the student's identity before you let
him into the classroom.
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put up with
run out of
take care of
talk back to
think back on
walk out on
The teacher had to put up with a great deal of
nonsense from the new students.
(exhaust supply) The runners ran out of energy before the end of the race.
(be responsible for) My oldest sister took care of us younger children after
Mom died.
(answer impolitely) The star player talked back to the coach and was
thrown off the team.
I often think back on my childhood with great pleasure.
Her husband walked out on her and their three children.
Intransitive phrasal verbs
The following phrasal verbs are not followed by an object:
Once you leave home, you can never really go back again.
break down
(stop functioning) That old Jeep had a tendency to break down just when
I needed it the most.
catch on
(become popular) Popular songs seem to catch on in California first and
then spread eastward.
come back
(return to a place) Father promised that we would never come back to this
horrible place.
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come in (enter)
come to (regain consciousness)
come over (to visit)
drop by (visit without appointment)
eat out
(dine in a restaurant)
get by
get up
go back (return to a place)
go on
go on
They tried to come in through the back door, but it
was locked.
He was hit on the head very hard, but after several
minutes, he started to come to again.
The children promised to come over, but they never do.
We used to just drop by, but they were never home,
so we stopped doing that.
When we visited Paris, we loved eating out in the
sidewalk cafes.
Uncle Heine didn't have much money, but he always
seemed to get by without borrowing money from
Grandmother tried to get up, but the couch was too
low, and she couldn't make it on her own.
It's hard to imagine that we will ever go back to
He would finish one Dickens novel and then just
go on to the next.
The cops heard all the noise and stopped to see what
was going on.
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grow up (get older)
keep away (remain at a distance)
keep on (continue with the same)
pass out (lose consciousness, faint)
show off (demonstrate haughtily)
show up (arrive)
wake up (arouse from sleep)
Charles grew up to be a lot like his father.
The judge warned the stalker to keep away from his
victim's home.
He tried to keep on singing long after his voice was
He had drunk too much; he passed out on the sidewalk
outside the bar.
Whenever he sat down at the piano, we knew he was
going to show off.
Day after day, Efrain showed up for class twenty
minutes late.
I woke up when the rooster crowed.
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Chapter 3.
Adjectives and Adverbs
3.1 Adjectives
Adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence.
The articles — a, an, and the — are adjectives.
the tall professor
the lugubrious lieutenant
a solid commitment
a month's pay
a six-year-old child
the unhappiest, richest man
If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adjective, it is called an
Adjective clause.
My sister, who is much older than I am, is an engineer.
If an adjective clause is stripped of its subject and verb, the resulting modifier becomes an
Adjective Phrase:
He is the man (who is) keeping my family in the poorhouse.
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Consider the uses of modifiers in the following adjectivally rich paragraph. Adjectives
are highlighted in Italic; participles, verb forms acting as adjectives, are underlined.
He remembered yet the East India Tea House at the Fair, the sandalwood, the turbans, and
the robes, the cool interior and the smell of India tea; and he had felt now the nostalgic
thrill of dew-wet mornings in Spring, the cherry scent, the cool clarion earth, the wet
loaminess of the garden, the pungent breakfast smells and the floating snow of blossoms.
He knew the inchoate sharp excitement of hot dandelions in young earth; in July, of
watermelons bedded in sweet hay, inside a farmer's covered wagon; of cantaloupe and
crated peaches; and the scent of orange rind, bitter-sweet, before a fire of coals. He knew
the good male smell of his father's sitting-room; of the smooth worn leather sofa, with the
gaping horse-hair rent; of the blistered varnished wood upon the hearth; of the heated calfskin bindings; of the flat moist plug of apple tobacco, stuck with a red flag; of wood-smoke
and burnt leaves in October; of the brown tired autumn earth; of honey-suckle at night; of
warm nasturtiums, of a clean ruddy farmer who comes weekly with printed butter, eggs,
and milk; of fat limp underdone bacon and of coffee; of a bakery-oven in the wind; of large
deep-hued string beans smoking-hot and seasoned well with salt and butter; of a room of
old pine boards in which books and carpets have been stored, long closed; of Concord
grapes in their long white baskets.
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Position of Adjectives
Unlike adverbs, which often seem capable of popping up almost anywhere in a
sentence, adjectives nearly always appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase
that they modify. Sometimes they appear in a string of adjectives, and when they do, they
appear in a set order according to category. When indefinite pronouns — such as
something, someone, anybody — are modified by an adjective, the adjective comes after
the pronoun:
Anyone capable of doing something horrible to someone nice should be punished.
Something wicked this way comes.
And there are certain adjectives that, in combination with certain words, are always
"postpositive" (coming after the thing they modify):
The president elect, heir apparent to the Glitzy fortune, lives in New York proper.
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Degrees of Adjectives
Adjectives can express degrees of modification:
Gladys is a rich woman, but Josie is richer than Gladys, and Sadie is the richest
woman in town.
The degrees of comparison are known as the positive, the comparative, and the
superlative. (Actually, only the comparative and superlative show degrees.) We use the
comparative for comparing two things and the superlative for comparing three or more things.
Notice that the word than frequently accompanies the comparative and the word the precedes
the superlative. The inflected suffixes -er and -est suffice to form most comparatives and
superlatives, although we need -ier and -iest when a two-syllable adjective ends in y (happier
and happiest); otherwise we use more and most when an adjective has more than one syllable.
more beautiful
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most beautiful
Certain adjectives have irregular forms in the comparative and superlative degrees:
Irregular, Comparative and Superlative Forms
much, many, some
Be careful not to form comparatives or superlatives of adjectives which already express
an extreme of comparison — unique, for instance. Other adjectives which do not have
comparative or superlative forms are:
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Premodifiers with Degrees of Adjectives
Both adverbs and adjectives in their comparative and superlative forms can be
accompanied by premodifiers, single words and phrases, that intensify the degree.
We were a lot more careful this time.
He works a lot less carefully than the other jeweler in town.
We like his work so much better.
You'll get your watch back all the faster.
The same process can be used to downplay the degree:
The weather this week has been somewhat better.
He approaches his schoolwork a little less industriously than his brother does.
And sometimes a set phrase, usually an informal noun phrase, is used for this purpose:
He arrived a whole lot sooner than we expected.
That's a heck of a lot better.
If the intensifier very accompanies the superlative, a determiner is also required:
She is wearing her very finest outfit for the interview.
They're doing the very best they can.
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Occasionally, the comparative or superlative form appears with a determiner and
the thing being modified is understood:
Of all the wines produced in Connecticut, I like this one the most.
The quicker you finish this project, the better.
Of the two brothers, he is by far the faster.
Less versus Fewer
When making a comparison between quantities we often have to make a choice
between the words fewer and less. Generally, when we're talking about countable
things, we use the word fewer; when we're talking about measurable quantities that we
cannot count, we use the word less. "She had fewer chores, but she also had less
energy." We do, however, definitely use less when referring to statistical or numerical
It's less than twenty miles to Dallas.
He's less than six feet tall.
Your essay should be a thousand words or less.
We spent less than forty dollars on our trip.
The town spent less than four percent of its budget on snow removal.
In these situations, it's possible to regard the quantities as sums of countable measures.
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Taller than I / me ??
When making a comparison with "than" do we end with a subject form or object form,
"taller than I/she" or "taller than me/her." The correct response is "taller than I/she." We
are looking for the subject form:
"He is taller than I am/she is tall." (Except we leave out the verb in the second
clause, "am" or "is.")
Some good writers, however, will argue that the word "than" should be allowed to
function as a preposition. If we can say "He is tall like me/her," then (if "than" could be
prepositional like like) we should be able to say, "He is taller than me/her." It's an
interesting argument, but — for now, anyway — in formal, academic prose, use the
subject form in such comparisons. We also want to be careful in a sentence such as "I like
him better than she/her." The "she" would mean that you like this person better than she
likes him; the "her" would mean that you like this male person better than you like that
female person. (To avoid ambiguity and the slippery use of than, we could write "I like
him better than she does" or "I like him better than I like her.")
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The Order of Adjectives in a Series
It would take a linguistic philosopher to explain why we say "little brown house" and
not "brown little house" or why we say "red Italian sports car" and not "Italian red sports car.
" The order in which adjectives in a series sort themselves out is perplexing for people
learning English as a second language. Most other languages dictate a similar order, but
not necessarily the same order. It takes a lot of practice with a language before this order
becomes instinctive, because the order often seems quite arbitrary (if not downright
capricious). There is, however, a pattern. You will find many exceptions to the pattern in
the table below, but it is definitely important to learn the pattern of adjective order if it is
not part of what you naturally bring to the language.
The categories in the following table can be described as follows:
Determiners — articles and other limiters.
Observation — postdeterminers and limiter adjectives (e.g., a real hero, a perfect idiot)
and adjectives subject to subjective measure (e.g., beautiful, interesting)
III. Size and Shape — adjectives subject to objective measure (e.g., wealthy, large, round)
IV. Age — adjectives denoting age (e.g., young, old, new, ancient)
Color — adjectives denoting color (e.g., red, black, pale)
VI. Origin — denominal adjectives denoting source of noun (e.g., French, American,
VII. Material — denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (e.g., woolen,
metallic, wooden)
VIII. Qualifier — final limiter, often regarded as part of the noun (e.g., rocking chair,
hunting cabin, passenger car, book cover)
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Shape Age
Observation Physical Description
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It would be folly, of course, to run more than two or three (at the most) adjectives
together. Furthermore, when adjectives belong to the same class, they become what we
call coordinated adjectives, and you will want to put a comma between them: the
inexpensive, comfortable shoes. The rule for inserting the comma works this way: if you
could have inserted a conjunction — and or but — between the two adjectives, use a
comma. We could say these are "inexpensive but comfortable shoes," so we would use a
comma between them (when the "but" isn't there). When you have three coordinated
adjectives, separate them all with commas, but don't insert a comma between the last
adjective and the noun (in spite of the temptation to do so because you often pause there):
a popular, respected, and good looking student
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Collective Adjectives
When the definite article, the, is combined with an adjective describing a class or group
of people, the resulting phrase can act as a noun: the poor, the rich, the oppressed, the
homeless, the lonely, the unlettered, the unwashed, the gathered, the dear departed. The
difference between a collective noun (which is usually regarded as singular but which
can be plural in certain contexts) and a collective adjective is that the latter is always
plural and requires a plural verb:
The rural poor have been ignored by the media.
The rich of Connecticut are responsible.
The elderly are beginning to demand their rights.
The young at heart are always a joy to be around.
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Adjectival Opposites
The opposite or the negative aspect of an adjective can be formed in a number of
ways. One way, of course, is to find an adjective to mean the opposite — an antonym.
The opposite of beautiful is ugly, the opposite of tall is short. A thesaurus can help you
find an appropriate opposite. Another way to form the opposite of an adjective is with
a number of prefixes. The opposite of fortunate is unfortunate, the opposite of prudent
is imprudent, the opposite of considerate is inconsiderate, the opposite of honorable is
dishonorable, the opposite of alcoholic is nonalcoholic, the opposite of being properly
filed is misfiled. The meaning itself can be tricky; for instance, flammable and
inflammable mean the same thing.
A third means for creating the opposite of an adjective is to combine it with less or
least to create a comparison which points in the opposite direction. It is kinder to say
that "This is the least beautiful city in the state." than it is to say that "This is the
ugliest city in the state." (It also has a slightly different meaning.) A candidate for a job
can still be worthy and yet be "less worthy of consideration" than another candidate.
It's probably not a good idea to use this construction with an adjective that is already a
negative: "He is less unlucky than his brother," although that is not the same thing as
saying he is luckier than his brother. Use the comparative less when the comparison is
between two things or people; use the superlative least when the comparison is among
many things or people.
My mother is less patient than my father.
Of all the new sitcoms, this is my least favorite show.
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Adjectives with –ing or –ed endings
Adjectives that are really participles, verb forms with -ing and -ed endings, can be
troublesome for some students. It is one thing to be a frightened child; it is an altogether
different matter to be a frightening child. Do you want to go up to your professor after
class and say that you are confused or that you are confusing? Generally, the -ed ending
means that the noun so described ("you") has a passive relationship with something —
something (the subject matter, the presentation) has bewildered you and you are confused.
The -ing ending means that the noun described has a more active role — you are not
making any sense so you are confusing (to others, including your professor).
The -ed ending modifiers are often accompanied by prepositions (these are not the only
We were amazed at all the circus animals.
We were amused by the clowns.
We were annoyed by the elephants.
We were bored by the ringmaster.
We were confused by the noise.
We were disappointed by the motorcycle daredevils.
We were disappointed in their performance.
We were embarrassed by my brother.
We were exhausted from all the excitement.
We were excited by the lion-tamer.
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We were excited about the high-wire act, too.
We were frightened by the lions.
We were introduced to the ringmaster.
We were interested in the tent.
We were irritated by the heat.
We were opposed to leaving early.
We were satisfied with the circus.
We were shocked at the level of noise under the big tent.
We were surprised by the fans' response.
We were surprised at their indifference.
We were tired of all the lights after a while.
We were worried about the traffic leaving the parking lot.
Many adjectives in English are derived from verbs. Adjectives based on active verbs
are formed with –ing. Adjectives based on passive verbs are formed with –ed (or with the
past-participle forms of irregular verbs).
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Adjectives with –ing
Adjectives with –ing are commonly used with objects, materials, or systems designed
to perform a certain activity:
a drilling platform
cleaning agents
a cooling tower
a cataloging system
a marketing plan
They also occur with objects or materials that act or produce an action by themselves:
a rotating star
ionizing radiation
a bleeding ulcer
superconducting metals
Adjectives with –ed
Adjectives with –ed describe an object or material to which something has been done:
a labeled test tube
an exploded view
a machined finish
distilled water
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They also describe inherent attributes or characteristics that may or may not imply that
a process has been undergone:
a colored liquid
an inherited characteristic
a disc-shaped cell
chlorinated hydrocarbons
Adjectives with both –ing and –ed endings
Adjectives usually occur exclusively with one ending or the other unless they are
derived from process verbs. However, a few adjectives occur with both endings:
a polishing machine = a machine that polishes
a polished machine = a machine that somebody has polished
a connecting rod = a rod that connects a piston to the crankshaft
a connected rod = a rod that somebody has connected
Exercise: Write the correct –ing or –ed adjective form of the verbs.
1. The (build) ________ code states that the foundation of this building must be 25 ft deep.
2. An aneroid barometer is based on an (evacuate) ________ container.
3. Many display devices use light-(emit) _______ diodes.
4. The (grind) _______ teeth of modern orangutans use a mortar-and-pestle (chew) ______
5. A weather satellite supplies (detail) _________ meteorological data.
6. The (underlie) ________ principle of fractal-modeled physical processes is still not
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7. A new cholesterol-(lower) ________ drug has been found to reduce heart disease.
8. Some (inject) ________ medications cause serious side effects.
9. Oil is usually found in (stratify) ________ rock formations.
10. The fluctuation was due to a (sample) _______ error rather than to a significant anomaly.
Adjectives formed from process verbs
Adjectives formed from verbs indicating a process have a slightly different meaning
that is related more closely to verb tense. The –ing adjective indicates an action in process
Whereas the –ed adjective indicates a completed action:
a developing cell = a cell in the process of developing
a developed cell = a mature cell that no longer grows
melting snow = snow in the process of melting
melted snow = snow that has melted and become liquid
Exercise: Write the correct –ing or –ed adjective form of the verbs.
1. A (grow) _______ plant needs light, minerals, and moisture.
2. A (grow) _______ man weighs an average of 70 kilograms.
3. Space travel requires the application of (advance) ________ mathematics.
4. An (advance) ________ glacier grinds down the rocks in its path.
5. The (infect) ________ virus has still not been identified.
6. (Infect) ________ wounds must be cleaned with a germicidal solution.
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7. Rocks use (compress) _________ fuel.
8. Diamond and oil are the products of the (compress) _________ action of millions of
tons of rock over time.
9. (Oxygenate) _________ blood flows to the left auricle of the heart.
10. The (oxygenate) ________ process takes place in the lungs.
Adjective compounds
An adjective compound is an adjective that consists of two or more words connected
by a hyphen.
a small car factory = a car factory that is small
a small-car factory = a factory that makes small cars
the red star spectrogram = the star spectrogram that happens to be red
the red-star spectrogram = the spectrogram of a red star
productive time estimates = time estimates that are productive or useful
productive-time estimates = estimates of productive time as compared with
nonproductive time
Adjective compounds with a corresponding hyphenated form are more common. They
express several relationships.
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a three-meter cable (the cable is three meters long)
a 200-horsepower motor (the motor produces 200 horsepower)
a 110-volt outlet (the outlet delivers 110 volts)
Two substances
an oil-water suspension (the suspension contains oil and water)
an O2-NO2 mixture (the mixture consists of oxygen and nitrous oxide)
a copper-constantan thermocouple (the thermocouple is made of copper and constantan)
a U-shaped tube (the tube has a U shape)
a five-sided polygon (the polygon has five sides)
a flat-headed screw (the screw has a flat head)
A verb-object relationship
sulfur-containing additives (the additives contain sulfur)
all-inclusive rules (the rules include all or everything)
a self-regulating system (the system regulates itself)
CO2-generating bacteria (the bacteria generate CO2)
a time-consuming method (the method consumes time)
a cholesterol-blocked artery (the artery is blocked by cholesterol)
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5. A verb-adverb relationship
a widely-used substance (the substance is used widely)
a fully-developed program (the program is developed fully)
a little-known region (the region is not known well)
6. Combinations
a fifty-cycle, high-pass filter
a thin-film, metal-base transistor
a word-identity and card-location code
Exercise: Make the following phrases into adjective compounds.
1. the highway is 5000 kilometers long
2. a reaction is induced by drugs
3. the complex contains copper and ammonia
4. an artery has thick walls
5. this method is used widely
6. a figure has three sides
7. the sandstone bears oil
8. the truck weighs five tons
9. chemicals are constructed in synthetic manner
10. the city air is free of smoke and low in particulates
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3.2 Adverbs
Adverbs are words that modify:
1. a verb (He drove slowly. — How did he drive?)
2. an adjective (He drove a very fast car. — How fast was his car?)
3. another adverb (She moved quite slowly down the aisle. — How slowly did
she move?)
As we will see, adverbs often tell when, where, why, or under what conditions
something happens or happened. Adverbs frequently end in -ly; however, many words and
phrases not ending in -ly serve an adverbial function and an -ly ending is not a guarantee
that a word is an adverb. The words lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly, neighborly, for
instance, are adjectives:
That lovely woman lives in a friendly neighborhood.
If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb (modifying the verb
of a sentence), it is called an Adverb Clause:
When this class is over, we're going to the movies.
When a group of words not containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb, it is called an
adverbial phrase. Prepositional phrases frequently have adverbial functions (telling
place and time, modifying the verb):
He went to the movies.
She works on holidays.
They lived in Canada during the war.
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And Infinitive phrases can act as adverbs (usually telling why):
She hurried to the mainland to see her brother.
The senator ran to catch the bus.
But there are other kinds of adverbial phrases:
He calls his mother as often as possible.
Adverbs can modify adjectives, but an adjective cannot modify an adverb. Thus we
would say that "the students showed a really wonderful attitude" and that "the students
showed a wonderfully casual attitude" and that "my professor is really tall, but not "He ran
real fast."
Like adjectives, adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms to show degree.
Walk faster if you want to keep up with me.
The student who reads fastest will finish first.
We often use more and most, less and least to show degree with adverbs:
With sneakers on, she could move more quickly among the patients.
The flowers were the most beautifully arranged creations I've ever seen.
She worked less confidently after her accident.
That was the least skillfully done performance I've seen in years.
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The as — as construction can be used to create adverbs that express sameness or equality:
He can't run as fast as his sister.
A handful of adverbs have two forms, one that ends in -ly and one that doesn't. In certain
cases, the two forms have different meanings:
He arrived late.
Lately, he couldn't seem to be on time for anything.
The weather is bad.
She sings badly. (not good)
She wants to go badly. (urgently)
In most cases, however, the form without the -ly ending should be reserved for casual
She certainly drives slow in that old Buick of hers.
He did wrong by her.
He spoke sharp, quick, and to the point.
Adverbs often function as intensifiers, conveying a greater or lesser emphasis to
something. Intensifiers are said to have three different functions: they can emphasize,
amplify, or downtone. Here are some examples:
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I really don't believe him.
He literally wrecked his mother's car.
She simply ignored me.
They're going to be late, for sure.
The teacher completely rejected her proposal.
I absolutely refuse to attend any more faculty meetings.
They heartily endorsed the new restaurant.
I so wanted to go with them.
We know this city well.
I kind of like this college.
Joe sort of felt betrayed by his sister.
His mother mildly disapproved his actions.
We can improve on this to some extent.
The boss almost quit after that.
The school was all but ruined by the storm.
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Kinds of Adverbs
Adverbs of Manner
She moved slowly and spoke quietly.
Adverbs of Place
She has lived on the island all her life.
She still lives there now.
Adverbs of Frequency
She takes the boat to the mainland every day.
She often goes by herself.
Adverbs of Time
She tries to get back before dark.
It's starting to get dark now.
She finished her tea first.
She left early.
Adverbs of Purpose
She drives her boat slowly to avoid hitting the rocks.
She shops in several stores to get the best buys.
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Positions of Adverbs
One of the hallmarks of adverbs is their ability to move around in a sentence. Adverbs of
manner are particularly flexible in this regard.
Solemnly the minister addressed her congregation.
The minister solemnly addressed her congregation.
The minister addressed her congregation solemnly.
The following adverbs of frequency appear in various points in these sentences:
Before the main verb: I never get up before nine o'clock.
Between the auxiliary verb and the main verb:
I have rarely written to my brother without a good reason.
Before the verb used to:
I always used to see him at his summer home.
Indefinite adverbs of time can appear either before the verb or between the auxiliary and
the main verb:
He finally showed up for batting practice.
She has recently retired.
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Beth Swims enthusiastically in the pool every morning before dawn
Dad walks
John naps
into town
to keep in shape
every afternoon before supper to get a
in his room every morning
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before lunch
More Notes on Adverb Order
As a general principle, shorter adverbial phrases precede longer adverbial phrases,
regardless of content. In the following sentence, an adverb of time precedes an adverb of
frequency because it is shorter (and simpler):
Dad takes a brisk walk before breakfast every day of his life.
A second principle: among similar adverbial phrases of kind (manner, place, frequency,
etc.), the more specific adverbial phrase comes first:
My grandmother was born in a sod house on the plains of northern Nebraska.
She promised to meet him for lunch next Tuesday.
Bringing an adverbial modifier to the beginning of the sentence can place special
emphasis on that modifier. This is particularly useful with adverbs of manner:
Slowly, ever so carefully, Jesse filled the coffee cup up to the brim, even above
the brim.
Occasionally, but only occasionally, one of these lemons will get by the
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Adjuncts, Disjuncts, and Conjuncts
Regardless of its position, an adverb is often neatly integrated into the flow of a sentence.
When this is true, as it almost always is, the adverb is called an adjunct. When the adverb
does not fit into the flow of the clause, it is called a disjunct or a conjunct and is often set
off by a comma or set of commas. A disjunct frequently acts as a kind of evaluation of the
rest of the sentence. Although it usually modifies the verb, we could say that it modifies
the entire clause, too. Notice how "too" is a disjunct in the sentence immediately before
this one; that same word can also serve as an adjunct adverbial modifier:
It's too hot to play outside.
Here are two more disjunctive adverbs:
Frankly, Martha, I don't give a damn.
Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Conjuncts, on the other hand, serve a connector function within the flow of the text,
signaling a transition between ideas.
If they start smoking those awful cigars, then I'm not staying.
We've told the landlord about this ceiling again and again, and yet he's done
nothing to fix it.
At the extreme edge of this category, we have the purely conjunctive device known as the
conjunctive adverb (often called the adverbial conjunction):
Jose has spent years preparing for this event; nevertheless, he's the most nervous
person here.
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Some Special Cases
The adverbs enough and not enough usually take a postmodifier position:
Is that music loud enough?
These shoes are not big enough.
In a roomful of elderly people, you must remember to speak loudly enough.
Notice, though, that when enough functions as an adjective, it can come before the noun:
Did she give us enough time?
The adverb enough is often followed by an infinitive:
She didn't run fast enough to win.
The adverb too comes before adjectives and other adverbs:
She ran too fast.
She works too quickly.
If too comes after the adverb it is probably a disjunct (meaning also) and is usually set off
with a comma:
Yasmin works hard. She works quickly, too.
The adverb too is often followed by an infinitive:
She runs too slowly to enter this race.
Another common construction with the adverb too is too followed by a prepositional
phrase — for + the object of the preposition — followed by an infinitive:
This milk is too hot for a baby to drink.
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Relative Adverbs
Adjectival clauses are sometimes introduced by what are called the relative adverbs:
where, when, and why. Although the entire clause is adjectival and will modify a noun,
the relative word itself fulfills an adverbial function (modifying a verb within its own
The relative adverb where will begin a clause that modifies a noun of place:
My entire family now worships in the church where my great grandfather used
to be minister.
The relative pronoun "where" modifies the verb "used to be" (which makes it adverbial),
but the entire clause ("where my great grandfather used to be minister") modifies the word
A when clause will modify nouns of time:
My favorite month is always February, when we celebrate Valentine's Day and
Presidents' Day.
And a why clause will modify the noun reason:
Do you know the reason why Isabel isn't in class today?
We sometimes leave out the relative adverb in such clauses, and many writers prefer
"that" to "why" in a clause referring to "reason":
Do you know the reason why Isabel isn't in class today?
I always look forward to the day when we begin our summer vacation.
I know the reason that men like motorcycles.
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Viewpoint, Focus, and Negative Adverbs
A viewpoint adverb generally comes after a noun and is related to an adjective that
precedes that noun:
A successful athletic team is often a good team scholastically.
Investing all our money in snowmobiles was probably not a sound idea
You will sometimes hear a phrase like "scholastically speaking" or "financially speaking"
in these circumstances, but the word "speaking" is seldom necessary.
A focus adverb indicates that what is being communicated is limited to the part that is
focused; a focus adverb will tend either to limit the sense of the sentence ("He got an A just
for attending the class.") or to act as an additive ("He got an A in addition to being
Although negative constructions like the words "not" and "never" are usually found
embedded within a verb string — "He has never been much help to his mother." — they
are technically not part of the verb; they are, indeed, adverbs. However, a so-called
negative adverb creates a negative meaning in a sentence without the use of the usual
no/not/neither/nor/never constructions:
He seldom visits his parents.
She hardly eats anything since the accident.
After her long and tedious lectures, rarely was anyone awake.
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Chapter 4.
4.1 Major tense distinctions in technical writing
Exercise: Fill in the blanks with the most appropriate form of verbs.
1. A small protein molecule _______ (have) a molecular weight of about 10,000.
2. Five hundred pounds ______ (be) the maximum weight that this rope can support.
3. An astronomer _______ (observe) the universe through optical and radio telescope.
4. Technology _______ (bring) problems as well as benefits to humankind. Since
Henry Ford _______ (begin) mass-producing automobiles in 1908, they
______ (provide) us with a cheap and convenient means of transportation. However,
they ________ (also bring) us traffic jams and air pollution. A technological
development that ________ (change) our lives as much as the automobile ______ (be)
the personal computer. Since the 1980s, personal computers _______ (become)
common in homes, schools, and businesses, and just as automobiles ______ (bring)
unexpected problems, so ______ (have) personal computers.
5. Solar-plant engineers hope that in ten years photovoltaic technology _____ (be) cost
6. In 1610, Galileo proved that Copernicus _______ (be) correct when he _____ (state)
in 1543 that the earth ______ (move) on its own axis.
7. Before the discovery of oxygen, many scientists thought that when a substance ______
(burn), its “phlogiston” _______ (escape) into the air.
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The simple present tense
In formal technical writing, the simple present tense is used primarily to express
“timeless” generalization, i.e., general statements which do not specify any particular time
Water boils at 373 K.
I recommend that we continue to use the IBM computers.
Even for events occurred in the past, the simple present tense can be used occasionally to
indicate a generalization or fact that is not restricted to the past or to the future.
The blood test was carried out last week. And the result proves that the suspect
is innocent.
The study shows that there is a potential market in Taiwan.
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The present continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used to describe actions that are actually taking place
at the present time and are temporary.
The sun is shining. (at this moment, temporarily)
The newlyweds are living with her parents. (at the present time, temporarily)
She is smoking. (She’s smoking a cigarette at this moment.)
Compare the meaning of the sentences above with the meaning of these sentences with
verbs in the simple present tense:
The sun shines 360 days a year in Miami. (habitual action, every day)
The newlyweds live with her parents. (permanently)
She smokes. (It’s her habit.)
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Present perfect tense
Exercise: Use the correct verb tenses in the following paragraph.
The Computer Revolution
Technology brings problems as well as benefits to humankind. Since Henry Ford
______(begin) mass-producing automobiles in 1908, they _______ (provide) us with a
cheap and convenient means of transportation. However, they _______ (also bring)
us traffic jams and air pollution. A technological development that ______ (change) our
lives as much as the automobiles is the personal computer. Since the 1980s, personal
computers _______ (become) common in houses, schools, and businesses, and just as
automobiles ________ (bring) unexpected problems, so _______ (have) personal computers.
In addition to problems in communication, computer _______ (also cause) problems in
business. They ______ (create) excellent opportunities for computerized crime. Computer
hackers ______ (use) their skills to obtain secret business information and to steal money.
In addition, banks ______ (worry) that hackers ______ (learn) how to transfer money out
of customers’ account into their own. “So far, we ______ (are able) to stay one step ahead
of the hackers in this particular game,” said a bank spokesperson, “but security ______ (be)
never one hundred percent in any business.”
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The present perfect tense links the past with the present. Use it when the action began
in the past and is still continuing in the present or when it is important in some way to the
present in the mind of the speakers.
The computer age has improved our lives in numerous ways.
(This action began in the past and is still happening.)
I have never used a computer.
(…, but I might still not use one.)
The present perfect is also frequently used for repeated actions in the past.
There have been several cases of credit card theft via computer.
(Repeated action in the past.)
The time words “since” and “yet” require the present perfect tense. When “since” is a
subordinate, use the present perfect in the independent clause (not in the dependent clause
that starts with “since”.
Since Henry Ford began mass-producing automobiles in 1908, they have provided
us with a cheap and convenient means of transportation.
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When “since” is a preposition, use the present perfect in the same clause.
Since the 1980s, personal computer have become common in homes, schools,
and businesses.
Also, use the present perfect in any clause when “yet” is a time word. Do not confuse the
time word “yet” with the coordinating conjunction “yet”.
Time word:
The lack of censorship in cyberspace is another problem that no one has solved yet.
Coordinating conjunction:
Computers are useful tools, yet they can cause many problems.
Present perfect vs. Simple past tense
The simple past tense is the verb form used for an action that began in the past and
was completed in the past. The present perfect is used for an action that began in the
past but is still happening or is still influencing the present. For example, in the review
of a technical report, single isolated studies are usually referred to in the simple past tense.
Newton found that …
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whereas multiple studies, suggesting an on-going sequence of studies, are usually referred
to in the present perfect tense.
Pierce et al., and other researchers have reported that …
Simple Past
I lived in Hawaii for three years.
(I don’t live there now.)
Present Perfect
I have lived in Hawaii for three years.
(I moved there three years ago, and I am
still living there.)
She lived a happy life.
(She is dead.)
She has lived a happy life.
(She is still living.)
They got married in 1995.
(Their wedding was in 1995.)
They have been married since 1995.
(They are still married.)
They were married for a year.
(They aren’t married now.)
They have been married for a year.
(They are still married.)
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Van Ng and his family _______ (leave) Vietnam in 1988. They ______ (wait) in a
refugee camp in Thailand for six months until they ______ (receive) permission to enter the
U. S. Now Van and his family _____ (live) in Texas. They _____ (live) there since 1995.
Before that, they _____(live) in Minnesota, but it ______ (be) too cold there, so they ______
(move). Van’s father ______ (not find) a job yet. When they _____ (be) in Minnesota, he
______ (work) on a dairy farm. Van and his brothers ______ (study) English at a special
school for refugees in Minnesota. Since last year, however, they ______ (attend) the local
school with American children. Van’s older brother is the only one who doesn’t go to
school because he ______ (graduate) two years ago. A big problem for the Ng family when
they first ______ (come) to America ______ (be) the food; they ______ (not like) it. At first,
Mrs. Ng ______ (cook) only Vietnamese food for her family. When they ______ (move)
to Texas, however, she ______ (become) friends with a Mexican neighbor. Her new friend
______ (teach) her how to prepare spicy Mexican food, and chili con carne ______ (be) a
family favorite ever since then. However, they _____ (not learn) to enjoy American
hamburgers yet. Although the Ngs ______ (live) in the United States for more than six
years, they _______ (not give up) hope of returning to their country.
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Exercise: Write two or three paragraphs about yourself. In one paragraph, write about
your education, both in the past and now. When did you start school? How
many schools have you attended? When did you attend each school? What
classes have you studied? How long have you been/were you in high school?
How long have you attended your present school? How many years ago did
you finish college? What did you learn?
You might write sentences like the following:
I started school when I was five years old. I have been a student for seventeen
years now...
In another paragraph, write about any jobs or work experience
you have had in the past.
Last year, I worked for my father in his business.
In another paragraph, write about what you have always liked or hated to do.
I have always loved to eat. The kitchen has always been my favorite room…
I have always hated to do homework. When my teacher gave us…
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Sequence of tense
When a verb occurs in either an adverbial clause of time or a noun clause, the verb in
the main sentence acts like a “magnet” on the verb(s) in the clause, “pulling” the clause
verb into the same general tense. This effect is called “sequence of tense”.
Adverbial clause of time:
High tides occur when the ocean are drawn toward the moon.
Little was known about microorganisms before Jansen invented the microscope.
Noun clause:
The ancient Greeks were aware that rubbing amber would electrify it.
The report stated that the elephant-seal population was increasing.
Adverbial clause and noun clause combined:
Edison tested many heat-resistant materials until he discovered that a simple
cotton thread was an excellent filament for an electric light bulb.
Only when an adverbial phrase contains the word “since” can a past verb be used when
the main verb is in a present tense:
The computer has worked perfectly since it was repaired last week.
The universe has been expanding since it began explosively 15 billion years ago.
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An earthquake occurs when sufficient strain _______ (develop) between adjacent
rock masses.
Berzelius, a Swedish chemist, discovered that when selenium ______ (place) in light,
it ______ (conduct) electricity.
Solar-plant engineers hope that in ten years photovoltaic technology _______ (be)
A fire burns until all combustible material _______ (consume).
Synthetic plastics have replaced many traditional materials since the phenol plastic
Bakelite _______ (develop) in 1909.
Fleming discovered penicillin while he ______ (work) with the staphylococcus
The process of electroplating is based on the principle that certain liquids _______
(ionize) when an electric current ______ (pass) through them.
In 1610, Galileo proved that Copernicus ______ (be) correct when he ______ (state)
in 1543 that the earth ______ (move) on its own axis.
Congestive heart failure is a syndrome that _______ (result) when the ventricles
_____ (fail) to pump sufficient blood to meet the body’s needs.
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Sequence of tense with facts
An exception to the sequence-of-tenses rule occurs with noun clauses in scientific
writing. If the clause expresses a fact or an activity that is relatively permanent, it is written
in the simple present tense (like most facts), even if the main verb is in the past.
Magellan proved that the earth is round.
Watson and Crick discovered that the DNA molecule has the shape of a double
In this case, the past main verb cannot be a verb that expresses simply a personal idea (e.g.,
thought, believed, guessed).
Magellan thought that the earth is round.
Magellan believed that the earth is round.
Magellan thought that the earth was round.
Magellan believed that the earth was round.
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1. Theoretical science began when the Greeks ______ (start) to ask question about things
_____ (make) of and where they ______ (come) from.
2. Ptolemy believed that the sun _____ (revolve) around the sun.
3. Ptolemy did not realize that the earth ______ (revolve) around the sun.
4. Vesalius named every bone, every muscle, and most of the blood vessels in the human
body, but he did not know how the body ______ (function).
5. Johannes Kepler was the first to show how a planet ______ (move).
6. Before the discovery of oxygen, many scientists thought that when a substance _____
(burn), its “phlogiston” ______ (escape) into the air.
7. Jules Verne, a nineteenth-century science-fiction writer, imagined that a rocketship
______ (can fly) from the earth to the moon.
8. When mendel’s 1866 report ______ (rediscover) in 1900, biologists found that Mendel
_____ (make) many important discoveries concerning heredity.
9. Chairman Eijkman demonstrated that a shortage of Vitamin B1 over a long time _____
(can cause) the nerve disease called beriberi.
10. Hideki Yukawa proposed a theory that _______ (account for) the type and magnitude
of forces that _____ (hold) the atomic nucleus together.
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Conditional verb Forms
If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning,
I'd hammer in the evening, all over this land.
I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out warning,
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
Oh, oh, all over this land.
If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the morning,
I'd ring it in the evening, all over this land.
I'd ring out danger, I'd ring out warning,
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
Oh, oh, all over this land.
The grammar of the lyrics uses what is called the conditional. The writer expresses an
action or an idea (hammering out danger and warning and love) that is dependent on a
condition, on something that is only imagined (having a hammer or a bell). In this
situation, the lyricist imagines what he would do if he "had a hammer" — now, in the
present. He might also have imagined what he would have done if he "had had a
hammer," in the past, prior to something else happening:
"If I had had a hammer, I would have hammered a warning."
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The conditional is possible also in the future tense:
"If I have a hammer tomorrow, I might hammer out warning.
. . . I will hammer out warning."
"If I were to have a hammer tomorrow, I would hammer out warning."
And, finally, he could imagine what is called the habitual present conditional:
"If/when I have a hammer, I hammer out warning."
[I do it all the time, whenever I have a hammer.]
The Factual versus the Unreal or Hypothetical
In expressing a conditional situation, we must be able to distinguish between what is a
factual statement and what is a hypothetical statement. (Other terms for hypothetical
could be unreal, imagined, wished for, only possible, etc.) For instance, if we say
"The dog is always happy when Dad stays home,"
that's a simple statement of present habitual fact. A general truth is expressed in the same
"If the sun shines all day, it gets hot."
Statements of habitual fact can also be made in the past:
"If we ate out at all, it was always in a cheap restaurant."
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And conditional or hypothetical statements can be made about the future:
"I will give you a call, if I fly to Phoenix tomorrow.
(In the future, we could combine the base form of the verb ("give," in this case) with other
modal verbs: may, might, could.)
When we express the hypothetical in English in the present tense, we end up using the past
tense in an interesting way.
If you liked tennis, we could go play on the new courts.
(Instead of could, we could have used would or might in that sentence.) The speaker of
that sentence is not talking about something in the past tense, even though he uses the past
tense "liked." The speaker implies, in fact, that you don't like to play tennis (in the present),
so there's no point, now, in going to the new tennis courts.
When we use the hypothetical in this conditional mode, we accommodate our need to
speculate on how things could have been different, how we wish things were different,
how we imagine that things could be different in the future, etc. In order to express the
unreal, the hypothetical, the speculative, or imagined (all those being the same in this case),
English has adopted an interesting habit of moving time one step backward. Two verbs are
involved: one in the clause stating the condition (the "if" clause) and one in the result
clause. Watch how the verbs change.
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If the hypothetical result is in the future, we put the verb in the condition clause one step
back — into the present:
If the Bulls win the game tomorrow, they will be champs again.
For present unreal events, we put the verb in the condition clause one step back —
into the past:
If the Bulls won another championship, Roberto would drive into Chicago for
the celebration.
I wish I had tickets.
If they were available anywhere, I would pay any price for them.
If he were a good friend, he would buy them for me.
Note that wishing is always an unreal condition. Note, too, that the verb to be uses the
form were in an unreal condition. More about this in a moment.
For past unreal events — things that didn't happen, but we can imagine — we put the verb
in the condition clause a further step back — into the past perfect:
If the Pacers had won, Aunt Glad would have been rich.
If she had bet that much money on the Bulls, she and Uncle Chester could have
I wish I had lived in Los Angeles when the Lakers had Magic Johnson.
If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake.
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In this last sentence, note the conditional clause in the past perfect (had known) and the
result clause that uses the conditional modal + have + the past participle of the main verb
(would have baked).
Some writers seem to think that the subjunctive mood is disappearing from English, but
that's probably not true. We use the subjunctive all the time to accommodate this human
urge to express possibility, the hypothetical, the imagined. Frequently, conditional
expressions require that we use were where we would otherwise have used another form of
to be. The switch to were is not the only manifestation of the subjunctive in expressing the
conditional, but it is the most common.
