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Mastering the Mechanics Part 3: Revising Sentence Structure

Presented May 7, 2019

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Last updated 5/21/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping 

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Audio: Okay. Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, entitled Mastering the Mechanics Part Three: Revising Sentence Structure. I’m Michael Dusek and I’m a writing instructor in the Walden Writing Center. I’ll be working behind the scenes and answering your questions today during this webinar. Before we begin and I hand the session over to today’s presenter, Casey, let me go through a few housekeeping items. 

First, we are recording this webinar so you are welcome to access it at a later date via our webinar achieve. In fact, note that we record all of our webinars at the writing center so you’re welcome to look through that achieve for other recordings that might interest you as well. Furthermore, we might mention a few webinars that would be a helpful follow-up to this webinar during the session. So, feel free to explore the webinar archive at your own leisure. Whether you are attending this webinar live or watching a recording, note that you’ll be able to participate in any polls that we use or files we share or any links that we provide. You can also access the PowerPoint slides that Casey will be sharing, which are located in the files pod.

Lastly, we also welcome questions and comments throughout the session via the Q&A box. I will be watching this Q&A box and I’m happy to answer any questions throughout the session as Casey is presenting. You’re also welcome to send any technical issues you have to me. Although note there is a help option at the top right corner of your screen. This is adobe’s tech support so that’s really the best place to go if tech issues persist. Okay with that, I’ll hand over this session to our presenter Kacy Walz.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the title slide: Mastering the Mechanics of Writing, Part 3: Revising Sentence Structure. Kacy Walz, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Casey: Thanks Michael, and thank you all again for coming. As Michael said this is Mastering the Mechanics of Writing, Part Three. So as you can probably tell, there are two other parts in this series for sentence structure so if at any time you are feeling like, maybe there is something in here that you are not quite understanding or if it seems like I am going a little bit too fast, you might want to check out those other webinars that Michael mentioned are available in our archive. Again, I’m Kacy Walz and I’m also a writing instructor at the Walden University writing center and today I'm calling in from Missouri.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Webinar Objectives

•       Review: Simple, compound, and complex sentences

•       Learn about compound-complex sentences and their punctuation patterns

•       Practice revising for common errors

•      Fragments

•      Run-ons

•      Parallel structure

•      Discuss proofreading tips/tools

Audio: So, for our webinar today, we have a few objectives today. The first we are going to review simple, compound and complex sentences. But again, if you would like more detail, I highly recommend checking out our other webinars in the series. We will learn about compound-complex sentences. So, that’s just another level that you can add to your writing. And how to punctuate them properly. And we’ll also practice revising for common errors. Things like sentence fragments, or run on sentences, and we’ll also talk about parallel structure. So that you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with these common errors and be able to watch for them in your own writing.

Finally, we will discuss some proofreading tips and provide you with some links to some different proofreading tools.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: What Grammar Is Not:

  • An indication of the quality or importance of your ideas
  • A reflection on your intelligence or potential as a scholar
  • The sole consideration or goal of writing
  • Innate knowledge that some people have and others lack 

Audio: So, we start out every one of these webinars in the series just going over what grammar is not. We want to make sure that you are fully aware that grammar is not at all an indication of the quality or importance of your ideas. So, having comments about needing to work on grammar does not suggest anything negative about what you are writing. It’s not a reflection of your intelligence or your potential as a scholar. The sole consideration, it’s not the sole consideration or goal of writing either, there are so many other factors that go into good writing and grammar is just one of those aspects. And then it is also not innate knowledge that some have and others lack. Rather It is a skill you can develop and build and you are all off to a great start by attending the webinars. It is a great way to further practice and develop those skills. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What Grammar Is:

  • A set of rules that enables you to communicate your ideas clearly
  • A way to help establish scholarly credibility
  • Important in all scholarly and professional writing
  • Learnable!

Audio:So, what grammar actually is. It is a set of rules that will enable you to communicate your ideas clearly, so that you can make sure that your reader fully understands what you are trying to get across. It is a way to establish scholarly credibility. So, if you have ever read a paper or a book maybe where you notice lots of typos, you might have felt a little distracted or maybe questioned that writer’s professionalism. So being able to properly use grammar and help establish that credibility in your own writing.

And it is important in all scholarly and professional writing. Our final reminder is that it’s learnable so we have things like these webinars and other resources on our website because grammar is definitely something you can learn and practice and something that we are all constantly learning more about and practicing.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Errors are not the enemy!

