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I. Spelling  (pages 6 through 45)


Although lessons in spelling may seem elementary, many words in daily use are frequently misspelled.  Something as simple as using "to" instead of "too" can result in being passed over for a job.  Even though a lot of these spelling errors are becoming more and more common in newspapers, magazines, and business correspondence, there are still those people...usually in executive positions...who notice these things and judge accordingly.  So, this part is really very important.  Please read the material carefully, do the exercises before checking for the correct answers in the back, and start looking for errors in what you read each day.  The more you see them in others' work, the more aware you will become of them in your own.  In time, you will catch most of your own.

The first 20 exercises and the proof-reading exercises deal with commonly confused words.  It does help to keep a list of the words that give you the most trouble or the ones that you did not realize you had been misspelling.  Put these on a notecard and keep the card handy whenever you are writing anything so you can be sure to check for these trouble spots.

The two next sections concern contractions and possessives.  Few other diacritical marks are used incorrectly as much as the apostrophe.  What I repeat uncountable times in every class, every semester is: An apostrophe is NOT used to create a plural noun!  Please repeat this to yourself often, chant it when you write, and watch for the error in others' writings.




II. Sentence Structure  (pages 54 - 149)


In order to write grammatically correct sentence and to avoid run-ons and fragments, it is important to go to the very foundation of a sentence: the subject and the verb.  Every sentence must have one of each AND it must form a complete thought.

Even what seems to be a one-word sentence...like Stop!...contains a subject as well as the verb "stop."  The subject in this case is called an understood (or invisible) subject.  What is actually being said is (You) stop!

There can also be a subject and verb present and yet not form a complete thought: When I arrive next week.  Here, the subject is "I," and the verb is "arrive," but the thought is not finished.  This is called a dependent clause and must be attached to an independent clause (a sentence) in order to be correct.  Usually, these fragments happen when we write a long clause: When I arrive next week at the new house that Jim built for me out of duct tape and coat hangers.  I will buy furniture for it.  The dependent clause has so many phrases and thoughts in it that it seems to be complete, but it is not.  Phrases between the subject and verb can add to the confusion.

Agreement between the subject and verb is also vital, as is agreement between a pronoun and the noun that it refers to.  Most problems happen with indefinite pronouns like everybody, everyone, and everything.  Although we think of them as being singular, they actually refer to every single body and every single thing.  The sentence: Everyone brought their book is incorrect.  It should read: his (or her) book.  So, it is important to study the sections in this part carefully and ask any questions to help clarify it all.




III. Punctuation and Capital Letters  (pages 160 - 200)


Most people capitalize more words than they need to.  Sometimes this happens with what people consider titles, such as librarian or salesman, but these are generic terms, not part of the person's name.

The most important part of this section deals with the rules for commas.  More than any other error, comma mistakes are made frequently and can be found in places where the writers, such as teachers, proofreaders, journalists, and anyone whose writing will be in the public eye, should know better.  The rules seem complicated, but they are actually straightforward and will be much easier to remember if you do not try to memorize them but, rather, understand the reasoning behind them.




IV. and V. Journal Writing and Tests


These parts are explained in the lesson schedule.  It is very important to practice as you learn and have the writing looked over and corrected.  Although it may be discouraging to see how many mistakes you might make, this is the only way to know where you need to concentrate your studies.  Red marks and corrections are not signs of failure; they only mark where you are on the journey.  Don't let them get you down.

Study seriously, do not skip any parts, practice and be aware in everyday life of how you and others write and speak, and, most of all, ask about anything you do not fully understand.




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