If my brother were my boss, I wouldn't have a job today.
If I were to lose my job, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills.
[Notice how this is more uncertain than "If I lose my job, I won't be able to pay
my bills."]
If I were eight feet tall, I'd be one heck of a basketball player.
[The subjunctive is sometimes to express purely imaginary situation.]
If I should grow to be eight feet tall, I'd be a great basketball player.
[This statement seems even more imaginary and unlikely.]
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Future Conditionals versus Hypothetical Conditionals
When we want to predict something conditional about the future (what we think might
happen), we can use the present tense in the if clause and will or be going + the base form
of the verb in the result clause.
If Jeffrey grows any taller, the basketball coach is going to recruit him for the
If he doesn't grow more, the coach will ignore him.
On the other hand, the hypothetical conditional allows us to express quite unlikely
situations or situations that are downright impossible.
If I boxed against Evander Holyfield, he would kill me.
If my dad had been seven feet tall instead of less than six feet tall, he would
have been a great athlete.
Other Forms of Conditional Statements
The conditional can also be signaled by means of a subject-verb inversion. This inversion
replaces the word "if"; it is inappropriate to use both the word "if" and the subject-verb
inversion in the same sentence.
Were Judith a better student, she would have a better relationship with her
Had Judith studied harder last fall, she would not have to take so many courses
this spring.
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Various Tenses in the Conditional
The following tables divide the uses of the conditional into three types, according to the
time expressed in the if clause: (1) true in the present or future or possibly true in the
future; (2) untrue or contrary to fact in the present; or (3) untrue or contrary to fact in
the past. Notice the one step backward in time in the condition clause.
(1) true in the present or future or possibly true in the future
True as habit or fact
If clause
Independent clause
If + subject + present tense subject + present tense
If Judith works hard,
she gets good grades.
True as one-time future
If + subject + present tense subject + future tense
If Judith hands in her paper she'll probably get an A.
early tomorrow,
Possibly true in the future
If + subject + present tense subject + modal + base form
If Judith hands in her paper she may/might/could/should
early tomorrow,
get an A.
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(2) Untrue in the present
If clause
If + subject + past tense
If Judith worked this hard
in all her courses,
If + subject + to be verb
If Judith were president
of her class,
(3) Untrue in the past
If clause
If + subject + past perfect
If Judith had worked this
hard in all her courses,
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Independent clause
subject + would/could/might
+ simple form of verb
she would/could/might get
on the Dean's List.
subject + would/could/might
+ simple form of verb
she could work to reform the
grading policy.
Independent clause
subject + modal + have + past
she would not have failed this
1. My brother is only five feet tall. If he ______ (was, is, were) a foot taller, he would
be a great basketball player.
2. Tashonda graduated from college last spring. If she ____________ (was not
graduated, is graduating, had not graduated), I think her mother would have told her
to leave the house.
3. I am terribly afraid of heights. If I _____________ (climb, climbed) that tall tree in
the front yard, I would die.
4. Agha Kahndu is a very smart lad. If he ________ (continues, continued, will
continue) to work hard, he is going to be the class valedictorian.
5. This is a perfect spring day. If it __________ (rains, rained, will rain), I would stay
home and study.
6. If I _______ (have, had, will have) enough money, I would get my brother's guitar
out of the pawnshop for him.
7. My brother pawned his guitar to pay his rent. If only I _______ (had had, would
have had) enough money, I would have paid his rent for him.
8. Josie is a lousy cook. If Josie __________ (were to cook, cooks, cooked) her
lasagna for her fiance, he would get sick and not marry her.
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4.2 Passive and active voices
Exercise: Should the following sentences be written in active or passive voice?
People speak English in London.
English is spoken in London.
Exercise: Choose the correct active or passive form of the verb.
1. The earthquake ________ (occur) on April 18, 1906.
2. X-ray ______ (discover) by Roentgen in 1895.
3. Heating the sample ______ (result) in the generation of oxygen gas.
4. Evidence that the whole universe rotates ______ (present) at the symposium last week.
5. Weather forecasters claim that the weather ______ (improve) next year.
6. A microscope _________ (usually compose) of an object, a specimen stage, and a light
7. Thanks to satellite photographs, the earth’s aurora _____ (show) to be nearly round.
About one third of all verbs in scientific writing occur in the passive form. The passive
is a grammatical structure that allows the object of a verb to be placed in the subject position.
Why do we need to put the object in the subject position?
The subject is the strongest position in an English sentence. Therefore, if a weak noun –
one with little information or one that is obvious to the readers - is wasted.
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Look at this active sentence:
People speak English in London.
This sentence is grammatically correct, but the subject is weak because we know that
only people speak languages. The subject is “people” which is a weak noun, and the
strong position is wasted. Look at the passive sentence:
English is spoken (by people) in London.
The noun “English” is a strong noun and is now placed in the subject position. Note that
the weak noun “people” can be neglected since it gives little information.
The forms of the passive in five verb tenses:
1. Simple present:
English is spoken in London.
2. Simple past:
English was spoken in London in the 1400s.
3. Simple future:
English will be spoken in London forever.
4. Present perfect:
English has been spoken in London for years.
5. Present continuous:
English is being spoken in London right now.
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Passive structures with by-agents
Approximately 80 % of all passive sentences in English do not include the active
subject. In the remaining 20 %, many active subjects are included in a by-phrases. The
object of the preposition by is called a by-agent. A passive sentence can sometimes give us
useful information by answering the question By whom? Or By what?
This report was requested by the Lightman Chemical Company.
Decayed teeth are removed by dentists.
The moon is held in orbit by the earth’s gravity.
Food is digested by enzymes in the stomach.
A second reason to use the passive verb form is to keep the more relevant noun phrases
in the subject position. For example, in a paragraph about the different devices a chemical
engineer uses, the sentence might occur:
The chemical engineers use heat exchangers, venturi meters, and other devices to
control the temperature and pressure of fluids.
However, in a paragraph about heat exchangers, this sentence might occur:
Heat exchangers are used (by chemical engineers) to control the temperature of
a fluid.
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In other words, we usually put the main topic of a paragraph in the strong subject position.
Exercise: Rewrite the following paragraph, removing the object to the subject position if
necessary, using pronouns to avoid redundancy where possible, and delete any
unnecessary by-phrases.
Some Uses of Plants
A plant is a living organism. Different parts, each with particular purposes
or functions, make up the plant. Some parts of the plant may be removed
without harming it. Food is stored in the roots of plants such as beets, carrots,
and potatoes. Other plants are able to take nitrogen from the air and add it to
the soil. Scientists call these plants legumes. If they are plowed under, they
make the soil more fertile.
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A plant is a living organism. It is made up by different parts, each with
particular purposes or functions. Some parts of the plant may be removed
without harming it. The roots of plants such as beets, carrots, and potatoes
store food. Other plants are able to take nitrogen from the air and add it to
the soil. These plants are called legumes. The soil under these plants can be
made more fertile if it is plowed.
Agents can also be determined by asking the question How? The main difference
between a by-agent and a how-agent is that a how-agent indicates purpose, intent, or a
desired goal, whereas a by-agent simply indicates that something happened.
(1) The man was killed by a stone. (by-agent)
(2) The man was killed with a stone. (how-agent)
In sentence (1), we understand that the man was killed because a stone fell, or he fell on
a stone and hit his head. The emphasis is on the stone as the cause of death. In sentence (2),
we understand that the man was killed by another person using a stone as a weapon. Howagent are often attached to passive sentences. They are indicated by the prepositions by,
with, and by means of. Notice that by occurs in both by-agents and how-agents.
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When used with a how-agent, by must be accompanied by (1) the zero article () plus a
singular countable or uncountable noun, or (2) a V + ing phrase.
The equipment was delivered by truck.
The equipment came by truck.
A wind generator is powered by wind.
A wind generator operates by wind.
The patient was revived by injecting
Doctors sometimes revive patients by
him with insulin.
Injecting them with insulin.
Water is commonly purified by distilling it.
Desalinization plants purify water by
distilling it.
With is commonly used with tools, devices, and materials. Unlike by, it can never be
used with  plus a singular countable noun.
Teeth are removed with forceps.
Dentists remove teeth with forceps.
The screw was removed with a screwdriver.
Remove the screw with a screwdriver.
Pressure can be measured with a venturi meter. We measure the pressure with a venturi
Houses are often insulated with fiberglass.
Carpenters commonly insulate houses
with fiberglass.
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by means of
By means of is similar to with except that is emphasized the process that a tool, device,
or material performs.
Teeth are removed by means of forceps.
Dentists remove teeth by means of forceps.
Food is digested by means of enzyme.
The stomach digests food by means of
If the how-agent already represents a process, by means of may be shortened to by.
The patient was revived by (means of
Doctors sometimes revive patients by
an injection of insulin.
(means of) an injection of insulin.
Water is commonly purified by (means
Desalinization plants purify water by
of) distillation.
(means of) distillation.
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by-agent (PASSIVE)
By + noun phrase
by +  + singular noun
(or by + V-ing phrase)
with + noun phrase
by means of + noun phrase
by (means of) + process noun
1. The lumber was transported ___ train.
2. Current can be varied in a circuit ___ adjusting the rheostats.
3. The age of the sample was determined ____ the carbon 14 dating method.
4. The carburetor can be adjusted ____ a small wrench.
5. The boiling point of a liquid is affected ____ altitude.
6. Steel surfaces can be protected ____ applying a thin coating of machine oil.
7. Many electronic devices are assembled ____ hand.
8. The television repairman checked the faulty transistor _____ an oscilloscope.
9. The direction of growth of a plant is controlled ____ light (phototropism).
10. The response was measured ______ receptors placed beneath the skin.
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Verbs with active voices only
A fairly large number of verbs do not take direct objects to begin with, therefore they
do not occur in the passive form.
Damages are occurred frequently.
Examples of these verbs are:
consist of
depend on
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result in
4.3 Infinitive structures
He agreed to come. (infinitive)
We recommend choosing the first option. (V-ing form)
1. The vice-president would like _____ (know) if there is any chance on the IBM proposal.
2. A plant must ______ (have) good drainage ______ (survive).
3. The guard did not notice the red light ______ (come on).
4. The gynecologist warned the patient that she had better not _____ (have) another child.
5. Doctors need _____ (analyze) a blood sample before _____ (make) a diagnosis.
6. Some patients agreed _____ (try) the new drug a second time.
7. The psychiatrist refused _____ (discuss) his patient with the reporters.
Infinitives have two forms: (1) with to (the standard form) and (2) without to (the bare
or to-less form).
Infinitives with to
Infinitives with to occur in four grammatical situations: (1) after certain verbs, (2) to
show purpose, (3) after objects, and (4) after certain adjectives.
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After certain verbs
An infinitive verb with to must be used after certain verbs, most of which indicate the
future in some manner. These verbs include the following:
The laboratory expects to have the results soon.
They planned to shut down the reactor if there was a leak.
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To show purpose
An infinitive verb with to indicates a reason or purpose in answer to the question why.
The phrase in order to has the same function, but it is usually considered to be wordy.
Pressure is applied to increase product yield.
(Why is pressure applied?)
Plants need sunlight to grow.
(Why do plants need sunlight?)
After objects
An infinitive verb with to often occurs after objects.
The nurse asked the patient to breathe deeply.
Pressure causes the gasoline mixture to explode.
After adjectives and participles
An infinitive verb with to often occurs after adjectives and participles.
The patient was anxious to hear the diagnosis.
The university is required to release the data.
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Exercise: Combine the following sentences, using infinitive structures.
1. Air or gas expands. Air or gas fills the enlarged chamber and thus cools.
2. It is relatively easy. Somebody determines the exact melting point of a solid.
3. The only way that kidney-failure victims can survive is X. X = They have their kidneys
cleansed or they get a kidney transplant.
Infinitives without to
Infinitive verb forms without to occur in three grammatical situations: (1) after models
(e.g., will, should, must, mat), (2) with the causative verbs let, make, and have, (3) after
perception verbs (e.g., see, hear, watch, feel).
After modals
An infinitive verb without to must be used after a modal auxiliary such as will, can, must,
should, might, or would.
The three rockets must ignite at precisely the same moment.
The probe will leave the solar system in 1989.
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With the causative verbs let, make, and have.
An infinitive verb without to is used in the complement of the causative verbs let,
make, and have. (The word help can function as a causative, but it also occurs with a
normal infinitive).
Let = allow, to make it possible for something to happen.
The doctor let the students look into the microscope.
The doctor allowed the students to look into the microscope.
The engineers let the gas in the reactor escape.
The engineers allowed the gas in the reactor to escape.
Make = to force, to cause, to act upon with considerable pressure.
The government made the utility company pay for the accident.
The government forced the utility company to pay for the accident.
The gravity tides of Saturn and its moons are making some of the rings twist
into a braided pattern.
The gravity tides of Saturn and its moons are causing some of the rings to twist
into a braided pattern.
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Have = to agree to do something because of an accepted condition (e.g., authority, money,
personal relationship).
The professor had the students solve the problem by themselves.
(The students agreed because they accepted the authority of the professor).
The professor asked the students to solve the problem by themselves.
The doctor had the nurse give the patient a sedative.
(The nurse agreed because she is paid to do so and because she accepts the
authority of the doctor).
The doctor asked the nurse to give the patient a sedative.
With perception verbs
An infinitive without to is used in the complement of the perception verbs see, watch,
notice, hear, feel, and observe (with V-ing).
The physicists saw the particle explode as it hit the neutron.
The biologists watched the cell divide under the microscope.
The geologists heard the rock crack under pressure.
The patient felt the tube enter his stomach.
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Perception verbs differ from causative verbs in that their complement can also be in
the continuous (V-ing) form. The continuous form emphasizes the process; the simple
form emphasizes the result.
The engineer saw the oil floating near the platform.
The space scientists are watching the probe passing through the asteroid belt.
The terrified meteorologists heard the tornado crashing through the roof.
The doctor felt the tumor pressing against the patient’s spine.
The astronomers will observe the sun ejecting a solar flare into space during the
next eclipse.
1. A seismograph allows a geologist ______ (measure) the vibrations within the earth.
2. The doctor used a stethoscope ______ (hear) the patient’s heart beat.
3. In this electron micrograph, you can see the zygote ______ (undergo) mitosis.
4. A high-pressure area in the North Hemisphere makes air masses _____ (spin) in a
clockwise direction.
5. The nuclear engineers did not notice the warning light ______ (come on).
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4.4 Verbs followed by gerunds (V-ing form)
Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive with little difference in meaning:
begin, continue, like, start, can’t stand, hate, love
I love swimming. = I love to swim.
We continue reading. = We continue to read.
Example: Can you tell the difference between the following sentences?
Let’s stop eating.
Let’s stop to eat.
Verbs taking “-ing” or “that” complement:
suggest, recommend, emphasize
The committee recommended setting the prisoner free.
My teacher suggested that I study abroad in the States.
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Verbs taking “-ing” complements only:
consist of
instead of
put off
depend on
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4.5 Modal verbs
It is important that the statements you make as a professional businessman or engineer
be very precise. You do not want to exaggerate a claim, understate or overstate a
conclusion, or otherwise make logically inconsistent assertions. One important way of
being precise is to modify main verbs with appropriate modal auxiliary verbs whenever
the occasion calls for it. In technical writing, there are eight such modal verbs in common
use: may, can, must, should, could, would, will, and might. Scientific writing uses these
words in more restricted ways than general English. They are most frequently used to
indicate (1) obligation, (2) probability, and (3) capability.
1. The red cord _____ be plugged in before you turn on the terminal.
2. John drove from Taipei to Kaohsiung, a distance of 330 kilometers, in just 3 hours.
At some point, he ____ have been driving more than 110 km/hr.
3. We have sent out the quotation long time ago. If no further response is received,
we ____ assume you are not interested in this deal.
4. The patient _____ died if he had reached the hospital in time.
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(1) Modals Show Obligation
Since scientific writing is less concerned with moral questions, the sense of obligation
is more concerned with the correct way of doing something. The modals that express
obligation (may, should, must and shall) may be ranked according to the degree of choice
that the human subject (implied or stated) has.
(Maximum choice) may
(Minimum choice) shall
The compressor system may be insulated.
The compressor system should be insulated.
The compressor system must be insulated.
The compressor system shall be insulated.
Textbooks frequently use may with a passive verb to describe legitimate operations. (The
“maximum choice” implies by may is also the most polite form.)
The amount of cholesterol may be determined from a blood sample.
The pressure may be calculated by means of the formula p = T/V.
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The modal shall is used by convention in building codes and design specifications. It
indicates that the instructions must be followed exactly.
The condensers shall be adequately sized to operate satisfactorily from 50 F to
110 F ambient temperature.
The critical speed of the fan wheel shall not be less than 25 percent above the
maximum specified speed.
The various grammatical forms of the modals of obligation are shown in the table below:
----------should not
must not
shall not
may have
should have*
had to
had to
---------should not have*
did not have to
did not have to
(has the option)
is recommended
is required
is required
The star (*) indicates that the action described by the verb did not actually happen or, with
a negative verb, that it did actually happen.
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Researchers concluded that gas stove ____ be used without adequate ventilation.
Cold-box temperatures in the specified refrigeration unit ____ be between - 40F and
For an exact description of the cost calculations, the reader ____ consult the appendix.
Metallic sodium ____ be allowed to come into contact with water; otherwise, it will
react violently.
Patients with acute renal failure ____ be given both antibiotics and intravenous and
urinary catheters, since dialysis alone will not reduce this complication.
It ____ be noted that the deflection of the light ray is a measure of the average density
gradient integrated over the X coordinates.
Vertical bracing ____ be so arranged that the entire width of all walkway areas has a
minimum clear vertical opening of seven feet.
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Subjunctive verb form
Modal paragraphs often require the use of the subjunctive base form of the verb in a
(1) Verbs:The hospital REQUIRES that the blood be filtered.
(2) V-ed:
It IS REQUIRED that the blood be filtered.
(3) Adj:
It is ESSENTIAL that the blood be filtered.
(4) Noun:
There is A REQUIREMENT that the blood be filtered.
This verb form is used only with verbs, adjectives, and nouns that imply a modal.
“Require” implies must which can be deleted in formal writing.
The hospital requires that the blood (must) be filtered.
Other verbs, adjectives, and nouns that imply modals are listed below:
Modal implied
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Modal implied
Example: Rewrite the following sentences in subjunctive verb forms.
1. A radiation badge must be worn in the reactor control room.
2. Researches concluded that the gas stove may be used without adequate ventilation.
3. Patients with acute renal failure must be given both antibiotics and intravenous…
4. Vertical bracing shall be so arranged that the entire width of all walkway area…
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(2) Modals Show Probability
Probability expresses the degree of certainty that something is correct. The modals that
show probability are must, should, may, and might or could, ranging from relative certainty
to relative uncertainty. They frequently occur in conclusions and abstracts where the
implications of results are discussed.
(Relative certainty)
(Relative uncertainty)
The pathogen must be a virus.
The pathogen should be a virus.
The pathogen may be a virus.
The pathogen might/could be a virus.
The various grammatical forms of the modals of probability are shown in the table below:
must not
should not
may not
might not/
could not
(* = contrary to fact).
must have
should have*
may have
might have/
could have
must not have
should not have*
may not have
might not have
is certain
is likely
is/will perhaps
is/will possible
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Some studies suggest that certain kinds of habit learning _____ involve the brain’s
memory system at all.
New methods of breaking the bonds of hydrocarbons such as petroleum ____ allow
the manipulation of the chemicals into drugs and similarly complex materials.
Fleming realized that the bacteria in the Petri dish _____ killed by the penicillin mold.
New data suggest that even a modest nuclear war _____ have devastating effects on
atmosphere and global climate.
If the absorption spectrum of a star includes the absorption spectrum of hydrogen, that
star _____ contain hydrogen.
New research suggests that asbestos _____ be mutagenic itself, but rather enhances
other carcinogens.
The Titanic _____ sunk when it hit the iceberg because it was constructed of separate
watertight compartments.
The rare pygmy chimpanzee _____ be the best living model of the last common
ancestor for apes and humans.
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(3) Modals Show Capability
Capability expresses the degree of ability that something or somebody has. The modals
that show capability are can, could (for hypothetical ability), should be able to, may be able
to, and might be able to, ranging from strong capability to weak capability.
(Strong Capability) can
should be able to
may be able to
(Weak capability) might be able to
The bridge can support eight tons.
The bridge could support eight tons.
The bridge should be able to support eight tons.
The bridge may be able to support eight tons.
The bridge might be able to support eight tons.
The various grammatical forms of the modals of capability are shown in the table below:
should be able to
may be able to
might be able to
could not
---------------may not be able to
might not be able to
could have*
should have been able to*
may have been able to
might have been able to
(* = contrary to fact.)
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could not
could not have*
------------------may not have been able to
might not have been able to
be capable of
would be capable
should be capable of
may be capable of
might be capable of
1. If the cataract operation is a success, the patient ______ see normally in a few days.
2. Spontaneous electric firing ______ occur anywhere in the heart under certain
3. Some astronomical physicists have stated that the universe ______ expand indefinitely.
4. Astronauts ______ control the space shuttle manually if the computer navigation
system fails.
5. Under the right conditions, the moon ______ influence earthquake.
6. This system clearly shows that hormones _______ exert their physiological effects
by altering the specificity of enzymes.
7. We ______ halt the greenhouse effect if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the present
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4.6 Hedging
When reporting the results of their research, scientific writers must be careful to indicate
whether their results are proven facts or probable facts. They do this by means of hedging,
the qualification of the truth of a statement. Hedging is accomplished by means of (1) models
or (2) s statement of probability with a subordinate clause.
(1) Modals
The modals used in hedging are those concerned with probability.
Cancer is caused by a faulty gene.
Truth Probability
98 – 100 %
Cancer must be caused by a faulty gene.
Cancer should be caused by a faulty gene.
Cancer may be caused by a faulty gene.
Cancer might/could be caused by a faulty gene.
80 – 98 %
40 – 70 %
20 – 40 %
5 – 20 %
The modals must, should, may, and might/could indicate the decreasing certainty of the
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Modal paraphrases express the same idea:
Cancer is caused by a virus.
Truth Probability
98 – 100 %
Cancer is certain to be caused by a virus.
Cancer is likely to be caused by a virus.
Cancer is perhaps caused by a virus.
Cancer is possibly caused by a virus.
80 – 98 %
40 – 70 %
20 – 40 %
5 – 20 %
(2) Statement of probability with a subordinate clause
One way to diminish the boldness of an assertion is to subordinate it. This can be done
with (a) a that-clause or (b) a passive-infinitive structure.
(a) That-clauses
That-clauses that show hedging are commonly attached to main clauses beginning with
there or it.
Intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.
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There is ahigh probability
that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.
good possibility
slight possibility
remote possibility
It is
highly possible
that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.
quite possible
remotely possible
(b) Passive-infinitive structures
Infinitive structures that show hedging are commonly attached to main clauses with a
passive verb of human cognition.
Certain people are able to communicate telepathically.
Certain people are known to be able to communicate telepathically.
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Chapter 5.
5.1 Relative clauses
Sentences are in general composed of clauses and phrases. A clause is a part of a
sentence that has a subject and a verb. A phrase is a part of a sentence that has no verb
(or no subject, in the case of a verb phrase)
Relative clause:
which I sent out yesterday Preposition phrase: in the library
Embedded question: what the doctor said
noun phrase:
a bank teller
Noun clause:
that the cost covers
verb phrase:
must have gone
to lunch
Main clauses and subordinate clauses
A sentence may be written in a form which contains two components: (1) the main
sentence and (2) the clause sentence. The main sentence is also called main clause and
clause sentence is called the subordinate clause. We usually make the “more important”
sentence the main clause and the “less important” sentence the subordinate clause. In
sentences that are concerned with causes and effects, the effect or result of a process
must be the main clause while the cause or conditions must be subordinate clause.
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Paint contains lead.
Paint is poisonous.
Paint that contains lead is poisonous.
Here we make “that contains lead” the subordinate since it is relatively less important
comparing to the main clause “Paint is poisonous.” If we switch the positions, we
would get the sentence:
Paint that is poisonous contains lead.
This sentence is not logically true. (Why? Can other substances contaminate paint?)
Exercise: Correct the following sentences.
1. Glass that can be blown into various shapes is melted.
2. Metal pipes that become severely corroded transport salt water.
3. People tend to believe in Song Chi Li have less education.
4. Applicants who were turned down did not pass the physical examination.
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Relative clauses:
A relative clause is a clause (or phrase) that is attached to a noun and serves to
narrow the class of possible referents for the noun. Relative clauses typically begin with
a relative pronoun (which, that, who, etc.), and sometimes the relative pronoun is omitted.
Relative clauses are a very useful tool for adding precision to one’s writing.
Defining relative clause
The differentiating characteristics of a definition usually begin with the word that. A
definition is really two sentences that have been combined:
A thermometer is an instrument.
(main sentence)
An instrument measures temperature.
(clause sentence)
A thermometer is an instrument that measures temperature.
Defining relative clauses are not only used in definitions. They are used in any
sentence in which we want to give necessary information about a noun.
Pictures that showed the rings of Saturn were presented.
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In a definition, it is possible to use the relative pronoun that for both things and
human beings:
A circuit is a complete path that can be followed by an electric current.
A pediatrician is a doctor that attends to children.
However, in defining relative clause sentences that are not definitions, we usually use the
relative pronoun who or whom for human beings, especially when there is a personal
The student who sits next to me is an engineer.
The man whom they met was studying mathematics.
Who is the only relative pronoun that has a subject form (who) and an object form
The patient is undergoing chemotherapy.
(main sentence)
The patient spoke to us.
(clause sentence)
The patient who spoke to us is undergoing chemotherapy.
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The patient is undergoing chemotherapy.
(main sentence)
Dr. Smith examined the patient.
(clause sentence)
The patient whom Dr. Smith examined is undergoing chemotherapy.
Exercise: Use the correct relative pronoun – that, who, whom – to the following sentences:
1. A paleontologist is a person _____ studies fossils.
2. The textbook _____ we use in this class costs twenty-five dollars.
3. Our office needs somebody _____ can type at least 100 word a minutes.
4. The people _____ need help the most are those _____ have no food or shelter.
5. My cousin _____ studies at UCLA is investigating the great galaxy in Andromeda.
6. The software _____ we really need is a word-processing program.
7. The woman _____ he heard at the conference is a well-known particle physicist.
8. Men and women _____ attend to patients in hospital are called nurses.
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Grammatical rules of relative clauses
Positioning the relative clause
Rule 1: Put the relative clause directly behind the noun it modifies.
The energy is not lost which is consumed in overcoming friction is
converted into heat.
The energy which is consumed in overcoming friction is converted
into heat.
Exceptions to the rule are allowed in case where the rule would produce a confusing
A large computer can do computations in one second that it would
take years to do manually.
Heading the relative clause with a relative pronoun
Rule 2: Make sure there is a relative pronoun at the head of the relative clause.
A manometer is a device is used to measure fluid velocities.
A manometer is a device which is used to measure fluid velocities.
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If a relative clause contains a verb with a preposition, the preposition must be moved
in front of the relative clause.
The substance is latex.
Rubber is made from the substance.
The substance from which rubber is made is latex.
This preposition movement is possible only with the relative pronouns “which” or
“whom”. If the relative pronoun “that” has been used, it must be changed to “which”
before the preposition can be moved.
The substance that rubber is made from is latex.
The substance from that rubber is made is latex.
Avoiding a duplicate pronoun
Rule 3: Make sure you do not have a second pronoun duplicating the role of the relative
The energy which it is consumed in overcoming friction is not lost.
The fax concept which XXX devised it in the 80s turned out to be a
major step in telecommunication.
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Substituting “that” for “which”
Rule 4: You may substitute “that” for “which” if it is not proceeded by a preposition.
The energy which (that) is consumed in overcoming friction is not lost.
Incorrect: The Industrial Revolution was a period in history in that machines started to
replace human labor.
Nondefining relative clause
A nondefining relative clause simply gives additional information about the noun it
refers. It does not limit the noun, like a defining relative clause does. A nondefining
relative clause is distinguished from a defining one by the use of commas.
Defining relative clause
The monitor that has a large screen was manufactured by Acer.
(This sentence gives us two pieces of information: (1) the monitor has a large
screen, and (2) there must be more than one monitor present – otherwise
there would be no need to define it, I.e., we would just say, “The monitor was
manufactured by Acer.”)
Nondefining relative clause
The computer, which I bought last week, is not functioning well.
(In this case, although there could be other computers in the room, the writer
tells us by using commas that he or she is concerned only with this computer.
We have no reason to imagine the presence of any other computers.)
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Rule 5: A nondefining relative clause is always used if the head noun is a proper noun.
Proper nouns are names or titles of distinct persons, place, or things.
Professor Smith, who is well know for his medical research, gave a lecture last
Kaohsiung Polytechnic Institute, which is located in Ta-Shu, will change its
name to I – Shou University.
Note: You will often see “which” used in both defining and nondefining relative clauses.
However, you will never see “that” used with a nondefining relative clause.
Exercise: Correct the following sentences if necessary.
1. The minerals that the human body requires are usually obtained from plants.
2. The Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory which is located near the University of California
was established in 1936.
3. Transistors which are really tiny amplifiers use little power.
4. People who smoke have reduced life expectancies.
5. Vega that is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra may be generating a solar
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Using the –ing form
Rule 6: If the relative clause begins with a relative pronoun and a main verb (i.e.,
nonauxiliary verb), you may omit the relative pronoun and change the verb to its “ing” form.
People who invest (investing) money on Taiwan stock market find it almost
impossible to predict the occurrence of external factors which include
(including) the military threat from China.
This rule cannot be applied if the verb following the relative pronoun is an auxiliary verb,
i.e., any form of the verb “to be”, any modal verbs (can, may, would, etc.), or any
form of the verb “to have” when it is used as an auxiliary.
Exercise: Correct the following sentences if necessary.
1. An agenda is a list of items being discussed during a meeting.
2. The murder case having a strong influence on Taiwan taxi business is still under
3. It is impossible to understand flow dispersion without first considering the theory
developed by Zuber having spent almost all his life in the study of two-phase fluid
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Omitting the relative pronoun and auxiliary verb
Rule 6: If the relative clause begins with a relative pronoun and some form of the
auxiliary verb “to be” followed by a verb phrase, you may omit the relative pronoun and
The energy (that is) consumed in overcoming friction is not lost but is converted
into heat.
In other word, you can omit any combination of relative pronoun and form of the verb “to
which is
who is
which are
that was
that are
provided it is not immediately followed by a noun phrase or adjective phrase.
Exercise: Correct the following sentence.
The teacher sick last week has returned to school.
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Omitting the relative pronoun
Rule 7: If the relative clause begins with a relative pronoun and another pronoun (i.e., I,
we, you, etc.), you may omit the relative pronoun.
The free market system (that) we are all familiar with is increasing under
5.2 Sentence combining
Why do we need to combine sentences?
The cup fell. It did not break.
These sentences do not have any grammatical error in this example. However, do
they sound boring or monotonous?
The cup fell, but it did not break.
The cup fell; however, it did not break.
The cup fell. However, it did not break.
Do they sound better or do they give the reader a more lively feeling?
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Coordination and subordination are the two major ways in which sentences are
combined in English. If we want to show that two clauses have equal importance, we join
them with coordinators. These include (1) the conjunctions (e.g., and, but, yet, or, for, and
so) and (2) the conjunctive adverbs, also known as sentence connectors (e.g., in addition,
however, therefore). The sentence connectors, like many other adverbs in English, can
take several position.
1. before subject: John studies math; however, Mary studies law.
2. after subject:
John studies math; Mary, however, studies law.
3. End of sentence: John studies math; Mary studies law, however.
It is much more common in English to show that one clause is more important than
another. To do this, we join the clauses with clause subordinators. The clause
subordinators include (3) the relative pronoun and (4) the subordinating adverbs (e.g.,
although, because, when).
The beaker that fell did not break.
Although the beaker fell, it did not break.
The beaker did not break even though (not even) it fell.
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We can also show that a clause is more important than a noun phrase in the same
sentence. To do this, we join the clause and the noun phrase with a phrase subordinator.
The phrase subordinators include (1) the complex prepositions, (e.g., in spite of, in case of,
due to) and (2) other words (e.g., not to mention, baring, until)
The beaker did not break despite its fall.
Coordinators and subordinators can be divided into four major groups, based on the
logical relationship they show: (I) the AND group, (II) the BUT group, (III) the SO group,
and (IV) the TIME group.
I. The AND group
Several words show the AND relationship between two sentences. The different forms
of AND include addition, explanation, condition, listing, choice, summation, and transition.
Addition: _ and _
Addition words indicate (1) more information, (2) surprising or unexpected information,
or (3) a general or specific statement about the previous sentence.
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More information
Different idea
Same idea
in addition
in the same way
Dams control floods; in addition, they provide farmers with irrigation.
The moon orbits the earth; similarly, the earth orbits the sun.
Clause subordinators:
Different idea
Same idea
in addition to the fact that
in the same way as much as
Dams control floods in addition to the fact that they provide farmers with
The moon orbits the earth in the same way as the earth orbits the sun.
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Phrase subordinators:
Different idea
Same idea
in addition to
----------as well as
Dams control floods in addition to providing farmers with irrigation.
Surprising or unexpected information
what is more
in fact
not only that
The rain ruined the crops; furthermore, it washed out several bridges.
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Clause subordinators:
not to mention the fact that
The rain ruined the crops, not to mention the fact that it washed out several
Phrase subordinators:
not to mention
The rain washed out the highway, not to mention several bridge.
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General or specific information about the previous sentence
in fact
in fact
as a matter of fact
as a mater of fact
in general
to be specific
generally speaking
in particular
Bromine replaces a hydrogen atom; in fact, all halogenation reactions occur in
this way.
Halogens are added to the compound; to be specific, a chlorine replaces a
hydrogen atom.
Research is being done in this area; as a matter of fact, Dr. Kalil is starting a
new project next year.
Clause subordinators: --------3.
Phrase subordinators: --------chapter 5
Explanation: _ = _
Explanation words indicate that the ides in the first sentence is defined or made clearer
in the second sentence.
in other words
that is to say
that is
i.e. (from Latin id est, meaning “that is”)
to be precise
put more simply
The tree is deciduous; in other words, it loses its leaves every year.
Clause subordinators:
by which (we) mean that
by which is meant that
the meaning being (that)
The tree is deciduous, by which is meant that it loses its leaves every year.
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Condition: if _ then _ (_, or _)
Condition words indicate that the second sentence will or will not occur if the first
sentence is true.
in that case
in this case
if not
in other words
The fault slips; in that case, an earthquake occurs.
The pressure is released; otherwise, the reactor will explode.
Clause subordinators:
in the event that
provided (that)
as long as
whether or not
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If the fault slips, an earth occurs.
The reactor will explode unless the pressure is released.
Phrase subordinators:
in case of
in the event of
The sprinklers are activated in the event of fire.
The old building will stand, barring a strong earthquake.
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Listing: _ _ _ _
Listing words indicate a series of words or sentences that support a point or give
in the first place
in the second place
(even) more importantly finally
for example
for instance
The space mission should not continue. In the first place, the rocket has not
been adequately tested. Moreover, the outer surface of the capsule might burn
up in the atmosphere. Even more importantly, the astronauts’ air supply
malfunctioned twice on the last mission.
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Clause subordinators:
for example
for instance
e.g. (from Latin exempli gratia, meaning “for example”)
Not all trees are deciduous, e.g., evergreen trees never lose their leaves.
Phrase subordinators:
such as
for example
Some element, such as bromine and mercury, are liquids at room temperature.
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Choice: _ or _
Choice words indicate that the idea in the first sentence can be placed by the idea in
the second.
on the other hand
The medication can be injected, on the other hand, it can be given
Clause subordinators: ----------------3.
Phrase subordinators: -----------------
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Summation: _ _ _ _
Summation words indicate that the last sentence summarizes the idea in the previous
in conclusion
to conclude
in summary
to summarize
in brief
to be brief
in a word
in short
The rocket was tested and retested, subjected to all manner of stresses, and
flown unmanned into space. In short, all precautions were taken to insure the
safety of the astronauts.
Clause subordinators: ------------------3.
Phase subordinators: --------------------
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Transition: _
Transition words indicate (1) that a new aspect of the topic will be discussed or (2) that
an unrelated topic will be discussed.
New aspect of topic
Unrelated topic
by the way
(Earlier mention of DNA.) Now in DNA, the replication process pairs
opposition bases.
Fluorine reacts explosively with water; incidentally, so does metallic sodium.
Clause subordinators: -----------3.
Phrase subordinators:
New aspect of topic
Unrelated topic
in regard to
in reference to
with respect to
Example: The reporter said nothing in regard to the acid-rain problem.
With respect to the weather,
predict mild temperature.202
Exercise: Fill the blanks with AND-group coordinators.
1. Earthquakes can cause the land to shake, _________ , they sometimes trigger huge
waves called tsunamis or tidal waves.
2. Uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years; ________________, it takes 4.5 billion
years for half the atoms in a mass of radioactive uranium to decay to lead (Pb).
3. We followed normal procedures when the patient complained of chest pain.
_______, we measure the heart and pulse rate. _________ we administrated an
electrocardiagram. _________, we had the patient undergo a stress-exercise test.
4. Under some circumstances, light is considered to be a wave; _________, there are
conditions under which light behaves as discrete “packet” or quanta.
5. The sun is a very strong source of radio waves; ________, there was a very good
program on the radio last night.
6. An iceberg floats on water; __________, the continents float on magma, or liquid
7. In the Jurassic era, dinosaurs live on land, in swamps and rivers, and in the air;
______, there were even oceangoing types.
8. Most computers require a maximum operating temperature of 85 F; ________, the
chips can overheat, causing storage errors and other problems.
9. Contrary to popular opinion, ostriches do not eat metal, _______, they do not bury
their heads in the sand.
10. Sometimes, the electrical current exceeds the safety limit of a circuit; ________, the
fuse blows and the power is disconnected.
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II. The BUT group
Several words show the BUT relationship between two sentences. The difference forms
of BUT indicate contrast, concession, reservation, and rebuttal.
Contrast: _ but _
Contrast words indicate that the second idea is in direct contrast to the first sentence.
in contrast
by comparison
by way of contrast
(on the one hand) on the other hand
Earth is a rocky planet; in contrast, Jupiter consists mostly of gas.
On the one hand, the body needs salt; on the other hand, too much salt can
cause high blood pressure.
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Clause subordinators:
Earth is a rocky planet whereas Jupiter consists mostly of gas.
While atomic fission splits an atom, atomic fusion forces atoms together.
Phrase subordinators:
in contrast with
compared with
by comparison with
In contrast with Jupiter, earth is a rocky planet.
The damage from the wind was negligible compared with that from last
year’s storm
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Concession: _ yet _
Concession words indicate that the second sentence contrasts with the first, but that
this information is surprising or unexpected.
in spite of that
The bomb fell; nevertheless, it did not explode.
Clause subordinators:
even though
even if
in spite of the fact that
despite the fact that
notwithstanding the fact that
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Although the bomb fell, it did not explode.
Phrase subordinators:
in spite of
The rocket was launched in spite of the rain.
The patient died notwithstanding his good prognosis.
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Reservation: ? but _
Reservation words indicate that the first sentence may not be completely accurate, but
that the second sentence at least is true.
at least
that is to say
There are no black holes in the Milky Way; at least, none have been found so
The disease was caused by a virus; that is to say, initial studies indicate a viral
Clause subordinators: -------------3.
Phase subordinators: ---------------
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Rebuttal: _ but _
Rebuttal words indicate that the first sentence is not a true or correct opinion, but that
the second sentence is true or correct.
in fact
as a matter of fact
in reality
Early navigators thought that the world was flat; in fact, the world is round.
The report stated that the duration was fifty minutes; instead, it was fifty
Clause subordinators:
when in fact
Early navigators thought that the world was flat when in fact it is round.
The report stated that the duration was fifty minutes when in fact it was fifty
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Phrase subordinators:
instead of
The report stated that the duration was fifty minutes instead of fifty seconds.
Exercise: Fill the blanks with the BUT-group coordinators.
A cyclotron accelerates protons; _________, a betatron accelerates electrons.
Pulsars were first thought to be signs of intelligent life in outer space; _______ ,
the pulsars of radiation come from the star’s rotation.
Coffee prevents cancer; ________, an acid found in coffee neutralizes certain
cancer-causing pollutants in the body.
Weather forecasting has always been an approximate science; _________,
satellites and computers have improved predictions.
Incandescent lighting is relatively safe; _________, fluorescent lighting may cause
a form of skin cancer.
