I hope everyone reading today’s entry will take a moment to drop a note or call to thank your favorite English teacher. Without him or her none of us would be where we are today. So bless that English teacher for giving us the sound, solid basic writing skills that have helped us so very much so far. The skills that allow us to build from them to move forward and take the next step. The skills that allow us to prove our professionalism and demonstrate our credibility.
In my business writing workshops, I often hear stories about a participant’s favorite English teacher. For example:
We were discussing prepositions one day, and how the last word of a prepositional phrase may cause confusion, resulting in a plural verb with a singular subject. This can happen because the last word of the prepositional phrase, often located next to the subject it describes, was plural, while the subject of the sentence was actually singular.
A choice of three entrees is available for the dinner. (Correct – why? Because the subject of the sentence is choice (singular). The prepositional phrase that describes the choice is of three entrees (entrees is plural).
To test whether you have written correctly, cover up the prepositional phrase, and read what you have written (in this case, “…choice…is available…”)
What is a prepositional phrase? A group of words that begins with a preposition, and most often describes something. So how do you recognize a preposition?
One of the class members said, “My English teacher told us that ‘a preposition is a word that describes any way a bird can fly.’”
While this is not always strictly true, it is fairly accurate, and is somewhat easier than memorizing the entire list of prepositions in the English language, which is not a bad idea either. (If you would like to take a look at the list of prepositions, visit my BusinessWritingZone.com website.)
It’s amazing how much can be learned from class members! I hope you will share your favorite teacher story, too. Just comment, or e-mail me. Thanks, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.
Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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