Errors are

•      evidence of learning

•      often difficult to 100% eradicate

•      just one way to assess writing

•      something all writers experience

Audio:So, I really like this slide in particular too, because it reminds us that when you make errors in writing, it actually means that you are working harder, you are trying new things. Right? Its evidence of learning. This bullet point says “it’s often difficult to 100% eradicate errors”. I’m going to say that I think it’s always difficult to 100% eradicate errors. Every time I write something, I know I have to read through it, and I will find mistakes along the way because we’re human. So, there’s going to be typos, maybe I use the wrong two or the wrong their -- they are hard to eradicate and that is why we have resources like this webinar. They are just one way to assess writing and it is something that all writers experience.

Don't be afraid of errors, don’t be, don’t feel discouraged if you see people marking errors on your paper it just means you're developing your skills as a scholarly writer.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Review:

Simple, Compound, & Complex Sentences

Audio:We are going to do a quick review of simple, compound and complex sentences. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review: Simple Sentences

  • Subject + Predicate.
  • Subject: Whoor whatis responsible for the action of the sentence. 
  • Predicate: What the subject doesor is.
  • Period at the end
  • Iama master’s student.
  • Alice retiredafter 30 years of teaching.
  • **Also known as independent clauses.

Audio: This is gone over in more detail in our first webinar of the series but basically a simple sentence is just a subject and a predicate so it’s basically, that sentence will let you know who or what is responsible for the action of the sentence, and the predicate tells you what that subject is doing or what that subject is. So, it’s subject plus predicate and then he period at the end. A simple sentence it is also known as an independent clause, and we will talk more about those as we progress in this webinar. 

Some examples of simple sentences: I am a master’s student. Alice retired after 30 years of teaching. So, we have the subject, the first is that first person, I, and the second is Alice and then we have the verb, am and retired. And that full sentence, that full independent clause provides a complete idea. And that’s another important aspect of a simple sentence or independent clause. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Review: Compound Sentences

  • independent clause
  • . ; ,for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
  • independent clause
  • I will write a literature review in this course;I will also complete a practicum.
  • The patient complained of chronic painyetshe refused treatment.

Audio: Compound sentences are sentences that are created by two separate independent clauses. So, if you are seeing maybe a lot of simple sentences throughout your paper and it’s reading a bit choppy, and compound sentences are great way to develop that voice and help with what sometimes people call flow or readability. And then I actually just learned of this acronym but to remember those different injunctions that you can put between independent clauses, for compound sentences, if you look along the left-hand side it spells out "fanboys" so that’s one way you can remember all the different words you can use. But it is an independent clause and then you either use a semi- colon or a comma and one of those conjunctions and then another independent clause.

Some examples here we have, I will write a literature review in this course and then we have the semi colon, I will also complete a practicum. And some of you noticed in the earlier portion, if you were here ahead of time, in the poll section. If this was a comma instead of a semi colon that would be a run-on sentence, that would be a comma splice, you don’t need to know those technical terms. But, make sure that it’s a compound sentence rather than a run on by using that semi-colon. 

And then the second, the patient complained of chronic pain, yet she refused treatment. So, each of these clauses could stand on its own as a sentence. Right? We could say the patient complained of chronic pain, she refused treatment. Right, and those are complete ideas and they are grammatically correct sentences on their own but by adding the conjunction and that semi colon we just make it a little bit more complex.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentences: Basic Models

  • Introductory
  • Dependent phrase/clause, Main clause
  • Ending
  • Main clause nothing Dependant phrase/clause

Audio: I’m sorry we change the structure so that’s it’s read a little bit differently.So complex sentences are basically a dependent phrase or clause with a main clause and they can be either with a dependent clause in the beginning or at the end. When you have a dependent clause in the beginning you always need to include a comma and if it is at the end there is no comma. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentences: Basic Models

  • Introductory
  • If I cannot find the article, I will contact the librarians.
  • Ending
  • I will contact the librarians
  • if I cannot find the article.

Audio:So, here’s some examples. If I cannot find the article comma, I will contact the librarian. Or if I want to put that dependent clause at the end, I can say I will contact the librarian if I cannot find the article. So, you can see that, if I cannot find the article doesn’t work on its own. So that means it’s a dependent clause and I cannot just use that as a sentence because it is not a full idea. Even though I do have a subject and I have the verb, putting the "if" in front of it makes it so the reader will be expecting something else to complete the idea so that is a sentence fragment or a dependent clause.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Combining Sentence Types: Compound-Complex Sentence

Although Francisco plans to retire next year, 

hestill intendsto stay in contact with the company; 

he would liketo serve as an advisor to the CEO. 