The patient was diagnosed as having a mental disorder; ________, she had a
simple thyroid deficiency.
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III. The SO Group
The words in the SO group are concerned with cause and effect. These words indicate
cause, effect, and purpose.
Cause: _
Cause words show something occurs or exists.
the reason is (informal)
The tree died; the reason is, the elephants ate most of the bark.
The ship sank; the reason is, it struck a large iceberg.
Clause subordinators:
inasmuch as
due to the fact that
The tree died because the elephants ate most of the bark.
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Phrase subordinators:
because of
owing to
due to (used only after a linking verb such as be)
The tree died because of the elephants’ eating its bark.
The sinking of the ship was due to an iceberg.
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Effect: _
Effect words show the result of the previous sentence.
as a result
as a consequence
for this reason
The elephants ate most of the bark; therefore, the tree died.
Clause subordinators:
so … (adjective or adverb) … that
such …(noun phrase) … that
The machine got so hot that it melted the wiring.
The ship struck such a large iceberg that it sank.
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Purpose: _
Purpose words indicate the possibility of a result. Coordinators typically occur with
the verb want. Subordinators must occur with a modal, usually can, may, or will.
Remember, however, the single events usually require will, whereas habitual events
(facts) require the simple present tense.
for the purpose
for this reason
(present): Patients with infectious diseases may infect others; for this reason, they
are isolated.
The patient wanted to sleep; for this reason, the nurse gave him a
sleeping pill.
Clause subordinators:
so that
(present): Patients with infectious diseases are isolated so that they do not infect
The nurse gave the patient chapter
a sleeping
pill so that he could sleep.
Exercise: Fill the blanks with the SO group coordinators or subordinators.
Some animals hibernate during the winter; _____ the winter season is too cold to
hunt for food.
Machines lose power because of friction; ______, they must be frequently oiled.
The leak in the reactor cooling system was _______ a faulty valve.
Many animals migrate to southern climates _______ extreme winter temperatures.
The winter season is too cold to hunt for food; _______ some animals have to
The cries of babies may be used to identify a wide range of later problems; ______,
babies with different illnesses have different cries.
Alkanes are very stable and resistant to chemical change; _______, they consist
entirely of single bonds.
The farmer plowed his cornfield and used a selective weed killer; _______, he
wanted to kill the weeds.
A flow chart helps to clarify the logical solution to a program; _______, a computer
programmer usually makes a flow chart before writing a program.
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IV. The TIME Group
The TIME group consists of words and phrases concerned with time. Unlike many of
the other coordinators and subordinators, they are not synonymous. Time words indicate
sequence or simultaneity.
Sequence words show that the event in the second sentence took place before or after
the event in the first sentence.
before then, before that, formerly
until then, until that time, up to then, up to that time
after that, afterwards, later, subsequently, then
since then, since that time
in time, eventually
The silicon chip was invented in 1959; before then, computers were very large.
The silicon chip was invented in 1959; until then, computers were very large.
The silicon chip was invented in 1959; after that, computers became much
The silicon chip was invented in1959; in time, it will probably be made of a
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more efficient material.
Clause subordinators:
The continents were formed when the earth was young.
Watch the patient’s heart rate while you administer the anesthetic.
The piston moves down as the fuel mixture explodes.
Phase subordinators:
at the time of
during the time of
No one was in the lab at the time of the explosion.
Flowers appeared during the time of the dinosaurs.
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Exercise: Fill the blanks with the TIME-group coordinators or subordinators.
Joseph Lister introduced antiseptics in 1865. _______, many patients died from
First the rock sample is weighed; _________, it is crushed and dissolved in acid.
The nuclear engineers were not understanding why the emergency lights were flashing;
________, the core temperature was steadily increasing.
Long ago the Appalachian Mountains were as high as the alps. ________, they have
been gradually worn down by erosion to their present height.
A meteor struck the earth 65 million years ago and filled the air with dust particles.
_______, a lot species, including the dinosaurs, became extinct.
Bees gather nectar to make honey; _______, they pollinate the flowers.
A deep-sea drilling project penetrated 1076 meters into the oceanic crust. ________,
600 meters had been the limit of penetration.
From 1840 to 1870, 254,000 emigrants traveled from the Missouri River to the Pacific.
________, , nine out of ten deaths were from diseases, very few from the Indians.
A mechanical arm places a lid on the container; ________, a label is applied, the whole
process taking 0.12 second.
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Exercise: Remove any unnecessary words in the following sentences.
1. Herpes, which is one of the fastest-spreading disease in the world, is causing by the
herpes simplex virus, type 2.
2. A new high-speed switch chip, which is a 0.2-inch-square piece of silicon, can make
connections every 40 billionths of a second.
An appositive is made by removing the relative pronoun plus be from a nondefining
relative clause. This reduction can be made only when the complement is equal to the
antecedent of the relative pronoun.
Dr. Smith, who is a new surgeon at Johns Hopkins, was the first to try the new heart
(Dr. Smith = a new surgeon at Johns Hopkins = appositive)
Dr. Smith, a new surgeon at Johns Hopkins, was the first to try the new heart
Latex, which is the “blood” of the rubber tree, has many industrial uses.
(latex = the “blood” of a rubber tree = appositive)
Latex, the “blood” of a rubber tree, has many industrial uses.
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Notice that the appositive can represent a larger group to which the subject belongs
(e.g., Dr. Smith is one of many surgeons at Johns Hopkins). For this reason,
appositives often serve as implicit definitions, and they are frequently used in
scientific text.
According to the current physical theory, quark, the objects out of which most
subatomic particles are built, should never appear as free bodies.
Exercise: Combine the following sentences using appositive phrases.
1. (a) Pluto is 3675.27 million miles from the sun.
(b) Pluto is the most distant planet in the solar system.
2. (a) Mt. Everest is 8848 meters high.
(b) Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.
3. (a) Sleep apnea is much more common among males than females.
(b) Sleep apnea is a life-threatening disorder characterized by frequently blocked
4. (a) Lighter fractions of petroleum are preferentially expelled from thin shale layers
into overlying sandstones.
(b) Lighter fractions of petroleum are hydrocarbons with fifteen to nineteen carbons.
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5.3 Common mistakes in using coordinators and subordinators
1. Using after all to mean finally, in conclusion.
This phrase is a reduced form of after all is said and done and means roughly
“regardless of what might be said about it.” It is used to emphasize the fundamental
essence of something, not just signal the end of a sequence or the end of discussion.
2. Using although and but in the same sentence.
Although I studied hard, but I only scored 56 on the exam.
This mistake results perhaps from confusion with the correlative conjunction not
3. Using it in idiomatic as phrase.
As it was mentioned above, …
Phrases such as “As was mentioned above” and “As is shown in Fig. 2” are idiomatic
and should be used as fixed forms, without an it subject.
4. Using comparing to (with).
The correct connective forms are compared to and in comparison with. Comparing can
be used as a regular participle, but only if it is followed immediately by a direct object, e.g.,
Comparing these latest results to (with) our earlier ones, …
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5. Using conclusively to mean in conclusion.
Conclusively is the simple adverbial form of the adjective conclusive ( = “decisive,
supported by solid evidence”). It is not a connective.
6. Using on the contrary to mean on the other hand.
On the contrary is used to deny some earlier statement, whereas on the other hand is
used simply to present an alternative to some earlier statement. On the one hand and on
the other hand are often used together to present a pair of alternative.
7. Using particularly to mean in particular.
Particularly means “especially”; it is an ordinary adverb, not a connective.
chapter 5
Chapter 6.
Differences between English Writing and
Chinese Writing
6.1 主詞的差異
中文的主詞未必都能 作為英文的主詞, 例如:
Statistics is the science dealing with the collection, organization, analysis, and
interpretation of numerical data.
This is the microcomputer I recommended to you the other day.
Something is wrong with this computer.
有時中文本身無需主詞或主詞不明確, 但英文則需有明確的主詞, 這就需要選用
適當之英文句型, 並確定主詞. 可用之句型有:
(1) 採用 It is … 結構
It is difficult to exploit this invention commercially.
(2) 採用 There is (are, was, were) … 結構
The was a slight delay due to the breakage of a case.
chapter 6
(3) 採用 be + participle … 結構
For shipping ease the package was divided into smaller boxes.
6.2 述語的差異
述語的核心是動詞, 首先應區分及物 (transitive verb) 與不及物動詞 (intransitive
verb). 有時中文之及物動詞在英文中要用不及物動詞, 這時需要在動詞後加介系詞或
Call for papers.
This form is to be filled in in ink.
Experiments have been carried out in order to …
英文中的動詞除與介系詞和副詞搭配使用外, 還有其他一些搭配結構:
(1) Verb + adv. + prep.
open the way to
get down to
(2) Verb + noun + prep.
make provision for 準備
make use of
make full use of
chapter 6
(3) Verb + adj. + prep.
get (be) familiar with
make certain of
be ready for
be capable of
(4) Verb + prep. + noun + adj.
be in position of
6.3 主動與被動的差異
在科技英文中, 被動語態的使用要比普通英文中廣泛得多.
The engine is (has been) started.
His signature is attached to the document.
在很多不需要提及具體動作之情形下, 經常使用被動式語句.
The reader is urged to compare this result with that given in Eq. (1).
The reader is referred to Ref. 1 for further details of this model.
6.4 詞序的差異
rich or poor
rain or shine
chapter 6
land or water
friend and enemy
young and old
eat and drink
“Eat and drink, men and women”.
advantages and disadvantages
pro and con
differences and similarities
good or bad
sooner or later
up and down
chapter 6
南北方向的差異, 英文是先北後南, 而東西方向則中英文一致:
Taipei is the biggest city in Taiwan. It is 12 kilometers from east to
west, and 10 kilometers from north to south.
左右的差異, 英文是先右後左:
When we cross a street, we should be cautious by looking to the right
and left.
來回的差異, 英文是回在前, 來在後:
A deal has been reached after several back-and-forth correspondence.
6.4 主句與子句的差異
中文中很少需要分析一個複合句中那個是主句, 那個是子句, 英文則需要區分主句
Example: Correct the following sentence.
After my brother had left college, he went abroad to the States.
主要名詞 (my brother) 與代名詞 (he) 應分別置於主句與子句.
chapter 6
6.6 省略上的差異
中文能省略之處英文不一定能省, 反之亦然.
The climate of Kaohsiung is warmer than that of Taipei.
He has greater interest in music than (此處不加 his interest) in physics.
6.7 否定語的差異
Anybody is not allowed to take the books out of the reading room.
Nobody is allowed to take the books out of the reading room.
因為主詞 anybody 不可用於否定語句
Anything you like does not agree with me.
Nothing you like agrees with me.
此文件下周才會有效 (肯定句)
The said document will not be in effect until next week. (否定句)
chapter 6
Appendix A. Common Mistakes in English
1. Articles
Incorrect omission
1.1 brains
 I do not have brains to do it.
○ I do not have the brains to do it.
1.2 century, Far East
 In fifteenth century many western Europeans were interested in Far East.
○ In the fifteenth century many western Europeans were interested in the Far East.
1.3 Chinese
 Chinese found out how to make silk during the reign of Hang.
○ The Chinese found out how to make silk during the reign of Hang.
1.4 cinema
 I will go to cinema with Mary.
○ I will go to the cinema with Mary.
Appendix A
1.5 fortune
When he was young, he made fortune from his business.
When he was young, he made a fortune from his business.
He made his fortune from his business.
1.6 government
Government should help his people to achieve a better living condition.
The government should help his people to achieve a better living condition.
1.7 housework
Wendy does housework when her mother is away.
Wendy does the housework when her mother is away.
1.8 job
I am looking for job.
I am looking for a job.
1.9 office
I go to office at nine every day.
I go to the office at nine every day.
Appendix A
1.10 on the phone
Mary told me the news on phone.
Mary told me the news on the phone.
1.11 piano
A pianist is one who plays piano.
A pianist is one who plays the piano.
1.12 Unite States
Have you ever been to Unite States?
Have you ever been to the Unite States? (the Netherlands, the Philippines)
Incorrect insertion
1.13 after breakfast
Where will you go after the breakfast?
Where will you go after breakfast?
1.14 arms
The people took up the arms against the tyrant.
The people took up arms against the tyrant.
Appendix A
1.15 at half price
I bought this bag at a half price.
I bought this bag at half price.
1.16 at night
He always studies at the night.
He always studies at night. (in the evening)
1.17 Chinese New Year
Children are happy at the Chinese New Year.
Children are happy at Chinese New Year.
1.18 Christmas
I will go to Canada at the Christmas.
I will go to Canada at Christmas.
1.19 from beginning to end
I knew nothing about it from the beginning to the end.
I knew nothing about it from beginning to end.
Appendix A
1.20 in class
Peter is the cleverest boy in the class.
Peter is the cleverest boy in class.
1.21 in recent years
In the recent years, there has been an increase in the crime rates.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the crime rates.
1.22 school
I go to the school every day.
I go to school every day.
1.23 shorts
Jack wears a shorts when he is playing basketball.
Jack wears shorts when he is playing basketball.
1.24 sports
John is very interested in the sports.
John is very interested in sports.
Appendix A
as well as
Wendy as well as Jane are to blame for the mistake.
Wendy as well as Jane is to blame for the mistake.
2.2 or
 Jane or I has to do the work.
○ Jane or I have to do the work.
Either John or Jack have stolen my money.
Either John or Jack has stolen my money.
Either of the two boys is able to do it.
2.4 many a
 Many a students have made that mistake in writing.
○ Many a student has made that mistake in writing.
2.5 not only…but also
 Not only I but also Mary like the film.
○ Not only I but also Mary likes the film.
Appendix A
2.6 with, together with
Mr. Wang, (together) with his sons, have just arrived.
Mr. Wang, (together) with his sons, has just arrived.
2.7 collective idea
One thousand and five hundred dollars are what he wants now.
One thousand and five hundred dollars is what he wants now.
Bread and butter is what I eat every morning.
2.8 The following words are plural in form but singular in meaning. They should be
followed by singular verbs.
Lens, measles, news, summons, wages, economics, etc.
3. Confused words
3.1 Aboard, abroad
It’s time for us to go aboard.
John wants to study abroad.
3.2 accident, incident
I came across many interesting incidents when I was in Europe.
There are many traffic accidents in Taiwan every day.
Appendix A
3.3 adapt, adopt
I cannot adapt myself to the weather in London.
I would like to adopt an orphan.
3.4 advice, advise
He never takes my advice.
The doctor advised his patient not to smoke.
3.5 all ready, already
We have already finished our work.
“Are you guys ready?” I asked. “We are all ready.” They replied.
3.6 all together, altogether
The meeting was altogether a failure. (altogether = entirely)
Jane and her friends were all together again.
3.7 bring, take
Will you please bring me that book?
I will take my camera to Canada with me.
Appendix A
3.8 cause, reason
Do you know the cause of this accident?
Is there any reason for your absence.
3.9 command, commend
He commanded the soldiers to fire.
I can commend a dictionary to you.
3.10 conscience, consciousness
My conscience forbids me to do anything illegal.
He lost his consciousness in the accident.
3.11 cross, across
We should cross the road carefully.
He walked across the road.
3.12 customer, client
The supermarket has many customers.
That lawyer has many clients.
Appendix A
3.13 each other, one another
John and Mary spoke to each other excitedly.
The three girls were so happy that they kissed one another.
3.14 Easy, uneasy
It is uneasy for me to jump over the wall.
(“Uneasy” is not the opposite of “easy.”
He felt uneasy when he saw his uncle.
3.15 emigrant, immigrant
They are emigrants from China.
There is a strict law regarding immigrants to the U.S.
3.16 empty, vacant
This is an empty box.
It is always difficult to find a vacant seat in the theater.
3.17 establish, install
The electric lighting system was installed last year.
I would like to establish a new shop.
Appendix A
3.18 every day, everyday
I get up at six every day.
Running is my everyday exercise.
3.19 fare, fee
Have you paid your school fee?
How much is the bus fare?
3.20 at first, first
At first I found the game dull, but later I liked it.
First, he took out a box. Next, he open it.
3.21 hurt, harm
Three men were hurt in the accident.
Smoking harms our health.
3.22 Industrial, industrious
Shanghai is an industrial area.
John is an industrious student.
Appendix A
3.23 invaluable, valueless
I thanked Jack for his invaluable help.
This forged money note is valueless.
3.24 lie, lay
You lied to me.
I like to lie in the sun.
He laid his cards on the table.
The hen has laid an egg.
Lie (說謊)
Lie (躺臥)
Lay (生蛋)
Past Participle
Present Participle
3.25 raise, rise
We have to raise money for the setting up of a club.
The sun rises in the east.
Appendix A
3.26 shameful, shamed
The make fun of the disabled is a shameful act.
I am shamed of myself.
3.27 sick, ill
I was sick in the bus.
I have been sick with influenza these days.
I have been ill for six months.
3.28 wages, salary
My wages is 500 dollars a week.
I earn a salary of 4000 dollars a month.
3.29 worth, worthy
That film is worth seeing.
Mr. Chen is worthy of our respect.
Appendix A
Word order
Under no circumstances should you do it.
But little did she know that when she left that day…
Only in exceptional circumstances should I offer you my help.
No sooner had he opened the door than the telephone rang.
On no account should you be late.
Not until the death of John did the whole truth become known.
Seldom(Rarely, Never) have I dealt with such a problem.
Hardly had I started when it began to rain.
Had I money, T would buy the dress.
Should he come, tell him the story.
Appendix A
Chapter 7.
Introduction to Technical Writing
7.1 科技英文寫作的類型和結構
7.1.1 科技論文和書籍
Author’s name
Authors’ names
Key words
7.1.2 注意事項
論文題目屬於特種文體, 有些地方可以省略冠詞. 常用的詞類有名詞, 名詞詞組,
或名詞片語. 應避免使用句子, 不要使用介系詞片語或動詞的不定詞片語.
Mathematical Handbook for Scientists and Engineers
Stochastic Processes
Enhancement of Chipchapter
via a Flow-Disturbing Block 243
文章的章節標題也都儘量避免使用動詞和句子. 在必須使用動詞的情況下, 也可以
Selecting a Disk Drive
Choosing a Format
Removing Sentences and Paragraphs
Locating and Deleting Text
Derivation of Formulas by Symbolic Methods
Comparison of Methods for Differential Equations
Approximation of Functions with Economized Power Series
Convergence of Newton’s Method
7.2 科技英文寫作中若干特點
7.2.1 普通名詞
1. 不用複數的情況
和數字連用起形容詞作用的名詞, 一般不用複數:
a five pound note
a six-inch gun
a three-volume book
an eighteen-page report
two dozen (of) chips
chapter 7
a fleet of ten sail
只使用複數的名詞在句子中作主詞時, 述語應取複數形式.
3. 單複數同形的名詞
4. 單複數含義不同的名詞
experience 經驗
experiences 經歷
Have you had much experience in teaching English.
Please tell us your experiences in America.
import 進口(業務)
imports 進口數額(種類)
export 出口(業務)
exports 出口數額(種類)
The import of diseased animals is forbidden.
Imports exceeded exports in value last year.
chapter 7
facility 便利條件
facilities 設備
He has great facility in doing something.
This book is devoted to description of the major facilities used by the Bell System.
Other examples:
手段, 工具
倍數, 次數
chapter 7
7.2.2 科技名詞
1. 不要連字號的複合名詞
vector algebra
mean square (mean-square)
output error estimation method
organization of data
the collection of information
Newton’s Second Law, Bernoulli’s Principle, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
ultra-high frequency
clothes shop
customs office
sports car
Telecommunications Transmission Engineering
chapter 7
有些名詞作形容詞時需要加 ed:
wheeled transport
increased capacity requirements
scalar-valued function
complex-valued function
battery-powered car
這類複合名詞單獨使用時不需加連字號, 起修飾作用的複合名詞之間要加連號.
(1) 名詞-名詞
machine code
machine-code instruction
zero output
zero-output level
(2) 形容詞-名詞
large screen
large-screen display
small quantity
small-quantity production
first generation
first-generation computer
(3) 形容詞-名詞 +ed
acute angle
acute-angled shape
single author
single-authored paper
(4) 數詞-名詞
six digits
six-digit display
8 bits
8-bit computer
10 msec 10-msec interval
chapter 7
(5) 介系詞-名詞
after-sales service
(6) 名詞-形容詞 (或分詞)
time-critical applications
AT&T-provided programs
(1) 複合名詞的複數
communication satellite
communication satellites
probability problem
probability problems
mutually exclusive event
mutually exclusive events
(2) 外來語的複數
dogmas (dogmata)
formulae (formulas)
appendices (appendixes)
foci (focuses)
indices (indexes)
maxima (maximums)
memoranda (memorandums)
equilibra (equilibriums)
chapter 7
(3) 數字, 符號, 及文字的複數
two A’s
(4) 有連字號名詞的複數
x- and y-planes
all of the x-components
additional y-value
two additional y-values
open-circuit function
open- and short-circuit functions
(5) 引語的複數形式
This is only one of many “it can be shown’s” that we shall see in this appendix.
He said many “yes’s” in his speech.
(6) 含有尊稱的複數形式
the Miss Langs
(not the Misses Lang)
Miss Lang and Miss Reed
(not Misses Lang and Reed)
Dr. A. B. Glenn of the Mitre Corporation and Dr. J. D. Black of UCLA.
Drs. R. C. Gonzales, J. C. Huang, and J. D. Tillman, all of Harvard University.
chapter 7
另外, 在科技書刊中一些作為集合名詞使用的詞大多也使用單數形式:
Glossary of terms
chapter 7
物理量的單位可以使用全稱或縮略符號, 使用縮略符號時不用複數形式:
180 kilometers
180 km
10 degree Celsius
32 degree Fahrenheit
273 Kelvin
273 K (not °K)
7.2.3 大寫與斜體
1. 大寫
(1) 科技論文題目
論文和章節標題的每一個字之字首字母應大寫, 但有一些介系詞和連接詞等不需
大寫, 如 to, and 等.
“Enhancement of Chip Cooling via a Flow-Disturbing Obstruction Block”
(2) 科技英文中某些名詞需大寫
Figure 1 (Fig. 1)
Equation (1) (Eq. (1))
Table 1
Theorem 1
Lemma 1
Corollary 1
Appendix A
Problem 1
Reference 1 (Ref. 1)
Maxwell’s equation
This figure shows that temperature rises as pressure rises.
chapter 7
(3) 標題中有連字號的組合詞
Time-Reversible Markov Chains
Blind Equalization Using a “Stop-and-Go Decision-Directed Algorithm”
(4) 某些物理量和單位符號應大寫
joule (J)
ampere (A)
million electron volt (MeV)
British thermal unit (Btu)
2. 斜體字
(1) 外來語
a priori
voltage (V)
newton (N)
watt (W)
pascal (Pa)
a posterior
et al.
(2) 作者認為需要強調的部分
Our intuition tells us that information is knowledge.
Limits are unique if they exist.
chapter 7
Chapter 8.
Mathematical Expressions
8.1 基本詞彙術語
8.1.1 公共性詞彙
1. 有關運算的詞彙
calculate, evaluate, carry out the calculation(s), compute
prove, proof, verify, show
obtain, find
derive, derivation, develop
solve, solution, work out
sketch, plot, graph, draw, construction
consider, assume, assumption, suppose
arrive at, result in, get, obtain, give, yield
see, refer to
expand, expansion
factor, factorize
collect, regroup, combine
chapter 8
analytical solution
a closed form for …
approach zero, go to zero
pencil-and-hand arithmetic
expression, representation
illustrative example, solved problem
note, remarks
notation, symbol
figure, illustration
chapter 8
8.1.2 專門詞彙術語
1. 算數類
加 add, addition
乘 times, multiply, multiplication
decimal point
odd number
2. 代數類
rational number
real number
complex number
conjugate complex number
square root
chapter 8
subtract, subtraction
divide, division
even number
percentage, percent
無理數 irrational number
imaginary number
exponent, index
mean square
恆等式 identity
partial fraction
行列式 determinant
term-by-term, component-wise
trigonometric function
chapter 8
直角座標系 Cartesian coordinate
圓柱座標系 cylindrical coordinate
圓球座標系 spherical coordinate
power series
partial differentiation
total differentiation
differential equation
5. 專業數學類
(1) 矩陣類
matrix, matrices
diagonal matrix
chapter 8
integration by parts
identity matrix
inverse matrix
(2). 向量分析類
transpose matrix
特徵值 eigenvalue
curl, rotation
cross (vector) product
inner (scalar, dot) product
8.1.3 常用片語
if and only if (iffi)
piecewise continuous
sufficient but not necessary
沿 x 軸方向
along the positive x-axis
empirical equation
一個n × m 矩陣A an n by m matrix A
the nth derivative of function f(x)
式1右端前三項 first three terms on the right-hand side of Eq. (1)
f(x, y, z, t) 對 t 的一階偏導數 the first-order partial derivative with respect to t
first-order approximation
chapter 8
8.1.4 以人名命名的數學術語
(1) 人名為形容詞
Laplace transform
Fourier series
Schrodinger equation
Cauchy integral theorem
(2) 人名後加 ‘s
Euler’s formula
Laplace’s integral
Fourier’s double integral
Hankel’s integral formula
Hankel transform
Schwartz inequality
Bessel function
Markov chain
Jordan’s lemma
Cauchy’s principle value
Euclid’s algorithm
(3) 將人名擴展為形容詞
- Markovian process
- Gaussian distribution
- Jacobian curve
- Euclidian norm
- Boolean logic
- Laplacian operator
chapter 8
(4) 多個人名命名的數學術語
Runge-Kutta method
Gauss-Jacobi elimination method
Navier-Stokes equation Cauchy-Riemann equation
8.2 運算用語
8.2.1 分詞片語句形
Solving Eq. (1), we have …
Solving Eq. (1), it yields …
Comparing Eqs. (1) and (2), it can be seen that …
Referring to Fig. 1, we have …
Using Eq. (1), we get …
Substituting Eq. (2) into Eq. (1), we obtain …
Assuming (that) x = a, it can be shown that …
Subtracting the T-value from the S-value, we get …
Taking logarithms of both sides, it results in …
Eliminating k from the first and second equations, we get …
Differentiating Eq. (1) with respect to x, it yields …
Noting that the average values of x(t) and y(t) are zero by definition, we have …
chapter 8
8.2.2 動名詞句形
Identifying the right-hand side of Eq. (1) as shown above gives …
Transposing terms and simplifying give …
8.2.3 其他常見句形
(1) 介系詞片語
By equating Eqs. (1) and (2) on a term-by-term basis, it yields …
After substituting Eq. (1) into Eq. (2), we get …
With the help of these equations, one may write …
From Fig. 1, …
By direct integration of …
With this approximation, Eq. (1) becomes …
In a similar manner, …
Upon use of Lebnitz’s rule, …
As x approaches infinitive, …
By Gauss elimination, …
(2) 使用 where and with
First consider the differential equation, i.e.,
X = AX
where A is a constant matrix, …
chapter 8
f(t) = c cos(nt + )
where  =  + n
with  being initial phase.
(3) 名詞片語句形
Further integration over all components of x results in …
Substitution of Eq. (2), followed by interchange of summation and integration, leads to…
An application of Chebyshev’s inequality gives …
Subtraction Eq. (2) from Eq. (1) leads to …
Use of the time-delay property of the Fourier transform of Eq. (1) gives …
Simultaneous solution of these two equations yields …
8.3 有關數學特點的表達用語
8.3.1 有關證明的表達用語
(1) 開始的用語
By definition, …
From the proof of Theorem 1, …
Suppose that …
Given …, let …
(2) 結束的用語
… which completes the proof of Theorem 1.
Hence the statements in Section 1 are proved.
… and Eq. (1) follows.
chapter 8
8.3.2 有關假定的表達用語
Without loss of generality, suppose that f(x) is an even function …
Suppose we define …
Assume a system has two states, say, operational and failed.
Consider the three-dimensional vector X, …
8.3.3 有關求解的表達用語
Unfortunately, the integration cannot be carried out in closed form.
Numerical techniques can be used, of course, to evaluate the integral …
This can be accomplished by using a small electronic calculator, …
Solution may be obtained by …
8.3.4 說明的表達用語
1. 有關條件的用語
(1) 若且唯若
A polynomial is homogeneous if and only if all terms are of the same degree.
(2) 充分必要
The sufficient condition is necessary as well.
The sufficient condition for this to occur is that the energy in f(t) is finite.
The necessary and sufficient condition that the equation AX = B has a solution …
chapter 8
(3) 如果…才允許
This interchange is permissible if both limits exist …
(4) 在…條件下成立
This is only true when g(x) is real.
These equations hold for all t.
(5) 除非…否則
Unless otherwise specified, it is understood that the natural logarithm is implied.
Unless the contrary is stated, the scalar and vector functions of position are …
(6) 令…以便
Let f(t) be real function such that the integration in Eq. (1) exists.
Extension of this result is straightforward.
This sequence may be multiplied by a constant to form a new sequence.
The equality sign is obtained by interchanging the order of summation and integration.
Integrating by parts, it can be shown that …
If e/m is regarded as a single unknown, then there are two unknowns in this equation.
chapter 8
Mathematical derivations and fine points will be noted …
The emphases is on insight and understanding rather than either cookbook application
or fine mathematical detail.
8.4 數學符號有關問題
8.4.1 常用數學符號的文字表達
a plus b
a minus b
a times b, a is multiplied by b
a is divided by b, a over b
a equals b, a is equal to b
a is identically equal to b, a is identical with b
ab ab
a is approximately equal to b
a is greater than b
a >> b
a is much greater than b
a is less than b
a << b
a is much less than b
a is proportional to b
a  1/b
a is inversely proportional to b, a is proportional to reciprocal of b
a approaches the limit infinity
chapter 8
log x
ln x
sin x
sinh x
exp (x)
f ( x ) dx
f, grad f
v, div v
  v, curl v
the ratio of a to b
square root of a
cubic root of a
nth root of a
a factorial, factorial a
square of a
a cubed, a to the third power
log x to the base 10
log x to the base e, natural log x
sine x
arc sine x
hyperbolic sine, sineshi x
exponential function of x, e to the power x
function f of x
integral of f(x) from a to b (between the limits a and b)
derivative of y with respect to x
gradient of f
divergence of v
curl of v
closed interval between a and b
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open interval between a and b
Gamma function x
Bessel function x
Dirac delta function x
Sum to n terms, one for each positive integer from 1 to n
i 1
i 1
Product of n terms, one for each positive integer from 1 to n
chapter 8
Chapter 9.
9.1 Punctuation
Punctuation in English writing is like traffic lights and traffic signs. It warns the reader
to slow down or stop to keep ideas together. It separates words, phrases, clauses, and
sentences. It helps the writer and the reader to organize writing and thoughts. Above all, it
helps the reader understand what you are writing.
The punctuation marks used most commonly in English are:
Comma (,)
Semicolon (;)
Colon (:)
Apostrophe (’)
Quotation mark (“ ”)
Period (.)
Question mark (?)
Exclamation point (!)
Others (-) ( ) [ ] (…) (/)
9.2 The comma (,)
Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet)
when it is used to join independent clauses.
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Independent clauses are word groups that could stand alone as separate sentences. The
comma tells the reader that one clause is ending and a new one is beginning.
Everyone has heard of low-temperature superconductor, but not too many
scientists are studying it now.
There are exceptions to this coordinating conjunction rule:
If the two independent clauses are short and not likely to be misread, no comma
is needed.
The engine is ignited and the rocket thrust the space shuttle into the outer space.
If the clauses are not independent, do not use a comma:
A good financial manager control expenses and invests surplus fund to meet
future needs.
Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase.
Introductory word groups usually function as adverbs to explain when, where, why, or
under what conditions the action is taking place.
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When the rocket was ready to launch, the scientist found a fault wire.
The exception to the introductory adverb clause or phrase rule is that the comma
may be omitted after a short adverb phrase if there is no danger of
In a very short time the rocket was flying at a speed of 100 m/s.
Use a comma after an introductory participle phrase that describes the noun or
pronoun that follows. Do this even when the phrase is short.
Struggling with large amounts of homework, the class feared the exam
Comparing with the Euler’s equations, the Navier-Stokes equations include
viscous forces.
Use a comma between all items in a series. When three or more items are
presented in a series, separate them with a comma. The items may be single words,
phrases, or clauses.
Since the x-, y-, and z-directions are all equivalent, …
We will prepare the specimens, conduct the tests, and record the data.
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9.2.5 Use a comma between coordinate adjectives not joined with and. Coordinate
adjectives each modify a noun separately.
The laboratory is a small, windowless, poorly lighted room.
The laboratory is a windowless, poorly lighted, small room.
9.2.6 Use commas to set off nondefining relative clause. A nondefining relative clause
describes a noun or pronoun whose meaning has already been clearly limited.
This research, which I began two years ago, is beginning to show some
interesting results.
Norman Mailer’s first novel, “The Naked and the Dead”, was a best-seller.
9.2.7 Use commas to set off transitional expressions. Transitional expressions are bridges
between sentences or parts of sentences such as however, therefore, moreover, for example,
as a matter of fact, in other word.
As a matter of fact, the climate in Kaohsiung is rather tropical.
Rock’in roll may be here to stay. The sad truth for some rock stars, however, is
that their hearing may not be here to stay.
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If a transitional expression is between independent clauses, precede it with a semicolon
(;) and follow it with a comma.
Natural foods are not always salt free; for example, celery contains more salt than
most people would imagine.
9.2.8 Use commas to set off parenthetical (…) expressions. Parenthetical expressions
provide supplemental information.
Learning English, unfortunately for students, is a complex and frustrating process.
The fish weighs about five kilograms, give or take a few gram.
9.2.9 Use commas to set off contrast elements. Sharp contrasts begin with words such as
not, never, and unlike.
The Epicurean philosophers sought mental, not bodily, pleasures.
Unlike combustion engines, fuel cells do not have any exhaust emission.
We use alcohol, never water, to sterilize the instruments.
9.2.10 Use commas to set off direct address, question tags, and interjections.
Forgive us, Professor, for being late in turning in our homework.
This is the third time you have been late, isn’t it?
Well, we sometimes have lots of other homework to do.
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9.2.11 Use commas to set off direct quotations.
William Shakespeare, in “Twelfth Night”, said, “God give them wisdom, that
have it; and those are fools, let them use their talents.”
“I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty or give
me death,” said Patrick Henry before the American Revolution.
9.2.11 Use commas to set off dates, addresses, titles, and numbers.
The final exam will be on June 22, 2006.
My first son was born in Troy, New York, in 1983.
J. C. Chen, M.D., has been appointed to the Board of Directors.
The total price is NTD 30,000.
9.2.12 Use commas to avoid confusion.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
All of the catastrophes that we feared might happen, happened.
Of all of the baseball games we played , this was the worst.
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9.2.13 Use commas in the sentences containing “such as.”
Many of the large-scale properties of matter, such as elasticity, surface tension,
condensation, vaporization, etc., can be comprehended with deeper
understanding in terms of the molecular theory.
9.2.14 Use commas in references with surname being in front of first names.
Wang, S. K., “Three-Dimensional Two-Phase Turbulence Flows,” Ph.D. Thesis.
9.3 The Period (.)
The period is a red light or a stop sign.
9.3.1 Use a period to end a sentence. Use a period after all sentences except direction
questions or genuine exclamations (neither of which is used much in scientific writing).
The analogy between vectors and signals is more than coincidental.
Bill asked, “Will our class be canceled tomorrow?”
We finally found the answer!
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9.3.2 Use periods to improve the flow of writing.
For temperature above 1100 K, the four fuels had about the same ignition delay
when the ignition delay was defined as the time to recover the pressure loss from
fuel evaporation, in spite of the large variations in ignition delay among the four
fuels at lower temperatures.
Too many ideas are packed into one sentence. Use periods and shorter sentences as follows
to improve the flow and understanding:
Ignition delay is the time required to recover the pressure loss from fuel
evaporation. Despite the large variations in ignition delay at lower temperatures,
the four fuels had about the same ignition delay for temperatures above 1100 K.
9.3.3 Use periods in conventional abbreviations.
Mr. (mister)
Mrs. (misses)
Dr. (doctor)
B.S. (Batchelor of Science)
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) R.N. (registered nurse)
a.m. (ante meridian)
etc. (et cetera)
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Ms. (miz)
M.A. (Master of Arts)
e.g. (for example)
p.s. (post script)
9.3.4 Place a period in correction place when it is adjacent to another punctuation mark.
The symbol used here is the script “t.”
Proof follows in a similar manner.*
These are all examples of product modulators.5
9.4 The Question Mark (?)
A direct question is followed by a question mark.
Where did you put the sheet of data?
But not an indirect question:
He asked me where we put the sheet of data.
9.5 The Exclamation Point (!)
Use an exclamation point to express exceptional feeling.
We have done all of this work for nothing!
Use an exclamation point for special emphasis.
Keep away from that boiling water!
No trespassing!
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9.6 The Dash (--)
9.6.1 Use a dash to set off parenthetical material that needs emphasis.
Everything that went wrong – from the leaking faucet to the broken window –
was blamed on our negligence.
All the details of our research – even the timing, the equipment, and the
material – are included in study plan.
Use dash to set off an appositive (a noun or noun phrase that renamed a nearby noun)
that contains commas.
In a rural area the basic needs of living – food, clothing, and shelter – are less
expensive than in a large city.
The usual classroom activities – lectures, discussions, and examinations – are
carried out in this building.
9.7 The Semicolon (;)
9.7.1 Use a semicolon to connect major sentence elements of equal grammatical rank.
Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined with a
coordinating conjunction (i.e., but, and, or, nor, for, so, yet).
Love is blind; envy has its eyes wide open.
The cup fell, but it did not break.
The cup fell; it did not break.
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9.7.2 Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression.
The transitional expression can be a conjunctive adverb, a transitional phrase, or an
explanatory phrase.
Conjunctive adverbs are:
accordingly, also, furthermore, hence, however, moreover, still, then, therefore, thus,
otherwise, consequently, indeed, besides, however, instead, nevertheless, meanwhile,
Transitional phrases are:
after all, as a result, at the same time, in addition, in conclusion.
Explanatory phrases are:
in fact, for example, this is.
We were told that the main road was blocked; however, we decided to try it.
Our car had a flat tire; in addition, we ran out of gas; consequently, we were late.
(comparing with )
Our car had a flat tire. In addition, we ran out of gas. Consequently, we were late.
(The sentences are too choppy.)
All the cost has increased; for example, the lost of raw material has increased by
13 percent.
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9.7.3 Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation.
Classic science fiction sagas are Star Trek, with Mr. Spock and his large pointed
ears; Moonraker, with James Bond; and Star Wars; with Han Solo, Luke
Skywalker, and Darth Vader.
9.8 The Colon (:)
The colon is used primarily to call attention to the words that follow it. A colon tells the
reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause.
9.8.1 Use a colon between independent clauses if the second summarizes or explains the
Faith is like love: it cannot be forced.
Smiling confidently, the young man stated his major goal in life: he aims to be the
chairman of the company before he was 40.
9.8.2 Use a colon after an independent clause to direct attention to a list, an appositive, or a
The check-list includes: flashlight, batteries, compasses, food and water.
The consort prince is guilty of two of the five indictments: inside trading and
J. F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can
do for your country.”
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9.8.3 Use a colon after the introduction in a business letter.
Dear Sir/Madam:
9.8.4 Use a colon in indicting time of day:
5:30 p.m.
9.8.5 Use a colon in expressing a ratio.
The ratio women to men in this class is 1:2.
9.8.6 Use a colon in expressing the subtitle of a book.
The Glory of Hera: Greek Mythology and the Greek Family, Boston, Bedford, 1997.
9.8.7 Avoid abuses of the colon. The colon is often abused. Here are some common
misuses you should avoid. A colon must be preceded by a full independent clause.
Avoid using it.
1. Between a verb and its object
Some important vitamins found in vegetables are (: ) vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, and
vitamin C.
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Between a preposition and its object:
The heart’s two pumps each consists of [:] an upper chamber, or atrium, and a lower
chamber, or ventricle.
After such as, including, or for example
We have reviewed our writing carefully, including [:] spelling, grammar, and
9.9 The Apostrophe (’)
9.9.1 Use an apostrophe to indicate that a noun is possessive. Form the possessive of a
singular noun or a plural noun that does not end in s by adding ’s.
the driver’s side
the professor’s class notes
the hostess’s party
Joyce and Greg’s camper
John’s and Mary’s expectations are different.
