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HMEC 2000 Course Guide: Writing Tips

Facilitating and Guiding Students' Learning ...

Parts of a Sentence

The Core Parts of a Sentence

 

Sentences in English have 2 core parts: a subject and a verb. If one of these parts is missing or if these parts cannot be easily picked out by the reader, the sentence will not make sense.

 

The Subject:     Tells who the sentence is about.

Examples: The instructor laughed.

The field developed quickly.

Mind mapping is a useful strategy for brainstorming ideas.

She climbed the frozen waterfall.

     

 

The Verb:  Tells what the subject is doing. The verb is often an action word.

Examples: The instructor laughed.

The field developed quickly.

Mind mapping is a useful strategy for brainstorming ideas.

She climbed the frozen waterfall.

       

Another Important Sentence Part: The Object

Many sentences in English also contain an object. The object tells who or what is receiving the action.

 

Examples: She climbed the frozen waterfall.

The government gives tax credits for recreational activities.

 

 

In order for a sentence to be clear, these parts must fit together well.

Identifying Core Parts

Exercise

Can you identify the subjects and verbs in the following sentences? 

  1. The scholar is visiting from China.
  2. The flood is devastating several communities.
  3. The social movement captured the hearts of many.
  4. Leadership is a key topic in the course.
  5. A code of ethics is essential to the profession.
  6. The speaker delivered her message in a creative format.
  7. She cried at the end of the movie.
  8. Climbing frozen waterfalls is considered an extreme sport.

 

Now, which of the sentences above also contain objects?

(See the last box on this page for the answers to this activity.)

Understanding Clauses

What is a clause?

 

In the English language, the clause is the basic unit of meaning.

A clause = subject + verb + object (if required for the meaning of the sentence to be complete)

 

Why is the clause important?

Clauses are important because 

  • every sentence contains at least one clause
  • clauses can be connected within a sentence so that the sentence expresses the relationships between ideas

Combining Clauses to Build Sentence Variety

To learn more about how clauses can be linked together to show your reader the relationship between ideas, see the handout from UofM's Learning Assistance Centre called Sentence Structure

Interactive Online Practice

For additional practice with sentence parts and sentence structure, try the interactive, online activities put together by the Capital Community College Foundation called Guide to Grammar and Writing or the interactive activities found at Exercises at Grammar Bytes!

Answers to Exercise

The scholar is visiting from China.

The flood is devastating several communities.

 
The social movement captured the hearts of many.


Leadership is a key topic in the course.


A code of ethics is essential to the profession.


The speaker delivered her message in a creative format.


She cried at the end of the movie.


Climbing frozen waterfalls is considered an extreme sport.


What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a unit or "chunk" of meaning. A paragraph usually contains five to eight sentences, each of which contributes to developing one central idea. 

The way you organize your paragraphs will have a major effect on your reader, strongly influencing how easily s/he will be able to move through the ideas in your paper. This is because readers "chunk" ideas when they read. Most readers cannot easily remember all of the details in a written piece, but they can remember larger units of meaning and connect them into a logical whole. Those larger units of meaning are your paragraphs.

 Your paper will feel organized to your reader if each of your paragraphs 

  • advances the argument in your paper
  • focuses on one key idea
  • develops that key idea by providing sufficient evidence

 

Two types of paragraphs

Checking paragraph focus

Revising Strategy: Reverse Outlining

Reverse outlining is a great way to assess how you've organized your paragraphs after you've written a draft or even part of a draft. To reverse outline, note down - in outline form - the main idea of each of your body paragraphs.

If you can't easily identify the main idea of a paragraph, that means the paragraph needs some work - it may need  a clearer focus on one main idea.

If you notice that ideas are repeated in different parts of the paper, you may need to move ideas around.

Additional resources: Paragraphing

For more information on effective paragraphing, check out the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).  Use "paragraph" as a search term and you will find the essential information about writing well-formed paragraphs in English.