Dependent

2 Independent

Audio:In this webinar we’re really focusing on compound-complex sentences. This when you combine multiple sentence types. So, we have for an example, although Francisco plans to retire next year, he still intends to stay in contact with the company; he would like to serve as an advisor to the CEO. So, we have two independent clauses; because he still intends to stay in contact with the company and he would like to serve as an advisor to the CEO are both clauses that could stand on their own as sentences. Although Francisco plans to retire next year, on the other hand is a dependent clause because again it’s not that full and complete idea.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Note:

More complicated sentences follow the same basic structural 

and punctuation rules as simple, compound, and complex sentences.

Audio:So, this is just kind of a reminder, the more complicated sentences follow the same basic structural and punctuation rules as simple, compound and complex sentences. So, remembering to use that semi colon to separate the independent clauses.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Combining Sentence Types: Compound-Complex Sentence

Although Francisco plans to retire next year, 

hestill intendsto stay in contact with the company; 

he would liketo serve as an advisor to the CEO. 

Dependent

2 Independent

Audio:Like we did here with, after, with the company. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Note:

More complicated sentences follow the same basic structural 

and punctuation rules as simple, compound, and complex sentences.

Audio:And then commas prior to conjunctions, so they follow the same rules, once you have those down for the simple and complex sentences, you will know how to use them for the complex as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Error #1

  • Fragments
  • Lack one or more necessary components of a sentence and/or do not express a complete idea

Audio:Now we will go over some common errors. These are errors we often see in paper review appointments or in our own writing. So, these are just some things to look out for.

The first is fragments. A fragment is a sentence that lacks one or more necessary components of a sentence or it does not express a complete idea. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Fragment Examples #1

  • Showed no improvement in any vital signs.
  • Predicate, but no subject
  • Revision: The patient showedno improvement in any vital signs.
  • Study skills that Alice uses.
  • Subject, but no predicate
  • Revision: Study skills that Alice uses includetime management and note taking.

Audio: So, we have some examples. Showed no improvement in any vital signs. So here, we don't know who or what showed no improvement. Right? We don’t have that clear subject. So that would be considered a sentence fragment.

We can correct it by adding the subject. The patient showed no improvement in any vital signs. Now we have the full idea because we can clearly understand exactly who we are talking about in terms of these vital signs.

Study skills that Alice uses. So here, we have the subject, but we don’t have any understanding of what the subject is actually doing. So, you can revise it to something like: study skills that Alice uses include time management and note taking. And so now we have that full idea of what exactly those study skills are doing or what they are allowing Alice to do.

And hopefully as I’m reading these out loud you can kind of hear how it seems like there’s something missing. Right? So showed no improvement in any vital signs. Study skills that Alice uses. Like your kind of waiting for something more. Right? One really good technique as you are revising is to read your paper out loud, because I know for me personally, I notice way more issues with sentence structure or typos or smaller items that can get away from me when I read it out loud.  Because reading out loud forces you to slow it down and you can hear those issues.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Note:

Most problems with sentence fragments, however, are in more complicated sentences.

Audio: Most problems with sentence fragments are in more complicated sentences. Those were some fairly easy ideas or examples to maybe catch but often we will see them in more complicated sentences. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Fragment Examples #2

The manager announced a new job position; to work with the technical support staff.

Second independent clause lacks a subject

Revisions: 

•      Simple The manager announceda new job position to work with the technical support staff.

•      CompoundThe manager announceda new job positionthe new employee will work with the technical support staff.

Audio: For examples, the manager announced a new job position to work with the technical support staff. Here, if you remember our rule from before we use semi colons to connect two independent clauses but here we have an independent clause and then a dependent clause. To work with the technical support staff is not a complete idea. So that semi colon does not work.

Instead, we could revise it in a couple different ways. These are just two examples. The manager announced a new job position to work with the technical support staff. So, we don't need any punctuation at all in there because that whole peace will work as a simple sentence on its own. Or we can make this a compound sentence, maybe we want to put emphasis on that second clause. We can see the say the manager announced a new job position; the new employee will work with the technical support staff. This is also just a reminder that there are multiple ways of revising these different common errors.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Fragment Examples #3

A task force to study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes, and members will work with the community to seek a solution.

Sentence lacks a verb associated with the subject

Revisions: 

•      Simple: Members of a task force to study potential causes for the rising rates of diabeteswill work with the community to seek a solution.

•      Compound: A task forcehas convenedto study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes, and memberswill workwith the community to seek a solution.

Audio:Here’s another example. A task force to study potential causes for the rising rate of diabetes and members will work with the community to seek a solution. I often see this kind of sentence in my own work when I've maybe consolidated two sentences or I’m working with some ideas that I’ve typed out earlier and I'm trying to revise. So, you can hear how these two clauses do not really fit together, there seems to be something missing.