9.9.2 Form the possessive of plural nouns that end in s by adding ’.
the birds’ wing
the specimens’ numbers
9.9.3 Use the apostrophe with some numbers, letters, and dates.
in ’06
figure 8’s
red J’s
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9.10 The hyphen (-)
9.10.1 Use hyphens to form compound nouns.
a self-addressed envelop
a black-and-white television
high-speed computer
back-and-firth movement
Q-and-A session
state-of-the-art technology
top-of-the-line product
7-digit number
9.10.2 Use hyphens to form commonly shared nouns.
x- and y- axes
in the x-, y-, and z-directions
3- and 4-dB
second- and third-determinants
on the w- and z-planes
a wet- and dry-bulb thermometer
n- and p-type materials
9.10.3 Use a hyphen to form a family of object.
M-ary (vs. unary, binary)
n-gon (vs. tetragon, polygon)
M-valued (vs. single-valued)
2n-pole (vs. dipole)
9.10.4 Use hyphens in numbers and fractions
26 (twenty-six)
5/26 (five-twenty-sixths)
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9.10.5 Use a hyphen to form a compound word as an adjective.
non-linear (nonlinear)
ultra-sonic (ultrasonic)
water-proof (waterproof)
ultra-centrifugal (ultracentrifugal)
mean-square error (mean square error)
9.10.6 Do not use a hyphen between a –ly adverb and an adjective (or a participle).
a badly-made product (a badly made product)
a really-high price (really high price)
a newly-wedded couple (a newly-wed couple)
a clearly-defined definition (a clearly defined definition)
9.11 The Quotation Mark (“ ”)
9.11.1 The comma and the period always precede an ending quotation mark.
We call quality of service “customer satisfaction.”
The old adage, “All that glitters is not gold,” applies to data transfer.
9.11.2 The colon and the semicolon always follow an ending quotation mark.
The instructor mentioned “addisonian termination”; I don’t know what that
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9.11.3 The question mark and the exclamation point can precede or follow an ending
quotation mark depending on the meaning of the sentence.
Lois asked, “Is Prof. Wang in?”
Did Lois ask, “Is Prof. Wang in”?
His exact words were, “Why was the pressure going up?”
Did the instructor say, “Read whole chapter on Laplace Transform by next
9.11.4 Use single quotation marks when quoted in the quotation marks.
The professor said, “Everyone is to write ‘Confidential’ on the top of his or her
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Chapter 10. Practical Issues in Technical Writing
10.1 Figures
10.1.1 Expressions regard figures
1. Lines
solid line 實線
dashed line 虛線
heavy line 粗線
light line 細線
2. Types of figures
(1) Graph
coordinate graph 座標圖
rectilinear graph 曲線圖
semi-log graph 線性/對數圖
(2) Diagram
block diagram 方塊圖
pie diagram 圓餅圖
wiring diagram 線路圖
phasor diagram 相位圖
dotted line 點線
shaded line 陰影線
bar graph 條塊圖
log-log graph 對數/對數圖
schematic diagram 概意圖
logic flow diagram 邏輯流程圖
circuit diagram 電路圖
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(3) Drawing
projection drawing 投影圖
free-hand drawing 手畫圖
sketch drawing 草圖
perspective drawing 透視圖
(4) View
top view
bottom view
cutaway view 剖視圖
plane view 平面圖
close-up view 特寫圖
front (back, rear, side) view
cross-sectional view 剖面圖
vertical view 俯視圖
aerial view (a bird’s eye view) 鳥瞰圖
(5) Chart
flow chart 流程圖
break-even chart 收支盈虧圖
key chart (index chart) 索引圖
pictorial chart 符號示意圖
(6) Sketch
diagrammatic sketch 示意圖
skeleton sketch 輪廓圖
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10.2 Units
10.2.1 SI units (The International System of Units)
Base units:
Electric current
Thermodynamic temperature
Amount of substance
SI units with special names:
Physical Quantity
SI Unit
Unit Symbol
Electric capacitance
Electric charge
Electrical potential
Electric resistance
F = As/V
C = As
V = W/A
 = V/A
N = kgm/s2
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Physical Quantity
SI Unit
Unit Symbol
Magnetic flux
Work (energy, heat)
Hz = s -1
H = Vs/A
Wb = Vs
W = J/s
J = Ns
Derived SI units with complex names
Physical Quantity
SI Unit
Unit Symbol
Angular acceleration
Angular velocity
Mass density
Diffusion coefficient
Dynamic viscosity ()
Kinematic viscosity
meter per second square
radian per second square
radian per second
square meter
kilogram per cubic meter
meter square per second
newton second per meter square
meter square per second
rad/s 2
kg/m 3
m 2/s
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Physical Quantity
SI Unit
Unit Symbol
Surface tension
Thermal conductivity
Heat transfer coefficient
newton per square meter (pascal) N/m2
newton per meter
watt per meter degree Kelvin
watt per square meter degree Kelvin W/m2K
meter per second
cubic meter
Other units from ISO 1000
grade (angle)
second (angle)
minute (time)
Electron volt
Atomic mass unit
degree (angle)
million eV
chapter 10
minute (angle)
degree Celsius
Abbreviations of numbers
exa ( = 1018 )
peta ( = 1015 )
tera ( = 1012 )
giga ( = 109 )
mega ( = 106 )
kilo ( = 103 )
hecto ( = 102 )
deca ( = 101 )
deci ( = 10-1 )
centi ( = 10-2 )
milli ( = 10-3 )
micro ( = 10-6 )
nano ( = 10-9 )
pico ( = 10-12 )
femto ( = 10-15 )
atto ( = 10-18 )
10.2.2 Expressions of units
(1) Expressions in terms of physical units
an angle in radian (in degree)
volume in liters
pressure in atmospheres (bars)
temperature in Kelvin
Where h is Planck’s constant in joule-seconds.
The constant k is expressed in newtons per meter.
Where v is in colts and i is in amperes.
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(2) Expressions in terms of numbers
in hundreds
in thousands
in millions
in billions of dollars
in dozens
in round number (figures)
Singapore has two million inhabitants. (million is used as a number)
Singapore has two millions of inhabitants. (million is used as a noun)
Thousands of people were present. ( thousand is used as a number which is not
preceded with a number or an article “a”)
(3) Numbers with units
20 C
twenty degrees Centigrade
0 °C
zero degree Centigrade
4/5 km
four-fifths of a kilometer
10 kHz
ten kilohertzs
50 ft/s
fifty feet per second
32 °F
thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit
2/3 ton two-thirds of a ton
1 ns
one nanosecond
64 kbps sixty-four kilobits per second
15 g mole-1 fifteen grams per mole
10.3 Expressions of geometries and shapes
(1) Geometries
a steel ball of 2 mm diameter
a steel ball 2 mm in diameter
a copper rod of 10 cm long
a copper rod 2 mm in length
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a fiber as thin as 2 
a brass plate with a thickness of 0.5 cm
a wheel 1 m in diameter (a wheel of diameter 1 m,
a wheel having a diameter of 1 m)
be mounted in a housing 16 inches wide, 4.25 inches height, and 11.5 inches deep
a tank having a capacity of 2 m3 a flask of volume 2 liters
a 2  3  5 cm3 steel block
a pipe of outside diameter 7.5 cm
a pipe with an outside diameter of 7.5 cm
a rectangular sheet 5 cm wide and 12 cm long
a room 4 m by 5 m
a liter of helium under a pressure of 2 atm and at a temperature of 25 °C
The cross-sectional area of a steel bar is 1.5 in2.
A copper vessel of mass 200 g contains 400 g of water.
(2) Shapes
S-shaped curve
cross-head screwdriver
flat-haed screwdriver
concave upward
concave downward
convex upward
convex downward
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10.4 Abbreviations from Latin
a priori 事先 先驗的
a posteriori 事後 歸納的 後天的
cf. (confer) 參照 對比
e.g. (exempli gratia) 例如
i.e. (id est) = that is 即
ibid 出處同上
et al. (et alii) = and others 等(人) (用於三人或三人以上)
etc. (et cetera, and so forth) 等等
It is further assumed that
j 1
i.e., that the
  equals
treatment effects
j 1
The material is mainly standard, but I have included some interesting and useful
topics (e.g., companion matrix, inner product).
Man-made types of interference include such things as electromagnetic pick-up
of other radiating signals, inadequate power supply filtering, etc.
(note: There is no need of using “and “ in the series of items)
chapter 10
Black et al.[3] proposed an innovated approach…
[3] D. Black et al., Signal and Linear System, Second Ed., New York; John
Wiley Press, 1980.
It is called a priori or an a priori probability.
10.4 Greek Letters
Gamma Γγ
Epsilon Εε
Lambda Λλ
Omicron Οο
chapter 10
Chapter 11.
Construction of a Technical Paper
A technical paper is usually consist of the following parts:
Beginning: Title, Abstract (Summary), Introduction (including problem)
Main body: Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion
Ending: Conclusions, References, Acknowledgements
11.1 Title
The title is the single most important phrase in your document. It describes your
document by orienting readers to the field of study and what was done in this study.
Here are a few rules for titles:
The title should indicate the topic of the study.
The title should indicate the scope of the study.
The title should be self explanatory to readers in the field.
The title should be neither too short or too long.
The title contains specific and not general terms.
The title is built on careful syntax.
The title is a label and not a sentence.
The title avoids the use of common abbreviations, specific notation, and
reference number.
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1. Effects of Machining on Surface Quality (unclear)
2. Effects of Knife Jointing and Wear on Surface Quality (better)
3. Effects of Knife Jointing and Wear on Planed Surface Gluing Quality of Sugar
Maple Wood (best)
4. Effects of Jointing with Knives at Four Stages of Wear on Panel Surface
Gluing Quality of Sugar Maple Wood (too much)
Why is #3 best? It uses words that are easy to understand. It orients the reader to the
field (effects of knife jointing and wear on surface quality). It identifies what is done to
the surface (planned surface). It separates the document from others (gluing sugar maple
surfaces). Further, with all of that, it has only 15 words.
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The following examples illustrate how to prepare appropriate titles
Poorly-worded title
Well-worded title
March 2 Serves as an Automated
Validation Tool
(a sentence, not specific)
March 2: An Automated Validation Tool
for the APOLLO2 Code
Using Parallel Computers for Numerical
Studies in the Atmosphere, Ocean
(careless syntax, general)
Numerical studies on the Interaction
between Atmosphere and Ocean Using
Parallel Computers
Evaluation of the Measures to Adjust the
Increase of Outpatients in MIS
(ambiguous abbreviation)
Evaluation of the Measures to Adjust the
Increase of Outpatients in Medical
Insurance System
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11.2 Summary or Abstract
The summary (or abstract) is designed to help the reader to determine if he or she
wants to read the whole paper. In the Summary, emphasize the most important details
generally in the order in which they appear in the paper. There are two basic kinds of
Summary. A descriptive summary tells what kind of information is in the paper. An
informative summary is a brief version of the entire paper that tells the reader what you
did and what you learned. A good summary should include:
Main findings or accomplishment
Descriptive Summary
Here is an example of a descriptive summary:
This paper introduces a new chemical process for eliminating nitrogen oxides from
the exhausts of diesel engines. The process uses isocyanic acid, a nontoxic chenical
used to clean swimming pool. In this paper, it shows how well the process reduced
emissions of nitrogen oxides from a laboratory diesel engine. The explain how the
process works, a scheme of chemical reaction is present.
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Let’s look at the paper of this summary:
The first sentence orients the reader to the identity of the work. The second sentence
describes second detail that could not fit into the title. The final sentence list in order
what will be found in the document: a discussion of the experiment followed by a
discussion of the theory. A descriptive summary might be useful in a paper describing a
method or device. A descriptive summary indicates the contents of the paper and the
scope of work done without giving information about the results and conclusions.
However, it is generally not adequate for a paper reporting on a research study.
Informative summary
An informative summary is appropriate for most research reporting. It is truly a brief
version of the paper or thesis. It summarizes all the main points. The summary gives
information about the purpose of the study, newly observed facts, conclusions of an
experiment or argument, and, if possible, the essential parts of any new theory, treatment,
apparatus, technique, etc.
Here is an example of an informative summary:
This paper describes a new internal navigation system that will increase the
mapping accuracy of all wells by a factor of then. The new system uses three-axis
navigation that protects the sensors from high spin rates. The system also processes
its information by Kalman filtering (a statistical sampling technique) in an on-site
computer. Test results show that the three-dimensional location accuracy is +/- 0.1
m of well depth, an accuracy ten times greater than conventional systems.
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To review the principles of an informative summary:
1. It is tight and contains no needless information.
2. It is a summary of the significant points, and only the significant points.
3. It is independent of the paper itself – necessary definitions are provided.
4. The reader will read to find out how it was done, what happened, and what you
5. Everything in it is either a repetition on a condensation of something in the main text
of the document.
11.3 The introduction
In the introduction, tell the reader:
What exactly is the work?
Why is the work important?
What has been done before? (Literature review)
What is the gap in knowledge?
What is needed to fill the gap?
What is the specific objective?
The purpose of an introduction is to supply sufficient background information so as to
allow the reader to understand and evaluate the results of this study. It may therefore
become necessary to refer to work done earlier only strict relevance to the above purpose.
Sometimes it is necessary to outline the author’s earlier attempts to solve the problem
along with citations to relevant literature.
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Guidelines for a good introduction:
1. It should present first, with all possible clarity, the nature and scope of the problem
2. It should review the pertinent literature to orient the reader.
3. It should state the method of investigation and, if necessary, the reasons for the choice
of a particular method.
4. It should state the principle results of the investigation and also the principal
conclusions suggested by the results.
In establishing a research area, show that the research area is important, establish why
that is important, introduce and review briefly previous research in this area, cite
references in the literature and provide that information.
The total volume of treated wood products removed from service annually in the U.S.
is estimated to be 9 million cubic meters. A possible approach to recycling this waste
material is to incorporate it into wood-cement composites.
Establishing a research area in the introduction is based on introducing and reviewing
previous research in the area.
Several studies have been reported on the effects of cement/wood ratio, particle
geometry, particle treatment, wood species, and board density [9-12, 14, 20]. Huang
and Cooper [13] stated that the strength and dimensional stability of CBP increased
with increasing cement/wood ratio.
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Establishing a niche for your study is used to indicate a gap in previous research, raise
a question about it, or extend previous knowledge. This is a key move, because it
connects a review of what has been done, and what has not been done, to a statement of
what the present research is about.
Information is limited regarding the mechanical and physical properties of
Cement Bonded Particleboard using CCA-treated wood removed from service
at different cement/wood ratios.
Then indicate an area in which research would be useful.
An alternative to landfill disposal of preservative-treated wood products would
be to incorporate the wood into cement-bonded particleboard.
After the niche has been established, your next move in the Introduction is to occupy
the niche. You do this by stating the objective and nature of the present research.
The objective of this research was to determine the effects of cement/wood ratio
on the mechanical properties and the dimensional stability of CBP containing
particles from recycled CCA treated wood.
Then tell the reader what you have done.
In this paper we present the results of three experiments…
In this study a comparison of the effects of treatment with…was evaluated.
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11.4 Materials and Methods
In this section you tell the reader what you did and how you did it. It should be done
completely and accurately enough that the reader could repeat it. The main purpose of this
section is to describe the experimental design, experimental technique, or theoretical
derivation. Questions to be answered here are:
What was your experiment design?
What was your sample?
How did you conduct test (derive the analysis, prove an assumption, etc.)
How did you analyze the results?
1. What was your experimental design?
Figure shows the overall experimental setup with the relevant apparatus and
instruments. The measurements for the present experiments were performed in heat
sink channel, and the acquisition of all the experimental data are in a transient state.
Brief descriptions for general configurations and functions of the experimental
facilities are introduced in the following:…
2. What was your sample?
Commercial AAP/PWB specimens were tested. AAP/PWb specimens were
manufactured using the same processing parameters. The specimens were provided
by DuPont Company. Each AAP/PWB specimen, as shown in Fig.1, was composed
of one chip connected to the PWB through 144 solder balls (Sn-Pb-Ag) with a 0.8 mm
pitch in a 13 X 13 ball grid array.
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How did you conduct the test?
For each cement/wood ratio, five specimens for three-point static bending tests and
five for internal bond strength were cut from the CBPs as shown in Fig. 1 and tested
according to ASTM D1037-96a.
The leachate was sampled using a digital pipette rinsed with de-ionized water
between aliquots. Each aliquot of leachate (10 ml) was drawn and placed in a
polyethylene sample tube. Aliquot samples were acidified with 1.5 ml of 3 molar
nitric acid.
How did you analyze the results?
Results were corrected for the acid dilutions and aliquot volumes and converted to
mg/hr leach rate. The data were plotted as leach rate versus exposure time and as
cumulative fraction leached and incremental fraction leached per day versus
exposure time. The relationship of leach rate to exposure time is shown in Fig. 4.
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11.5 Results
Here is where you present your findings; describe what happened. Describe the results
in words and present them as tables or figures, usually not both. Use whichever shows the
results better. Present results in order of the research procedures, which is the order in
which they were obtained. Be sure tables and figures are clear and clearly labeled. Refer
to them in the text with the same terms (properties, units) as included in the table or figure.
Comments in Results are used to help the reader understand and interpret the results. They
often include:
Describing how the results are presented
Justifying the methodology used
Interpreting the results
Citing agreement with previous studies
Pointing out discrepancies in the data
Tables 1 and 2 summarize the mean value and standard deviation of modulus of
elasticity, modulus of rupture, IB, density, TS, WU, and WA for CBPs of
cement/wood ratios ranging from 1.0 to 4.0 at 0.5 increments. The board
density increases with the cement/wood ratio. The average values of density
range from 815 to 1300 kg/m3.
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The extractives and the primary color components of yellow-poplar are listed in
Table 1. Experimental results on coupling agent retention, graft rate, contact
angle, and shear strength of wood-PVC composites are summarized in Table 2.
11.6 Discussion
The main functions of this section are to interpret data and to highlight the significant
features of the data and the possible causes of these features. Interpret your findings and
compare them with results of related studies. The tendency to repeat description of data
in this section should be avoided. What is obvious from the tables or figures need not be
described in the text again. Here, only interpretation of data need be done. It is in the
discussion section that provides a basis for drawing conclusions from your results.
The laboratory-made CBP, using particles made from retired CCA-treated
wood, showed optimum bending strength, IB strength, and dimensional stability
at a cement/wood ratio of 3.0. This finding is in agreement with previous
published work on CBP made with untreated wood.
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11.7 Conclusions
Conclusions should stem directly from the data presented and no extra material should
be introduced. When there are significant findings, conclusions are a necessary part of
the paper. The major function of conclusions is to make recommendations based on the
results of the study. If no recommendation emerges, this section may be dispensed with.
In such cases where the study has led to clear-cut findings, it is preferable to give the
conclusions in the form of a series of numbered points.
Based on the present results, the main conclusions emerged from this study are listed
A new modified transient liquid crystal method for measuring local and average heat
transfer characteristics in a channel installed with a heat sink has been established;
and validated by CFD simulations.
The effect of the air preheating temperature on local and average effective heat
transfer coefficients of confined heat sinks is not significant. The local and average
effective heat transfer coefficients increase with increasing flow velocity.
The overall channel pressure drop increases with increasing flow velocity or
decreasing channel porosity; the highest and lowest pressure drops can be found for
fully-confined and unconfined heat sinks at a specific channel inlet velocity,
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11.8 References
To document your sources, cite the author’s name, and the year of publication in
parentheses at the end of the sentence, before the final period:
A pressure-based high-order upwind scheme using the PISO algorithm in the
investigation of vortex shedding and heat transfer behind a circular cylinder
was employed (Wang et al., 2004).
Wang, S. K., Hung, T. C., Lin, G. W., and Pei, B. S., (2004), “Numerical Simulations for
the phenomena of Vortex Induced Vibration and Heat Transfer of a Circular Cylinder,”
Numerical Heat Transfer, Part A., 45(7), pp. 1-18.
11.9 Acknowledgements
This is a list of persons who you would like to thank for their advice, support, or
assistance of any kind. The organization which support financial aides should also be
The support from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of
Canada to the present study is acknowledged. The author would also thank
Dr. Chris Johnson and Dr. Greg Smith from the Department of Mechanical
Engineering, Columbia University, for their invaluable advice on the present
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Chapter 12. Common expressions in technical writing
12.1 Expressions show “purposes” at the beginning of the paper
A. Use “we” as the subject in an active voice:
In this paper, we begin with a review of …
we discuss some measures associated with…
we develop some methods for handling…
we describe the basic process involved in…
we introduce a concept of…
we will examine briefly…
B. Use “this paper (study)” as the subject in an active voice:
This paper (study) presents an analysis of the properties of superconductors…
describes various designs for…
derives some important algorithms that can be used in…
considers several problems associated with…
addresses the problems of…
develops an analysis of…
C. Use “the content of the paper” as the subject in a passive voice:
A new and simplified adaptive algorithm is presented for…
A comprehensive summary of … is presented.
A mathematical description of… is given used in…
The non-linear method proposed by M is investigated (analyzed, derived).
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D. Use “this paper (study)” as the subject in a passive voice:
This paper is concerned with…
is devoted to analyze…
is intended to describe…
is aimed to derive…
Or use the following alternative expressions:
This paper is intended to describe a new stochastic-gradient algorithm for adaptive sensor
The purpose of this paper is to present (introduce, discuss, analyze, describe, derive,
develop, give)…
12.2 Expressions used in summary and conclusions
A. Use “we” as the subject in an active voice:
In this paper, we have examined some of the properties of…
we have explored the relationship between … and…
we have introduced one of the most useful and powerful techniques for…
we have made a detailed presentation of various methods which may be
B. Use “this paper (study)” as the subject in an active voice:
This paper has presented our first definitive study of…
has outlined some considerations in the design of…
has concluded with a description of…
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C. Use “the content of the paper” as the subject in a passive voice:
Major emphasis has been placed in this study on…
12.3 Typical expressions in the main body of a paper
A. Use “it” as the subject of a sentence
1. “It is + adjective + to…”
It is advantageous for the mechanism to proceed at lower temperature.
There is some advantage in working at lower temperature.
It is preferable to obtain higher pressures by having compression stages.
It is
to do something.
It is possible to cut all thread forms and sizes on a lathe.
It is straightforward to verify that…
It is necessary for us to know how to convert energy from one form into another.
It is necessary to distinguish between the mean of a sample and the mean of a population.
It is a fact that no insulating material is a perfect insulator.
However, it is possible for an atom to lose one of its electrons.
It is usually advantageous to use two or more diodes in series rather than a single diode.
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It therefore seems natural to define the product of A and B as in Eq. (1).
It is conventional to assume (represent) that…
It is convenient to define (extent)…
It is interesting to observe …
It is necessary to determine the condition under which the reaction takes place.
It is clearly not feasible to apply the definition as a practical way of calculating…
It is tedious but straightforward to solve the differential equation shown above.
2. “It is + adjective + that…”
It is apparent that the difference between elements is in the structure of their atoms.
It is impossible that…
It is important that…
It is necessary that…
It is preferable that…
It is reasonable that…
It is obvious that…
It is not surprising that…
It is no wonder that…
It may be puzzling at the first sight that…
It is satisfactory that…
It is obvious that transposing twice in succession returns any matrix to itself.
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3. “It is + participle + that…”
It is known that…
It is believed that…
It is accepted that…
It is learned that…
It is assumed that…
It is demonstrated that…
It is considered that…
It is recommended that…
It is noted that…
It is supposed that…
It was found experimentally that…
It is intended that…
It was found that…
It is predicted that…
It has already been proved by some economic studies that…
It must be admitted that…
It can be shown that…
It should be pointed out that…
It can be seen from Fig. 1 that…
It was noted above that…
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4. “It is + gerund (or noun) + that…”
It is a common practice that…
It is worth noting (mentioning) that…
It is a fact that laser is different from incoherent light.
5. “It + connecting verbs (or intransitive verb) + that…”
It turns out that…
It seems that…
It appears that…
It remains that…
It happens that…
It seems possible that…
It seems impossible that…
It becomes evident that…
It goes without saying that oxygen is the most active element in the atmosphere.
It follows that the greater the conductance a substance has, the less the resistance.
6. Other sentences using “It” as the subject
It takes about twenty eight days for the moon to revolve around (circle) the earth.
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B. Use “as” to form a clause or phrase
1. Use “as” to form a clause
As we have mentioned in the previous section…
As has been stated in the previous section…
As mentioned in the previous section…
as shown in Fig. 1
as proved in Eq. (1)
as described in Sec. 1
as illustrated in this figure
as proposed in Ref. 1
as indicated in Table 1
as pointed out by M
as remarked in Sec. 1
as explained previously
as defined in Eq. (1)
as opposed to…
as sketched in Fig. 1
as demonstrated before
as given in Appendix A
(incorrect) As we have indicated it in Fig. 1…
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Use “as “ to form a phrase
as follows
as above
as before
as a whole
as a rule
as usual
as a result
as a matter of fact as in the case of…
as with…
as an example
as well
as such
as regards (in that regard)
The solution of Eq. (1) is as follows:…
As regards that problem, the experiment really agrees with the theory.
C. “be + participle” sentences
1. 中文述語前帶”被”字義:
Radio waves are regarded as radiant energy. (被認為)
Gases are frequently regarded as compressible.
2. 中文述語前無”被”字義, 但意義是被動:
Suppose the switch in the circuit is suddenly closed.
The amount of information about an event is closely related to its probability of occurrence.
3. 中文表達中含有”由”, “受”, “為”, “根據”等有被動含義:
These interference fringes were studied by Newton are called Newton’s rings.
Electric field is produced by an electric charge.
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4. 中文中有泛指”人們”, “大家”, “我們”等主詞的句子
Physics has been called the science of measurement.
Silver is known to be a good conductor.
5. 中文中含有”是…的”意義的句子
This property of forces was stated bt Newton in his third law of motion.
Telephone was invented in 1876 by A. G. Bell.
6. 中文表達中強調的成分不是主詞的句子
Heat is generated by friction.
A large portion of heat is absorbed by water.
7. 中文表達中有”將”, “把”, “對”等詞的無主詞句子
A mathematics class is divided into two sections, both of which are given the same test.
Some caution must be exercised in adding special densities.
8. 使用”be + participle” 句型注意事項
(incorrect) The first World War was broken out in 1914.
(correct) The First World War broke out in 1914.
(incorrect) No conclusion was arrived.
(correct) No conclusion was arrived at.
(correct) No conclusion has been arrived at.
(incorrect) The measurement can still be improved.
(correct) The measurement can still be improved upon (on).
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(incorrect) The decision must be abide by.
We must abide by the decision.
9. 科技寫作中, 有些動詞常使用被動語態
We are farced to face this option.
We are faced with familiar problem of solving a set of difference equations.
We are confronted with quite a selection of possible performance function.
The reader is reminded of the structure from which we obtain this equation.
Supposed we are given a sample of n variables having mean X and standard deviation S.
The student body president is asked to appoint a committee comprising of 5 males and 3
Readers are urged to do this problems by use of partial differentiation.
We might be inclined to think that…
We are also concerned with efficiency and therefore attempt to…
Fourier himself was concerned with the representation of the function given graphically.
We are supposed to start work at 8:00 every morning.
You are cordially invited to submit an original paper for consideration for the conference.
We are pleased to learn that your paper has been accepted for publication.
One who is acquainted with numerical integration procedures may…
Because we are limited to one dependent variable, we insist that…
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10. 以動作性質的名詞為主詞的 “be + participle” 句子
Some caution (care) must be exercised (taken) in adding special density.
Care must (should) be taken in this case to provide external logic for proper operation.
Several important observations can be made from Fig. 1.
Attention should be paid to safety in handling power equipment.
Brief reference should be made to one of the equations.
Account should be taken of the high melting point of this substance.
Allowance must be made for dramatic rapidity of computer communications.
Careful consideration is required when one is designing this kind of network.
If an attempt is made to use Eq. (1) to compute…
11. 不定詞的被動式
the major factors to be considered
the law to be mastered
the issue to be taken into consideration
to project to be accomplished
the banquet to be given
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the material to be polished
to item to be deleted
the satellite to be launched into space
the hydro-station to be established
important conclusion to be learned
D. 使用在句首的不定詞(infinitive) 為目的的副詞修飾語的句型
To emphasize these concepts, we now return to…
To proceed further into an analysis of…, we make use of…
To illustration the operation of…, it is convenient to choose…
T appreciate some of the underlying principles of…, we introduce the concept of…
To lay the groundwork for the nonlinear system, it is instructive to make use of…
To calculate the probability of error, we first make…
To investigate a mean-square minimization criterion, let us…
To be valid for all time, it must be…
To make it easier to discuss oxidation, we assign…
To smooth out short-term fluctuations in…, it is advantageous to use…
To begin with, consider a simple case of…
To demonstrate this result, let us approximate…
To compute the improvement in speed of…, we observe that…
To analyze sensor behavior, we consider…
To see how Eq. (1) is proved in general, suppose matrices A and B are both 33…
To obtain f(x), we use the transfer function…
To derive maximum performance from…, the system engineer must..
To make this method effective, we adopt the following procedure.
To develop this model, a conservation law of mass is applied…
To be an analytic function, F(s) must be continuous over the range of…
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Note: Be careful to write a logic sentence.
(incorrect) To conduct the test properly, the motor must run at a constant speed.
(correct) To conduct the test properly, one must keep the motor running at a constant
(correct) If the test is to be conducted properly, the motor must run at a constant speed.
E. 關於條件句與假設句
1. 使用”if” 的條件句型
If the nucleus contains an excess neutron, one or more of them will be converted into
If the forces F and G are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction, then they are…
(incorrect) If the forces F and G will be equal…
(This sentence represents a hope, not a condition.)
If the steam is not overheated, higher pressure will be necessary.
Unless the steam is overheated, higher pressure will be necessary.
If the engine had made to work in this way, it could have efficiency of 100%.
If the illness had been diagnosed early, it might have made all the difference.
If there should be a blackout, the emergency generator is switched on automatically.
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provided (that)
providing (that)
on condition that
subject to the condition
as long as
so long as
given + noun
only if
Provided R is less than the maximum range, this equation has two solutions for values of α
between 0o to 90o.
This design is likely to be accepted provided that the cost is reasonable.
Two matrices A and B can be added together only if they have the same rank.
The engine can be run at very high speeds on condition that the vibration can be damped
Given a properly designed nozzle, the steam flow will be smooth.
Knowing the electronic structure of atoms, we can interpret the chemical properties of the
metal in a reasonable way.
In the event of a large leakage of steam, the engine efficiency will fall.
In case of fog, aircraft can be guided down to the runway from the control tower.
A safety valve is filled in case the pressure in the boiler rises too high.
(in case 不同於 if, in case 用來談論預防措施以保安全)
An atom will become ionized if it loses an electron.
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b. 使用倒裝語句
Had the body been initially moving toward the right at 5 m/s, its initial momentum would
have been 10 kg.m/s toward the right.
Should the work not be completed by June, the contract will be cancelled.
c. 假設性語句
The assumption is made that there is no heat loss from the cylinder.
Assume (that) one-half the people in a certain community are regular viewers of
Assuming (that) the deflection of the galvanometer is 45 degrees, obtain the weight of
copper deposited.
The cylinder is assumed to be a perfect non-conductor of heat.
Suppose (that) we wish to find the instantaneous velocity of the particle in Fig. 1 at the
point P…
Imagine (that) the second point Q to be taken closer and closer to the first point P, and
Suppose that there is a gas in one compartment and that the other is empty.
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d. 其他
Investigate whether the following equations have a nontrivial solution, if so determine the
What happens if the computation of a coefficient is attempted for n > N?
Suppose the gain is large, say, A = 1000…
These gateways perform routine functions, provide program buffering, and, if necessary,
perform protocol translation.
F. Emphatic expressions 加強語句的表達
1. Typical expressions
It is this policy that leads to a comparatively low utilization of about 50% of installation
It is this molecular motion that we call heat.
It is in this respect that computer models are particular important. (強調副詞修飾語)
It was C. E. Shannon who made a truly outstanding contribution to symbolic logic when
he wrote his thesis at MIT.
It was not until 19th century that heat was considered a form of energy. (強調時間)
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2. Using insertions 插入語句
Often, especially for discrete data, noncontiguous boundaries are used.
The topic of linear algebra, particularly matrix theory, is a much-used topic used in
applied mathematics.
In many cases, notably in games of chance, the probability may be stated without
collection data of frequencies.
Some microprocessors, especially those intended for calculators, represent numbers in
binary-coded decimal form rather than as binary numbers.
Matrix theory is used extensively in the study of stochastic process, in particular in the
analysis of Markov chains.
3. Using reversed sentences 倒裝句
Of particular interest are the “common” logarithms to the base 10 and the natural
logarithms to the base e.
Of particular promise are communication satellites.
Beyond this, however, it is difficult to define a minicomputer precisely.
Later in the next we will learn to evaluate and compare the architectures of computers.
Included in this figure are two additional representations of exchange function.
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4. Using phrases 採用片語
In particular, if I = 1 then the state is said to be recurrent, if, on the other hand, I < 1,
then the state is said to be transient.
Transient behavior is discussed elsewhere in the text, notably in Chapter 2.
A point which is especially to be noted in connection with entering the minterms in a K
map is the following.
Most important of all 1 mole of any substance contains the same number of molecules.
5. Using auxiliary verbs 使用助動詞
a. “be”
When accepting your paper, Symposium committee is assuming that you or one of your
co-authors will present the paper at the Symposium.
In this sense, we are using the word probability to denote a belief found on a certain
amount of evidence.
Here we are assuming that the number n such that log n is an integer.
If we are dealing with a finite chains, then the last row of the matrix would be [0,0,1].
What is surprising is that Eq.(1) states that the bandwidth and signal-to-noise ratio can
be exchanged.
Here we are considering… This discussion, however, applies to…
For convenience in the present discussion we are taking clock-wise torques to be positive,
the opposite choice from that used in preceding sections.
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b. Use “do”
The wheels do revolve clockwise at an angular rate of α radians per second.
6. Using “such” and “so”
A possible way of generating the coefficients for such a representation is shown in Fig. 1.
The statistical averages are so important we will discuss them in detail.
7. Others
It is useful to reemphasize the distinction between bits and bytes to avoid confusion.
G. Sentences of negative voice 否定形式表達
1. Completely negative 全部否定
The students do not practice at this factory.
Friction is not always a bad thing as one might think.
These conditions are sufficient but not necessary.
No proof (s) will be given for Theorem 1.
At 100% relative humidity, no further evaporation can take place.
Liquids have no definite shape.
None of the computers operates normally.
Neither of these two questions has been solved.
Neither question has been solved.
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(incorrect) I think that he cannot operate the new microcomputer.
(correct) I do not think that he can operate the new microcomputer.
Ordinarily we do not consider iron as good conductor.
The train did not run because the fuel was exhausted.
The SPC exchanges are not widely used because they are too expensive.
This is not true in general.
Singularity functions do not occur in physical systems.
Newton’s first law of motion is not as self-evident as it may seem to be.
2. Partially negative 部分否定
All the answers are not given.
Not all answers are given.
Not all signals of interest have finite energy.
Not all decimal-to-binary conversions are as neat as this example.
Not all the information that we will used with a computer is numeric.
Not all the energy from an antenna is radiated in the main beam.
But we only have 1.0 g sulfur, so not all the silver can react.
This abbreviation is not used by all authors.
Both computer and oscilloscope are not available for use. (不是全都能用)
Every vessel did not arrive at the port of landing on schedule. (不是全都按期抵港)
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Phrases with negative meaning
out of accordance with 不按照
of little account 不太重要
be anything but 決不是
anything but 根本不
too…to + verb
too…for…to + verb
out of action 失去作用
rather than 而不是
but that 要不是
prevent from 不讓
be safe from 免於
free from 免於 沒有
protect from 防止
far from 遠非
be scarcely possible 幾乎不可能
hardly yet 幾乎還沒有
entirely different from 截然不同
In a system distribution environment the lower machines may be entirely different from,
and incompatible with, the higher machines.
The analogy between vectors and signals is more than coincidental.
The words of small computers are often too short to store numbers within the precision
needed for scientific computation.
Using antonyms 反義字
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counter measure
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Negative phrases 含有否定的片語
as often as not, more often than not 經常
can do no other than + infinitive 只能 , 別無它法
in no time, less than no time 立刻
no other than, none other than 正是, 恰是
none the less 還是, 仍是
no more than 僅僅
not more than 至多
at no time, in no case, in no way, not on any account, in no respect 決不
by no means, in no sense, not by any means 絕不是
if not 要不然
not a bit, not in the least 一點也不
not to mentioning 不用說
without mentioning 不用另作說明
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12.4 Propositions
A. Propositional phrases
1. “as”
as an example
as an approximation
above all 首先
above the average
as in the following table
above measure 非常
after the model 仿此模型
one after another 順序
time after time 屢次
named after + (name)
after all 終究
about the real axis
comments about the software
books about FORTRAN
across a one-ohm load
across a bandwidth B
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along the positive x-axis
along some arbitrary path
magnetic field around a long straight conductor
the line integral of B around a closed path
around a hundred years
around this problem
at the top of
at the first glance, at first appearance
at the time of
at the end of
at a rate greater than
at a temperature T
at constant speed
at right angle to each other
at a time t
at a later time t = 2 s
at the pole
at the center
at each instant
at the bottom end
at a depth about 30 m below
at hand
at will 隨意
at the beginning of
at a distance
at the expense of
at full length 詳細的
at all hazards 不惜任何代價
at our request
at the back of
at full speed
at point P
chapter 12
the idea behind…
the principle behind the method
The principle behind the method can be illustrated by a simple example.
10. “beside”
beside the question (point) 離題
11. “beyond”
beyond the range of…
beyond question 毫無疑問
beyond control
beyond description
beyond one’s authorization
beyond the reach of 力所不及
12. “by”
by definition
step by step
by the chain rule
by a rough estimate
by air (car, train)
one by one
item by item
by the yard
by implication 隱含的
chapter 12
term by term
by experience
by far the majority of
sponsored by
13. “during”
during the interval 
during program execution
during the compiling stage
14. “for”
for k > 0
for a fixed value of k
for various reasons
for purposes of application
for brevity (simplicity)
for variety
the highest value for y = cos x
for prerequisites
special attention for
for convenience in…
for simplicity’s sake, for (the) sake of simplicity
for the sake of
15. “from”
from Eq. (1)
from this result
prevent parts from corrosion
second from the left
from beginning to end
from cover to cover
16. “in”
in practice
in physics
from the fact that…
judge from appearance
from top to bottom
in Theorem 1
in this chapter
in the right-hand side of Eq. (1)
chapter 12
in units of km in SI units
in deriving Eq. (1)
in many examples
in a similar manner
in the numerator
in the absence of
in today’s technology
in the vicinity of 1
in the complex s-plane
in summary
in the remainder of this section
in more detail
in agreement with Newton’s laws
in reality, in fact
in the time interval between…
in using…
in equilibrium in the range of…
in preparation for
in acknowledgment of
in advance
in alternate lines
in repair
in the balance 懸而未決
in consultation with
in contradiction with
in the domain (field) of
in due time
in duplicate in extreme cases
in honor of
in the sequel 在後
in proportion
in harmony with
in ink (pen) in principle
in this notation
in the interval (a, b)
17. “on”
on the right
on logarithmic abscissa
on the positive half-cycle of
on multiplying Eq. (1) by sin x
on the order of
on this account 為此緣故
on the assumption that…
on the (an) average
on demand
on the edge of
on the interval [a, b]
chapter 12
on behalf of
on TV
on page 10
on the telephone
18. “of”
of all the three configurations
of the latest design
of long duration
of great moment 意義重大
a number of…
a total of the F column
19. “over”
over the interval (0, T) over a range of…
over the telephone
over 1000 people
constant over a wide range
20. “to”
to a good approximation
to accuracies of…
to the best advantage
to the benefit of
to the best of my knowledge
to a certain degree
accurate to 1 part in 10,000
120 pieces to a box
draw…to scale
legends to illustration (s)
chapter 12
on the radio
on both sides of Eq. (1)
of the total enrollment
of the first magnitude 最重要
of little moment
affiliation of author
over the air
over only positive values of n
to a great extent
to put it another way
to a considerable degree
a close approximation to…
not draw to scale
the preface to the book
the key to the problem
the solution to the problem
the answer to the question
an exception to the rule
21. “under”
under certain circumstances
under the condition of…
under constraint
under development
under discussion
under investigation
under review
under (a) cloud 受懷疑
under consideration
under construction
under the direction of
under the sponsorship of
under the hypothesis that…
under repair
22. “upon”
upon making use of Eq. (1)
upon inspection of
upon solving Eq. (1) for X
upon the condition that
23. “with”
with reality
with great confidence
with the naked eye
with focus on
with accuracy of… with this approximation
with an effort
with the exception of…
with an eye to (on) 著眼於
with the help of
chapter 12
24. “within”
within accuracies of
within the restriction given above
within a given band of frequencies
within the range (bound) of
within the limits of…
within the limits of validity of Eq. (1)
within this interval
within a solid
within reach
25. “without”
without preliminaries 直接的
without distinction 無差別的
without doubt
without effort 不費力的
without any exception without regard for (to) 不考慮
without loss of generality
26. “versus”
amplitude versus frequency
a graph of F versus t
chapter 12
Verb + proposition
act as
agree with
be applied to
apply M on N
apply for
arise from, arise out of
associate with
arrive at, attain to 得出
attempt to
be attached to 附屬於
attribute to
attest to 證實
awake to 領會
be based on (upon)
bear in mind begin with
belong to
behave as
bring about 引起
bring forth 產生 bring out 顯示
call for
carry out
check up
consist of
be composed of
center around
conform to 符合
consult with cope with
check N against M compare to 把…比作
compare with 與…比較
be confronted with compensate for
deal with
divide… into
depend on (upon)
depart from違背
differ from
dispose of 處置
exchange for get around 迴避 gain an insight into 深入瞭解
give up
be engaged in
face with
fill in
fill out
find out
follow after追求 identify…as
improve on (upon)
insert into
impose on (upon) 施加於
be independent of
lead to
look at
pay attention to
prefer to
pick up
point out
print out
proceed from從…出發
proceed to 著手
put aside
put forward 提出
chapter 12
put into practice 實施
refer to A as B 稱A為B
resolve into 分解為
set about 著手
search for, look for
take…as example
remind…of 提醒
assign M to N
correspond to
put off
refer to 參照
reckon up 計算出 relate to 有關
result in
result from
set forth 陳述
stand for
take account of 考慮到
think of
convert M into (to) N
pay for
make contact with
congratulate…on… reply to
postpone until (to)
Verbs without propositions
answer = reply to
Answer the following questions.