Academic Phrasebank

There are common phrases used in academic writing that help you sustain your tone and position.  This resource might be hepful to some.

"The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers.  It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological "nuts and bolts" of writing organised under the headings to the left. It was designed primarily with international students whose first language is not English in mind. However, if you are a native speaker writer, you may still find parts of the material helpful. 


The phrases can be used simply to assist you in thinking about your writing, or they can be used in your own work where this is appropriate. In most cases a certain amount of creativity will be necessary when you do this. It is also possible to transfer some of the words used in particular phrases to others. The phrases are content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people's ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism.

Users will need to be aware that Phrasebank is not discipline specific, and it does not claim to be comprehensive."

Take a look at a review of this academic writing resource by Prof. Pat Thomson. In general Prof. Thomson finds this resource usefull; however, one needs to use it with some care and caution: "All academic rhetoric positions writers in a particular relation to research and knowledge.  Most of these starters are pretty old style post positivist in orientation so if you are not working in this paradigm you will need to be selective about which ones might be useful ..."

English Grammar

Selected References:


  Author: Ramage, John D.
  Title: Allyn & Bacon guide to writing / John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, June Johnson.
  Published: New York ; Toronto : Longman, c2009.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R18 2009
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Faigley, Lester, 1947-
  Title: The brief Penguin handbook / Lester Faigley, Roger Graves, Heather Graves.
  Published: Toronto : Pearson Longman, c2008.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 F33 2008
    Status: Checked out
    Location: Engineering Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 F33 2008
    Status: Reference


  Author: Axelrod, Rise B.
  Title: The St. Martin's guide to writing/ Rise B. Axelrod, Charles R. Cooper.
  Published: Boston : Bedford/St. Martin's Press, c2008.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 A94 2008
    Status: Checked out


  Author: Oshima, Alice.
  Title: Introduction to academic writing / Alice Oshima, Ann Hogue.
  Published: White Plains, NY : Pearson/Longman, c2007.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 O72 2007
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 O72 2007 ans. key
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection



  Author: Bullock, Richard H.
  Title: The Norton Field guide to writing, with readings / Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin.
  Published: New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2007.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 B883825 2007
    Status: Checked out



  Author: Reinking, James A.
  Title: Strategies for successful writing : a rhetoric, research guide, reader, and handbook / James A. Reinking, Robert von der Osten.
  Published: Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Prentice Hall, c2007.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R426 2007
    Status: Being transferred between libraries
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Checked out



  Author: Hacker, Diana, 1942-2004
  Title: The Bedford handbook / Diana Hacker.
  Published: Boston : Bedford/St. Martin's, c2006.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H277 2006
    Status: Second Floor



  Title: The handbook of English linguistics / edited by Bas Aarts and April McMahon.
  Published: Malden, MA ; Oxford : Blackwell Pub., 2006.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1106 A27 2006
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Hogue, Ann.
  Title: Writing academic English / Alice Oshima, Ann Hogue.
  Published: White Plains, NY : Pearson/Longman, c2006.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H6644 2006
    Status: Checked out



  Title: Cambridge grammar of English : a comprehensive guide : spoken and written English grammar and usage / Ronald Carter and Michael McCarthy.
  Published: Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2006.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 C28 2006
    Status: Second Floor



  Title: The new century handbook / Christine A. Hult ... [et al.].
  Published: Toronto : Longman, 2005.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 N48 2005
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Fowler, H. Ramsey
  Title: The Little, Brown handbook / H. Ramsey Fowler, Jane E. Aaron, Murray McArthur.
  Published: Toronto : Pearson Lomgman, 2005.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 L58 2005
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Hacker, Diana, 1942-2004
  Title: A Canadian writer's reference / Diana Hacker.
  Published: Boston : Bedford/St. Martin's, c2004.

