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Essential grammar
Week 5 – Common mistakes
By Peiling Hsia
Contents:
пЃ®
Common Errors in English writing
Dangling and misplaced modifiers
пЃ® Parallelism structural
пЃ®
Common Errors in English
writing – 10 sources
1. using an incorrect or inappropriate word.
Don’t forget to eat your medicine. take
The rescuers drive helicopters to search the mountain. fly
Doing exercises extremely could cause muscle sour.
sore
2. the error results from a conflict between
Chinese and English grammar.
I very like English. I like English very much.
Because the weather was nice today, so we decided to
go out.
“because” or “so”
Although I was busy, but I helped him anyway.
We are difficult to find a job these days. “although” or “but”
It is difficult…
3. confusing common pairs of words.
He went aboard to study English. broad
The curriculum contains courses in computing.
includes
Healthy foods that contain vitamin B1 include: lentils,
peas, brown rice, spinach
4. using literal (word-for-word) translation of a
phrase or concept that does not exist in
English.
Wish you have a success on the job interview.
Good luck on your job interview !
5.
Using grammatically correct expressions that do
not exist in English - the expression sounds
strange in English.
We hope you achieve a success with your new book.
We hope your new book does well.
6.
Using mixed or incorrect levels of formality.
(the tone of one’s message must be consistent with the
tone of the entire message as well as the purpose and
the writer’s relationship to the reader)
Should you have any further questions, please feel
free to contact me immediately.
if you have any questions, please call or write me.
7.
Subject – Verb agreement
Some of the houses was destroyed in the battle.
were
8.
Informal writing or colloquial language
Off course, I think this area is so important for
our current society. critical, essential
You can see from the table easily that….
As shown ..
9.
Definite article – “the”
The Mount Everest is the highest point of the world.
10. Confusion and unclarity – Dangling or misplaced
modifiers / pronouns
Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was
needed.
?
A survey in 1996 revealed that the anti-science tag and
antitheism has been attached to many other groups, but
they did not exist after year of 2000.
?
How to make an improvement?
пЃ®
The most effective way of overcoming these errors is by
learning English in a natural way and not simply
memorizing grammar rules and English words and
phrase.
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find materials suitable for your level, and read as much
as possible. Reading is the best way to acquire new
words, phrases, and expressions and review and
reinforce the ones you already know. It also helps you
learn new grammatical structures and sentence patterns.
пЃ®
try to apply what you learn. Copy words, expressions,
and sentence patterns you like and use them in your
emails to help to increase your fluency and accuracy.
Proofread carefully
1. Spelling
2. Verb forms
3. Punctuation
4. Pronoun agreement
5. Subject-verb agreement
6. Fragment
7. Parallel structure
8. Possessives
9. Shifts
(voice – consistency with active or
passive)
(tense – consistency with past,
present, future)
10. Misplaced modifiers
11. Correct word usage
12. Wordiness
13. Outdated language or
informal language
Dangling and misplaced modifiers
и™›ж‡ёе’ЊйЊЇзЅ®зљ„дї®йЈѕи©ћ
A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a
word not clearly stated in the sentence. – make confusion
A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about
a concept.
Modifier Placement – Dangling modifier
1 . When using participial phrases as modifiers:
X Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car seemed to run better.
__
__
O Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Fred found he could get much
better gas mileage.
2. Participial phrases cannot be combined with “it… “ or “there…”:
X Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, there is an easy way to keep
__
your car running smoothly.
O If we change the oil every 3,000 miles, we can keep our car running
__
smoothly.
3. Participial phrases cannot be combined with passive verbs either:
__
X Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car was kept in excellent
condition.
O Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, we kept the car in excellent
__
condition.
4. Infinitives (to + verb) should clearly modify the doer:
__
X To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape,
an exercise program was set up for the summer months.
O To keep the young recruits interested in getting in shape,
__
the coaching staff set up an exercise program for the summer
months.
5. Squinting modifier: adverb can be placed nearly everywhere
in a sentence, thus causing ambiguity:
• Students who seek their instructors' advice often can improve
their grades.