Answers to selected exercises must be filled in in ink.
approach = come near to
The limit of y/x when x approaches zero as a limit is the derivative dy/dx.
comprise = consist of
This paper comprises four chapters.
behind = at the back of
inside = on the inner side of
outside = out of …
chapter 12
round = on all sides of…
address = make a speech to
attend = be present at
A number of engineers have attended the conference.
attend to = give one’s attention to
I oppose this suggestion.
I am very much opposed to your going abroad.
regret = be sorry about
I regret to inform you that your paper has been rejected for publication.
12.5 Common expressions for terminologies
A. Definition
M is defined as N.
M is defined to be N.
A unit of work or energy, called the electron volt (eV), is defined as follows:
1 eV = 1.60  10-19 J
M is defined by N.
M is defined in terms of N.
It is for this reason that C, the heat capacity, is defined by dQ/dV rather than as the
ratio Q/V.
chapter 12
We define M as N.
We define M in terms of N.
We shall define cutoff as the current where the collector current is equal to the
reverse saturation current and the emitter current is zero.
M is called (termed) N.
M is known as N.
M is referred to as N.
M is spoken of as N.
This well-known and useful relationship is called Schwarz inequality.
The scheme is known as a method of “coincide reception” and the two network
involved are referred to as a pair of “matched filter.”
By M one refers to…
By M we mean (that)…, By M we imply that…
By the speed of transmission one refers to the instantaneous rate at which the
information is transferred over the communication facility.
So called white noise is an unrealizable process, full of inherent contradictions, yet
widely used in communication theory.
chapter 12
As the name implies, pseudorandom signals have the appearance of being
random, but are not true random. (顧名思義)
Implicit in this definition is the assumption that s is in any direction, or may
spiral into it, or follow any other path. (言外之意)
Note that Na has a single electron in the outermost unfilled subshell, and hence
is said to be monovalent.
Tetradentate literally means “four-toothed.” (字面上)
Around 100 B.C., Heron of Alexandria asserted that light travels between two points
by the shortest path.
During the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-905), a money order service was inaugurated,
which was certainly one of the earliest of the world.
In the late nineteenth century, the discovery of the radio signal led to the wireless
telegraphy at the turn of the twentieth century, in essence eliminating telegraph wires
between sending and receiving terminals.
Nearly two decades ago, the reintroduction by Cooley and Tukey of the fast Fourier
transform and the growing expertise in digital circuit technology led to the revolution
in signal processing.
The traditional form of organization shown in Fig. 1 was in general use from 1920
into 1960’s.
chapter 12
In recent years, digital signal processing encompasses a broad spectrum of
The most interesting of the public network architectures at the time of writing
is the AT&T’s Advanced Communications Services.
In the past, the process of digital system design normally had five steps. Today,
the same goal is achieved with four steps.
Your paper is being passed on to the reviewers, and notification will be mailed
to you on November 1, 2006.
Sentences started with adverbs
Consequently, it is possible in this case to recover the continuous signal x(t) from
the discrete signal.
Probably, the most important of the three categories is that associated with the user.
Actually, we should have known this as a result of the symmetry in the waveform.
Functionally, the communications channels between switching system are referred
to as trunks.
Physically, Equation (2) tells us that a way to test a linear time-invariant system is
to apply a sinusoid of known amplitude, frequency, and phase to the input of the
chapter 12
Mathematically, a system is a rule for mapping inputs into outputs.
Theoretically, this method exhibits quadratic convergence when the parameter
vector P is sufficiently to close to optimum.
Experimentally, side 1 is found to become positive with respect to side 2 for a ptype specimen.
Characteristically, one uses the transformation as a mathematical or physical tool
to alter the problem into one that can be solved.
Analytically, we can express x(t) as…
Intuitively, it is also clear that the output filter is required.
Numerically, we can easily calculate P(t)…
Traditionally, point-of-sale, banking, data acquisition, and process control
systems have been based on hierarchical architectures.
Historically, the integral sign is merely the long s used by early writers to indicate
Inevitably, the ideal solution would have been…
Conventionally, levels are expressed at different points with respect to a chosen
point, known as zero reference point.
Classically, it was believed that the atoms were systems that emitted radiation
continuously in all direction.
Specifically, let the input signal to a network be the unit impulse dunction.
chapter 12
Occasionally, path profiles are drawn on rectangular graph paper.
Generally, any type of interference in a digital transmission system results in a
deterioration of the error rate.
Essentially, the coder consists of a voltage-controlled oscillator followed by a
binary counter.
Unfortunately, this integral cannot be evaluated in closed form…
Originally, mobile phone service was on a completely manual basis.
Surprisingly, both approaches yield the same measure of information in a message.
Ironically, pulse code modulation offered the solution.
Incidentally, the spectral response of the semiconductor photodiode is the same as
that for a photoconductive cell.
Chronologically, we are now at the dawn of the age of awareness.
Happily, this integration can be carried out numerically…
Logically, most of telephone activity will be among the subscribers of the first
town and among those of the second town.
Presumably, the same forces were acting before the film was punctured.
Rarely does one know the constraint function f with absolute precision.
Typically, a compressed image when decoded to reconstruct its original form will
be accompanied by some distortion.
Finally, Part IV covers the major application areas of adaptive signal processing.
chapter 12
Most notably, the input offset voltages and input bias currents are the major
sources of dc error.
Not surprisingly, END is the END pseudoinstructions.
More importantly, eigenvalue problem provides a direction solution scheme for
solving coupled differential equations.
More promisingly, computations for modern signal processing methods are often
reducible to basic matrix operations, such as matrix inversion.
Listing and categorizing
CCITT classifies balance return loss as two types:
(1) Balance return loss from the point of view of echo.
(2) Balance return loss from the point view of stability.
The basic FORTRAN statements fall into two classes: nonexecutable and executable.
There are three basic types of modulation which are used for data communication:
amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, and phase modulation.
There are four basic electromechanical processes of recording in use today: (1)
electrolyte, (2) electrothermal, (3) electropurcusive, and (4) electrostatic.
In designing a distributed system we are concerned with such questions as :
* Where are the units of processing required?
* How large are these Units?
chapter 12
The differences are due mainly (1) to the variable length and (2) to the fact that
a wider facilities is variable.
There are three basic methods of modulating a radiowave: by amplitude, by
frequency, and by phase.
This means (1) that the body as a whole either remains at rest or moves in a
straight line with constant speed, and (2) that the body is either not rotating at
all or rotating at a constant rate.
Its functions are (1) to measure the input/output power, (2) to provide visual
indication, and (3) to maintain line continuity.
G. Extent
might may
not nice
not many
should ought to would
fairly nice
quite nice
rather nice
a moderate number of
a large number of
a certain number of
a great many
chapter 12
very nice
a few
a great many
a lot of
plenty of
To a small extent digital transmission has been in use on telephone network for
some years.
To what extent impulse noise will frustrate these objectives has yet been
Reliability is of prime importance in any electrical equipment.
of paramount importance
of over-riding importance
Last but not least is the inverse Laplace transform to yield the original solution.
Of the Mn-Tc-Re triad, Mn is by far the most important.
It has a key role in the expanding field of information technology.
We must consider the reasons pro and con.
Redundancy goes deeper than the subunits themselves.
This system is badly overworked.
The polling method is fairly self-evident (-explanatory).
In a mathematical sense the impulse response is a rather sophisticated concept.
This matrix contains no more than 10% non-zero elements in any row.
This work was supported in part by the National Science Commissions.
chapter 12
All atoms are more or less complex arrangements of subatomic particles.
Almost all the compounds of the alkali metals are soluble in water.
We wish to make P as small as possible.
This well-known relationship is called the Schwarz inequality.
H. Reasons
Correct the following sentence:
Because the present networks have evolved over a long time, so a great deal of
diversity in equipment types and implementations exist.
Because the program handles only one specific type of equation, there is no advantage
to subdividing into subroutine.
Binary multiplication is particular simple because they are only two cases.
Obviously, communication satellites became feasible and economically viable largely
because of microelectronics.
This rises mainly because electrical signals are relatively easy to control and travel
with velocities at or near that of the speed of the light.
At present, there can little doubt that the whole mankind is in mortal danger, not
because we are short of scientific and technological know-how, but because we tend to
use it destructively without wisdom.
Since each bit can have two values, seven bits have 27 combinations or 128 different
chapter 12
This is required since all the information bytes follow immediately with no interbyte
markers so the receiver “locks” its bit and byte timing at this stage.
As we know our institute library so well, we could locate any book easily.
Clearly, this element is nonlinear, for of we apply the homogeneity and additivity,
both will fail.
The importance of this theorem results from the face that we are able to calculate
by integration a magnitude.
The opportunities opened up by the concept of the ISDN are limited by many
restraints arising from the past.
If difficulties arise, they will not result from any complicated mathematics or from
a failure to remember the formula, but rather from a failure to select a proper
random number.
Due to the extreme variability of cable performance it has proved to be an
unrealistic task to model the major parameters of the local cable network.
This is due either to the noncoincidence of the two maxima of the used cost function
and of the MSE, or to the large residual variance of the error signal after the initial
Owing to the random nature of network theory, the following analyses involve
certain fundamentals of probability theory and stochastic process.
By virtue of its nonlinearity, a nonlinear resistor has a characteristic that is not at
all times a straight line through the origin of the v-i plane.
chapter 12
In view of how the sensitivity coefficients were defined in the preceding section,
Equation (1) can be written as…
On account of their importance we shall write the above two rules as formulas at
the head of the following list of “Standard Elementary Forms.”
Innovations are being introduced at an unusually rapid pace as a result of
advancing technology.
For the purpose (sake) of computation (in order to avoid the use of deviations) it is
best to write R in either of the two forms:…
The reason for the discrepancy immediately becomes evident if we recall that  is
a discrete variable.
Examination of these two figures leads to the following observations:…
This additivity results in a great simplicity in data handling.
The watt is a small unit of power, so that we use kilowatt instead.
As a result a section of the substrate will change from p-type to n-type silicon, and an
n-type channel will form.
It is important to point out that an electric field must exist in the bar in order for a
drift current to exist.
A variable resistance is led into the rotor, giving the motor a better starting torque.
Mercury is most commonly used in thermometers, having a constant coefficient of
chapter 12
J. “But”
(incorrect) Although learning mathematics is not easy, but it is very important.
(correct) Although learning mathematics is not easy, (yet) it is very important.
(correct) Learning mathematics is not easy but very important.
The older of these designs, based on electron tube technology, are no longer
manufactured but many are still in operation.
The study of these areas, however, requires specific tools.
Most of us will agree with this sentiment. However, it poses one serious problem:…
This idealized motion is spoken of as “free fall,” although the term includes rising as
well as falling motion.
Despite all its attractive features, no computer can be designed to replace the human
Despite the fact that there is an increase in size and complexity of the cyclotron, its
basic principles of operation are quite simple.
In spite of these losses, transformer efficiencies are usually well over 90%.
For all its wonderful differences, life on earth is merely an imaginative variation on a
single chemical theme.
Whereas analog data originate the natural physical world, digital data can be
regarded as part of the “artificial world.”
chapter 12
Even though (if) the dimensions may not appear to be correct in Eq. (1), the
multiplication or division by an appropriate resistance is implied in this
This book will use principally the MKS system, not only because it is convenient
and widely used in scientific work, but also because there seems little doubt that
metric system will eventually adopted world-wide for commerce and industry as
well as scientific work.
Professor Hokkins is famous not only in the United States, but also abroad.
Not only are we unable to watch individual molecules, we can choose the
orientation of the molecules upon collision.
The speed depends not only on the properties of the medium but on wavelength as
The important thing is not to imitate in detail but to understand the principle of
why things work in nature.
Most private networks are vertical rather than horizontal.
Instead of rising, the spectral curve falls at high frequencies, as in Fig. 1.
A television camera does not look at a scene as a whole in the same way as a film
camera, instead, it scans the scene.
Today costs still often favor the use of leased circuit, and hence the widespread use
of private network.
A system may be linear yet time varying and vice versa.
chapter 12
K. “With” and “Without”
There is more than one way of combining two atomic wave functions.
There appears to be more reasons for changing the design.
There is a teacher and some students in the classroom.
Of the freshmen in a certain college, it is known that 20% attended private secondary
schools, and 80% attended public schools.
In the presence of an input signal, the gain G is not determined by the noise level.
Among these are the bridge circuit, several voltage-doubling circuit, and a number of
multiplying circuits.
Still another block code is the group code.
With these added insight, let us reconsider the results of Example 1.
Starting in 1964, linear integrated circuits became available.
In the absence of a signal, the gain G is determined by the noise level.
Without it, there would be communication problem.
A large scale cancer research study is to be taken on persons none of whom currently
shows any sign of cancer.
Neither of these gears is engaged.
In general, neither symmetry nor triangularity is preserved in this case.
In Coulomb’s time, no unit of charge had been defined, nor had any method been
developed for comparing a given charge with a unit.
chapter 12
“Comparison” and “Contrast”
This result can be compared with the predicted change.
Compared with long division, this method is superior since it involves writing down no
numbers rather than the data and the answer.
The following advantages offered by integrated-circuit technology as compared with
discrete components interconnected by conventional techniques:…
Since L is very small in comparison with the transistor currents, we may ignore it.
Comparison of discrete and continuous distributions suggests that one might go the
former to the latter by replacing…
In contrast to the British units, we find that the SI units do in fact yield…
A sharp-cutoff bandpass filter can be made with a shape factor as low as 2; in contrast,
the shape factor of a simple RC lowpass filter is almost 600.
As opposed to this uncontrolled access scheme one could consider the highly controlled
resource allocation shown in Fig. 1.
The contrast between continuous and discrete distributions is worth emphasizing.
Consider the sensitivity of H with respect to the gain G.
The proceeds of this year amount to three million, against two million last year.
amplitude versus frequency response characteristic
analysis versus design
chapter 12
M. “Similarity”
This computer is similar to the other one in design.
The two engines are identical in size, but the new one develops greater power.
In an analogous manner we may construct for each point of the curve a tangent circle
whose curvature is the same as the curvature of the curve itself at that point.
There is a close parallel between the design theories of continuous system and sampleddata systems.
As before, the second term appearing on the right hand side of Eq. (1) is referred to as
correction term.
As usual, we multiply the jth term in Eq. (1) by Z and then sum overall applicable j.
The mode, like the median, is easy to understand and is not greatly influenced by
extreme cases.
As with analog circuits, the electronic devices used in digital circuits include the diode,
the bipolar transistor, and the field-effect transistor.
N. “Difference”
Heat waves differ from light waves (only) in their different wavelengths.
Conduction is different from convection in the way in which the transfer of heat is
Copper unlike rubber is a good conductor of electric current.
Unlike random noise, impulse noise is measured by the number of “hits” per interval of
time above a certain threshold.
chapter 12
The line here is gray, much like the line between minicomputers and microcomputers.
We can distinguish between minicomputers and microcomputers according to the
amount of software support and peripheral equipment available.
There is little, if any, difference between them.
The reason for the discrepancy is that…
Another hazy distinction between A and B is that…
These more complex devices are still terminals as far as the communication channel
is concerned.
So far as its period of vibration is concerned, the mass of a physical pendulum may
be considered to be centered at a point whose distance from the pivot is L.
There is a point of interest to be noted in connection with the application of the term
saturation to a transistor.
The usefulness of these properties has been pointed out by Smith [2] in the context of
multipoint networks.
The price of this computer is not high, considering its quality.
It is instructive to compare the various pulse modulation systems in terms of
information transfer.
Integration is, on (upon) the whole, a more difficult operation than differentiation.
To the best of author’s knowledge there are a number of methods for solving this
chapter 12
O. “Means”
Rapid heating in the boiler is achieved by (means of) forced circulation.
By lining the furnace with firebricks, heat loss can be reduced.
(Note: “by means of” cannot be placed at the beginning of a sentence.)
We recognize the inverse of this transform by inspection.
He developed his theories by observing nature and building on what others had done.
Again with (the help of) Eq. (1), we get…
On small computers, both multiplication and division may be done either with hardware
or with software.
One way to increase the gain is to include more stages.
The use of the notation yn  y is meant to indicate that y = lim yn as n  .
Using Eq. (1) yields (gives, produces)…
This model is widely used for modeling film-grain noise.
Upon making use of Eq. (1), we can get…
Without the use of impulses the pdf may not exist.
In practice, the latter is more widely employed.
Some countries utilize water for producing electric power.
An alternative approach to the design of … is that…
At first sight (glance, appearance) it appears that it is advantageous to maximize the
pulse width  in order to reduce the transmission bandwidth.
Such a signal can be thought of as a collection of signals.
chapter 12
“Based on…”
It was found by experiment that the maximum probability of photoionization occurs when
energy of photon is equal to the ionization potential.
By observing …, it follows that…
From the Boltzman relationship, it seems reasonable that P should depend exponentially
upon V.
The explanation for this interesting observation follows from the fact that the phase  is
equal to the phase of *.
It is evident from the general nature of viscous effect that the velocity of a viscous fluid
flowing through a tube is not the same at all points of a cross section.
(incorrect) According to my opinion, …
(correct) In my opinion, …
(incorrect) According to the government’s view, …
(correct) In the government’s view, …
According to this definition, the bandwidth of the system is W = W* radian per second.
People see things differently according as they are materialists or idealists.
The science of mechanics is based on the three nature laws which were clearly stated for
the first time by Issac Newton.
This equation is based on the fact that the charge can be neither created nor destroyed.
On the basis of our earlier discussion we could expect that…
It is justified on the physical basis that…
chapter 12
Subject to the restriction x << 1, the approximate formulas given above are valid.
In accordance with common usage we shall refer to mean absolute deviation
merely as mean deviation.
In (the) light of duality between n and m, it is sometimes useful to consider n to be
an angular disturbance, with units in radians.
Q. “Respectively”
Consider two samples of size n and m, respectively, from two identical populations.
Here U is a function of the three independent variables x, y, and  representing,
respectively, two sides and the included angle.
Let x, y, and z be the abscissas of the points O, P, and Q, respectively.
The temperatures at which these two transitions occur are the boiling point and the
melting point, respectively.
Unless otherwise specified, use of 5% level of significance…
Unless otherwise designated, the variable will be denoted by x.
Unless otherwise stated (mentioned), this system of units is employed throughout the
Unless appropriate care is taken during the design process, system performance
problems may occur.
chapter 12
Besides addition and subtraction, computer must be able to execute a variety of logical
In addition to conduction current, the transport of charges in semiconductor may be
account for by a mechanism called diffusion.
All atoms, except those of hydrogen, contain one of or more neutrons in the nucleus.
Except at the magnetic equator, the earth’s field is not horizontal.
All solids expand when they liquefy except for a few others.
No general expressions can be given for the motion of a body when acted on by a variable
force, except that the acceleration at each instant must equal the force at that instant
divided by the mass of the body.
Any number below 10 is written out, except as mentioned below.
Apart from the scaling constant A, this spectrum is dependent only on the parameter
choices B and C.
Thus scaling can be avoided but the most exotic scientific calculations.
With the exception of the earth, none of the planets inhabited.
Other than voltage gain, the primary determinants of operational amplifier dc
performance are the input characteristics.
chapter 12
Chapter 13. Sentence Structure
Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. A clause is a group of words that
contains (at least) a subject and a verb. These are clauses:
ecology is a science
because pollution causes cancer
These are not clauses:
to protect the environment
after working all day in the chemistry laboratory
There are two kinds of clauses: independent and dependent.
Independent clauses
An independent clauses contains a subject and a verb and expresses a complete
thought. It can stand alone as a sentence by itself. The following sentences show
examples of independent clauses:
Students normally spend four years in college.
I will declare my major now, but I may change it later.
Because the cost of education has been rising, many students are having
financial problems.
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Dependent clauses
A dependent clause begins with a subordinator such as when, while, if, that, or who,
followed by a subject, verb, and complement. It does not express a complete thought and
cannot stand by itself as a sentence. These are dependent clauses:
…when the semester was over…
…who was accepted by the university…
…that the experiment was a success…
Clause connectors
Three groups of words are used to connect clauses in order to form different kinds of
sentences. They are subordinators (subordinating conjunctions), coordinators
(coordinating conjunctions), and conjunctive adverbs.
Subordinators (Subordinating conjunctions 次連接詞)
as if
because before
even though
so that
though unless
wherever whether
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as soon as
Coordinators (Coordinating conjunctions 等同連接詞)
There are only seven coordinators, which you can remember by the phrase FAN BOYS:
for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
Conjunctive adverbs
in contrast
besides consequently
however indeed
for example
on the other hand
in addition
Kinds of sentences
Every sentence is composed of one or more clauses and expresses a complete thought.
There are basically four kinds of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compoundcomplex. The kind of sentence is determined by the kind of clauses used to form it.
A. Simple sentences
A simple sentence is one independent clause. Note that a compound verb or a
compound subject can be used in a simple sentence. For example:
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I enjoy playing tennis with my friends every weekend.
I enjoy playing tennis and look forward to it every weekend.
My friends and I play tennis and go bowling every weekend.
B. Compound sentences
A compound sentence is two or more independent clauses joined together. Each
clause is of equal importance and could stand alone. There are three ways to join
independent clauses to form a compound sentence.
With a coordinator:
I enjoy playing tennis, but I hate playing golf.
With a conjunctive adverb:
I enjoy playing tennis; however, I hate playing golf.
With a semicolon:
I enjoy playing tennis; I hate playing golf.
Compound sentences with coordinators
A compound sentence can be formed with:
Independent Clause, + Coordinator + Independent Clause
The Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any other people, for their diet is
extremely healthful.
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Many Americans, on the other hand, do not eat a health diet, nor do they get
enough exercise.
Europeans should change their smoking habits, or they will risk developing
lung cancer.
Exercise: Complete the following sentences with coordinators.
Nuclear accidents can be devastate vast area, so
Solar heating systems are economical to operate, but
Ecologists know that burning fossil fuels causes holes in the ozone layer, yet
All nations off the world must take action, or
Compound sentences with conjunctive adverbs
The independent clauses of a compound sentence can also be joined by a conjunctive
adverbs, such as furthermore, however, otherwise, and therefore. The punctuation of
conjunctive adverbs is special: use a semicolon after the first clause and a comma after
the conjunctive adverb.
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A compound sentence can be formed with:
Independent Clause; + Conjunctive Adverb, + Independent Clause
Just like the FAN BOYS coordinators, conjunctive adverbs express the relationship of
the second clause to the first clause.
Coordinator Conjunctions
Conjunctive Adverbs
furthermore, besides
moreover, also
additional idea
but, yet
however, nevertheless
still, nonetheless
opposite idea
choice; “or else”
consequently, therefore
thus, accordingly, hence
Many colleges do not provide dormitories; however, they provide housing
referral services.
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Exercise: Complete the following sentences with conjunctive adverbs.
The college campus is located in the center of the city; therefore,
Students can attend day classes; moreover,
Students can live in dormitories; otherwise,
I have studied English for six years; however,
Compound sentences with semicolons
The independent clauses in a compound sentence may also be joined by a semicolon
only. This kind of sentence occurs when the two independent clauses are closely related.
If they were not closely related, they would be written as two simple sentences, separated
by a period.
My older brother studies law; my younger brother studies medicine.
The Berlin Wall’s construction in 1961 surprised the world; its destruction in 1989
stunned it.
Poland was the first Eastern block country to turn away from communism; others
soon followed.
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Exercise: Complete the following sentences with semicolon.
1. The American way of life apparently does not foster martial happiness;
2. Motherhood causes some women to quit their jobs; ___________________________.
3. America is becoming a nation of working mothers; ___________________________.
Complex sentences
A complex sentence contains one independent clause and one (or more) dependent
clause. In a complex sentence, one idea is generally more important than the other one.
The more important idea is placed in the independent clause, and the less important idea is
placed in the dependent clause.
1. Although women could own properties, they could not vote.
2. Women could not vote although they could own properties.
3. Men who are not married are called bachelors.
4. Last summer we rented a house in Luxembourg, which is a small country in Europe.
5. That the earth’s temperature is rising concerns scientists.
6. Scientists believe that the earth’s temperature is rising.
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There are three kinds of dependent clauses used in complex sentences: adverb,
adjective, and noun. A dependent adverb clause begins with an adverbial subordinator
such as when, while, because, even though, so that, if, etc. There are two possible
positions for a dependent adverb clause: before or after the independent clause. If it
comes before the independent clause, it is followed by a comma (ex. 1). If the dependent
adverb clause comes after the independent clause, no comma is used (ex.2).
A dependent adjective (relative) clause begins with a relative pronoun such as who,
whom, which, whose, or the relative adverbs where, when, and why. A dependent
adjective clause functions as an adjective; that is, it modifies a noun (ex. 3 and ex. 4).
A dependent noun clause begins with that, a wh-question word, whether, and
sometimes if. A noun clause functions as a noun; that is, it can be a subject (ex. 5) or an
object (ex. 6) of the independent clause.
Exercise: Add a logical independent clause to each of the following dependent clauses.
1. _______________________________ until I pay my tuition.
2. _______________________________ unless I take twelve credit units.
3. It is a fact that _________________________________________.
4. ________________________________ who is the chairman of the department.
5. Because I had to look for a part-time job ________________________________.
6. ______________________________ if I want to get to school on time.
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__________________________ whether I should take calculus.
____________________________ whom I met at the social club meeting last month.
____________________________ when I left my country.
____________________________ that my college adviser recommends.
Compound-complex sentences
A compound-complex sentence is a combination of two or more independent clauses
and one or more dependent clauses. It is like a family of two adults and one or more
After I graduated from high school, I went to travel, but I had to work in my family’s
The word root “multi,” which means many, comes from Latin, and the word root
“poly,” which also means many, comes from Greek.
Although women could own properties, they could not vote, nor could they be elected
to public office.
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In order to make the ideas in your sentences clear and understandable, words, phrases,
and clauses should have parallelism – that is, the sentence structures should be
grammatically balanced. Parallel construction is the repetition of grammatical patterns
within a sentence or a series of sentences. By using similar grammatical forms to express
equal ideas, your sentences will flow smoothly, and your writing style will improve.
Use similar grammatical structures to balance your writing. If the first structure is a
noun, make all of the others nouns; if it is a dependent clause, make all of the others
dependent clauses.
Incorrect: A student needs textbooks, notebooks, and he needs pens.
Correct: A student need textbooks, notebooks, and pens.
Incorrect: A student who does well in exams attends class, reads the textbooks, and he
reviews the notes.
Correct: A student who does well in exams attends class, reads the textbooks, and reviews
the notes.
Incorrect: The student wanted to know what the assigned calculus problems were and the
due date.
Correct: The student wanted to know what the assigned calculus problems were and when
the due date was.
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Conjunctions – and, or, but
Words, phrases, and clauses that are joined by and, or, and but are written in parallel
form. Notice the parallel structures joined by conjunctions in the following sentences.
The Federal Air Pollution Control Administration regulates automobile
exhaust, and the Federal Aviation Administration makes similar regulations
for aircraft.
The states regulate the noise created by motor vehicles but not by commercial
Pesticides must be removed from the market if they present an adverse effect
on man or on the environment.
Correlative conjunctions
Use parallel forms with the correlative conjunctions both…and, either…or,
neither…nor, and not only…but also.
Congress has provides the means for both regulating pesticides and ordering
their removal if dangerous.
Air pollutants may come either from the ocean as natural contaminants given
off by sea life or from the internal combustion engines of automobiles.
If neither industry nor the public works toward reducing pollution problems,
future generations will suffer.
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Many people are neither concerned about pollutants nor worried about their
future impact.
At the present time, air pollution is controlled through laws passed not only to
reduce the pollutants at their sources but also to set up acceptable standards of
air quality.
Exercise: Rewrite the following sentences in parallel form.
1. Attending the symphony or to go to the theater is what I enjoy the most.
2. Credit cards are accepted by department stores, airlines, and they can be used in
some gas stations. _________________________________________________.
3. You do not need to risk carrying cash or to risk to miss a sale.
4. With credit cards you can either pay your bill with one check, or you can stretch out
your payment. ______________________________________________________.
5. You can charge both at restaurants and when you stay at hotels.
6. Getting a defective product fixed or to have it replaced is what a comprehensive
warranty guarantees.
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13.5 Common errors in sentence structure
A. Sentence fragments
Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences or parts of sentences. Remember that a
complete sentence must contain at least one main or independent clause.
1. Because some students have part-time jobs in addition to going to school.
This is a subordinate clause.
To correct:
Attach it to an independent clause.
Complete sentence:
Because some students have part-time jobs in addition to full-time class work, they
have very little free time.
2. For example, the increase in the cost of renting an apartment.
No main verb.
To correct:
Rewrite the sentence so that it has a subject and a verb.
Complete sentence:
For example, the cost of renting an apartment has increased.
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3. Having no money and being lonely in the big city.
This is a participial phrase. It has no subject or verb.
To correct:
(a) Rewrite the phrase to include a subject and a verb.
(b) Attach the phrase to an independent clause.
Complete sentence:
(a) She had no money and was lonely in the big city.
(b) Having no money and being lonely in the big city, the woman committed
4. Many people who get married before they are mature enough.
This is a noun followed by a dependent (adjective) clause.
To correct:
Rewrite the clause by eliminating the adjective clause aspect.
Complete sentence:
Many people get married before they are mature enough.
Always check your own writing for sentence fragments! Pay particular attention to
your sentences beginning with subordinating conjunctions (although, since, because, if,
before, etc.). These are DANGER WORDS! Make sure that every subordinate clause
beginning with these words is attached to an independent clause.
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Exercise: Rewrite the following sentences to eliminate sentence fragments.
1. The desire of all mankind to live in peace and freedom, for example.
2. Second, the fact that men are physically stronger than women.
3. “Born on the fourth of July” was the best movie that I saw last year.
4. For example, many students have part-time jobs.
5. Although people want to believe that all men are created equal.
6. Finding a suitable marriage partner is a challenging task.
7. Many of my friends who did not have the opportunity to go to college.
8. Working during the morning and attending classes during the afternoon.
9. Because I don’t feel the grades in college have any value.
10. The nuclear accident that occurred in Russia in 1986, the worst nuclear accident in
history. ___________________________________________________________.
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Choppy sentences.
Choppy sentences are sentences that are too short. They are the result of using too
many simple sentences.
Choppy: We must find new sources of energy. The earth’s natural sources of energy are
dwindling. Solar energy is a promising new source of energy. Solar energy is
energy from the sun’s radiation.
Choppy: Government and industry are spending huge sums of money to develop solar
energy. Research scientists are working hard to develop economical means of
converting the sun’s ray into usable energy.
Choppy sentences are easy to correct. Just combine two or three simple sentences to
make one compound or complex sentence. Your decision to make a compound or a
complex sentence should be based on whether the ideas in the simple sentences are equal
or whether one sentence is dependent on the other.
1. If the simple sentences are equal, make a compound sentence, using a coordinating
conjunction (and, or, but, so, yet, nor, for “FAN BOYS”) or a conjunctive adverb
(moreover, otherwise, however, therefore, etc.)
2. If one sentence depends on the other, make a complex sentence, using a subordinating
conjunction (who, which, when, although, because, since, if, etc.)
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Government and industry are spending huge sums of money to
develop solar energy, and research scientists are working
hard to
develop economical means of converting the
sun’s rays into usable
We must find new sources of energy because the earth’s natural
energy are dwindling. Solar energy, which is energy from
the sun’s
radiation, is a promising new source of energy.
Exercise: Improve the following sentences by combining them to make either compound
or complex sentences.
1. Gasoline is becoming expensive. Automobile manufacturers are producing smaller
cars. Smaller cars use less gasoline.
2. The computer has undoubtedly benefited humanity. The computer has also created
problems for humanity.
3. Government and private agencies have spent billions of dollars advertising the
dangers of smoking. The number of smokers is still increasing.
4. The grading system at our college should be abolished. The students don’t like
getting grades. The instructors don’t enjoy giving grades.
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Run-On sentences and comma splices
A run-on sentence is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses are
written one after another with no punctuation. A similar error happens when two
independent clauses are incorrectly joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction.
This kind of error is also called a comma splice.
Comma Splice:
Getting married is easy staying married is a different matter.
San Francisco is a very cosmopolitan city, there are people from
many cultures and ethnic groups living there.
A comma splice alone cannot join two independent clauses.
A run-on/comma splice sentence can be corrected by adding:
1. a period:
Getting married is easy. Staying married is a different matter.
2. a semicolon:
Getting married is easy; staying married is a different story.
3. a coordinating conjunction:
Getting married is easy, but staying married is a different story.
4. a subordinating conjunction:
Although getting married is easy, staying married is a different story.
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Exercise: Correct the following run-on/comma splice sentences using the method indicated.
A foreign student faces many problems for example he has to cope with a new culture.
(a) (Add a period.) _____________________________________________________.
(b) (Add a semicolon.) __________________________________________________.
San Francisco is a very cosmopolitan city, there are people from many cultures and
ethnic groups living there.
(a) (Add a period.) _____________________________________________________.
(b) (Add a semicolon.) __________________________________________________.
© (Add a subordinating conjunction.) ______________________________________.
(d) (Add a coordinating conjunction.) ______________________________________.
Learning a new language is like learning to swim it takes a lot of practice.
(Add a coordinating conjunction.) _________________________________________.
Ask for assistance at the reference desk in the library, there is always a librarian on
(Add a semicolon.) _____________________________________________________.
Hang-gliding is a dangerous sport you can easily break your leg.
(Add a subordinating conjunction.) ________________________________________.
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Stringy sentences
Another type of problem that students sometimes create is the stringy sentence. This is
a sentence with too many clauses usually connected with and, but, so, and because, forming
one very long sentence. The result is a sentence that seems endless.
Stringy Sentence: Many students attend classes all morning and they work all afternoon
and then they have to study at night so they are usually exhausted by
the weekend.
There are several ways to correct a stringy sentence:
Many students attend classes all morning and work all afternoon. Then,
they have to study at night. As a result, they are usually exhausted by
the weekend.
Many student, after they attend classes all morning, also work in the
afternoon. Because they also have to study at night, they are usually
exhausted by the weekend.
Many students, who attend classes all morning, work all afternoon, and
study all night, are exhausted by the weekend.
After attending classes all morning, working all afternoon, and studying
at night, many students are exhausted by the weekend.
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Exercise: Improve these stringy sentences. Use any method or combination of methods.
He enrolled in an advanced calculus class, but he found it too difficult, so he dropped
The tidal wave ruined the crops, and it destroyed several villages, and it caused many
deaths, so it was a real disaster.
The analysts works many hours on the computer program, but they couldn’t find the
cause of the problem, so they finally gave up, and they went home.
Junk food is bad for your health, and it also contains no vitamins, and it damages your
stomach, so people shouldn’t eat it.
The lack of rainfall has caused a severe water shortage, so people have to conserve
water every day, and they also have to think of new ways to reuse water, but the
situation is improving.
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Use the active and passive voices appropriately
The active voice focuses on the performer of the action, whereas the passive voice
focuses on the recipient of the action. In general, the active voice is preferable. The active
voice is always more concise than the passive voice. But the passive voice is superior to
the active voice in four cases:
1. when the performer of the action is clearly understood
Attendees are required to register for the conference by July 15.
(It is perfectly clear who is doing the requirement: the conference organizers.)
when the performer of the action is unknown
The comet was first described in an ancient Egyptian manuscript.
(We don’t know who wrote the manuscript.)
when the performer of the action is unimportant
The materials for the next set of experiments were ordered in March.
(It doesn’t matter who ordered them.)
when a reference to the performer of the action would be embarrassing, dangerous, or
in some other way inappropriate
Incorrect data were released to the press about the company’s toxic emission.
(Your boss did it.)
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Focus on the real subject
Make sure the subject of the sentence – what you are writing about – is clear and
emphatic. Don’t hide the subject in a prepositional phrase.
(weak): The purchase of the new robot would improve quality control.
(strong): The new robot would improve quality control.
(weak): The presence of the unidentified gene was detected last week.
(strong): The unidentified gene was detected last week.
A second way to focus on the real subject of the sentence is to cut down on the use of
expletives. The constructions – it is, there is, and there are, as well as related forms of the
to be verb – often can be removed without eliminating any useful information.
(weak): There are many factors that led to the motor damages.
(strong): Many factors led to the motor damage.
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G. Focus on the real verb
Sometimes writers sap the strength of their sentences by turning their verbs into nouns.
Once the original verb is changed into a noun, the writer has to create a new verb. The
new verb is almost always a disappointment.
(weak): An analysis of the sample was undertaken.
(strong): The sample was analyzed.
(weak): An investigation of the different options was performed.
(strong): The different options were investigated.
H. Use modifying elements effectively
A restrictive modifier restricts the meaning of the word or phrase to which it refers. In
other words, it identifies it by providing crucial information.
The missile in the museum exhibits are exact replicas of the originals.
Please pay particular attention to the instructions in Part III.
A nonrestrictive modifier, on the other hand, just provides extra information about
what it refers to. It does not provide crucial, identifying information.
The first mass-produced electric car, the Chevrolet Impact, was released in 1994.
As you leave, stop by the registration area, which is located in the main lobby.
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There are two common problems with modifiers: misplaced modifiers and dangling
1. A misplaced modifier is one that modifies the wrong part of the sentence. In general,
keep the modifier near the element it modifies.
The topic of the meeting is the future of hydroelectric energy in the
Red Lion Hotel.
The topic of the meeting in the Red Lion Hotel is the future of
hydroelectric energy.
A dangling modifier does not refer to anything in the sentence.
Analyzing the test report, the data sheet looked incorrect.
(The sentence doesn’t state who is doing the analyzing.)
As I was analyzing the test report, the data sheet looked incorrect.
Analyzing the test report, I thought the data sheet looked incorrect.
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Keep parallel items parallel
Here are some common kinds of parallelism problems:
1. unparallel voice: Place the new board in the slot. Then, the board should be pushed
in gently until it clicks into place.
parallel voice: Place the new board in the slot. Then, push the board in gently until
it clicks into place.
2. unparallel mood: The operator should follow the instructions in Part 2. Do not
change the pin setting.
parallel mood: Follow the instructions in Part 2. Do not change the pin setting.
3. unparallel enumeration:
First, be sure to check…Second, align the electrodes…Then, cap the electrodes…
parallel enumeration:
First, be sure to check…Second, align the electrodes…Third, cap the electrodes…
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Chapter 14. Paragraphs
In written form, English is divided into paragraphs to distinguish one main idea
from other ideas. The paragraph is the basic unit of composition.
Remember this:
1. A paragraph is a group of sentences which develop one central idea.
2. The central idea is usually stated in a topic sentence.
3. Every sentence in the paragraph must help the development of the topic sentence.
What makes a good paragraph in technical writing?
1. A good paragraph has “unity”: it focuses on a single idea or theme.
2. A good paragraph has “coherence”: one sentence leads to the next in some
logical sequence.