So, we don't have a verb associated with the subject. Even though we do have verbs in the sentence so that may be can make it seem confusing.

Here are two more options. We can make it a simple sentence and say Members of a task force can study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes will work with the community to seek a solution. That is actually a simple sentence even though it was long. But basically, that whole bolded area is your subject. And then will work, is your verb. And we have, with the community, to clarify who those members are working with.

You can also make it a compound, by saying a task force has convened to study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes, and members will work with the community to seek a solution. Here, we have the comma and the conjunction to connect two independent clauses.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice 1:

Choose one of the following sentences to revise so that all sentences are complete. Feel free to add or adjust content as needed. Answers will differ.

1. In planning a pilot study to test the effectiveness of the intervention, will need at least 20 participants. 

2. At least two times every week before school, the SAT study group at the high school, in preparation for the test, which will be offered next week. 

Audio:So, we are going to give you a chance to practice for yourself. You can choose one of the following or if you are feeling ambitious you can try both examples pick revise them so the sentences are complete. There will be multiple answers so you can use your creativity and I’m going to mute myself for a few minutes to give you guys time to fill in your answers in that chat.

[Attendees working]

Kacy: Feel free to keep typing in the chat box but I just want to go over a few examples that I saw. First off, we have in planning a pilot study to test the effectiveness of the intervention, the author will need at least 20 participants. So, we have that clear, it’s actually this is a simple sentence, right? Because we have that subject of, in planning the pilot study. But we have that clear connection of the two clauses. Because in planning a pilot study to test the effectiveness of the intervention is not a independent clause. Right? Going down to that third example that I pulled. 

This is a great first step in revising. But with that semi colon we would need two independent clauses.  Right? And I think what you are hearing here is that pause that we got when we read that first example. In planning a pilot study to test the effectiveness of the intervention, I will need at least 20 participants. 

So, this actually has corrected one of the issues of that first example in that we have that subject added, the I, but just watching out for those kinds of knit picky punctuation rules that can be really confusing. And then we also had, we will need at least 20 participants for the pilot study to test the effectiveness of the intervention. And that’s great, this is just showing how there are multiple ways to revise the sentences to make sure we are not using fragment sentences.

And then I saw the SAT study group at the high school met at least two times every week before school in preparation for the test, which will be offered next week.

This one is a little bit confusing because we have lots of things going on. We have the study group meeting multiple times. They are preparing for the test and it’s going to be offered next week. So here, this is another really good step in the revision. But I would watch out for those verb tenses. This is something that can be really confusing as you get into the more complicated sentences. So, we have this past tense, maybe we want to say that there is, the study group is no longer meeting. So, they met at least two times of the week before school in preparation for the test, which will be offered next week. And then we have the future tense, the test is going to be offered next week. So maybe it is just a more complicated situation than I was first imagining. But those are some things that you really want to watch out for is how your verbs work together when you are creating complex sentences.

Great job, thank you so much for participating in that.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Common Error #2

Run-Ons

Include more than one simple sentence joined together improperly

Audio: We’re going to move on to our second common error which is run on sentences. A run-on sentence is simply a sentence that joins simple sentences improperly. So, we were talking about those different punctuation rules, I mentioned the fan boy’s mnemonic device so you can use, remember those conjunctions, so a run on is when the sentences are connected incorrectly.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Run-On Examples #1

I attended the conference last July I was also at the symposium in October.

Two complete sentences with no punctuation

I attended the conference last July, I was also at the symposium in October.

Comma is insufficient to combine independent clauses (comma splice)

Revisions: 

•      Simple: Iattendedthe conference last JulyIwasalso at the symposium in October.

•      Compound: Iattended the conference last JulyIwasalso at the symposium in October.

•      Compound: Iattendedthe conference last July, and Iwasalso at the symposium in October.

Audio:So here is an example. I attended the conference last July I was also at the symposium in October. So again, you can probably hear how that is a little bit awkward as I read that out loud. Because we have two complete sentences and there is no punctuation separating the two. So here we have an attempt to correct the issue. I attended the conference last July, I was also at the symposium in October. Now you have a comma, but this is still incorrect because a comma is not a strong enough punctuation to connect those two independent clauses. So, this is actually something we would call comma splice, again you don’t need to remember that term but if that is something you see, watch out for comma splices or something like that, in your feedback, that is what they are talking about. It’s when you are connecting two independent clauses with a comma.

