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  • Poor writing can make others think you aren’t intelligent.
  • Don’t get caught up in miscommunication. Master these simple tips.

As the executive editor of Avenue Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication based in New York City, I see the importance of proper grammar every day. But you don’t have to work in publishing to realize the necessity of good writing. Misplaced commas, an incorrect spelling, or a missing hyphen can change the meaning of a sentence.

Language rules exist for clarity. A classic example is the sentence “Let’s eat mom,” which reads much differently from “Let’s eat, mom.” In the first, the writer is having her mom for dinner. In the second, she is urging her mom to eat with her.

Don’t get caught up in an email chain of miscommunication. Read on for seven tips on how to improve your English expertise.

1. Read frequently

Writing well can become second nature to those who also read well. Pay attention to how authors structure their sentences and how they use commas and sentence length to adjust tone and cadence. Reading can help to increase vocabulary. If you don’t know where to begin, ask colleagues for reading suggestions specific to your field, or browse best-selling booklist

To write well, you must also understand the basics of the English language — how sentences are composed, the different parts of speech, subject/verb agreement, tense, and punctuation. Pick up a copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing” for a fresh take on writing rules.

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2. Memorize homophones

There’s no way around it — many rules in the English language require memorization. Among the most frequently committed grammatical errors are misused homophones, which are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

“You’re/your,” “there/their/they’re,” “its/it’s,” and “then/than” are all commonly confused. An easy tool to help with contractions is to remember that they are derived from two words. “You’re” is “you are”; “they’re” is “they are”; and “it’s” is “it is.” “Then” is used to indicate time, whereas “than” is used as a comparison.

3. Learn first- person singular pronouns

Sentences often call for choosing the correct first -person singular pronoun — either “I” or “me.” Remember that “I” is a subject pronoun, whereas “me” is an object pronoun. A helpful way to determine word choice is to remove any other subjects.

For example, consider the sentence “My roommate and I/me went to the store.” If you think about the sentence as “I went to the store” or “Me went to the store,” it’s more obvious that “I” is correct.”I” is the subject of the verb “to be.”

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4. Learn how to use commas

As a very broad rule of thumb, commas are used to indicate pauses in a sentence. They should not be used in place of a period. For example, “We went to the baseball field, it was fun” is incorrect.

But “We went to the baseball field, and it was fun” is correct, as commas can be used to separate two independent clauses when joined by coordinating conjunctions like “and,” “or,” or “but.” Commas are also used to separate three or more phrases in a series, after an introductory clause or phrase, and to set off nonessential clauses or phrases.

5. Beward the dangling modifier

A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that doesn’t have a clear subject. “After reviewing your notes, the conclusion remains elusive” contains a dangling modifier. Who is reviewing the notes? The sentence should be rewritten to say, “After reviewing your notes, I am unable to come to a conclusion.”

6. Stay active

All sentences are identified as being either active or passive. In an active sentence, the subject performs the action. “The girl ate the salad” is an active sentence.

In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence is also the subject of the action. “The salad was eaten by the girl” is a passive sentence. Though both are grammatically correct, passive sentence structures often lead to more errors, including dangling modifiers, misplaced commas, and run- on sentences. Sticking to the active voice will help ensure clarity.

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7. Proofread and read your piece out loud

A common cause of poor writing is time, as writers often power through emails and memos, giving a document a cursory glance before sending it to colleagues or clients. Step away from your piece before you submit it, and give it a thorough proofread.

Reading your writing in a new form — for example, on paper instead of on a screen; in a different font; or out loud — can be helpful in finding typos or grammatical errors.

Speaking aloud will also help you to catch redundancies.

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Education

FEC approves N2.9 billion for printing of examination papers

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The Federal Executive Council has approved N2.9 billion for the printing of examination materials.

Speaking with state house correspondents on Wednesday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the approval was granted at the council’s meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Adamu who revealed that the printing contracts were awarded to a group of eight printers said the materials are meant for the Basic Education Certification Examination, the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, and the National Common Entrance.

According to him, the council also approved N1.6 billion for the rehabilitation of different roads located in the satellite towns of the FCT.

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He said the council approved N900,294,304.75 to fix the roads in Gwagwalada Area Council while N719,407,086.38 was approved for the Kwali Area Council rural roads.

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Education

2020 WASSCE: WAEC announces new date to release result

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The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has said it postponed the release of the just concluded West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) to next week due to curfew imposed in some parts of the country.

Recall that the council had said it will release the result within 45 days.

The head of public affairs of WAEC Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, had confirmed this on September 14.

READ ALSO  WAEC reveals date for 2020 WASSCE

But a tweet on WAEC’s official Twitter page on Thursday said the result will be released in the first week of November.

It tweeted, “WASSCE SC 2020 Results Release Date: Dear candidates, the Council had planned to release the results today in fulfillment of our Project 45 but due to the curfew imposed last week, it had to be postponed till next week.”

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