3. A good paragraph has “adequate content”: it has an appropriate selection and
number of details to support the main idea of the paragraph.
There are two principal tools you can use to invest your paragraphs with the qualities
just described:
1. A good topic statement, and
2. An appropriate pattern of organization.
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14.1 Write a good topic statement
The topic of a paragraph is its main idea or theme, i.e., what the paragraph is all
about. You can help your readers, therefore, by providing a good topic statement right
at the beginning of the paragraph. It does not have to be confined to a single sentence;
often a topic statement is extended over the first two sentences of paragraph. It should,
however, always contain one or more key words directly related to the topic, and it
should be as complete a statement of the main idea as possible.
Negative example:
Utility costs for the argon process are 75 percent greater than for the proposed
hydrogen process. Initial capital cost is $5.4 million, roughly three times the hydrogen
cost. However, annual income from the sale of argon, increased ammonia production,
and reduced natural gas requirements elsewhere in the plant is 160 percent higher than
that generated by the hydrogen process. Present worth analysis shows that the argon
process is the better investment. The present worth of the argon process is $10.25 million.
The present worth of the hydrogen process is $4.14 million.
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Good example:
The argon process is clearly a better investment than the hydrogen process. Although
it has a higher utility cost (by 75 %) and a higher initial capital cost (by 300 %), it
generates annual income – from the scale of argon, from increased ammonia production,
and from reduced natural gas requirement elsewhere in the plant – that is 160 % greater
than that generated by the hydrogen process. Present worth analysis shows that the argon
process is valued at $10.25 million whereas the hydrogen process is valued at $4.14
Exercise: Choose a topic sentence
A. Both the computer and the telephone are helpful inventions.
B. Computer terminology, such as input and output, is frequently used in other contexts.
C. Despite apparent differences, the operation of the computer and the telephone have
much in common.
________________________________________. The operation of both devices can
be thought of as being divided into three phases: input, processing, and output. In the case
of the computer, the information which is fed into the machine – the data – is the input; the
internal operations of the machine constitute the processing; and the result – usually a
printout – is called the output. The telephone, too, acts on information presented to it and
produces a result. The input is the actual dialing of the phone. The switching system
which locates the number can be considered the processing phase. Finally, the telephone
rings on the other end of the line, indicating that the call has been completed; this
Constitute the output.
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Exercise: Choose a topic sentence.
Flat tires constitute a serious problem for the motorist.
How to change a flat tire.
The two tools necessary to change a tire are considered standard equipment on new
U. S. automobiles.
________________________________. The jack is a portable device for raising the
car. It operates by means of force applied to a level on which the car is balanced. The
lug wrench is a tool with a fixed “jaw” for gripping the lug (the type of screw used to
hold a tire in place). It has a long handle so that it is effective in turning the lug, either to
tighten or to loosen it. These two tools, which are necessary to change a tire, are usually
found in the trunk of the car and are kept there at all times so that the motorist can use
them in case of a flat tire.
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Exercise: Write a paragraph which includes the following information.
•The principle of the methanol fuel cell is through chemical reaction that does not
pollute the air.
•Gasoline-powered cars pollute the air.
•The chemical reactions of methanol fuel cell include: a fuel processor breaks the
methanol down into carbon dioxide and hydrogen; the hydrogen is pumped to the cell
itself, where it combines with oxygen to form water.
•Electricity (current) of fuel cells is produced when the electrons traded between
molecules in this reaction travel through an external circuit.
•The net products of the fuel cell reactions are carbon dioxide, water, and electricity.
•The fuel cell alternative is virtually pollution-free.
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Unlike gasoline-powered cars, the fuel cell alternative is virtually pollution free. A
methanol fuel cell system works through chemical reactions that leave the air clean. A
fuel processor breaks the methanol down into carbon dioxide and hydrogen; the
hydrogen is then pumped to the cell itself, where it combines with oxygen molecules in
this reaction travel through an external circuit. The net products are carbon dioxide,
water, and electricity.
14.2 Develop a clear pattern of organization
Some of the most commonly used patterns of organization in technical writing are:
1. Process and Chronological (or narrative) description
2. Cause-and-effect analysis
3. Comparison and contrast
4. Listing
5. General-to-particular ordering of details
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1.1 Process
When supporting sentences are arranged in a step-by-step sequence which tells how
something is made or done, this development is called process.
In his will, Alfred Nobel left specific instructions as to how the winners of the science
awards he endowed are to be selected. First, each year the Swedish Academy of Sciences
and the Caroline Medical Institute solicit nearly 2,000 recommendations from past
laureates, university professors, and other experts from all over the world. The second
step is the review of the recommendations received and the selections of preliminary
candidates by special committees within the two Swedish institutes. The committee
members are specifically instructed that those chosen “shall have conferred the greatest
benefit on mankind,” and that no consideration be given to the candidates’ nationalities.
Next, after lengthy investigation and discussion, the final choices are made for each
discipline. Finally, telegrams informing them of their awards are sent to the new Nobel
laureates about one month prior to the award ceremony.
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Trapped heat in the atmosphere of the earth results in the Greenhouse Effect, but how
does it happen? First, the sun warms the earth, and then heat is trapped by some gases
in the atmosphere that acts like the glass in a greenhouse. Usually this heat is essential to
prevent freezing temperatures on earth, but as the levels of these gases are increased,
more heat is created than is necessary. Yet that is exactly what is happening on earth
today. The rising level of gases comes from two major man-made sources:
Chlorofluocarbons (a gas that escapes from refrigerators, air conditioners, plastic foams,
and spray cans) and carbon dioxide (a gas that comes from burning fossil fuels like coal
and automobile gasoline emissions). The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
has grown more than 25 % since the Industrial Revolution, and over 11 % since 1958. As
a result of the raised level of these two gases, “global warming” is occurring; the earth is
getting warmer.
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1.2 Chronological (Narrative) Description
It is commonly used, for example, to either describe or prescribe a step-by-step
procedure; First connect the vacuum tube…then return the plate…finally, close the gate
valve…It is used to recount a sequence of past events, as when you want to bring a reader
up to date, e.g., in a progress report or in the Review of Literature section of an article.
The most characteristic features of chronological description are:
Time adverbs and phrases
in 1990, last week, at 1:00 pm, first, second,
finally, soon after the engine started
Verb tense sequencing
Originally we wanted to…
More recently we have attempted to…
Now we are trying to…
We will try to…
Grammatical parallelism
Mount the grating near the end…
Locate a rider on the scale…
Adjust the grating…Read the pressure on the
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Not all of these features are likely to be found in any any one type of chronological
description. For example, descriptions of standard procedures (e.g., test procedures,
experimental procedures, assembly instructions) strongly favor the use of parallelism over
the other features. Descriptions of past events, on the other hand, tend to rely on time
adverbs and phrases and on different verb tenses.
John F. Kennedy’s early career gave a clear indication of his later political success,
which would culminate in his eventual election to the Presidency of the United States. As
an undergraduate at Harvard University, he achieved considerable academic distinct and
graduated cum laude in 1940. Soon after that, he joined the military and became well
known for his bravery: In 1945, he won both the Navy and Marine Corps medals for his
already impressive list of achievements when he was elected to Congress by an
overwhelming majority of the people of Massachusetts, his home state.
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Exercise: Write a paragraph using the pattern of chronological description.
Main theme: Total U.S. R&D spending is continuing to follow a significant growth trend.
Information of how the main theme is developed:
1. Total U.S. R&D spending is projected to reach $100 billion in 1997 which is 10 %
higher than that of 1995 and nearly double the amount spent in 1993.
2. The increased growth is mainly due to an increased emphasis on searching for
means to solve energy and environmental problems.
3. Between 1993 and 1995, energy accounts for one third of the R&D spending
4. Between 1993 and 1995, energy accounts for 10 % of the national R&D spending.
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Total U.S. R&D spending is projected to reach $100 billion in 1997, an increase of
10 percent over the 1995 figure and nearly double the amount spent on these activities in
1993. That growth resulted in large part from an increased emphasis on searching for
means to resolve energy and environmental problems. Between 1993 and 1995, energy
accounts for one third of the R&D spending increase while, at the same time, accounts
for 10 % of the national R&D spending.
In the relatively short span of sixty years, there has been an incredible evolution in
the size and capabilities of computers. Today, computers smaller than a note book have
the same capabilities as the room-sized machines of sixty years ago. The first computers
were developed around 1945. They were so large that they required special airconditioned rooms. About twenty years later, in the 1960s, desk-sized computer were
developed. This represented a gigantic advance. Before the end of that same decade,
however, a third generation of computers which used simple integrated circuits and
which were even smaller and faster, had appeared. In 1971, the first microprocessor, less
than one square centimeter in size, was developed. Today, electronic engineers predict
that even smaller and more sophisticated computers will be on the market before the
twenty-first century.
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Cause-and-effect analysis
This pattern of organization is used in technical writing for a number of purposes,
including (1) making a logical argument, (2) describing a process, (3) explaining why
something happened the way it did, and (4) predict some future sequence of events. The
characteristic signals of cause-and-effect analysis include:
Connective words and phrases
therefore, thus, consequently, accordingly, as a
result, so
Subordinate clauses
since, because (of), due to
Causative verbs
cause, result in, give rise to, affect, require,
Conditional constructions
when ozone reacts with nitric oxide, the ozone is
destroyed and NO2 is formed.
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Cause-Effect Development: Focus on Effect
Some scientists warn that the gradual warming of the earth’s atmosphere, known as
the Greenhouse Effect, will cause dramatic changes in the world. Such fertile areas as
the U.S. Great Plains may become deserts, while the now arid lands in Saudi Arabia may
become grain-producing farmland. Secondly, since rainfall patterns will change, water
supplies in some are will diminish. Experts predict, for instance, that the rice fields in
southeast Asia will someday require irrigation to sustain crops. Changes in water levels
will also be responsible for altered living patterns. Coastal areas, such as Florida and the
Netherlands, will experience such a dramatic rise in water levels that they will fall below
sea level and become uninhabitable. In other areas, like the Great Lakes, water levels
will gall; consequently, they will no longer be able to support industry with energy
supplies and a ready means of transportation. Since most experts on the Greenhouse
Effect are convinced that it is irreversible, they advise us to plan now for how best to cope
with a changing world.
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in agriculture
(examples: Great Plains,
Saudi Arabia)
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Structural signals:
(1) Sentence connectors
In some areas, water levels will fall;
as a result,
because of that,
there areas will no longer
be able to
support industry.
(2) Conjunctions
In some areas, water levels will fall,
these areas will no longer be able
to support industry.
Some areas will no longer be able
to support industry,
water levels will have fallen
in these areas.
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(3) Clause structures
The rise in temperature will be so great that
happen so fast that
dry out so much land that
destroy so many crops that
cause such terrible damage that
cause such a severe heat wave that
Because of the fact of
Due to the fact that
pattern will
rainfall patterns will change, water supplies will diminish.
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(4) Phase Structures
Because of
the increased heat, agriculture patterns will change.
Due to
As a result of
In view of
(5) Predicate structures
Changes in water levels will cause
changes in living patterns.
result in
be the reason for
be responsible for
contribute to
lead to
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Drastic changes in living patterns will result from
changes in water levels.
be a result of
be a consequence of
be due to
follow from
(5) Participial phrases
Water level will change,
result from
following from
changes in water level.
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Cause-effect development: Focus on cause
Why is it that American working women complain about job discrimination? Statistics
suggest that there is a basis for their grievances. According to recent Census Bureau
statistics, nearly 45 percent of all women of working age are in the labor force. Although
they have made progress in recent years, women are still underrepresented in traditionally
male professions. For example, women constitute only 9.4 percent of electrical engineers,
17.4 percent of doctors, and 15.2 percent of lawyers. A second area of complaint is
women’s median weekly and yearly earnings in comparison with men’s. The overage male
worker earns $336 per week, while a female worker earns only $225.
Traditionally male professions:
Women’s complaints
about job discrimination
Median Weekly/yearly earnings:
1. The average factory worker
a. Male –
b. Female –
2. …
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Cause-effect development: Chain reaction
For some time now, medical scientists have noted an alarming increase in diseases of
the heart and circulation among people who smoke cigarettes. It has been found that the
presence of nicotine in the bloodstream causes blood vessels to contract, thus showing
circulation, a condition which eventually leads to hardening of the arteries. As the
arteries stiffen, less blood reaches the brain, and the end result of this slowdown is a
cerebral hemorrhage, commonly referred to as a stroke. In addition, nicotine in the
bloodstream reduces the ability of the hemoglobin to release oxygen, resulting in shortness
of breath, thus causing the person to breathe more rapidly. This forces the heart to beat
faster – that is, the pulse rate increases – and in turn accelerates the risk of a heart attack.
the blood
The blood
Less blood
the brain
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of the
Exercise: Write a paragraph using the pattern of cause-and-effect analysis.
Main theme: An important property of a liquid is surface tension. It behaves like an
elastic covering that is continually trying to decrease the liquid’s surface.
Information of how the main theme is developed:
1. The surface tension had a tendency to contract the liquid into droplets as spherical
as possible.
2. The elastic attractive forces between molecules inside a liquid are symmetrical.
3. Molecules situated near the surface are attracted from the inside but not the outside.
4. The surface molecules experience a net inward force. Moving a surface molecule
of the surface requires energy.
5. The energy E required to remove all surface molecule out of range of the forces of
the remaining liquid is proportional to the surface area: E = A where , the
proportional factor, is called the surface tension.
6. The unit of the surface tension is measured in J/m2.
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One of the most important properties of a liquid is that its surface behaves like an
elastic covering that is continually trying to decrease its surface. A result of this tendency
for the surface to contract is the formation of liquids into droplets as spherical as possible.
Surface tension arises because the elastic attractive forces between molecules inside a
liquid are symmetrical; molecules situated near the surface are attracted from the inside
but not the outside. The surface ,molecules experience a net inward force; and
consequently, moving a surface molecule out of the surface requires energy. The energy E
required to remove all surface molecules out of range of the forces of the remaining liquid
is proportional to the surface area; therefore,
E = A
where , the proportionality factor, is called the surface tension,
 = E/A
and is measured in J/m2.
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1. Using the words: consequently, therefore, etc.
2. After introducing and discussing a new term in one sentence, the writer then uses it
in the next sentence as part of the framework for introducing the discussing the next
new term:
Surface tension…molecules situated near the surface…
The surface molecules…requires energy.
The energy E required…is proportional to…
the proportionality factor…is measured in…
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Comparison and contrast
Often, in technical writing especially, you will find it necessary to compare two or
more things that are similar in some ways but different in others such as cost-benefit,
trade-offs, and other choices that must be made from among various alternatives under
various constraints.
In writing a “comparison and contrast” paragraph, try to avoid jumping back and
forth from one alternative to another.
Characteristic features of comparison and contrast paragraphs include:
Connective words and phrases
Comparative constructions
Modal verbs
Subordinate clauses
however, on the other hand, conversely, similarly,
likewise, in contrast to
more than, -er, than, less than, as…as, rather than,
is different from
program X will be easy to implement, whereas
program Y would entail a number of
while, whereas, but
model X is reliable and efficient, whereas model
Y is unreliable and relatively inefficient…
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One final principle of comparison-and-contrast writing is this: phrase your words so
as to reveal your own preference in the comparison. In other words, do not just make a
simple comparison as if you were a neutral observer. Instead, allow your own
interpretation of the facts to color your description. Do not say, “Item X weighs 3.2
pounds, and item Y weighs 2.7 pounds,” say, “Item X weighs 3.2 pounds, whereas item Y
weighs 2.7 pounds.” After all, you are the one who made the study, and so you know
what the facts of the matter are.
Comparison and contrast development: From least to most important
In industry, especially on assembly lines, robots are better workers than human beings.
Unlike men, robots work in boring or dirty or unpleasant jobs without complaint or
absence. They will drill holes or make sheet metal parts for weeks and years at a time. In
addition, robots on the assembly lines are more cost-effective than men. They can work
24 hours a day, and their “up time” (that is, the time they are operable) is nearly 95 %, as
opposed to 75 % for the average human worker. More importantly, robots also work in
jobs too dangerous over a long period of time for men, jobs that cause disease, or jobs in
which frequent accidents occur with fumes or radiation. Most importantly, robots are
accurate. Human error is responsible for a 10 % rejection rate, but the robots’ rejection
rate is virtually zero. For all these reasons, industries are moving from human to robot
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Comparison and contrast development: Points of equal importance
There are three main differences between advertisements on television in Hong Kong
and advertisements on television in the U.S. First, there are only a few kinds of
advertisements in Hong Kong. For example, almost all the ads on television in Hong
Kong are about food and cigarettes. In the U.S., however, there are different kinds of ads:
in addition to food and cigarettes, there are also ads for cars and cosmetics, household
utensils and clothes, and many other items. Second, the TV ads in Hong Kong waste a lot
of time. There is a five-minute break every tem minutes for advertisements. In contrast,
the frequency of TV ads in the U.S. is low, and the time for the breaks is short. For
example, the longest ad I have seen lasted only for three minutes. Therefore, the watcher
will not be disturbed and forget the situation of a good program. Third, advertisements in
Hong Kong are very boring, and they all have the same style: for instance, all the cigarette
ads have the same scene of a beautiful beach. On the other hand, the ads in the U.S. have
different styles, and they are interesting too. For example, the special effects in one car
ad amazed me, and the creativity in the ads for jeans is very stimulating. In conclusion, I
love to watch TV ads in the U.S., but in Hong Kong, I turn off the TV when the ads come
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Technical writing presents frequent opportunities to put information in the form of lists.
If you are describing an experiment, for example, you will probably want to make a list of
the equipment used. If you are writing a progress report, you may want to make a list of
things already done and another list of things still to do. Lists may be either formatted or
unformatted. Formatted lists are set off from the rest of the paragraph by means of
indentation and/or numbering or lettering. Unformatted lists do not have such visual cues.
In both cases, all items in a list should be in parallel grammatical form. A second
important principle to follow when you constructing lists is this: if the items in a list are
not equally important, they should be arranged in descending order of importance.
In addition to coal and nuclear energy, a wide variety of other power sources are also
frequently discussed in the news and in scientific literature; unfortunately, most are not yet
ready for practice use. Geothermal energy is one of the more practical of proposed new
source. It is already in use in Italy, Iceland, and northern California but is not yet meeting
all expectations for it. Solar energy seems an elegant idea because it is inexhaustible and
adds no net heat or carbon dioxide to the environment. Yet present methods of exploiting
it make solar energy hopelessly inadequate as a major source in the next few decades.
Sophisticated windmills to generate electricity are also under study by some. Biomass
conversion is also getting under way.
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The different power sources discussed in this paragraph constitute an unformatted list:
Geothermal energy…
Solar energy…
Sophisticated windmills…
Biomass conversion…
This paragraph can also be written using a formatted listing as follows:
In addition to coal and nuclear energy, a wide variety of other power sources are also
frequently discussed in the news and in scientific literature; unfortunately, most are not yet
ready for practice use. These power sources include:
1. Geothermal energy. This is one of the more practical of proposed new source. It is
already in use in Italy, Iceland, and northern California but is not yet meeting all
expectations for it.
2. Solar energy. It seems to be an elegant idea because it is inexhaustible and
adds no net heat or carbon dioxide to the environment. Yet present methods of
exploiting it make solar energy hopelessly inadequate as a major source in the next
few decades.
3. Sophisticated windmills. Studies of windmills in generating electricity are
undergoing by some scientists.
4. Biomass conversion. This method of generating power is also getting under way.
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General-to-Particular Ordering of Details
A final rhetorical pattern commonly used in technical writing is the ordering of
supporting details from the more general to the more particular. Each sentence in this
pattern focuses on a smaller frame of reference than the sentence before it.
Magnetic bearings have been developed for aerospace applications, but only recently
has their practicality been demonstrated as the heart of energy storage systems. The
breakthrough is partly due to the recent development of stronger permanent magnet,
such as those made from rare-earth cobalt compounds. Only ten pounds of such
magnets could support two tons of rotor. Although the free suspension of a weigh with
permanent magnets is an unstable condition, an electromagnet servo loop has been used
successfully to stabilize the rotor position. The electromagnet servo loop is…
Topic: magnet bearings
Subtopic: permanent magnets
Subtopic: ten pounds of such magnet could…
Subtopic: electromagnet servo loop
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Chapter 15. Ten tips for writing well in business
15.1 Know your readers.
To write effectively, you must know your readers. The more you know, the better
you can focus your message on the individual or the group. Find out about such factors as
age, gender, interests, value, attitude, and knowledge of the subject.
If you don’t know much about your readers, try to at least categorize them into one of
four types:
* layperson – knows little about the subject
* expert – extremely knowledgeable about the subject
* executive – cares primarily about bottom-line information
* user – needs to understand in order to act
When in doubt, write so that the average 12-year-old could understand.
A layperson has little expertise in a subject matter and usually no particular
motivation to read what you write. So to be effective, you must motivate or attract your
readers; starting with a benefit helps. A layperson is not knowledgeable, so you must
Adjust your tone, style, and vocabulary.
Do: Find a way to attract attention.
Don’t: Bore your reader with detail.
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For example… If you are writing to employees (laypersons) about various health care
plans, find an interesting fact or a reason (benefit) for them to read your first paragraph,
like how they can receive 100% coverage for dependents. If you’re writing for people
who use computers but do not know any software program well, you might attract
attention by using an easy-to-understand analogy. You might also present one of the
benefits of using a particular software program, like the grammar- and style-checking
feature of a word processing program.
An expert cares about process and detail. An expert who is a chemist, for
example, would want to know how to reproduce your results by using all the procedures
you followed. Give experts the specifics. The same detail would scare or bore the
Do: Focus on procedure or process.
Don’t: Only give bottom-line data.
For example… If you write to an expert in health care benefits, spell out the details of the
policy. The expert will understand and appreciate the specifics. If you are writing about
computer software for programmers, you’ll want to go into particulars about how you
developed a particular program.
An executive audience wants bottom-line information. Detailed descriptions
that work for experts would not work with this audience. Use straightforward language
and tone. Give a benefit and the critical information first.
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Do: Get to the point immediately.
Don’t: Explain in detail.
For example… Give the executive audience a summary of the medical benefit package in
one paragraph or less. Then proceed with other important points. The manager in charge
of selling the software product isn’t interested in how it works, but in how she will sell it.
The user must carry out your instructions. For example, users of a software
package must read your documentation in order to do their job. These people don’t care
how you wrote the software; they want to know how to make it work.
Do: Realize that this person might not know as much as you do.
Don’t: Be too brief.
For example… The user in our health care plan example would need to follow the
complicated medical policy. Help the user by explaining clearly how to use each policy.
The person who must use the software and understand how he can make it work needs the
basics and in sufficient detail.
Dealing with the differences
Now, let’s look at an example. Imagine that you’re writing a series of letters to
promote your company’s newsletter about baseball. In preparing the pitch letters, you need
to appeal to a fan, an agent, an owner, and a player – four very different types of readers.
Notice how you write to deal with the differences among your readers.
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Layperson (baseball fan)
Dear Kate:
How do you get to watch your favorite baseball player Chien-Ming Wang? How
does an athlete make it from the amateur ranks into the big leagues?
An agent, acting as go-between for a team owner and a player, negotiates
contracts based on salary caps or limits. When you see your favorite major league
baseball player, you may not be aware of the behind-the-scenes discussions among
these agents and owners to contract with valuable players.
When negotiating, agents must consider the player’s compatibility with a team,
length of contract, and available monies. The result you see may be a star player.
Note the simple vocabulary and informal tone. The fan may not care about
contract negotiations, so you use a benefit (watching a favorite player) to attract attention.
Then you describe in simple terms how an agent negotiates.
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Expert (agent)
Dear Pete:
To negotiate a major league contract for your new client, you will need to take the
following factors into account:
• current rules on salary cap, including how much of the signing bonus counts against
the cap,
* whether players are plentiful or in short supply, and
• the team’s needs versus your player’s skill.
Once you narrow the number of teams based on your client’s geographic preference,
you’ll need to obtain comparable salary data among players of similar skills, age, and
performance. Once you locate a team on your preference list with the needs that match
your client’s skills. You’ll need to determine whether the team has available money
under the cap. If so, begin to negotiate. If not, move to the next team on your
preference list.
Note the emphasis on the explanation of the process, with more details, and using
terms familiar to Pete. The agent would want to know how – what process to use when
negotiating a contract for a player.
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Executive (owner)
Dear Marge:
As an owner, you must assemble the right combination of players and decide what
type of packages to offer based on your budget and the income you desire. Depending
on your motivation, determine the balance you’d like between your desire to win and the
amount of money you want to make.
Note the emphasis on the bottom line and the direct approach. This executive
needs to know how to quickly and effectively negotiate for selected players. She’s not
necessarily concerned about the complete process because she relies on an agent to
negotiate for her, so you don’t tell her every step the agent must take. This letter is concise,
direct, and informative.
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User (player)
Dear Chien-Ming:
How do you negotiate a major league contract? It’s relatively easy, but many
players make crucial errors.
Select an agent who will represent you well. Decide which cities you would like to
live in and how long you would be willing to stay there.
Also, determine the range of salary you would accept. Discuss with your agent the
importance you place on a winning team and on your chemistry with other players.
Note the step-by-step approach to telling the player what to do to get the best
contract. Cheng-Ming needs to use the information you’re providing to work with agents
and owners to join the team of his choice and make the salary he desires. He must live
with the results of the negotiation. Just because he knows baseball doesn’t make him an
expert in contract negotiations. Spell it out for Cheng-Ming in a simple, benefit-oriented
Isn’t it amazing how you can deal with one topic in several very different ways,
depending on your readers? Be sensitive to your particular audience and the response will
reflect your effort.
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15.2 Feature the “you attitude” and stress benefits
Perhaps the most effective way to get people to read your writing is by taking the
reader’s perspective. Focus on the benefits for him or her. Why should that person read
your e-mail, memo, letter, or report? How will your document benefit the reader?
There’s a simple way to work from a “you” perspective. When preparing to write any
form of communication – e-mail, memo, letter, report, or whatever – just put yourself in
your readers’ shoes and ask the question, “Why should I care about what you’re telling
me?” That should help you focus on your readers from their perspective. Adapting your
message to the receiver’s needs means putting yourself in that person’s shoes. It’s called
“empathy.” Empathic senders think about how a receiver will decode a message. They try
to give something to the receiver, solve the receiver’s problems, save the receiver’s money,
or just understand the feelings and position of that person. Which of the following
messages is more appealing to the audience?
Sender focus
To enable us to update our stockholder recorders, we ask that the
enclosed card be returned.
Audience focus
So that you may promptly receive dividend checks and information
related to your shares, please return the enclosed card.
Sender focus
Our warranty becomes effective only when we receive an owner’s
Audience focus
Your warranty begins working for you as soon as you return your
owner’s registration.
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Sender focus
Audience focus
Sender focus
Audience focus
We offer a CD-ROM language course that we have complete faith in.
The sooner you order the CD-ROM language program, the sooner the
rewards will be yours.
The Human Resources Department requires that the enclosed
questionnaire be completed immediately so that we can allocate our
training resource funds.
By filling out the enclosed questionnaire, you can be one of the first
employees to sign up for the new career development program.
“You” view
Notice how many of the previous audience-focused messages included the word
“you.” In concentrating on receiver benefits, skilled communicators naturally developed the
“you” view. They emphasize second-person pronouns (you, your) instead of first-person
pronouns (I/we, us, our). Whether your goal is to inform, persuade, or promote goodwill,
the catchiest words you can use are “you” and “your.” Compare the following examples.
“I/We” view
I have scheduled your vacation to begin May 1.
“You” view
You may begin your vacation May 1.
“I/We” view
We have shipped your order by UPS, and we are sure it will arrive in
time for the sales promotion January 15.
“You” view
Your order will be delivered by UPS in time for your sales promotion
January 15.
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“I/We” view
I’m asking all employees to respond to the attached survey regarding
working conditions.
“You” view
Because your ideas count, please complete the attached survey
regarding working conditions.
Which of the following two paragraphs would make a better opener to a letter?
Sample A:
This is to announce that as of June 18 Bagin Technology will begin
manufacturing computerized controls for power lawn mowers in order to enter an
expanding market that will allow the company to take advantage of its leading position in
the electronic control s market.
Sample B:
As one of our loyal customers, you should be among the first to know our news:
as of June 18 Bagin Technology will begin manufacturing computerized controls for power
lawn mowers. You’ve helped make us the leader in the world of electronic controls and
we’d like to show our appreciation for your trust by expanding to serve your needs for
electronic controls.
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15.3 Know your single communication objective or purpose.
Before you begin writing anything, decide on your purpose. Do you want to inform
your reader? Are you trying to persuade your reader? Do you need to provide instructions
for something? Are you writing to record an activity? Research proves that we write
more effectively when we have a single purpose rather than several.
Remember your purpose as you write. With every paragraph you write, ask yourself,
“So what?” If that paragraph doesn’t serve your purpose by taking you closer toward your
object, don’t use it.
Know your single purpose
Business writing usually accomplishes one of the following tasks:
Inform – monthly reports, trip summaries, benefit announcements, human resources
information, and meeting arrangement.
Persuade – proposals, requests for time off, requests for additional personnel, client
correspondence, brochures, and direct mail pieces.
Instruct – tutorials, help screens, user manuals, and instructions.
Record/document – personnel reviews, minutes from meetings, client contract sheets,
and time sheet.
Here are six examples. If the writers kept a single purpose in mind, you should easily
determine that purpose.
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Example #1
Dear Ms. Spagnolia:
We provide the most cost-effective solution in the business. We have the expertise,
the personnel, and the resources to design a state-of-the-art fitness center for you.
We can increase your productivity and decrease absenteeism by providing this on-site
fitness center at a competitive price.
Consider carefully the following benefits of choosing our firm: increase
productivity, higher employee morale, decreased absenteeism, and the knowledge that
you have selected the premier provider of fitness services.
When you consider how you can have the best company design a fitness center
that will provide so many benefits, I’m sure that you’ll contact us immediately to
begin improving your work environment and your bottom line.
This letter persuades us because it presents the competitive advantages of the
company and the benefits for us.
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Example #2
Great Valley Personnel
From: Quality Improvement Team
Subject: Parking lot lights
Date: June 20, 2006
Additional lights will be installed on the perimeter of the parking lot this summer.
There will be a total of eleven new lights, three on each side lot and five lights along
the back lot.
These lights should create a safer environment. If you have any questions, call
any member of the quality team. Enjoy!
This memo informs us, because it tells us about something with no expectation
that we should act on that information.
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Example #3
Human resources
From: Data entry manager
March 7, 2005
Dorothy Davis file
On March 6, 2005, Bill Block met with Dorothy Davis to discuss her order entry
After evaluating Dorothy’s errors, Bill found no particular pattern to her
incidents. He suggested having an experienced customer service representative sit
with her and actively monitor her customer service skills.
Dorothy is considered a good customer service representative who achieves the
55% availability ratio. Bill found Dorothy receptive to his suggestions; she hopes
to reduce her order entry error.
This memo records, or documents, Dorothy’s problem and Bill’s
conversation with her.
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Example #4
Welcome to your Mr. Espresso Machine! In order to use this product properly,
you must follow the above-mentioned warnings. If you follow the directions, you
will enjoy a delicious cup of espresso or cappuccino.
Have a stainless steel container to froth milk. Make sure your machine is plugged
in. Place the appropriate amount of espresso in the dispenser, as shown in Figure 1.
Be careful not to touch the machine while brewing. Froth milk by inserting the
plastic cable into the stainless steel container. Enjoy with your favorite topping.
This excerpt from an owner’s manual is meant to instruct the owner on the use
of the product.
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Example #5
Fellow employees
Rowan executive offices
Business strategy update
September 3, 2005
As you know, these times continue to be challenging for the environmental market
and our organization. Looking ahead, we’d like to share with you the principles and
business strategies that will shape our future, along with the current actions underway to
address our present market conditions.
Many of you have expressed concern over the prospects for your own long-term
future at Rowan. On the one hand, you see a market continuing to endure the impact of
federal budgetary uncertainties. Yet on the other hand, the industry is undergoing an
exciting and dynamic shift from regulatory to economic drivers that challenge our
traditional market perceptions.
Our well-established strengths of environmental quality and safety remain the
foundation of our sustainable development initiative. Our shared task is to grow these
traditional attributes. While we refine Rowan’s business direction, we will address the
implications of our current market conditions by closely aligning our
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Resources to the level of our current project backlog.
Let us assure you that we will work diligently to finalize the new organizational
structure by year-end and will keep you apprised of our progress. Thanks for your role in
our continued success.
This memo informs employees of management’s direction and lets them
know where they stand as employees of Rowan.
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Example #6
Conference Center Hotels & Resorts
105 College Road East
Princeton, NJ 08540
June 22, 2005
Mr. Alan Dinning, President
SCC Associates
696 Grant Avenue
Aurora, OH 44202
Dear Alan:
As the President of the Conference Center Hotels & Resorts, I am writing to let you
know about some important results of our organization that could affect your business
with us.
During the past two years, our Princeton Conference Center with its 291 guest rooms
has had an exceptional increase in bookings, revenues, and profitability. Our revenue
performance per guest room has placed us among the top ten performers among all
suburban hotels in the States, according to Lodging Hospitality’s annual statistics for the
lodging industry. Our performance and our
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Managerial leadership have made the Conference Center the recipient of numerous
awards throughout the years. These awards include the Pinnacle Award, the Paragon
Award, and the AAA Four Diamond Award.
We hope to secure your future business with us. We have enjoyed dealing with you in
the past and would look forward to exceeding your expectations in the future. We would
like to continue the tradition of our award-winning performance results for SCC
We will call you shortly to discuss your upcoming conference needs. If you need
anything in the meantime, please call us. Thank you for your continued business.
Katrina Smith, President
This letter attempts to persuade SCC Associates to book future business with
the Conference Center because of the results it has achieved and the awards it has
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Writing in four stages
An effective way to write effectively is in four stages:
Plan how you want to achieve your purpose. Think strategically or organize your
thoughts. An outline can help you do this. What matters is that you think about what you
want to do and that you establish the best order of doing it. Take the Example #1 for
instance, here’s how the writer might have planned the strategy for persuading the reader to
choose the company.
•Competitive advantages
most cost-effective solution
competitive price
premier provider of fitness services
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•Benefits of fitness center
increase productivity
decrease absenteeism
boost employee morale
confidence in choosing best provider
review competitive advantages
review benefits
encourage to contact
Now, you’ve got a mental picture of your readers, just start a conversation. Use
your outline as your guide and write naturally. Use words that come easily to mind. If
you don’t think of the “right” word, put down the best you’ve got and move along.
Thos approach helps your writing come to life and conveys your presence.
That makes your words more effective. Don’t worry about style. Style will emerge the
more you write this way. At this point you should concentrate on putting your thoughts
into words. Here are some basic rules in writing.
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A. Use simple language. Don’t use big words when small words will do the job. What’s
the difference, for example, between “use” and “utilize” or “implement”? If there’s
no real difference, why use bigger words? Write to express, not to impress.
Big words (less familiar words)
Small words (simple alternatives)
find out
B. Be specific. Avoid vague words that can be misunderstood. Don’t say “office
equipment” if you mean a personal computer.
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C. Use the active voice whenever possible. Instead of “This change is to be made,” write
“We’ll make the change” (it’s shorter and provides more information).
D. Keep your sentences relatively short. Longer sentences discourage many readers.
One recommendation is that your sentences should average seventeen words. That doesn’t
mean, of course, that seventeen words is the ideal length. To communicate effectively, you
should vary the length of your sentences.
E. Make paragraphs no more than six lines long. With longer paragraphs, many
readers will read the first and last few lines and skim or simply skip everything in between.
Tight writing invites the reader to continue. Think about breaking up big chunks of text
with headlines or lists.
Think of this stage of the writing process as quality assurance at a macro level.
You need to make sure that the results of your writing achieve the intended purpose(s) as
effectively as possible.
Try to read your writing from the perspective of your reader. You might even
want to sit in a different chair and to read your words aloud. You’ll find out if your copy is
conversational and natural. Also, mistakes are more likely to stand out. If you used a
computer, you should print out a copy and read your words from the paper, as your reader
will be reading them.
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At this stage, look at the major pieces of text. Do they all belong? Are they in
the most effective order? Do you use paragraphs or sentences that don’t add anything to
your message, or any words or phrases you don’t need? Are you using any long words
when shorter words would express just as well? If you receive the piece, would you read
it? Does it invite the reader?
When you edit your writing, you’re checking it over for accuracy, grammar,
spelling, and punctuation. You may want to have someone else edit your writing (after
you’re done your best). If that’s not an option, you can try the old trick of reading the
paragraphs in reverse order. Reading your work from finish to start may disrupt the flow
of your words enough for you to catch some errors.
A final word of advice here: don’t trust your computer. Those tools that check
grammar and spelling are very helpful. But they’re limited, because human language is
simply too complex for machines (at least for now).
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Mistakes your computer won’t catch
Revert back. “Revert” means to go back or to return. Eliminate “back.”
I could care less. That’s wrong, because it means you care a lot. It should be “I couldn’t
care less.” Think about it.
New innovation. An innovation is something new, so drop the adjective.
The principle reason. The adjective should be “principal,” meaning the most important.
8 p.m. tonight. Because “p.m.” means after noon and “a.m.” , means before noon, we
don’t need to use qualifiers such as “tonight” or “in the morning” when we’re using
those Latin abbreviations.
This will effect my job status. The verb should be “affect,” which means to influence or
to produce an effect upon. The verb “effect” means to bring about.
15.4 Be clear, economical, straightforward, and professional.
Which of the following two paragraphs would you rather read?
1. In order to ensure that the process of recording calls by work order number is
properly operational, it is necessary to purge the work order assignments and related
two-digit account code assignments for each telephone extension and update the
system to include only those work order numbers for active client projects.
2. Use only active client work order numbers (and their two-digit account codes) to
record calls. Purge inactive work order numbers and their account codes.
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Sometimes writers try to impress, not express. When we use words to impress
our audience, we may lose them by writing at a high fog index. When we write to express,
we focus our attention on the reader, not on ourselves, and on making our writing
What does “readable” mean? How do you make your writing readable?
Readability is the result of many factors. The three most important are clarity, economy,
and straightforwardness.
Clear writing conveys meaning without ambiguity. To write well in business,
you must make sure that the reader at least understand you.
Economical writing uses no more words than necessary. That’s one of the
distinguishing marks of clear and forceful writing. To write well in business, you must
make sure not to waste the reader’s time and energy.
Straightforward writing puts words in a natural expected order, such as placing
the subject close to the verb for easy understanding. To write well in business, you must
make it easy for the reader to know what you mean.
If your message has more than one meaning, it’s not clear. Don’t use long
words where short ones will do; it makes your writing dense and difficult to understand.
Use precise words and phrasings to make your writing clear. Make sure the words you
choose have the right meaning and don’t allow for misinterpretation. For example, don’t
use the vague term health organization when you mean the American Red Cross.
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When it comes to words, more is not usually better. When you use too many
words, you may lose the reader – or at least make the reader lose interest. Take the
following paragraph, for example.
For the purposes of this policy, “sex harassment” may be defined as unsolicited
nonreciprocal behavior by an employee who is in a position to control or affect another
employee’s job or who uses the power or authority of that position to cause that employee
to submit to sexual activity or to fear that he or she would be punished for refusal to
submit to such activity. Sexual harassment also includes any employee conduct
reasonably interfering with another employee’s work performance by creating an
intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
It’s easy to get lost in that jungle of words. How effective will that policy be
when the clarification is so dense? The following sentence provides another example of
uneconomical writing.
Parking in the lot adjacent to the building will be restricted by space allocation
designation for workers’ vehicles and the four outermost spaces will be reserved for
supervisors of the construction crew so employees should make other arrangements for
parking during that time frame and consider implementation of vehicular cotransportation.
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What should you do instead? First, determine what information in the
sentence you want the reader to understand. Then, eliminate any unnecessary phrases or
redundancies. Try one of these revisions:
Consider carpooling, because parking next to the building is primarily for
Because we are designating parking spaces for construction workers, we
suggest that you carpool.
Weak words
You can make your writing clearer by deleting words that don’t add meaning. For
example, pay close attention to the following words:
kind of
practically really
These words are not bad, but people tend to use them unnecessarily. Example:
Actually, I generally kind of enjoy typing practically any specific type of
communication. These words weaken the sentence because they add nothing to it but
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How can you keep your writing lean and strong? When you might use one of
the following phrases, try the shorter equivalent instead.
in the event that
= if
subsequent to
= after
prior to
= before
the possibility exists for
= might
in order to
= to
in the neighborhood of
= around, about
from time to time
= occasionally
in reference to
= about
it is necessary that
= must
due to the fact that
= because
in the amount of
= for
Here’s another example of fat writing found in a typical memo.