Instead, we could do a couple different revisions. You can make a simple sentence. I attended the conference last July. I was also at the symposium in October. So, separating them gets rid of the issue of the run-on. Right? If we connect them with a semi comma instead of a comma, we also avoid that issue of the comma splice and of the run-on sentence. Or we could even make it a compound sentence. You could say, I attended the conference last July, and I was also at the symposium in October. So, that comma and the "and" helps your reader to see that there are two independent clauses that you’re connecting and it also shows them how you are connecting these two independent clauses.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Note:

More complex run-on sentences can 

also be easily revised for sentence 

structure by breaking them down into parts.

Audio: More complex run-on sentences can be easily revised for sentence structure by breaking them downinto smaller pieces. So, this is something I often write in paper reviews but when a sentence becomes overly complicated and it seems like it’s got too many ideas, sometimes it’s just best to use those more simple sentence structures because you want to make sure your reader can follow along and pick up on all the important points are making in your paper.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Run-On Examples #2

Employee morale has a big impact on productivity, because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, managers should value the employees’ emotional needs.

Unclear mixture of a complex and simple sentence

Revisions: 

•      Complex and simple sentence: Employee morale hasa big impact on productivity because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnoverManagersshould value the employees’ emotional needs

•      Compound sentence with three independent clauses: Employee morale hasa big impact on productivity, and job satisfactionplaysan important role in turnover, so managersshould valuethe employees’ emotional needs

•      Compound-complex sentence: Employee morale hasa big impact on productivity; because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, managersshould valuethe employees’ emotional needs

Audio:Here are some examples. Employee morale has a big impact on productivity, because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, managers should value the employee’s emotional needs. Again, hearing that out loud kind of awkward. There's an unclear mixture from different sentences going on here. We are not quite sure how all these different clauses are meant to be working together. 

So, we can split this up, maybe this is a sentence where it will just be easier to take the different ideas and make them into their own sentences. Employee morale has a big impact on productivity because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover. And managers should value the employee’s emotional needs. That takes care of that run-on sentence. Or we can make this a compound sentence with conjunctions and commas. So, we have employee morale has a big impact on productivity, and job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, so managers should value the employee’s emotional needs. So that “and” and “so” that we’ve added there clarifies for our readers how we are connecting these different ideas. Without them it is confusing. Employee morale is a big impact on productivity. Because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover. Managers should value the employee’s emotional needs. It almost reads like a list and you don't know how it is fitting together. But by adding that “and” and “so” we clarify that for the reader.

We can also use a semi colon and we can say employee morale has a big impact on productivity; because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover managers should value the employee’s personal needs. And this, it seems really simple, that semi colon Because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, is meant to go with that claim that managers need to value their employees’ emotional needs. Right? Rather than, employee morale has a big impact on productivity because job satisfaction is an important role so you want to make sure that your reader is able to see exactly what you are doing, exactly what kind of argument you're making and using the proper punctuation will help them to do that. 

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Practice 2:

Choose one of the following sentences to revise in order 

to avoid a run-on. Answers will differ.

  1. After the merger last year, numerous staff members were let go, however, leaders assure current employees that their jobs are safe.
  2. 2. Corporate trainers are lenient with new employees for the first month after that point staff are expected to know company protocol, consistent error after 2 months can result in disciplinary action. 

Audio:So here is another practice. These are two examples of run-on sentences. And in the chat box if you can give me a correction for either of these or try to do both. We will try to talk about both of them in a few moments and I will go on mute for you to do that.

[Attendees working]

Kacy: Alright, so keep typing in the chat if you are still working but just to go over a few examples that I saw. The first one, after the merger last year numerous staff members were let go, however, leaders assured current employees that their jobs are safe. And I saw this a couple of times, and this is really great for a number of reasons. So, we have, first, we’ve made that, we’ve taken away the run-on sentence issue by breaking it up into multiple sentences, right? And then also you guys have followed that rule that when you start a sentence with, however, you add that comma afterwards, so that is great.

Another similar example, after the merger last year numerous staff were let go. However, leaders assure current employees that their jobs are safe. Again, we used that semi colon so we don’t have to worry about the run-on sentence. And then I just like this one because it shows how there are various ways of revision, numerous staff members were let after the merger last year, however, leaders assured the current employees that their jobs are safe. We can switch the wording around a little bit and make sure we are still following-- or avoiding those run on sentences. We do want to make sure we have the comma after, however, but that's a more minor issue.

And then for that second example. I saw a few more of those inclusions in the chat box. We have corporate changers are lenient with a new employees for the first month, after that point staff are expected to know company protocol. Consistent error After two months can result in disciplinary action. So, we’ve taken that really long complicated run-on sentence and made it into two sentences, they are clear, they are easy to follow, we know exactly which verb and subject connect to each other. And then someone else added, Corporate trainers are lenient -- I apologize sorry that’s my dog in the background [Laughter].