• Student who often seek their instructors' advice can
improve their grades.
• Students who seek their instructors' advice can often improve
their grades.
Confusion: Its Sources and Remedies
1. Adverbial phrases modify the subject, not serve as one:
__
X Although the season has not yet begun has caused the public to get
over anxious for information about the team.
O
__ Although the season has not yet begun, the public is overly anxious
for information about the team.
2. Prepositional phrases modify the subject, not serve as one:
X In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets broke several rules
__
about pre-season publicity.
O In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets, the basketball
__
program broke several rules about pre-season publicity.
O The basketball program's attempt to spark sales of season tickets
__
broke several rules about pre-season publicity.
3. Two “subjects” in one sentence without subordination or
modification:
X The new system of student registration, we began to use it in the
__
fall.
O We began to use the new system of student registration in the fall.
__
4. Adverbial phrases do not serve as the subject :
X By devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the
__
registrar's job much easier.
__
O Devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the Registrar's
job much easier.
5. Adverbial clauses do not serve as the subject :
X Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration does
__
not mean they will have to start the process over.
__
O Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration, they
will not necessarily have to start the process over.
O Students do not have to start the process over if their records are
__
lost in the registration shuffle.
6. “Reason” means “why” or “because”: Do not use phrases such
as “the reason why is because” or “the reason is because”:
X The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is because they're
__
trying to refurbish the old house.
O The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is that they're trying to
__
refurbish the old house.
O They were so eager to sell tickets because they're trying to refurbish
__
the old house.
7. Ambiguity in using pronouns:
To encourage the recruits to blend in with veteran players, the
coaches let them play in summer leagues.
The coaches let the recruits play in summer leagues so they'd be
able to blend in with veteran players.
?
?
8. Too many words between antecedent and relative pronouns:
X
__ The recruits seemed to blend in with the team's master strategies and
make friends on the team who played during the summer months.
O The recruits who played during the summer months seemed to blend in
__
with the team's master strategies and make friends on the team.
9. Adjective clauses should clearly point to the antecedent:
X The new coach seemed to know nothing about his team's recent history,
__
which reporters seem to pick up on quickly.
O Reporters quickly picked up on the fact that the new coach knew nothing
__
about his team's recent history.
10. “It” must have a clear point of reference:
X Coach Johnson made several recruiting trips around the country, but it
__
came to no avail.
O Coach Johnson made several recruiting trips around the country, but his
__
efforts were not successful.
Practice – eliminate confusion by repositioning misplaced phrases
or clauses next to the words they modify.
1. Concerned about the grain market, a call was made to the
broker.
Concerned about the grain market, the investor called his broker.
2. Although writing for several years, no articles have been
published.
Although writing for several years, she has never published any
articles.
3. I received instructions for operating the 10-ton crane by mail.
I received by mail instructions for operating the 10-ton crane.
4. Smiling courteously, her offer was accepted.
Smiling courteously, Mary accepted her offer.
Which one is correct ?
O 1. Having finished the assignment, Jill turned on the TV.
"Having finished" states an action but does not name the doer of that
action. In English sentences, the doer must be the subject of the main
clause that follows.
2. Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.
"Having finished" is a participle expressing action, but the doer is not
the TV set (the subject of the main clause): TV sets don't finish
assignments.
Confused meaning
Helen is the last student.
She came into the classroom.
Helen is the last student that came into the classroom.
(Helen�進到教室的最後一位學生)
Helen who/that came into the classroom is the last
student .
(進到教室的Helen�最後一位學生)
йЊЇзЅ®зљ„дї®йЈѕи©ћжњѓеј„ж“°ж–‡еЏҐзљ„ж„ЏжЂќ
移動 participle (動詞作為形容詞,修飾名詞)
_____
X Bacteria are found in lakes and rivers producing methane.
_____
O Bacteria producing methane are found in lakes and rivers .