To: All employees
From: Lebron James, Chief Operating Officer
This is to inform you that a new Audi, gray in color, was actually left by
someone in the back parking lot. Due to the fact that the car has continued to remain
there for several weeks and is still yet unclaimed, the company has been given permission
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By the police to auction off the car if we make a donation of the monies earned to some
type of charitable organization. If you are willing and able to be in charge of the
auction and to run the subsequent committee, please stop in at this point in time to take
the time to discuss the most important and essential elements of the auction
A possible rewrite:
Some left a gray Audi in the back lot several months ago. Because no one has
claimed, the police have given us permission to auction it off. We’ll donate the monies
raised to a charity. If you would chair the committee to run the auction, please see me.
Which memo would employees be more likely to read and understand? Both
memos express the same information, but the second is stronger because it’s more
An easy way to write more economically, by using fewer words and keeping
sentences shorter, is to reduce redundancy. How many of the following expressions do
you use? How many could you reduce?
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Consensus of opinion/general consensus
A consensus by definition is a general solidarity of opinion.
Contained herein
Contained means herein.
Submitted a resignation
Use the verb – resigned
Basic fundamentals
“Fundamentals” are by definition basic.
Close proximity
“Proximity” means close.
Provide with information
Use the verb – inform.
Cooperate together
“Cooperate” means work with others, so it’s necessarily “together.”
Completely full
“Full” means totally or completely – unless it’s not.
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End result/final outcome
A “result” or an “outcome” is what you get at the end.
Take under consideration
Use the verb – consider
Many in number
The word “many” can only refer to number.
Future prospects
“Prospects” refers to the future; it’s from the Latin, “looking forth.”
Sufficient enough
“Sufficient” means enough.
Other alternative
“Alternative” means another choice, so “other alternative” makes sense only if
there are at least three options.
New innovation
“Innovation” means new.
Past experience
“Experience” usually refers to the past, so you would modify it only to refer to the
present or future.
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Postpone until later
“Postpone” means put off until later.
True facts
“Facts” are things that are true.
Mutually agree
When there’s more than one party, “agree” assumes mutuality.
Completely finished
“Finished” implies completely.
Recurring habit
A “habit” is recurring behavior.
Past memories
What else can we remember but the past.
Initial preparation
“Preparation” implies initial, because it’s done before something.
More preferable
“Preferable” means more desirable.
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Important essentials
“Essential” means important.
Various different
“Various” means different. Also “different” after numbers is usually redundant:
e.g., “We considered seventeen different locations” or “I called her five different
Future plan
“Plan” implies future unless specified otherwise.
Free gift
A gift is something given voluntarily, without payment in returen.
Continue to remain
“Remain” means to continue to be.
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You can write in a more straightforward manner when you place the subject and
the verb close together. Use subject-verb-object order with strong action verbs. If you
write clearly, economically, and in a straightforward manner, people will find your
writing more readable.
Why is it important to keep the subject near the verb? This next announcement
shows what can happen when you don’t.
The executive managers of Acme Anvils, in their meeting April 5, called for the
purpose of discussing problems encountered in negotiating a contract with their principal
iron ore supplier, Ferrous Ingots, which has recently undergone substantial personnel
changes, have decided, in consideration of the extreme importance of our iron ore supply,
to arrange, as soon as possible within the limitations of their individual schedules, a
meeting with the executive managers of Ferrous.
How many times did you have to read that announcement to understand what
was happening? Not only is too much crammed into a single sentence, but the subjectverb-object order (“executive managers have decided to arrange a meeting”) is
interrupted by clauses that confuse the reader. The following revision seems more
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The executive managers of Acme Anvils met April 5. They called the meeting to
discuss problems in negotiating a contract with their principal iron ore supplier, Ferrous
Ingots. The problems came out of a number of personnel changes at Ferrous.
Because our iron ore supply is extremely important, the managers decides to
arrange a meeting with the executive managers of Ferrous.
Conversational but professional
Most e-mail messages, business letters, memos, and reports replace conversation.
Thus, they are most effective when they convey an informal, conversational tone instead of
a formal, pretentious tone. But messages should not become so casual that they sound lowlevel and unprofessional. Sloppy, unprofessional expression appears in many e-mail
messages. Your writing should have a warm, conversational tone that does not include
slang or low-level diction.
(low-level diction)
(mid-level diction)
(high-level diction)
pecking order
line of command
dominance hierarchy
ticked off
rat on
rip off
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Unprofessional If we just hang in there, we can snag the contract.
Conversational If we don’t get discouraged, we can win the contract.
If the principals persevere, they can secure the contract.
Your goal is a warm, friendly tone that sounds professional. Talk to the reader
with words that are comfortable to you. Avoid long and complex sentences. Use familiar
pronounces such as I, we, and you and an occasional contraction, such as we’re, or I’ll.
Stay away from third-person constructions such as the undersigned, the writer, and the
affected party. Also avoid legal terminology and technical words. Your writing will be
easier to read and understand if it sounds like the following conversational examples:
All employees are herewith instructed to return the appropriately
designated contracts to the undersigned.
Conversational Please return your contracts to me.
Pertaining to your order, we must verify the sizes that your
organization requires prior to consignment of your order to our shipper.
Conversational We’ll send your order as soon as we confirm the sizes you need.
The writer wishes to inform the above-referenced individual that
subsequent payments may henceforth be sent to the address cited below.
Conversational Your payments should now be sent to us in Chicago.
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Avoid trite phrases, cliches, and jargon
Would you like your writing to bore or confuse the people who read it? Of course
not! But that’s likely to happen if you use trite phrases, cliches, and jargon. In business
writing you may come across phrases such as “enclosed please find,” “please do not hesitate
to ask,” “take under advisement,” “it has come to my attention,” “maximum optimization,”
“at this point in time,” and “thanking you in advance for your kind consideration.” These
are cliches that weaken your writing, and you should consciously avoid using them. Cliches
are dull and sometimes ambiguous. The following partial list contains cliches you should
avoid in business writing.
below the belt
better than new
beyond the shadow of a doubt
easier said than done
exception to the rule
fill the bill
first and foremost
hard facts
keep your nose to the grindstone
last but not least
make a bundle
pass with flying color
quick as a flash
shoot from the hip
stand your ground
tune to form
to be perfectly honest
needless to say
enclosed herewith, please find
we deem it advisable
for your perusal, review, and consideration
If you should have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call.
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The undersigned
Pursuant to your request
under separate cover
It has come to my attention
transparent to the user
Jargon, which is terminology unique to a certain profession, should be reserved
for individuals who understand it. Except in certain specialized contexts, you should
avoid jargon and unnecessary technical terms. For example, geologists speak knowingly
of exfoliation, calcareous ooze, and siliceous particles. Engineers are familiar with
phrases such as infrared processing flags, output latches, and movable symbology.
Telecommunication experts use such words and phrases as protocol, mode, and
asynchronous transmission.
Every field has its own special vocabulary. Using that vocabulary within the
field is acceptable and even necessary for accurate, efficient communication. Don’t use
specialized terms, however, if you have reason to believe that your reader may
misunderstand them.
Precise verbs
Effective writing creates meaningful images in the mind of the reader. Such
writing is sparked by robust, concrete, and descriptive words. Ineffective writing is often
dulled by insipid, abstract, and generalized words. The most direct way to improve
lifeless writing is through effective use of verbs. Verbs not only indicate the action of the
subject but also deliver the force of the sentence. Select verbs carefully so that the
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Reader can visualize precisely what is happening.
General Our salesperson will contact you next week.
Precise Our salesperson will (telephone, fax, e-mail, visit) you next Monday.
General The CEO said that we should contribute.
Precise The CEO (urged, pleaded, demanded) that we contribute.
General We must consider this problem.
Precise We must (clarify, remedy, rectify) this problem.
General The newspaper was affected by the strike.
Precise The newspaper was (crippled, silenced, demoralized) by the strike.
The power of a verb is diminished when it is needlessly converted to a noun.
This happens when verbs such as acquire, establish, and develop are made into nouns
(acquisition, establishment, and development). These nouns then receive the central
emphasis in the sentence. In the following pairs of sentences, observe how forceful the
original verbs are as compared with their noun forms.
Acquisition of park lands was made recently by the city.
Strong The city acquired park lands recently.
The webmaster and the designer had a discussion concerning graphics.
Strong The webmaster and the designer discussed graphics.
Both companies must grant approval of the merge.
Strong Both companies must approve the merge.
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Concrete nouns
Nouns name persons, place, and things. Abstract nouns name concepts that are
difficult to visualize, such as automation, function, justice, institution, integrity, form,
judgment, and environment. Concrete nouns name objects that are more easily imagined,
such as desk, car, and lightbulb. Nouns describing a given object can range from the very
abstract to the very concrete – for example, object, motor vehicle, car, convertible,
Mustang. All of these words or phrases can be used to describe a Mustang convertible.
However, a reader would have difficulty envisioning a Mustang convertible when given
just the word object or even motor vehicle or car. In business writing, help your reader
“see” what you mean by using concrete language.
a change in our budget
a 10 percent reduction in our budget
that company’s product
NEC’s Ultra Express pager
a person called
Ms. Swain, the administrative assistant, called
we improved the assembly line
we installed 26 advanced Unimate robots on the assembly line
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15.5 Use subject lines, indentation, short opening paragraphs, and postscripts.
Attract your readers from the start and hold their attention until the end.
Announce your focus with a subject line that grabs the readers. Indent the first line of
your paragraphs to draw readers into your words. Make your first paragraph short to
minimize the “initial investment.” A postscript can make a big difference, especially
when your purpose is to persuade, since many people read that last part of a memo or
letter immediately after the subject line or first paragraph.
Entrance and exit ramps
Make it as easy for your readers to get into your writing as to get out of it.
Indent (e.g., use the “Tab” button on your keyboard) the first line of each paragraph to
draw your readers into the text, like the on-ramp allows easy access to a highway.
Make your first few paragraphs short to give your readers an easy, early exit
from your writing.
Subject lines and postscripts
Use subject lines and postscripts as additional inducements for your readers. A
good subject line reveals the topic of the e-mail, report, memo, or letter and can motivate
a recipient to at least skim the first paragraph. In written communication such as letters,
memos, and e-mail, a postscripts can grab attention. In fact, many people read the
postscript first. It can be a powerful addition, especially for persuasive documents. Use it
to hit your most important point.
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Duncan Consulting Services
699 Knox Road
Philadelphia, PA 19077
(610) 555-0124
January 12, 2005
Mr. Steve Nash
Vice President, Sales
ABC Computing
394 Vesper Road
Knoxville, YN 37966
Subject Line
Subject: Megasoft Word Pro 9.1
Dear Mr. Nash:
I would like to order the most current edition of Megasoft Word Pro, which I
believe would be the 9.1 version. Would you please send me any appropriate
documentation as well? I work at home as a consultant and prepare brochures and
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newsletters for my clients.
Because I need your product immediately, please send it in the quickest way,
perhaps by overnight mail. I have always used your software products and appreciate
your service mentality. Thank you for handling this request quickly.
Sincerely yours,
Closing and Signature
Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan
Supplement line
Attachments (2)
P.S. I enjoy your holiday newsletter!
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Traditional letter form
Use a heading, including your phone number, even if you’re writing from home,
so that the reader can easily identify you or reach you, if necessary. Always
include the date. The inside address fulfills two purposes: first, you can use the
person’s title, which most people like to see; and second, it routes the letter to
the appropriate individual, even if someone else opens the mail.
The subject line specifies the purpose of your letter. The salutation (followed by
a colon, not a comma) identifies the recipient. Always try to put a name rather
than just a position title. If you cannot obtain a name, use Dear Student, Dear
Customer, Dear Homeowner, or some salutation that identifies the recipient in
some way. Use Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern only as a last
resort. Never use Gentlemen unless you are sure that no woman may read the
Keep your first paragraph short to intrigue the reader. Indent each paragraph for
reading easy.
Use one of the many good closings to end your letter: Cordially, Sincerely,
Sincerely yours, Regards, Respectfully submitted, and so on.
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The supplement line is for your own benefit; it indicates who formatted the
final letter and where you can find this letter on a computer disk. If you plan
to enclose a check or other document. Indicate how many attachments you’re
including, to alert the recipient to the enclosed items.
The postscript gives you a final chance to catch the reader’s attention. It’s a
good place to remind the reader of your main point or to call attention to a
15.6 Write strong introductions, body, and conclusions.
People often try to minimize their reading. They may want to read only the
beginning and the end of a document – an executive summary or abstract, an
introduction and/or a conclusion.
Your introduction and conclusion must provide the essentials of your document
and motivate the reader to at least skim the entire document. A strong summary makes a
document more memorable, so it’s likely to get better results. Repeat your main points
to stick in the reader’s mind.
1. Beginning with the main idea
Most business writings cover routine, nonsensitive information that can be
handled in a straightforward manner. Begin by frontloading; that is, reveal the main idea
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immediately. Even though the purpose of a memo or e-mail is summarized in the subject
line, that purpose should be restated – and amplified – in the first sentence. Notice how
the following indirect memo openers can be improved by frontloading.
Indirect opening
This is to inform you that for the past six months we have been examining
benefits as part of our negotiation package under a contract that expires soon.
Direct opening
Please review the following four changes in our benefit package and let us
know if your preference by January 1.
Indirect opening
As you may know, employees in Document Production have been complaining
about eye fatigue as a result of the overhead fluorescent lighting in their center.
Direct opening
To improve lighting in Document Production, I recommend that we purchase
high-intensity desk lamps.
2. Finishing with a strong closing
Generally, end your writing with (1) action information, dates, or deadlines; (2)
a summary of the message; or (3) a closing thought. The closing is where readers look
for deadlines and action language.
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An effective memo, letter, or e-mail closing might be:
Please submit your report by June 15 so that we can have your data before our
July planning session.
In more complex messages a summary of main points may be an appropriate
closing. If no action request is made and a closing summary is unnecessary, you might
end with a simple concluding thought (I’m glad to answer your questions or This sounds
like a useful project). Although you needn’t close messages to coworkers with goodwill
statements such as those found in letters to customers or clients, some closing thought is
often necessary to prevent a feeling of abruptness.
Closings can show gratitude or encourage feedback with remarks such as I
sincerely appreciate your cooperation or What are your ideas on this proposal? Other
closings look forward to what’s next, such as How would you like to proceed? Avoid trite
expressions, such as Please let me know if I may be of further assistance.
Whenever possible, the closing paragraph of a request should be end dated. An
end date sets a deadline for the requested action and gives a reason for this action to be
completed by the deadline. Such end dating prevents procrastination and allows the
reader to plan a course of action to ensure completion by the date given. Giving a reason
adds credibility to a deadline.
Please submit your order by December 1 so that sufficient labels will be on
hand for mailing the year-end reports January 15.
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3. Organizing a strong body
In the body of the message, explain the main idea. If you are asking for detailed
information, arrange your questions in logical order. If you are providing information,
group similar information together. When considerable data are involved, use a separate
paragraph for each topic. Work for effective transitions between paragraphs.
Design your data for easy comprehension by using bulleted items, headings,
tables, and lists. All these techniques make readers understand important point quickly.
Compare the following two versions of the same message. Notice how the graphic
devices of bullets, columns, headings, and white space make the main points easier to
Hard-to-read paragraph
Effective immediately are the following air travel guidelines. Between now and December
31, only account executives may take company-approved trips. These individuals will be
allowed to take a maximum of two trips per year, and they are to travel economy or budget
class only.
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Improved with graphic highlighting
Effective immediately are the following air travel guidelines:
Who may travel:
How many trips:
By when:
Air class:
Account executives only
A maximum of two trips yearly
Between now and December 31
Economy or budget class only
Most memos, letters, and e-mail messages can be divided into four groups: (a)
those that inform, (b) those that request, (c) those that respond, and (d) those that
persuade. We will be concerned with the first three groups because they use the direct
strategy. The fourth group, persuasive messages, uses the indirect strategy.
(a) Messages that inform
Memos and letters that inform generally explain organization policies, procedures,
and guidelines. As policy-making documents, these messages must be particularly clear
and concise.
The effective message shown below begins directly by telling readers immediately
what the message is about. The next paragraph explains why the change is necessary. A
list enumerates step-by-step procedures, thus making it easy for the reader to understand
and follow the steps. The final paragraph restates the primary benefits of the new
procedure and tells how more information may be obtained if necessary.
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Effective today, all advertisements for departmental job openings should
Be routed through the Human Resources Department.
A major problem resulted from the change in hiring procedures
implemented last month. Each department is placing newspaper
advertisements for new-hires individually, when all such requests should be
centralized in this office. To process applications more efficiently, please
follow this procedure:
Write an advertisement for a position in your department.
Bring the ad to Human Resources and discuss it with one of our
Let Human Resources place the ad with a appropriate newspaper or
web agency.
Following these guidelines will save your work and will enable Human
Resources to help you fill your openings more quickly. Call Ann Johnson at
ext. 255 if you have questions about this procedure.
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upbeat subject
main idea
Explain why
change is
Start each listed
Item with a verb
Close by
benefits to
(b) Messages that request
Messages that make requests are most effective when they use the direct
approach. The reader learns immediately what is being requested. However, if you have
any reason to suspect that the reader may resist the request, then an indirect approach
would probably be more successful.
Request should be courteous and respectful, as illustrated in the example below.
They should not be demanding or dictatorial. The tone of the following request would
likely antagonize its recipient:
I want you to find out why the Davis account was included in this report, and I
want this information before you do anything else.
Always end a request by providing a deadline if necessary. Expressions such as
“do it whenever you can” or “complete it as soon as possible” make little impression on
procrastinators or very busy people. It’s always wise to provide a specific date for
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Include optional
Please answer the questions below about the possibility of
starting a casual dress day program at PowerData.
Many employees and some managers have included about the
possibility of dressing casually occasionally. In my opinion, casual
attire may make people feel more at ease in the office. On the other
hand, casual dress may encourage sloppy work. Your answers to the
following questions will help determine a course of action.
•Would you like to see one day a week set aside as a “dress-down”
day? Why?
•If you answer yes, should we set up a written dress code?
•If we set aside a dress-down day, will the office atmosphere remain
Id appreciate your responses by May 5 so that we can discuss the
matter at the next Council meeting set for May 8.
Prepare readers by
describing request
Explain reasoning
behind request and
provide details
Use bullets to make
questions most
Close with end date
and reason
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(c) Messages that respond
Much office correspondence reacts or responds to memos, e-mail messages, and other
documents. When responding to a document, follow these preparatory steps:
1. Collect whatever information is necessary.
2. Organize your thoughts.
3. Make a brief outline of the points you plan to cover.
Begin the memo with a clear statement of the main idea, which often is a summary of
the contents of the memo. Avoid wordy and dated openings such as “Pursuant to your
request of January 20, I am herewith including the information you wanted.” Although
many business messages actually sound like the preceding, they waste time and say little.
The body of a response memo provides the information requested. Its organization
generally follows the sequence of the request. However, the information can be further
clarified by providing summarizing headings in bold type. These headings emphasize the
groupings and help the reader see immediately what information is covered. The memo
closes with a reassuring summary.
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Here are my reactions, Charles, to your inquiry about a casual dress
day program made in your e-mail message of May 2.
•Establish a dress-down day? Yes, I would like to see such a day. We
have already had a flexible working hour program, and we’ve seen an
increase in our productivity. So I believe a dress-down day will further
boost our employees’ morale.
•Implement a dress code? By all means! We definitely need a written
dress code not only to establish standards but also to protect the company
from frivolous lawsuits.
•Professional office atmosphere? I would hope that casual dress would
not promote casual work attitudes as well. We must establish that
professionalism is non-negotiable. Moreover, I think we should be careful
in allowing casual dress only on the designated day, once a week.
I think a casual attire program can be beneficial and improve morale.
But we definitely need a dress code in place at the beginning of the
program. Let me know if I may assist in implementing a casual-dress day
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Summarize main
idea and refer to
previous message
Arrange responses
in order of original
request and uses
boldface headings
to emphasize
and clarify
Close with
reassuring remark
and offer of
further assistance
15.7 Use headings, white space, and visuals in longer documents.
Guide your reader through your document with informative, interesting heads.
They serve an important second purpose, by breaking up the text.
Use white space to make your text easier to read. A little extra space in the
margins and between paragraphs can make a big difference.
Visuals can supplement your words, convey information, and add another
dimension to your documents. Make sure your visuals are appropriate, accurate, and
The right visual
To reiterate, use the visual most appropriate to your information:
•Tables – to convey a quantity of statistical data (numbers).
•Pie graphs – to show percentages of a whole, not complex data.
•Bar graphs – to compare ten or fewer items.
•Line graphs – to show a pattern over time.
•Pictograms – to attract the reader’s attention creatively, not for highly accurate
•Flowcharts or diagrams – to show a complex process.
•Photographs – to set a mood or to show an actual situation or person.
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15.8 Write actively (subject-verb-object) rather than passively.
Readers tire easily of the passive voice. Researchers recommend that only 10
% of your writing use the passive voice. To write actively, avoid the verbs “to be” and
“to have” and emphasize the subject-verb-object construction.
In the active voice, the subject performs the action: “The manager wrote a
memo.” In the passive voice, the object is affected by the action: “A memo was written
by the manager.” The active voice focuses attention on the doer, while the passive voice
emphasizes what’s been done – allowing the writer to even omit the cause.
If you use the active voice, your writing will be more forceful, more
interesting, and easier to understand. Most active verbs convey conviction and
responsibility. Passive verbs hide the person responsible for the action and weaken your
sentences. Compare the following constructions:
“We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”
“Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is pledged by me.”
See the difference?
In business writing, as well as in personal interactions, some situations
demand tact and sensitivity. Instead of using a direct approach with active verbs, we
may prefer the indirectness that passive verbs allow. Rather than making a blunt
announcement with an active voice (Tyler made a major error in the estimate), we can
soften the sentence with a passive construction (A major error was made in the estimate).
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Here’s a summary of the best use of active- and passive-voice verbs:
•Use the active voice for most business writing. It clearly tells what the action is and
who is performing that action.
•Use the passive voice to emphasize an action or the recipient of the action. “You
have been selected to represent us.”
•Use the passive voice to deemphasize negative news. “Your computer has not been
•Use the passive voice to conceal the doer of an action. “A major error was made in
the estimate.”
15.9 Avoid negative writing
Accentuate the positive – particular if you’re dealing with negatives. Begin
your memo or letter on a positive note. If you must present something negative, give
the reasons: they usually help soften the blow.
Imagine you open an envelop and read the following paragraph:
It is essential that you comply with our request. We shall have to institute
legal action against you if you do not remit the full amount of your liability by June 3.
How do you feel?
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Consider the following wording of the same message:
Please remit your payment by June 3 to avoid legal action.
How do you feel now? The following letter also contains negative news:
Due to an error in processing your order, it will be billed more than once to
your account. A credit has been issued and hope you have not been inconvenienced.
Mistakes happen, but it would have been better if the news had been delivered as
We apologize for the inconvenience of our processing error. We have
corrected your account.
The following letter hits hard with the blunt wording:
We regret to inform you that the merchandise you ordered is not available.
Because of this we have been forced to cancel your order.
Compare with the following:
We’re sorry that your merchandise is unavailable at this time.
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Using the indirect pattern to prepare the reader
The indirect strategy enables you to keep the reader’s attention until you have been
able to explain the reasons for the bad news. The most important part of a bad-news letter
is the explanation, which you’ll learn about shortly. The indirect plan consists of four main
(1) Buffering the opening
A buffer is a device to reduce shock or pain. To buffer the pain of bad news, begin
with a neutral but meaningful statement that makes the reader continue reading. Here are
some possibilities for opening bad-news messages.
Best news. Start with the part of the message that represents the best news. For example,
in a memo that announces a new service along with a cutback in mail room hours, you
might write: To ensure that your correspondence goes out with the last pickup, we’re
starting a new message pickup service at 2:30 p.m. daily beginning June 1.
Compliment. Praise the receiver’s accomplishments, organization, or efforts, but do so
with honesty and sincerity. For example, in a letter declining an invitation to speak, you
could write: The Crusade of Cross has my sincere admiration for its fund-raising projects
on behalf of hungry children. I am honored that you asked me to speak Friday, June 1.
Appreciation. Convey thanks to the reader for doing business, for sending something, for
showing confidence in your organization, for expressing feelings, or simply for providing
feedback. In a letter responding to a complaint about poor service, you might say:
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Thanks for telling us about your experience at our hotel and for giving us a chance to look
into the situation
Agreement. Make a relevant statement with which both writer and receiver can agree. A
letter that rejects a loan application might read: We both realize how much the export
business has been affected by the relative strength of the dollar in the past two years.
Regarding your loan application…
Facts. Provide objective information that introduces the bad news. For example, in a
memo announcing cutbacks in the hours of the employees’ cafeteria, you might say:
During the past five years the number of employees eating breakfast in our cafeteria has
dropped from 30 % to 12 %.
Understanding. Show that you care about the reader. In announcing a product defect, the
writer can still manage to express concern for the customers: We know that you expect
superior performance from all the products you purchase from IBM. That’s why we’re
writing personally about the Excell printer cartridges you recently ordered.
Apology. If you do apologize, do it early, briefly, and sincerely. For example, a
manufacturer of super premium ice cream might respond to a customer’s complaint with:
We’re genuinely sorry that you were disappointed in the price of the ice cream you
recently purchased at one of our scoop shops. Your opinion is important to us, and we
appreciate your giving us the opportunity to look into the problem you describe.
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(2) Presenting the reasons
The most important part of a bad-news letter is the section that explains why a
negative decision is necessary. Providing an explanation reduces feelings of ill will and
improves the chances that the reader will accept the bad news.
Being cautious in explaining. If the reasons are not confidential and if they will not create
legal liability, you can be specific: Growers supplied us with a limited number of patio
roses, and our demand this year was twice that of last year. In refusing a speaking
engagement, tell why the date is impossible: On June 1 we have a board of directors
meeting that I must attend.
Citing reader benefits. Readers are more open to bad news if in some way, even
indirectly, it may help them. In refusing a customer’s request for free hemming of skirts
and slacks, you can write: We tested our ability to hem skirts a few months ago. This
process proved to be very time-consuming. We have decided not to offer this service
because the additional cost would have increased the selling price of our skirts
substantially, and we did not want to impose that cost on all our customers.
Explaining company policy. Readers resent blanket policy statements prohibiting
something: Company policy prevents us from making cash refunds or Contract bids may
be accepted from local companies only or Company policy requires us to promote from
within. Instead of hiding behind company policy, gently explain why the policy makes
sense: We prefer to promote from within because it rewards the loyalty of our employees.
In addition, we’ve found that people familiar with our organization make the quickest
contribution to our team effort.
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Choosing positive words. Remember that the objective of the indirect pattern is to hold
the reader’s attention until you’ve had a chance to explain the reasons justifying the bad
news. The keep the reader in a receptive mood, avoid expressions that might cause the
reader to tune out. Be sensitive to negative words such as claim, error, failure, fault,
impossible, mistaken, misunderstanding, nerve, regret, unwilling, unfortunately, and violate.
Showing that the matter was treated seriously and fairly. In explaining reasons,
demonstrate to the reader that you take the matter seriously, have investigated carefully,
and are making an unbiased decision. Consumers are more accepting of disappointing
news when they feel that their requests have been heard and that they have been treated
fairly. Avoid passing the buck or blaming others within your organization. Such
unprofessional behavior makes the reader lose faith in you and your company.
(3) Cushioning the bad news
Although you can’t prevent the disappointment that bad news brings, you can reduce
the pain somewhat by breaking the news sensitively. Be especially considerate when the
reader will suffer personally from the bad news. A number of thoughtful techniques can
cushion the below:
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Positioning the bad news. Instead of spotlighting it, sandwich the bad news between
other sentences, perhaps among your reasons. Try not to let the refusal begin or end a
paragraph – the reader’s eye will linger on these high-visibility spots. Another technique
that reduces shock is putting a painful idea in a subordinate clause: Although another
candidate was hired, we appreciate your interest in our organization and wish you every
success in your job search. Subordinate clauses often begin with words such as although,
as, because, if, and since.
Using the passive voice. Passive-voice verbs enable you to depersonalize an action.
Whereas the active voice focuses attention on a person (We don’t give cash refunds), the
passive voice highlights the action (Cash refunds are not given because…). Use the
passive voice for the bad news. In some instances you combine passive-voice verbs and a
subordinate clause: Although franchise scoop shop owners cannot be required to lower
their ice cream prices, we are happy to pass along your comments for their consideration.
Accentuating the positive. Messages are far more effective when you describe what you
can do instead of what you can’t do. Rather than We will no longer allow credit card
purchases, try a more positive appeal: We are now selling gasoline at discount prices if you
use cash.
Implying the refusal. It’s sometimes possible to avoid a direct statement of refusal.
Explicit refusals may be unnecessary and at times cruel. In this refusal to contribute to a
charity, for example, the writer never actually says no: Because we will soon be moving
into new office in LA, all our funds are earmarked for moving and furnishings. We hope
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that next year we’ll be able to support your worthwhile charity. The danger of an implied
refusal, of course, is that it can be so subtle that the reader misses it. Be certain that you
make the bad news clear, thus preventing the need for further correspondence.
Suggesting a compromise or an alternative. A refusal is not so depressing – for the
sender or receiver – if a suitable compromise, substitute, or alternative is available. In
denying permission to a class to visit a historical private residence, for instance, the writer
softens the bad news by proposing an alternative: Although private tours of the grounds
are not given, we do open the house and its gardens for one charitable event in the fall.
(4) Closing pleasantly
After explaining the bad news sensitively, close the message with a pleasant
statement that promotes goodwill. The closing should be personalized and may include a
forward look, an alternative, good wishes, freebies, resale information, or an off-thesubject remark.
Forward look. Anticipate future relations or business. A letter refuses a contract
proposal might read: Thanks for your bid. We look forward to working with your talented
staff when future projects demand your special expertise.
Alternative. If an alternative exists, end your letter with follow-through advice. For
example, a letter rejecting a customer’s demand for replacement of landscaping plants, you
might say: I will be happy to give you a free inspection and consultation. Please call
XXX-XXXX to arrange a date for my visit.
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Good wishes. A letter rejecting a job candidate might read: We appreciate your interest in
our company, and we extend to you our best wishes in your search to find the perfect match
between your skills and job requirements.
Freebies. When customers complain – primarily about food products or small consumer
items – companies often send coupons, samples, or gifts to restore confidence and to
promote future business. In response to a customer’s complaint about a frozen dinner, you
could write: Your loyalty and your concern about our frozen entrees is genuinely
appreciated. Because we want you to continue enjoying our healthful and convenient
dinners, we’re inclosing a coupon that you can take to your local market to select your next
Green Giant entrée.
Resale or sales promotion. When the bad news is not devastating or personal, references
to resale information or promotion may be appropriate: The computer workstations you
ordered are usually popular because of their stain-, heat-, and scratch-resistant finishes.
To help you locate hard-to-find accessories for these workstations, we invite you to visit our
Web site where our on-line catalog provides a huge selection of surge suppressors, multiple
outlet strips, security devices, and PC tool kits.
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15.10 Use the power of persuasion to influence readers.
Most people are hard to persuade and somewhat inert; even if you persuade
them, you must get them to act. Usually, when we seek to persuade people through our
writing, we hope to provide information, change attitude, or change behavior. Obviously,
persuading readers to think, feel, or behave differently is a greater challenge than simply
conveying information.
How to persuade in three different steps
The basic strategy of persuading can be expressed as three steps:
•Establish common ground.
•State the problems and solutions.
•End with a strong action close.
You can improve your chances of success by understanding what those steps
involve. A more sophisticated way of looking at the process of writing to persuade is as
•Gain the attention of your readers by presenting a benefit – or at least by establishing
goals of mutual interest or common ground.
•Define the problem that will be solved if you succeed in persuading the readers.
•Explain the solutions, showing how the advantages of the solutions outweigh any
•Enumerate the benefits for the readers.
•State the specific action you want the readers to take.
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Ten rules of persuasion
Rule 1. Know your reader. The effectiveness of persuasive messages depends on the
readers. Determine to what extent your readers seem active or passive. Active
readers seek information, and may want to read your message. Passive readers need
motivation and a hook to interest them. If you believe that the readers are passive,
discuss benefits. Give them a problem – particularly one that matters to them.
Quote others and provide examples from individuals that your readers respect. Use
memorable phrases like slogans to reinforce your message.
Rule 2. Know what you can accomplish. If you want to change a position, or an
attitude, must know its reasons, its roots. You need to understand the thoughts,
feelings, beliefs, and whatever else is behind that position or attitude. Appeal to
your readers by presenting information in such a way that it makes a difference to
them. Make your wording memorable.
Rule 3. Anticipate objections. Sometimes people won’t react to your persuasive words
because they don’t recognize the problem or the opportunity. If you identify it for
them and then offer ways to resolve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity,
you may improve your chances of persuading them.
Rule 4. Stress rewards. When you establish common ground or write about benefits,
picture the advantages for the readers. Make the readers feel how they will be better
off as a result of your proposal. For instance, when trying to persuade management
to set up a cafeteria for employees in the company. What benefits could you cite for
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The company? Although employee morale might make your top list of reasons,
management might have difficulty picturing that benefit. However, if you talk
about time saved for the employees to increase productivity, management might
picture higher profits.
Rule 5. Be familiar. Plug into what your readers know, appreciate, like, and respect. In
other words, press their hot button. If you’re citing facts, use a source that your
readers consider credible. If you want to include quotes, get them from people
that your readers respect. The more familiar the person you use, the greater your
opportunity to persuade readers.
Rule 6. Be clear. If the people reading your words have to work hard to understand them
and particularly to understand the benefit, your message won’t be as effective
and you may not move your readers to act. Make it easy from them to
understand what you’re saying.
Rule 7. Ask for what you want. State what you want the readers to do. Use powerful
verbs. Keep your sentences short. You might want to emphasize the action by
using boldface or italics, by setting it off in a separate paragraph, or by repeating
it. Tell them, for example, “Sign the petition to oust A-Bian” or “Give your
family a future with you.”
Rule 8. Control the tone. The first person (“I”) signifies authority. This tone might work
if you are an expert or otherwise very credible to your readers: “I believe that
this initiative would be best” or “in my opinion…” Otherwise, it could annoy
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the audience because they don’t believe you or identify with you. The second
person (“you”) signifies familiarity. When you use “you” rather than “I” or
“we,” you tend to write more from the perspective of your readers, to focus on
their interests and needs, to emphasize the benefits from them of taking the
action you recommend. Use the third person (“it, the company, he, she”) when
you want the tone to feel more objective. However, avoid using the third person
throughout your message unless it’s a formal proposal, because the third person
doesn’t move readers as effectively as the second person or even the first person.
Rule 9. Clinch your argument. You can most effectively convince people of the value of
your argument by using a three-step approach: (1) state your purpose, (2)
support your argument with evidence, and (3) close with a clincher – a reason
for the argument.
Purpose: We need to expand the market for personal computers to include people who
cannot afford to buy computers priced over $1000.
Evidence: We’ve saturated our current market for computers priced over $1000 that
consumers will not need to replace for at least three years. Yet millions of people do
not own a personal computer and they want to.
Clincher: Therefore, you’ll agree that the growth and profitability of our company
depends on what we do now to develop and promote computers that can be sold at
prices ranging between $500 and $800.
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Rule 10. Give them something to remember. Sum up your message in a brief,
memorable phrase. Focus on a key point in your argument. Most people will
long remember the clinching conclusion in a famous court case: “If it doesn’t fit,
you must acquit.” Or focus on a significant benefit for your readers. Consider
the persuasive power of such old political slogans as “A chicken in every pot.”
Persuasive punch
To give readers something to remember, use words that pack a persuasive punch.
According to a Yale University study, the most persuasive words are: discovery, easy,
guarantee, health, love, money, new, proven, results, safety, save, and you!
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Example of a persuasive claim:
Use a clear
a subject line
Subject: CODE-A-PHONE MODEL 1006
Your Code-A-Phone Model 1006 answering unit came well recommended. We
liked our neighbor’s unit so well that we purchased three for different departments
in our business.
After the three units were unpacked and installed, we discovered a problem.
Apparently our office UPS system interferes the electronics in these units. We UPS
is on, heavy static interrupt every telephone call. When UPS is off, the static
We tried to return these units to your Chicago service center. A salesperson
inspected the units and said they could not be returned since they were not defective
and they had been used.
Because the manual for the Code-A-phone says nothing about avoiding use in
rooms with UPS, we expected no trouble. We were quite disappointed that this
well-engineered unit fails to function properly in our case.
If you have a model with similar feature that would work in our offices, give me
a call. Otherwise, please authorize the return of these units and refund the purchase
price of $2500.00 (see enclosed invoice). We’re confident that a manufacturer with
your reputation for excellent products and service will want to resolve this matter
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Begin with
Tell what
action to take
Say something
Example of a persuasive on-line sale message:
Subject: zShops Are Now Open
As somebody who’s placed a “special order” for a book with us in the past
year, you might be interested to know that zShops are now open.
What are zShops? Think of them as a collection of your favorite specialty
shops offering everything from used and rare books to vintage music, palm PCs,
and more. Our growing community of specialty retailers and small merchants
has stocked zShops with hundreds of thousands of items with millions more to be
added in the coming months.
With the number of booksellers and other merchants that have opened zShops,
we think you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is for you to find, discover, and
buy anything you want at Please stop by and have a look, and as
always, feel free to tell us what you think.
“you” view
Explain the
amazon stock
Focus major
selling point
from user’s
P.S. We hope you enjoyed receiving this message. However, if you’d rather
not receive any future notices of this sort from, please visit
your Subscriptions page.
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Make it easy
to respond
Provide a
Chapter 16. Writing, organizing, and producing your letters
16.1 Parts of a letter
Most letters have many or all of the following basic parts, depending on the
letter’s purpose and intended audience. Whether you hand-write or type your letters,
these basic parts remain the same.
Personalized letterhead
Dateline (month, day, year)
Heading and inside address (for more formal letters)
Body (opening, middle, closing paragraphs)
Complimentary close
Postscript, enclosure, copies
16.2 Formats for letters
Four basic formats are used in social and formal correspondence: full block,
block, semiblock, and simplified (used only for formal letters). The full block format is
easiest to use since all lines are flush with the left margin. For semiblock the
complementary close and signature block appear the center of the page. Whichever
format you choose, be consistent. Don’t mix style, using indented paragraphs with a flush
left complimentary close and signature block.
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Full block
November 12, 2005
Ms. Arlene C. Anderson
Director, Human Resources
Geosync Engineering, Inc.
3475 North Maple St.
Cleveland, OH 44107
Dear Ms. Anderson:
I am currently a senior at Cleveland State University, majoring in Human Resources.
For our final class project, we are interviewing Human Resource administrators in local
companies. I would like very much to interview you for the project.
We have learned that Geosync has instituted some innovative programs regarding
flextime and day care centers. I am particularly interested in how those programs were
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developed and how successful they have been.
Please write or call me at the address or telephone number below if you are interested in
being interviewed. We can arrange a time at your convenience.
Jolin Tsai
Jolin Tsai
Kate Daum Dormitory, Room 234
Cleveland State University
Cleveland, OH 44108
•All lines are flush with the left margin.
•No paragraphs are indented.
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April 3, 2006
Mr. Peter M. Anton
Station Manager
1937 West Lancing Dr.
Phoenix, AZ 85014
Dear Mr. Anton:
I don’t often write about program I hear on radio, but your broadcast Tuesday, April 1,
was a new low in bad taste. I realize that April Fool’s Day encourages jokes, but
broadcasting that a truckload of poisonous snakes had overturned on the highway near
our suburb was anything but funny.
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My two children, already afraid of the rattlesnakes we get occasionally in our yard, heard
the broadcast and were terrified. They refused to go out of the house and couldn’t sleep
for the next two nights.
Please, the next time you think up a practical joke, think again! Around here, poisonous
snakes are no jokes.
Truly yours,
Fei Wang
cc: Georgia Neuman, President
•Date line is flush with the right margin.
•Heading or inside address, salutation, reference lines, and paragraphs set flush with the
•Complimentary close and signature are aligned with the date.
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June 4, 2004
481 Kimble Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46808
Dear Katie,
Excuse the typewriter but I’ve only got an hour before we have to leave on our
trip. I wanted to get this letter off to you before we left.
I agree that you can’t change anyone or run their life, but I’m concerned about
you more than about your sister. You haven’t had a chance to pursue your own dreams –
you’ve been too busy trying to help Linda. Let the hospital staff do that now. It’s not
your job to be her counselor or therapist.