We have, Corporate trainers are lenient with new employees for the first month. After that point, staff are expected to know company protocol, after two months of consistent errors, the result is a disciplinary action. We have taken that really long complicated run-on sentence, and made it into two sentences, but we do want to make sure that we still have separate, we are making sure that those independent clauses are being treated as independent clauses.

That comma after the first month should maybe a semi colon or we should make it into its own sentence. So great job. You are on the right track. We’re going to keep moving on. And again I apologize for my dog barking in the background. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Error #3

Parallel Structure

In a list, all items must have the 

same grammatical form (e.g., the

 same verb tense or form or the 

same part of speech)

Audio:So, the third common error we are going to talk about today is parallel structure. I think this is one of the trickiest ones. Basically, parallel structure is when you have a list in your sentence. So, you want to make sure that in that list, all the items have the same grammatical form. All the verbs are in the same tense, and you are using the same part of speech in the list.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Parallel Examples #1

Norah enjoys running, hike, and to camp.

Verbs are in three different forms

Revision: Norah enjoys running,hiking, and camping.

I finished my paper and submit it to Blackboard.

Verbs are in different tenses

Revision: I finishedmy paper and submittedit to Blackboard.

I baked a cake, cookies, and made lasagna.

List contains two nouns and one verb.

Revision: I baked a cake and cookies and madelasagna.

Audio: We’ve got some examples. These are some examples of incorrect parallel structure. Nora enjoys running, hike and to camp. So again, you can kind of hear how that list is not fitting together. We have three different versions of verbs in this parallel structure. 

I finished my paper and submit it to Blackboard. This one, almost sounds correct, but here, we have these two different verbs, sorry, the two different verb tenses. So finished is past tense and submit is present tense so in this parallel structure it doesn’t work. 

And then I baked a cake, cookies, and made lasagna. Again, this is another one that I think sounds kind of correct, but the parallel structure, that we’ve set up with this first portion, I baked a cake, cookies, means we should also be using that structure for lasagna. So, having a different verb in the last section of the list makes this incorrect parallel structure.

To correct the first one, we would just change the verb form so that they all match. Nora enjoys hiking, running and camping. You can see how they all fit with, Nora enjoys. We take the first part and attach it to each element on its own and it still makes sense. If you read it that way with the first version, Nora enjoys hike or Nora enjoys to camp, I guess the second one sort of works but you can also hear how it’s very awkward, and it does not work the same way as Nora enjoys running.

For the second one, we just put the verbs again, in the same tense. I finished my paper and submitted it to Blackboard. So now, we have the correct parallel structure for that sentence.

And then here we can say, I baked a cake and cookies and made lasagna. So now, we kind of have used these different pieces and instead of using a list, so we don't even have to worry about the parallel example or the parallel structure, we just explain what happened. And how we made these different pieces of food.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Note:

Parallel structure errors are common 

in lists of three or more items, but they also manifest in other ways.

Audio: So, another thing to note here is that parallel structure errors are common in lists of three or more items, but they can also appear in different ways. I think that is where it can get a little bit tricky. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice 3

Choose one of the following sentences to revise in order 

to maintain parallel structure. Answers will differ.

1. She is not only a teacher but also coaches girls’ basketball. 

2. The instructions were sufficient for students to complete the lesson 

and how to apply what they learned to other contexts.

Audio:So, we are going to go into some more practice. You can choose one of the following sentences to revise it in order to maintain parallel structure. So, I want to challenge you guys to actually write these with parallel structure, even though you probably know different ways you could revise this to fix it but try to keep this in parallel structure, and just correct at that structure should look in your example. I will go on mute and give you a few minutes to put your answers in the chat box.

[Attendees working]

Kacy: Here, I think we have two examples of when those parallel structures can seem maybe correct, particularly in that first example. Right? She's not only a teacher but also coaches girls’ basketball. To me that sounds like something that what I would say. In a conversation. And it doesn’t sound weird when I read that out loud to myself. But it is incorrect parallel structure because we have two different forms of speech. I also mentioned not only should verbs be in the same tenses but you also want to use the same parts of speech. Here we have a subject or noun in teacher, but then coaches, is a verb. To correct it we can also write, she is not only a teacher, but also a coach for girls’ basketball. Now, coach, is a noun instead of a verb.

I did see some other corrections. She teaches and also coaches girls’ basketball. So, we have making, teacher, that noun, into a verb that matches coaches -- matches the second verb in the sentence. There are two different ways we could correct that parallel structure.

