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Writing Workshops - Descriptions
Grammar and Punctuation Review line

(Two days)

Effective business English is founded on good grammar and punctuation. Without good grammar and punctuation, writers appear unprofessional at best and uneducated at worst. If business writing contains grammar mistakes and punctuation errors, what does that say about the author's strategies and recommendations? And poor grammar and sloppy punctuation can confuse readers and cause them to misunderstand messages.

The Grammar and Punctuation Review workshop will teach students to recognize and avoid common grammar mistakes. They'll also learn to properly punctuate documents, reports, emails, and other communications. The workshop involves numerous hands-on exercises, so students will be able to practice what we cover and ask questions as we go.

To determine whether your employees need this workshop, you may want to have them take the brief test below.

Audience

  • Anyone who wishes to write more professionally and credibly
  • All persons who want to avoid the stigma associated with making basic grammar and punctuation errors
  • People who want a comprehensive overview of basic grammar and punctuation rules for writing in the workplace

Workshop Topics

  • Understanding the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, interjections, and prepositions
  • Identifying subjects and predicates
  • Writing independent and dependent clauses
  • Using proper punctuation
  • Mastering troublesome words (e.g., lay vs. lie)
  • Avoiding the 10 most common grammar pitfalls
  1. Sentence fragments
  2. Comma splices
  3. Fused sentences
  4. Modifier muddles
  5. Shifts in point of view
  6. Lack of logic; faulty predication
  7. Mixed constructions
  8. Lack of subject-verb agreement
  9. Improper pronoun use
  10. Lack of parallelism

Grammar and Punctuation Test

A. Which of the options in each sentence is correct?

  1. Neither Jim nor his accountant (was/were) going to miss the game.
  2. This is why I am writing today, to ask you to step forward with Ms. Simard and (I/me) to build on the successes of the last seven years.
  3. The group assigned the newcomer to (it's/its) "Save the Park" committee.
  4. The resulting charges (that/which) we have announced today will allow us to move forward with a clear balance sheet.
  5. Give this document to (whomever/whoever) walks in the door first.
  6. Our secondary target market for this year's activities (are/is) business customers that spend less than $2000 a month.
  7. The prompt turnaround of daily results (allow/allows) the company to manage inventory more effectively.

B. What common grammatical or punctuation errors do these sentences contain and how might you repair them?

  1. Differing from conventional developments, the initial purchasers of this project form a cooperative housing corporation.
  2. The new product offers not only proven reliability and high performance, but also forms the basis for future products.
  3. The next steps seemed clear, however, the lawyer kept trying to stall a decision.
  4. We struck a deal she'll be here by Tuesday.
  5. Discussing our options today makes most sense to us. But not to them.
  6. The frustrating thing about airline travel today is that one has to wait around more than you ever did before.
  7. A natural hat trick in hockey is when you score three goals in a row.
  8. The respondent should sign the form on line six, and then he should mail the document back.

Answers:

  1. was; "accountant" is a singular subject and requires the singular form of the verb
  2. me; "me" is the object of the preposition "with"
  3. its; "its" is the possessive form of the pronoun "it"; "it's" is a contraction for "it is" or "it has"
  4. that; "which" is a non-restrictive pronoun, and the clause that it introduces in this sentence is restrictive
  5. whoever; "whoever" is the subject of the clause "whoever walks in the door first" not the object of the preposition "of"
  6. is; a linking verb agrees with its subject (target market) not its complement (business customers)
  7. allows; the subject is "turnaround," which requires a singular verb
  8. Dangling modifier—make the subject at the start of the independent clause refer to the introductory phrase: "Differing from conventional developments, this project requires that initial purchasers form a cooperative housing corporation."
  9. Lack of parallelism—make the correlatives parallel: "The new product not only offers proven reliability and high performance, but also forms the basis for future products."
  10. Comma splice—change the first comma to a semi-colon*: "The next steps seemed clear; however, the lawyer kept trying to stall a decision."
  11. Fused sentence—insert a colon*: "We struck a deal: she'll be here by Tuesday."
  12. Sentence fragment—make one sentence: "Discussing our options today makes most sense to us but not to them."
  13. Shift in person—use consistent pronoun forms: "The frustrating thing about airline travel today is that one has to wait around more than one ever did before."
  14. Faulty predication—improve the sentence logic: "A natural hat trick in hockey is scoring three goals in a row."
  15. Gender bias—make the pronoun and its antecedent plural: "Respondents should sign the forms on line six, and then they should mail the documents back."

*Other solutions exist.

Scoring:

13-15: Nicely done.
10-12: You could probably gain some good information from this workshop.
0-9: This workshop is for you!

Note that a condensed version of the Grammar and Punctuation Review workshop can be offered in one day.


 

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