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Please don’t think I’m being hard on Linda. It’s just that there has been no one
there for you all these years. Why not start caring for Katie now?
p.s. I’ll write more when we get to Denver.
•Date is flush with the right margin.
•Heading or inside address and salutation are set flush with the left margin.
•Paragraphs are indented.
•Complimentary close and signature lines are slightly to the right of the page’s center.
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February 14, 2006
Edward C. Cooper, Ph.D.
Director – Research and Development
Fleeting Electronics Co.
5407 College Lane
Pittsburg, PA 15234
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The 15th Annual Ultra Sound Electronics Conference was one of the best ever. We had
more exhibitors and presentors than in any either year.
The Conference Board is offering a bound volume of all papers presented at the
conference during the four-day sessions. You can obtain a copy of this valuable
resource for only $85.00 plus $4.00 handling and postage.
Please fill out the enclosed card and order your copy without delay. Once you’ve
looked over the volume, we’re sure you will agree this year’s conference presented an
outstanding offering of topics and speakers.
S. Kong Wang, Ph.D., P.E.
Conference Board Chairman
S. Kong Wang
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•No salutation or complimentary close.
•All lines begin flush with the left margin.
•Date is six lines below the letterhead.
•Inside address is four or more lines below the date line.
•Subject line is typed in all caps, three lines below the inside address and above the body
of the letter.
•Writer’s name and title are typed in caps, four or five lines below the body of the letter.
16.3 Parts of letters
If you use personalized stationery for your correspondence, always write or
type the first page of your letter on a letterhead page. If your letter runs two or more
pages, use blank sheets that match the quality and color of the letterhead.
In formal correspondence, repeat the recipient’s name, the page number, and
the date on all pages after the letterhead. The line can be typed either across the page or
in block format, depending on how your letterhead is arranged on the page. The guiding
rule is to give the letter a balanced look.
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Mr. Michael Jordan, 2
April 19, 1998
Mr. Michael Jordan
Page 2
April 19, 1998
If you are addressing more than one individual, arrange the names in
alphabetical order:
Mr. Michael Jordan
Mr. Scottie Pippin
Chicago Bulls Headquarters, 2
April 19, 1998
Inside address and salutation
The inside address and salutation are always typed flush with the left margin.
In formal correspondence, the salutation is followed by a colon; in informal
correspondence, it is followed by a comma.
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Information in the inside address appears in the following order:
Individual’s name and title
Company department or division (or agency, organization)
Company name (or government department)
Street address
City, state, and ZIP code
Mr. Carmelo Anthony
Direct, Public Relations
Office of the Mayor
453 N. Dearborn
Chicago, Il 60603
Mr. Ben Wallace
Vice President -- Sales
Tri-State Shipping Co.
8312 South Holland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dear Mr. Anthony:
Dear Mr. Wallace:
If you need to carry over a long line, indent the second line five spaces.
Mr. Richard Hamilton
American Association of Retired
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Titles in the inside address
Various courtesy titles are used with people’s names in formal and informal
correspondence: Mr., Mrs., Miss., Ms., Dr., Professor, and the like. When addressing two
or more people in a company, agency, institution or organization, use the following
1. When addressing both men and women, list the names alphabetically or according to
seniority in each rank.
Ms. Fei Wang, Direct OR
Mr. Chauncey Billups
Mr. Chauncey Billups
Ms. Fei Wang
Dear Ms. Wang and Mr. Billups:
Dear Mr. Billups and Ms. Wang:
When addressing two or more men in formal or business correspondence, use Messrs.
Mr. Tayshaun Prince
Mr. Rasheed Wallace
Dear Messrs. Prince and Wallace:
If you are addressing two or more women in formal or business correspondence, use
Mesdames, Mmes., Mlles., or Mses. Mlles. Refers to younger or single women only.
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Ms. Ruby Lewis Day
Mrs. Jennifer Stone
Miss Arlene Nichols
Miss Joan Banner
Dear Mses. Day and Stone:
Dear Mlles. Nichols and Banner:
When you don’t know the gender of the person, or the name could be that of either a
man or a woman, a new practice suggests using the simple letter M as the courtesy
title. Or you can simply use the full name in the salutation.
M. Pat Justine
Customer Relations
ABC Company
Dear M. Justine:
Pat Justine
Customer Relations
ABC Company
Dear Pat Justine:
If you know only the department within a company but not a particular individual,
put the company name first followed by the department name.
Sears, Roebuck Co.
Automotive Division
Dear Staff:
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Street addresses and P. O. Box numbers
The following guidelines will help you address your correspondence both in the
inside address and on the envelope.
1. Suite, room, or apartment numbers follow the street address on the same line,
separated by a comma.
445 North Michigan, Room 812
Chicago, IL 60611
17 West Superior, Apt. B19
New York, NY 10017
If the inside address contains both a street address and a post office box, use the post
office box, placing any postal station after the box number.
P. O. Box 3245, Central Station
P. O. Box 3245
Central Station
Customer Service
Hanover Assurance Co.
296 S. Crawford Ave.
P. O. 117
Omaha, NE 68120
Customer Service
Hanover Assurance Co.
P. O. Box 117
Omaha, NE 68120
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The number “one” is always written out in an address. Numbered streets ten and
below are written out, while street names over ten are typed as numbers.
One Washington Square
12 Fourth Avenue
183 - 23rd Street
(Notice that a hyphen is inserted between building and street numbers to avoid
When compass directions come before a numbered street, use cardinal numbers (11,
12, 13,…). When they come after the street, use ordinal numbers (11th, 12th,
458 – 65th Street SE
458 West 65 Street
For formal correspondence, spell out all words in an inside address, except for
compass directions following the street name.
42 Benson Boulevard
886 North Holland Avenue
886 Holland Avenue NW
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Complimentary close
Formal and informal correspondence require different complimentary closes,
but all of them are followed by a comma.
Use in diplomatic
or religious
Less formal
Use for institution,
government agencies,
prestigious associations,
and companies
Use in general
and with friends, family
Respectfully yours,
Very truly yours,
Yours truly,
Yours very truly,
Very cordially yours
Very sincerely yours,
Sincerely yours,
Best regards,
Best wishes,
Cordially yours,
Kindest (Warmest) regards,
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Addressing the envelope
Return address area
Logo or advertising area
Postage area
(Suggested address area)
Name of addressee
Name of company
Street address
City, state, ZIP code
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According to U. S. Postal guidelines the address should:
1. Be machine printed or typewritten.
2. Be written in all capital letters.
3. Be double-spaced between lines.
4. Be without punctuation (periods or commas). Use one or two spaces between
words instead of punctuation.
5. Include floor, suite, apartment, condominium number, add directionals (North,
East, and so forth).
6. Use the two-letter abbreviation for states.
7. Use the ZIP code appropriate for the city and state in the U. S., and the postal code
for foreign countries for letters sent abroad.
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Sample envelope
Shawn Marion
Department of Mechanical Engineering
I – Shou University
Da-Shu, Kaohsiung County
Taiwan 840
P O BOX 32456
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Chapter 17. Model Business Letters
17.1 Enquiries and replies
Enquiries for information about goods or services are sent and received in business
all the time. In a routine letter of enquiry follow these guidelines:
1. State clearly and concisely what you want – general information, a catalogue, price
list, sample, quotation, etc.
2. If there is a limit to the price at which you are prepared to buy, do not mention this
otherwise the supplier may raise the quotation to the limit you state.
3. Most suppliers state their terms of payment when replying so that there is no need
for you to ask for them unless you are hoping for special rates.
4. Keep your enquiry brief and concise.
Enquiries mean business, so they must be acknowledged promptly. If it is from an
established customer, say how much you appreciate it; if it is from a prospective
customer, say you are glad to receive it and express the hope of a lasting and friendly
business relationship.
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Dear Sir/Madam:
I have a large hardware store in Chicago and am interested in the electric heaters
you are advertising in the West Country Gazette.
Please send me your illustrated catalogue and a price list.
Yours faithfully,
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Dear Mr. Johnson:
Thank you for your letter enquiring about electric heaters. I am pleased
to enclose a copy of our latest illustrated catalogue.
You may be particularly interested in our Model FX21 heater, our
newest model. Without any increase in fuel consumption, it gives out
15% more heat than earlier models. You will find details of our terms
in the price list printed on the inside front cover of the catalogue.
Perhaps you would consider placing a trial order to provide you with an
opportunity to test its efficiency. At the same time this would enables
you to see for yourself the high quality of material and finish put into
this model.
If you have any question please contact me.
Yours sincerely,
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Thank you
Provide further
information about
specific goods
and refer to
information in
Suggest action for
recipient to take
Urge prospective
customer to
do something
Useful expressions
1. We are interested in … as advertised recently in …
2. We have received an enquiry for your…
3. I was interested to see your advertisement for…
4. I understand you are manufacturers of (dealers in)…and should like to receive your
current catalogue.
1. When replying please also include delivery details.
2. Please also state whether you can supply the goods from stock as we need them
3. If you can supply suitable goods, we may place regular orders for large quantities.
Replies to requests
1. Thank you for your letter of… As requested we enclose…
2. In reply to your enquiry of…we are sending by separate post…
3. I was pleased to learn…that you are interested in our…
4. Thank you for your enquiry dated…regarding…
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1. We look forward to receiving a trial order from you soon.
2. We shall be pleased to send you any further information you may need.
3. Any orders you place with us will have our prompt attention.
4. Please let me know if you need any further details.
17.2 Quotations and estimates
A quotation is a promise to supply goods on the terms stated. The prospective buyer
is under no obligation to buy the goods for which a quotation is required, and suppliers
will not normally risk their reputations by quoting for goods they cannot or do not intend
to supply. A satisfactory quotation will include the following:
An expression of thanks for the enquiry
Details of prices, discounts, and terms of payment
Clear indication of what the prices cover, e.g., packing, carriage, insurance
An undertaking regarding date of delivery
The period for which the quotation is valid
An expression of hope that the quotation will be accepted
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Dear Sir:
You have previously supplied us with crockery and we should be glad if you would
now quote for the items named below, manufactured by the Ridgeway Pottery of
Hanley. The pattern we require is listed in your 19 – catalogue as “number 59
Conway Spot (Green).”
300 Teacups and Saucers
300 Tea Plates
40 1-liter Teapot
Prices quoted should include packing and delivery to the above address.
When replying please state discounts allowable, terms of payment and earliest
possible date of delivery.
Yours faithfully,
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Thank you for your enquiry of 18 April for a further supply of our crockery. We are
pleased to quote as follows:
Tea Saucers
Tea Plates
Teapots, 1-liter
$385.00 per hundred
$356.00 per hundred
$356.00 per hundred
$12.50 each
These prices include packing and delivery, but a charge is made for crates with an
allowable for their return in good condition.
Delivery can be made from stock and we will allow you a discount of 5% on items
ordered in quantities of 100 or more. There would be an additional cash discount of
2% on total cost of payment within one month from date of invoice.
We hope that you will find these items satisfactory.
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Estimates and specifications
Whereas a quotation is an offer to sell goods at a price and under stated
conditions, an estimate is an offer to do certain work for a stated price, usually on the basis
of a specification. Like a quotation, an estimate is not legally binding so the person making
it is not bound to accept any order that may be placed against it.
Please let me have an estimate for installing central heating in my bungalow at 1
Margate Road, St Annes-on-Sea. A plan of the bungalow is attached showing required
positions and sizes of radiators, together with a specification showing further details
and materials to be used.
As you will note from the specification, I am interested only in first-class workmanship
and in the use of best quality materials. However, cost is, of course, a matter of some
importance. Completion of the work is required by 31 August at the latest.
In your reply please include a firm completion date.
Your prompt reply will be appreciate.
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Installation of the latest small-bored central heating, to be carried out with best
quality copper PIPING OF 15 MM BORE, FITTED WITH “Ryajand” electric
Existing boiler to be replaced by a Glow-worm No 52 automatic gas fired boiler,
rated at 15.2 kW and complete with gas governor, flame failure safety device
and boiler water thermostat.
Installation of a Randall No 113 clock controller to give automatic operation of
the central heating system at predetermined times.
Each radiator to be separately controlled, swiveled for cleaning and painted pale
cream with red-lead undercoating.
The system to be provided with the necessary fall for emptying and to prevent
Insulation of roof with 80 mm fiberglass.
5 July 2005
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Contractor’s estimate
Thank you for your letter of 5 July enclosing specification and plan
for a gas-fired central heating system at the above address.
We should be glad to carry out the work for a total of $125,500,00
with a 2.5% discount for settlement within one month of the date of
our account. We can promise to complete all work by 31 August if
we receive your instructions by the end of this month. Please note
that the price quoted is based on present costs of materials and labor.
Should these costs rise we should have to add the increased costs to
our price.
We have installed many similar heating systems in your area. Our
reputation for high class work is well known; if you would like to
inspect one of our recent installations before making a firm
decision this can be arranged.
Thank you
Mention price and
Promise completion
This clause protects
the contractor from
unforeseen increases
Mention of
satisfactory work
carried out elsewhere
will give confidence
We hope you will be satisfied with the price quoted, and look
forward to receiving your instructions soon.
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Useful expressions
Requests for quotations, estimates, etc.
1. Please quote for the supply of…
2. Please send me a quotation for the supply of…
3. We wish to have the following work carried out and should be glad if you would
submit an estimate.
1. As the matter is urgent we should like this information by the end of this work.
2. If you can give us a competitive quotation, we expect to place a large order.
3. If your price compare favorably with those of other suppliers, we shall send you an
early order.
Replies to requests for quotations, etc.
1. Thank you for your letter of…
2. We thank you for your enquiry of…and are pleased to quote as follows:
3. With reference to your enquiry of…, we shall be glad to supply…at the price of…
4. We are sorry to learn that you find our quotation of…too high.
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1. We trust you will find our quotation satisfactory and look forward to receiving your
2. We shall be pleased to receive your order, which will have our prompt and careful
3. As the prices quoted are exceptionally low and likely to rise, we would advise you to
place your order without delay.
4. As our stocks of these goods are limited, we suggest you place an order immediately.
17.3 Orders and their fulfillment
Most companies have official printed order forms. Smaller companies may not have
printed forms but instead place orders in the form of a letter. When sending an order by
letter, accuracy and clarity must be ensured by including:
1. an accurate and full description of goods required.
2. catalogue numbers
3. quantities
4. prices
5. delivery requirements (place, date, mode of transportation, whether the order will be
carriage paid or carriage forward, etc.)
6. terms of payment agreed in preliminary negotiations.
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Routine orders
Confirmation of telephone order
Dear Sirs:
We confirm the order which was placed with you by telephone this morning for the
3 ‘Excelda Studio’ Laser printers each with 12 pitch daisy wheel
Price: $1,280.00 each, less 40% trade discount
carriage forward
These machines are urgently required. We understand that you are arranging for
immediately delivery from stock.
Yours sincerely,
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Tabulated order
Dear Sirs:
Please accept our order for the following books on our usual discount terms of
25% off published prices:
Communication for Business Shirley Taylor
The Engineering in Training Don McLean
We look forward to prompt delivery.
Yours sincerely,
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Acknowledging orders
Formal acknowledgement of routine order (by fax)
Thank you for your order number 237 for bed coverings.
As all items were in stock, they will be delivered to you tomorrow by our own
We hope you will find these goods satisfactory and that we may have the pleasure of
future orders from you.
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Acknowledgement of a first order
We were very pleased to receive your order of 18 June for cotton
prints and welcome you as one of our customers.
We confirm supply of the prints at the prices stated in your letter.
Delivery should be made by our own vehicles early next week.
We feel confident that you will be completely satisfied with these
goods and that you will find them of exceptional value of money.
As you may not be aware of the wide range of goods we have
available, we are enclosing a copy of our catalogue.
We hope that our handling of your first order with us will lead to
further business between us and mark the beginning of a happy
working relationship.
Thank you
Confirm prices and
delivery information
Give assurance of
Mention other goods
and enclose a
Close with a wish
for future business
Yours sincerely,
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Useful expressions
Placing orders
1. Thank you for your quotation of…
2. We have received your quotation of…and enclose our official order form.
3. Please supply the following items as quickly as possible and charge to our account:
1. Prompt delivery would be appreciated as the goods are needed urgently.
2. Please acknowledge receipt of this order and confirm that you will be able to
deliver by…
3. We hope to receive your advice of delivery by return of post.
Acknowledging orders
1. Thank you for your order dated…
2. We thank you for your order number…and will despatch the goods by…
3. We are sorry to inform you that the goods ordered on…cannot be supplied.
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1. We hope the goods reach you safely and that you will be pleased with them.
2. We hope you will find the goods satisfactory and look forward to receiving your
future orders.
3. We are pleased to say that these goods have been despatched today (will be
despatched in…/are now awaiting collection at…).
17.4 Invoicing and settlement of accounts
Dear Sir/Madam:
We are pleased to enclose our invoice number B 832 for the polyester shirts
ordered on 13 August.
The goods are available from stock and will be sent to you immediately we receive
the amount due, namely $1,605.00.
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XYZ Company
456 Chung-Hua Road
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 800
Polyester shirts, small
Polyester shirts, medium
Polyester shirts, large
VAT (@10%)
One case
E & OE
Unit Price
Your order no: AW 25
Date 18 August 2005
Invoice no: B832
Total ($)
Registered in U. S. No 52367
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Statements of account
A statement is a demand for payment. It is a summary of the transactions
between buyer and supplier during the period it covers, usually one month.
Covering letter with statement
Dear Sirs:
We enclose our statement of account for all transactions during August. If
payment is made within 14 days you may deduct the customary cash discount of
Supplier’s letter for underpaid statement
We are enclosing our August statement totaling $3,200.00.
The opening balance brought forward is the amount left uncovered by the check
received from you against our July statement which totaled $2,500.00. The check
received from you, however, was drawn for 2,000.00 only, leaving the unpaid
balance of $500.00 brought forward.
We should appreciate early settlement of the total amount now due.
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Useful expressions
Payments due
1. Enclosed is our statement for the quarter ended…
2. We enclose our statement to 31…showing a balance of $...
3. We are sorry it was necessary to return our invoice number…for correction.
4. We are much regret having to ask for an extension of credit on your July statement.
1. Please let us have your credit note for the amount of this overcharge.
2. Please make the necessary adjustment and we will settle the amount immediately.
3. We apologize again for this error and enclose our credit note for the overcharge.
Payments made
1. We enclose our check for $ payment for goods supplied on…
2. We enclose our check for…in payment of your invoice number…
3. We acknowledge with thanks your check for $...
4. We thank you for your check for $ part payment of your account.
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1. We hope to receive the amount due by the end of this month.
2. We should be obliged if you would send us your check immediately.
3. As the amount owing is considerably overdue, we must ask you to send us your
check by return.
17.5 Complaints and adjustments
Dealing with a complaint
1. It is often said that the customer is always right. This may not always be the case but
it is sound practice to assume that the customer may be right.
2. Acknowledge a complaint promptly. If you are unable to reply fully, explain that it
is being investigated and a full reply will be sent later.
3. If the complaint is unreasonable, point this out politely and in a way that will not
4. If you are to blame, admit it readily, express regret and promise to put matters right.
5. Never blame any of your staff; in the end you are responsible for their actions.
6. Thank the customer for informing you about the matter.
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Dear Sirs:
On 12 August I ordered 12 copies of Background Music by H. Lowery
under my order number FT345.
Order number
and date
On opening the parcel received this morning, I found that it contained
12 copies of History of Music by the same author. I regret that I
cannot keep these books as I have an adequate stock already. I am
therefore returning the books by parcel post for immediately
replacement, as I have several customers waiting for them.
Reason for
I trust you will credit my account with the invoiced value of the
returned copies including reimbursement for the postage cost of
Action required
Yours faithfully,
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I was sorry to learn from your letter of 18 August that a mistake
occurred in dealing with your order.
Express regret
This mistake is entirely our own and we apologize for the
inconvenience it is causing you. This occurred because of staff
shortage during this unusually busy season and also the fact that
these two books by Lowery have identical bindings.
Explain how
the mistake
Twelve copies of the correct title have been despatched by parcel
post today.
Action taken
to rectify the
Your account will be credited with the invoiced value of the books
and cost of return postage. Our credit note is enclosed.
We apologize again for this mistake.
A closing
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Useful expressions
Letters of complaint
1. The goods we ordered from you on…have not yet been delivered.
2. Delivery of the goods ordered on…is now considerably overdue.
3. We regret having to report that we have not yet received the goods ordered on…
4. We regret to report that one of the cases of your consignment was badly damaged
when delivered on…
5. When we examined the goods despatched by you on…we found that…
6. We have received a number of complaints from several customers regarding
the…supplied by you on…
1. Please look into this matter at once and let us know the reason for this delay.
2. We hope to hear from you soon that the goods will be sent immediately.
3. We feel there must be some explanation for this delay and await your prompt reply.
4. We hope to learn that you are prepared to make some allowance in this
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Replies to complaints
1. We are concerned to learn from your letter of…that the goods sent under your order
number…did not reach you until…
2. We are sorry that you have experienced delays in the delivery of…
3. We note with regret that you are not satisfied with the goods supplied to your order
4. Thank you for your letter of…which has given us the opportunity to rectify a most
unfortunate mistake.
5. We wish to apologize for the unfortunate mistake pointed out in your letter of…
1. We assure you that we are doing all we can do to speed delivery and offer our
apologies for the inconvenience this delay is causing you.
2. We hope you will be satisfied with the arrangements we have made.
3. We trust these arrangements will be satisfactory and look forward to receiving your
future orders.
4. We regret the inconvenience which has been caused in this matter.
5. We apologize once again for the unfortunate mistake and can assure you that a
similar incident will not occur again.
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17.6 Credit and status enquires
The main reason for buying on credit is for convenience. Basically it allows us
to ‘buy now, pay later.’ A buyer who makes regular purchase from the same supplier will
usually wish to avoid the inconvenience of paying for reach transaction separately, and
will ask for ‘open account’ term under which purchases will be paid for monthly or
quarterly or at some other agreed period. In other words the goods are to be supplied on
Customer requests open-account terms
We have been well satisfied with your handling of our past orders and as our business
is growing expect to place even larger orders with you in the future.
As our dealings have extended over a period of nearly 2 years, we should be glad if
you would grant us open-account facilities with, say, quarterly settlements. This
arrangement would save us the inconvenience of making separate payment on invoice.
Banker’s and trade references can be provided on request.
We hope to receive your favorable reply soon.
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Thank you for your letter of 18 November requesting the transfer of your
business from payment on invoice to open-account terms.
As our business relations with you over the past 2 years have been entirely
satisfactory, we are quite willing to make the transfer, based on a 90-day
settlement period. In your case it will not be necessary to supply references.
We are pleased that you have been satisfied with our past service and that
expansion of your business is likely to lead to increased orders. You may rely
upon our continued efforts to give you the same high standard of service as in the
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Customer supplies a banker’s reference
Dear Sirs:
Our check for $3,250.00 is enclosed in full settlement of your invoice number 826
for the stereo tape recorders supplied earlier this month.
My directors have good reason to believe that these particular products will be a
popular selling line in this part of the country. As we expect to place further
orders with you from time to time, we should be glad if you would arrange to
provide open-account facilities on a quarterly basis.
For information concerning our credit standing we refer you to Barclays Bank Ltd.,
25-27 The Arcade, Southampton.
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Useful expressions
Suppliers’ requests for references
1. Thank you for your letter of… Subject to satisfactory references we shall be glad
to provide the open account facilities requested.
2. We were pleased to receive your order dated… If you will kindly supply the usual
trade references, we will be glad to consider open-account terms.
1. We will be in touch with you as soon as references are received.
2. It is our usual practice to request references from new customers, and we hope to
receive these soon.
Customers supply references
1. Thank you for your letter of…in reply to our request for open-account terms.
2. We have completed and returned your credit application form.
1. The following firms will be pleased to answer your enquires…
2. For the information required please refer to our bankers, who are…
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Suppliers take up references
1. …of…has supplied your name as a reference in connection with his (her, their)
application for open-account terms.
2. We have received a large order from…and should be grateful for any information you
can provide regarding their reliability.
3. We should be grateful if you would obtain reliable information for us concerning…
1. Any information you can provide will be appreciated.
2. Any information provided will be treated in strictest confidence.
3. Please accept our thanks in advance for any help you can give us.
Replies to references taken up
1. We welcome the opportunity to report favorably on…
2. In reply to your letter of…we can thoroughly recommend the firm you mention.
3. The firm mentioned in your letter of…is not well known to us.
1. We would not hesitate granting this company credit up to $...
2. This information is given to you in confidence and without any responsibility on our
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Chapter 18. Resumes and job application letters
18.1 Letter requesting permission for recommendation
Dear Professor Wang:
Your course in mechanical engineering was my introduction to the field, and
your instruction provided an excellent background in this career area.
Because you know this field well and because you also know my work as a
student, may I use your name as a reference when I apply for employment?
As I will complete my course work at I – Shou University in June, I will be
looking for employment shortly. Being able to list your name as a reference
would assist my efforts greatly. Enclosed is a fact sheet listing information
that may be helpful to you when you write about me.
I am grateful to you for the excellent foundation you provided in mechanical
engineering and for any help you can provide in my job search. Please
indicate your willingness to serve as a reference by mailing the enclosed
postage-paid envelope.
Open with
compliment and
information to
help reader
comply with
appreciation and
supply envelope
for quick reply
chapter 18
Letter of recommendation
Use simplified letter
At the request of Mr. Jay Chou, I submit this
confidential information in support of this application for the
position of assistant director of your Human Resources
Department. Mr. Chou served under my supervision as assistant
director of Guest Relations at St. Helen Hospital for the past four
Mr. Chou was in charge of many customer service programs for
our 500-bed hospital. A large part of his job involved monitoring
and improving patient satisfaction. Because of his personable
nature and superior people skills, he got along well with fellow
employees, patients, and physicians. His personnel record
includes a number of “Gotcha” citation, given to employees
caught in the act of performing exemplary service.
Mr. Chou works well with a team, as evidenced by his
participation on the steering committee to develop our “Service
First Every Day” program. His most significant contributions to
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Identify applicant,
Cite confidentiality,
And tell relationship
Of writer
Support general qualities
With specific details
Describe and interpret
Our hospital, though, came as a result of his own creativity and
initiative. He developed and implemented a patient hotline to
hear complaints and resolve problems satisfaction rating from
7.2 last year to 8.6 this year. That’s the highest rating in our
history, and Mr. Chou deserves a great deal of the credit.
We’re sorry to lose Mr. Chou, but we recognize his desire to
advance his career. I am confident that his resourcefulness,
intelligence, and enthusiasm will make him successful in your
organization. I recommend him without reservation.
Summarize main
points and offer
Pat Hou
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Tips for writing recommendations
1. Identify the reason for writing.
2. Suggest the confidentiality of the recommendation.
3. Establish your relationship with the applicant.
4. Identify the length of employment and job duties.
5. Describe the applicant’s professional qualities.
6. Include specific details that illustrate the applicant’s personality, performance, and
ability to work with others.
7. Compare the applicant with others in his or her field.
8. Offer an overall rating of the applicant.
9. Summarize the applicant’s significant attributes.
10. Draw a conclusion regarding the recommendation.
chapter 18
18.2 Resumes
Choosing a resume style
A. Chronological. Most popular with recruiters is the chronological resume. It lists
work history job by job, starting with the most recent position. Recruiters favor the
chronological format because such resumes quickly reveal a candidate’s education
and experience record. This style works well for candidates who have experience
in their field of employment and for those who show steady career growth. But for
many college students and others who lack extensive experience, the functional
resume format may be preferable.
B. Functional. The functional resume focuses attention on a candidate’s skills rather
then on past employment. Instead of listing jobs, the functional resume groups
skills and accomplishments in special categories, such as supervisory and
management skills or retailing and marketing experience. People who have
changed jobs frequently or who have gaps in their employment records may prefer
the functional resume. Recent graduates with little employment experience often
find the functional resume useful.
C. Combination. The combination style draws on the best features of the
chronological and functional resumes. It emphasizes a candidate’s capabilities
while also including a complete job history. The combination resume is a good
choice for recent graduates because it enables them to profit what they can do for a
prospective employer.
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Chronological resume
1148 Lambert Road
Naperville, IL 60144
Phone: (708)814-1234
Position with financial services organization installing accounting
software and providing user support, where computer experience
and proven communication and interpersonal skills can be used
to improve operations.
Accounting software consultant, Financial Specialist, Elmhurst,
Illinois June 2004 to present
* Design and install accounting systems for business such as 12st
Century Real Estate, Illini Insurance, Aurora Lumber Company, and
* Provide ongoing technical support and consultation for regular clients.
* Help write proposals, such as recent one that won $250,000 contract.
Office Manager (part-time), Post premium, Naperville, Illinois June
2001 to May 2004
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* Conceived and implemented improved order processing
and filing system.
* Managed computerized accounting system; trained new
employees to use it.
* Helped install local area network.
College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration, June 2001
GPA in major 3.6/4.0
Computer Associates training seminars, summer and fall 2000
Certificates of completion
Seminars in consulting ethics, marketing, and ACCPAC
accounting software
* Proficient in Word, Lotus, Excel, and other software.
* Skilled in ACCPAC Plus, MAS90, and Solomon IV accounting
* Trained in technical writing, including proposals and
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* Experienced in office administration and management.
* Competent at speaking and writing Spanish.
HONORS AND Dean’s list, 3 semesters
Member, Beta Alpha Gamma (business student honorary)
Member, Academic Affairs Advisory Committee, College of
DuPage, 1998-2001
1. Indicate detailed objective in response to advertisement.
2. Use present-tense verbs for current job.
3. Show job title in bold for readability.
4. Chronological format arranges jobs and education by dates.
5. Write space around headings creates open look.
6. Highlight technical, management, and communication skills.
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Functional resume
2250 Creek Drive
Phoenix, AZ 23950
PHONE: (412)723-4321__________________________E-mail:
Position in sales or marketing with opportunity for advancement.
* Demonstrated lawn-care equipment in central and western U.S.
* Achieved product sales amounting to 120 percent of forecast in
competitive field.
* Personally generated over $25,000 in telephone subscriptions as
part of President’s Task Force for the Penn Foundation.
* Conducted telephone survey of selected business in two counties
to determine potential users of farm equipment and to promote
company services.
* Successfully served 40 or more retail customers daily as clerk in
electrical appliance department of national home hardware store.
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* Conducted survey, analyzed results, and wrote a 20page report regarding the need for developing a
recycling program at Penn State.
* Presented talks before selected campus classes and
organizations encouraging students to participate
recycling program.
* Spoke for the award-winning delegation defending
U.S. policies before mock U.N. meeting.
* Announced sports news for WNBC, college station.
* Helped conceptualize, organize, and conduct highly
successful campus campaign to register student voters.
* Scheduled events and arranged weekend student
retreat for Newman Club.
* Trained and supervised two counter employees at
Pizza Bob’s.
* Organized courses, extracurricular activities, and parttime employment to graduate in seven semesters.
Earned 3.4/4.0 GPA.
Pennsylvania State University, College Station,
Pennsylvania, PA. BS., 2000.
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Major: Business Administration with sales and marketing emphasis
GPA in Major: 3.6/4.0
Community College of Door County, Madison, Wisconsin
Courses in General Studies and Business Administration
EMPLOYMENT 1998-2000, Pizza Bob’s, State College, Pennsylvania
Summer 1997, Bellefonte Manufacturers Representatives, Pittsburg
Summer 1996, Home Depot, Inc., Pittsburg
Basketball, soccer, mountain biking, skiing
1. Use general objective for all-purpose resume.
2. Avoid dense look by starring items on separate lines (could have used bullets,
dashes, periods, or boxes).
3. Emphasize relevant skills for sales/marketing position.
4. Employ action verbs to describe skills.
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Combination resume
Route 2, Box 180
Dodgeville, Wisconsin 53798
Residence: (608)935-3196
Message: (608)935-3456
* Keyboard 70 wpm with accuracy
CAPABILITIES * Take symbol shorthand at 90 wpm with accurate transcription.
* Skilled in the production of legal document and correspondence.
* Experienced in personal computer use, including various
* Ability to perform office tasks and interact effectively using
excellent written and oral communication.
Word Processing Operator. Limited-term employee
University of Wisconsin-Madison, May 2000 to August 2001
* Transcribed confidential letters, memos, reports, and other
documents from machine dictation using Word.
* Proofread documents for other operators, making grammar check.
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Student Assistant
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Fennimore, WI 53809,
June 1998 to August 1999
* Typed memos and input financial aid data on terminal to
mainframe; printed and verified monthly report totals for
700,000 budget.
* Helped financial aid applicants understand and complete filling
* Screened incoming telephone calls for supervisor and counselors.
Part-Time Cook and Cashier
Souprrr Subs, Fennimore, WI 53809, May 1998 to May 1999
* Prepared menu items, accepted customer payments, and
balanced cash drawer.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Fennimore, WI 53809
Major: Office Assistant and Word Processing Specialist Programs
AA degree expected May 2001. GPA in major: 3.6/4.0
* Received the Fennimore Times award from Southwest Wisconsin
Technical College Foundation for academic excellence and
contribution to campus life.
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* Elected secretary of Business Professionals of America Club.
Represented SWTC chapter at state and national competition.
Ms. Shirley A. Yost Professor Lois Wagner
Mr. James W. Lay
College of Letter & Science SWTC
University of Wisconsin
Highway 18 East
Highway 18 East
Madison, WI 53489
Fennimore, WI 53809
Fennimore, WI 53809
(413) 390-4491
(608) 822-8932
(608) 822-6782
1. Omit objective to keep all options open.
2. Focus on skills and attitudes that employers seek.
3. Arrange employment by job titles for easy reading.
4. Combine activities and awards to fill out section.
5. Include references because local employers expect them (most resumes today omit
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Action Verbs for persuasive resumes
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Set goals
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Verbs for
reduced (loss)
generated resolved (problems)
Interpersonal keywords most requested by employers using resume-scanning
Ability to delegate
Ability to train
Aggressive worker
Communication skills
Customer oriented
Follow up
Open communication
Organizational skills
Public speaking
Team player
ability to implement
analytical ability
detail minded
follow instructions
high energy
open minded
results oriented
takes initiative
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ability to plan
follow through
oral communication
problem solving
safety conscious
setting priorities
team building
willing to travel
18.3 The persuasive job application letter (cover letter)
To accompany your resume, you’ll need a persuasive job application letter. The
job application letter has three purposes: (1) introducing the resume, (2)
highlighting your strengths in terms of benefits to the readers, and (3) gaining an
Gaining attention in the opening
A. Openings for solicited jobs
1. Refer to the name of an employee in the company. Remember that employers
always hope to hire known quantities rather than complete strangers:
At the suggestion of Ms. Jennifer Larson of your Human Resources Department, I
submit my qualifications for the position of staffing coordinator.
Refer to the source of your information precisely. If you are answering an
advertisement, include the exact position advertised and the name and date of the
Your advertisement in Section C3 of the June 1 Daily News for an accounting
administrator greatly appeals to me. With my accounting training and computer
experience, I believe I could serve Quad Graphics well.
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Refer to the job title and describe how your qualifications fit the requirements.
Human resources directors are looking for a match between an applicant’s
credentials and job needs:
Because of my specialized training in computerized accounting at Boise State
University, I feel confident that I have the qualifications you described in your
advertisement for a cost accountant trainee.
B. Openings for unsolicited jobs. If you are unsure whether a position actually exists,
you may wish to use a more persuasive opening. Since your goal is to convince this
person to read on, try one of the following techniques:
Demonstrate interest in and knowledge of the reader’s business. Show the
human resources director that you have done your research and that this organization
is more than a mere name to you:
Since Signa HealthNet, Inc., is organizing a new information management team for
its recently established group insurance division, could you use the service of a welltrained information systems graduate who seeks to become a professional systems
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2. Show how your special talents and background will benefit the company. Human
resources directors need to be convinced that you can do something for them:
Could your rapidly expanding publications division use the services of an
editorial assistant who offers exceptional language skills, an honors degree
from the University of Main, and two years’ experience in producing a campus
literary publication?
Building interest in the body
The body of a cover letter should build interest, reduce resistance, and discuss
relevant personal traits. It is also important to emphasize reader benefits. In other words,
you should describe your strong points in relation to the needs of the employer.
Courses in business communication, report writing, and technical writing have
helped me develop the research and writing skills required of your technical
Choose your strongest qualifications and show how they fit the targeted job.
And remember, students with little experience are better off spotlighting their education
and its practical applications, as this candidate did:
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Because you seek an architect’s apprentice with proven ability, I submit a
drawing of mine that won second place in the Sinclair College Drafting contest
last year.
In the body of your letter, you’ll also want to discuss relevant personal traits.
Employers are looking for candidates who, among other things, are team players, take
responsibility, show initiative, and learn easily. Finally, in this section or the next, you
should refer the reader to your resume. Do so directly or as part of another statement, as
shown here:
Please refer to the attached resume for additional information regarding my
education, experience, and references.
Motivating action in the closing
The closing is the part where you ask for an interview. If you live in a distant
city, you may request an employment application or an opportunity to be interviewed by
the organization’s nearest representative. However, never ask for the job. To do so
would be presumptuous and naïve. In requesting an interview, suggest reader benefits or
review your strongest points. Sound sincere and appreciative. Remember to make it
easy for the reader to agree by supplying your telephone number and the best times to
call you. Here is a possible ending:
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I hope this brief description of my qualifications and the additional information
on my resume indicate to you my genuine desire to put my skills in accounting
to work for you. Please call me at (405)123-6667 before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
to arrange an interview.
Solicited application letter
Kendra A. Hawkins______________________________________________________
1770 Main Street, Boulder CO 80340
May 23, 2005
Ms. Courtney L. Donahue
Director, Human Resources
Del Rio Enterprises
Denver, CO 82511
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Dear Ms. Donahue:
Your advertisement for an assistant product manager, appearing May 22 in Section C
of the Denver Post, immediately caught my attention because my education and
training closely parallel your needs.
According to your advertisement, the job includes “assisting in the coordination of a
wide range of marketing programs as well as analyzing sales results and tracking
marketing budgets.” A recent internship at Ventana Corporation introduced me to
similar tasks. Assisting the marketing manager enabled me to analyze the promotion,
budget, and overall sales success of two products Ventana was evaluating. My tenpage report examined the nature of the current market, the products’ life cycles, and
their sales/profit return. In addition to this research, I helped formulate a product
merchandising plan and answered consumers’ questions at a local trade show.
Intensive course work in marketing and management, as well as proficiency in
computer spreadsheets and databases, has given me the kind of marketing and
computer training that Del Rio probably demands in a product manager. Moreover,
my recent retail sales experience and participation in campus organizations have
helped me develop the kind of customer service and interpersonal skills necessary for
an effective product manager.
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After you have examined the enclosed resume for details of my qualifications, I would
be happy to answer questions. Please call me to arrange an interview at your
convenience so that we may discuss how my marketing experience, computer training,
and interpersonal skills could contribute to Del Rio Enterprises.
Kendra A. Hawkins
Kendra A. Hawkins
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1. Use personally designed letterhead.
2. Address proper person by name and title.
3. Identify job and exact page where ad appeared.
4. Relate writer’s experience to job requirements.
5. Discuss schooling.
6. Discuss experience.
7. Refer reader to resume.
8. Ask for interview and repeat main qualifications.
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Unsolicited letter of application
2250 Turtle Creek Drive
Pittsburg, PA 15244
May 20, 2005
Mr. Richard M. Jannis
Vice President, Operations
Sports World, Inc.
4907 Maple Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 16203
Dear Mr. Jannis:
Today’s Pittsburg Examiner reports that your organization plans to expand its
operations to include national distribution of sporting goods, and it occurs to me that
you will be needing highly motivated, self-starting sales representatives and
marketing managers. Here are three significant qualifications I have to offer:
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* Four years of formal training in business administration, including specialized
courses in sales management, retailing, marketing promotion, and consumer
* Practical experience in demonstrating and selling consumer products, as well as
successful experience in telemarketing.
* Good communication skills and a strong interest in most areas of sports (which
helped me become a sportscaster at Penn State radio station WNGF).
May we talk about how I can put these qualifications, and others summarized in the
enclosed resume, to work for Sports World as it develops its national sales force? I’ll
call during the week of June 5 to discuss your company’s expansion plans and the
opportunity for an interview.
Sincerely yours,
Donald W. Vinton
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1. Use standard return address format, but could have designed his own letterhead.
2. Show knowledge of company and resourcefulness.
3. Keep letter brief to retain reader’s attention.
4. Refer to resume.
5. Take initiative for follow-up.
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