For the second. The instructions were sufficient for students to complete the lesson and to apply what they learned in other contexts. So, if that first portion of the sentence, the instructions were sufficient for the students -- we can connect both of those different items to that first part and it makes sense, to complete the lesson and to apply what they learned. Additionally, we could even simplify it further by just writing the instructions were sufficient for students to complete the lesson and apply what they learned in other contexts. There, the first portion of the sentence is the instructions were sufficient for students to. Right? and that part matches up with both, complete the lesson and, apply what they learned.

Great job, again. It seems like you guys are better at picking out parallel structure issues than I am because you all noticed right away how to fix that first one. Great job. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Tips

  • Identify the subject and the verb in the sentence.
  • Identify whether each clause is dependent or independent. Make sure that there is at least one clear independent clause.
  • Avoid stringing too many clauses together. 
  • Read your sentence out loud to catch errors. When in doubt, break the sentence down into short, simple sentences.

Audio:So, now I will go over some proofreading tools and tips. The first tip is to identify the subject and verb in the sentence. Because if you can’t identify both of those, that’s a really quick and easy way to notice that you have a fragment sentence. Identify whether each clause is dependent or independent. You want to make sure there is at least one clear independent clause in all of your compound and complex sentences. They all need at least one independent clause to be correct.

You also want to avoid stringing too many clauses together. So, I definitely recommend varying your sentence structures to keep that readability, that flow. But when you have too many clauses you are at risk of creating a run-on sentence and also of just confusing your reader. So, you want to avoid stringing too many of them together.

And then I mentioned this previously, but read your sentence out loud, when you read it out loud, sometimes it is even nice to have someone else read it out loud, then you can hear those issues those incorrect or incomplete thoughts a little bit easier when you read it out loud.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Tips

Identify the most common patterns in your writing.

1. Analyze a paragraph or two of your work.

2. Pay attention to feedback you receive from faculty or Writing Center staff.

3. Keep a grammar journal to keep track of common issues.

4. Use Grammarly.

5. Ask for help! 

Audio:You want to identify the most common patterns in your own writing. I mentioned that we all have issues, we will have errors in our writing, nobody writes perfectly on the first draft. But when you are proofreading her own work, it’s really helpful if you are aware of what the most common issues you have in terms of grammar rules.

To do this you can analyze a paragraph or two of your work and see what issues you notice popping up again and again. Pay attention to the feedback received from either faculty members or if you have had a writing center appointment, keeping note of that comments of patterns can be helpful.

You can keep a grammar journal, to keep track of common issues. I’m going to go over that a little bit, more in detail on the next slide. You can use Grammarly, I always put a caveat on Grammarly because it is meant to be just be a tool, you don't want to rely too heavily on it but Grammarly can be a good start. It can be a place to begin thinking about what errors you might have and what corrections you might need to make. 

And then also just ask for help also. We have lots of resources on our website. You can use the writingsupport@waldenu.edue-mail. We have live chat. You can ask your faculty members are great resources well so just reaching out to see what kinds of grammar issues you have.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Proofing Tool: Grammar Revision Journal

Download from the files pod!

Audio:This is an image of what our grammar revision Journal looks like. You can download this in the files pod. But basically, this is just a tool you can use to help keep track of those issues. So if you have feedback from the writing center and maybe they've given you an example or they have modeled how to correct it, you can add those into your grammar Journal and that allows you to have quick access to these different rules that are specific for you, that you know are things that come up in your own writing. This is a great tool, and we've already set up exactly how we think it would be helpful for you to have it set up. You can change the setup, of course. But with the grammar revision Journal that we have in the files pod, you just fill in the blanks, and that makes it a little easier I think, so when you're revising, you can take a look at that grammar revision Journal and remind yourself of what to be particularly careful to pick up on.

 

Visual:Slide changes to the following: Discussion:

What strategies will you use to proofread your own papers?

Audio:I want to give a minute or two to go over what strategies you use to proofread or what strategies you hope to use as you proofread. And while you are answering that, I mean, I think we can maybe get ideas from each other. I think it’s also helpful to state goals and what you're planning to do. But I wanted to take a moment to ask, Michael, what kind of proofreading strategies do you use for your own writing?

Michael: That is a good question, Kacy. Let me think. I think one thing I is a lot is reading my work out loud. I think that when you are engrossed in writing an essay, you almost need to get that arm's-length away from it to see some mistakes you're making. For me, reading it out loud allows me to hear places where things are unclear. I would say that is the main one I have personally use.