改變 participle 成為別的修飾詞
_____
X While purifying colonies in sample 3, five isolates died.
_____
O During purification of colonies in sample 3, five isolates died.
When colonies in sample 3 were purified, five isolates died.
_____
X Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
_____
O Because Maria did not know his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
ж”№и®Љдё»и©ћпј€subjectпј‰
X Testing 128 isolates, five biotypes were identified.
_____
_____
O Testing 128 isolates, Erikson et al. identified five biotypes.
_____
X Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed.
_____
O Having arrived late for practice, the team captain needed a written excuse.
Practice – rewrite it
1. After reading the original study, the article remains
unconvincing.
After reading the original study, I find the article unconvincing.
2. Relieved of your responsibilities at your job, your
home should be a place to relax.
Relieved of your responsibilities at your job, you should be able to
relax at home.
3. The experiment was a failure, not having studied the
lab manual carefully.
The team failed the experiment, not having studied the lab manual
carefully.
Parallelism structural
平行結構或對稱結構
Parallel structure means using the same pattern of words
to show that two or more ideas have the same level of
importance. This can happen at the word, phrase, or clause
level.
Parallelism structural
The usual way to join parallel
structures is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such
as "and" or "or."
With the -ing form (gerund) of words:
Ex: Mary likes hiking, swimming, and bicycling.
With infinitive phrases:
Ex: Mary likes to hike, to swim, and to ride a bicycle.
Mary likes to hike, swim, and ride a bicycle.
(Note: You can use "to" before all the verbs in a sentence or only before the first one.)
當兩個或兩個以上的同等分 (主詞,動詞,受詞,�語, 形容詞,
副詞, 受詞補語等) 對等平行時, 要求他們的詞性或結構相同,
еЌі еђЌи©ће°ЌеђЌи©ћ , еЅўе®№и©ће°ЌеЅўе®№и©ћ, е‰Їи©ће°Ќе‰Їи©ћ , дёЌе®љи©ће°ЌдёЌ
定詞, 介詞片語對介詞片語 等等.
пЃ®
You may either stand up or sit down.
пЃ®
Sam neither has long hair, nor wears jeans.
пЃ®
There is always a gap between what we say and
what we do.
пЃ®
That car was a real lemon; it was fixed more often
than it was driven.
Do not mix forms
X Mary likes hiking, swimming, and to ride a bicycle.
__
O Mary likes hiking, swimming, and riding a bicycle.
__
X The production manager was asked to write his
__
report quickly, accurately, and in a detailed manner.
O The production manager was asked to write his
__
report quickly, accurately, and thoroughly.
X The teacher said that he was a poor student
__
because he waited until the last minute to study
for the exam, completed his lab problems in a
careless manner, and his motivation was low.
The teacher said that he was a poor student
because he waited until the last minute to study
for the exam, completed his lab problems in a
careless manner, ____________________.
and lacked motivation
Parallelism - Clauses
A parallel structure that begins with clauses must keep on with clauses.
Changing to another pattern or changing the voice of the verb (from
active to passive or vice versa) will break the parallelism.
X
____The
coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep,
that they should not eat too much, and to do some warm-up
exercises before the game.
O
____The
coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep,
that they should not eat too much, and that they should do some
warm-up exercises before the game.
O The coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep,
____
not eat too much, and do some warm-up exercises before the game.
X
____The
dictionary can be used for these purposes:
to find word meanings, pronunciations, correct
spellings, and looking up irregular verbs.
O
____The
dictionary can be used for these purposes:
to find word meanings, pronunciations, correct
spellings, and irregular verbs.
“Be sure to keep all the elements in a list in the same
form after a colon”
Web links:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ (普渡大學寫作中心)
пЃ® http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3J_IByMenM&feature=related
(adverb clause)
пЃ® http://www.chineseowl.idv.tw/html/c_new.htm
(The Chinese online writing lab – 柯泰德 Ted Knoy)
пЃ® http://blog.udn.com/trjason
(廖柏森 英語與翻譯教學 )
пЃ®
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