Kacy: I definitely agree, I think that’s a great tool. And that's what I recommend my own students. One thing that I suggest giving yourself a bit of a break between writing and revision, because they are two very different steps. One is more creative and one is more analytical. I think sometimes it is helpful to give yourself that space to transfer into that other mindset where you go from creating, from writing to checking through for errors. And also, I think you can notice a lot more if you maybe finish writing and give yourself a day or even just sleep on it and then come back and revise it later.

I see some other great ideas. Asking people to read through it is a great resource. It is really easy to forget that your reader does not have the same access to the same information that you have. Your kind of the expert on whatever it is you’re writing.  And so having someone else read it, to let you know where they may be lost or where they need additional information is a really great reminder of keeping that audience in mind.

And definitely, taking a break, people mentioned. Reading it multiple times I think is a great technique also. So, these are lots of great ideas. It sounds like you guys are already putting good tools to use as you revise. Also, I want to give a shout out to our paper review appointments. Because we can be the outside eyes or audience that can read through your work and give you that separate perspective or that different perspective. We won’t be able to proofread or edit your work, but we will point out the major patterns or areas so you could add to your proofreading journal, your grammar revision Journal. And then we can also again, just be that outside set of eyes, and give you our own sense of what we are taking away from your writing. Great.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

writingsupport@waldenu.edu•  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Mastering the Mechanics Part 1: Simple Sentencesand

Mastering the Mechanics Part 2: Compound & Complex Sentences

Make a Paper Review Appointment! 

Assist students in becoming better academic writers by providing online, asynchronous feedback by appointment.

Audio: That is all we have now, Michael, were there any questions that might be helpful to go over with the larger group.

Michael: Yes, thanks for asking Kacy.  Would you want to talk a little bit about simple, short sentences, and how those can maybe bring emphasis two important points within academic writing?

Kacy: Sure. I think what you are getting at might also be a better explanation I think of what I was trying to say when I was suggesting that writers break up those longer, more complicated sentences. Because it is very difficult to follow really complicated sentences. And sometimes you want to make just a very clear, direct argument. And then those simple sentences force your reader to really take note of whatever it is you are saying. So, they cannot get lost in adjectives, they can’t get lost in maybe a bunch of different clauses that are taking them in different directions. So, yes, that is a great deal. Michael, do you have anything to add to that, I think that is great advice for scholarly writers.

Michael: Sure, I think one of the mistakes students often make is thinking that if I craft really complex sentences with a lot of really highfalutin academic language, that I present myself as an authority or credible source within my field. I think it also works a little bit the opposite way. Being simple and direct, and sometimes including short sentences, can really drive a point home in a clear way for your reader. So that is all I really wanted to add, is that sometimes -- many times -- simple sentences are better. And really gets your point across in a strong, clear way. Other than that -- ahead -- Kacy--

Kacy: I was just saying that I totally agree with that. I’m always really impressed with writers when they are able to just clearly present their ideas in the direct and straightforward manner. So, yes, 100% agree.

Michael: So then with that, I think we are going to wrap up today's webinar. Thank you, guys, for attending and being a really participatory group, that was awesome. If I did not get to your question in the chat box, and I know that’s the case for a couple of you. Feel free to reach out to the writing support email. Writingsupport@waldenu.edu. And they will get back to you within 24 hours of you sending that email. So, you will get an answer there.

Also, I’ll point you to the live chat service that we offer as well. On the writing center homepage on the left side towards the bottom, you find our hours throughout the week that we offer live chat services. If you want a quick clarification or to be pointed towards a specific resource and the chat is live at that point, that’s a great service for you to take advantage of also. This is just a quick one to one clarification. It's really good for that.

For the webinars that can be useful to you, in addition or as kind of a follow up to this webinar, we can do mastering the mechanics part one, simple sentences, could be something that could be helpful for some of you who are interested in how to bring more emphasis or be clear and direct in your writing. Mastering the mechanics part two, compound and complex sentences is another good follow-up to really dig into these two sentence forms. Compound sentences being one that people use a lot. And Complex sentences is another sentence construction that I see a lot in working with students writing. So, I would point you towards that more mechanical webinar, if that is something you are interested in as well.

Lastly, I offered a link to our, kind of an introduction to our paper review service in the Q&A box. I think you guys should all be able to see that. I would recommend taking advantage of this as well. As Kacy mentioned, this is a great service, it is a one to one service where a writing instructor will put feedback directly on your work, to help you improve your academic writing. So, would be something I would recommend you guys take advantage of as well.  With that I’m going to wrap up today’s webinar.  And just want to say thank you again to Kacy. And thank you guys for being such a great audience here today. Have a lovely rest of your day.