  Holdings:
    Location: Architecture/Fine Arts Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H2778 2004
    Status: Reference
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H2778 2004
    Status: Quick Reference
    Location: Engineering Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H2778 2004
    Status: Reference
    Location: Grace General Hospital Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H118c3 2004
    Status: General Collection
    Location: St. John's College Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H2778 2004
    Status: Reference



  Author: Hogue, Ann.
  Title: The essentials of English : a writer's handbook / Ann Hogue.
  Published: White Plains, NY : Longman, c2003.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H664 2003
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection


  Author: Buckley, Joanne, 1953-
  Title: Checkmate : a writing reference for Canadians / Joanne Buckley.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Thomson Nelson, c2003.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 B818 2003
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection


  Author: Ritter, R. M.
  Title: The Oxford style manual / edited and compiled by Robert Ritter.
  Published: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2003.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1421 R58 2003
    Status: Reference


  Author: Rosa, Alfred F.
  Title: The writer's pocket handbook / Alfred Rosa, Paul Eschholz.
  Published: New York : Longman, c2003.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R6755 2003
    Status: Reference



  Author: Loberger, Gordon J.
  Title: Webster's New World English grammar handbook / by Gordon Loberger and Kate Shoup Welsh.
  Published: Indianapolis : Wiley Pub., c2002.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 L63 2002
    Status: Reference
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Rosa, Alfred F.
  Title: The writer's brief handbook / Alfred Rosa, Paul Eschholz.
  Published: New York : Longman, c2002.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R675 2002
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Hacker, Diana, 1942-2004
  Title: A Canadian writer's reference / Diana Hacker.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Nelson Thomson Learning, c2001.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: AMH-3823
    Status: Reference
    Location: Management Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H33 2001
    Status: Reserve desk
    Location: Management Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Reference
    Location: Management Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Main Floor
    Location: Management Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Main Floor


  Author: Anson, Christopher M., 1954-
  Title: The Longman handbook for writers and readers / Chris M. Anson, Robert A. Schwegler.
  Published: New York : Longman, c2000.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 A61844 2000
    Status: Checked out


  Author: Heyworth, Gregory.
  Title: The writing and revision stylebook / Gregory Heyworth, Rosette Liberman.
  Published: New Haven, [CT] : Cooper Hill Press ; c2000.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H4783 2000
    Status: Reference


  Author: Troyka, Lynn Quitman, 1938-
  Title: Quick access : reference for writers / Lynn Quitman Troyka ; with the assistance of Cy Strom.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Prentice Hall Allyn and Bacon Canada, c2000.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 T75 2000
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection
    Location: Sciences and Technology Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE1408 T75 2000
    Status: Fifth Floor


  Title: Grammar reference guide : English grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, phonics / [grammar guide and contents edited by Carol Suplicki and Dee Monostori].
  Published: [China?] : Allied Pub., c1999.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1106 G72 1999
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection


  Author: Rosa, Alfred F.
  Title: The writer's brief handbook / Alfred Rosa, Paul Eschholz, John Roberts.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Allyn and Bacon Canada, c1999.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R675 1999
    Status: Reference
    Location: Engineering Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R675 1999
    Status: Reference



  Author: Lederer, Richard, 1938-
  Title: Sleeping dogs don't lay : practical advice for the grammatically challenged / Richard Lederer and Richard Dowis.
  Published: New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 L38 1999
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Lunsford, Andrea A., 1942-
  Title: The everyday writer : a brief reference / Andrea Lunsford, Robert Connors, Judy Segal ; with a section for ESL writers by Franklin E. Horowitz.
  Published: New York : St. Martin's Press, c1997.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 L86 1997
    Status: Second Floor



  Title: ASA style guide.
  Published: Washington, DC : American Sociological Association, c1997.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 A83 1997
    Status: Reference



  Author: Rosa, Alfred F.
  Title: The writer's brief handbook / Alfred Rosa, Paul Eschholz, John Roberts.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Allyn & Bacon Canada, c1996.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R675 1996
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Kirszner, Laurie G.
  Title: The Holt handbook / Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell.
  Published: Fort Worth : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, c1995.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 K675 1995b
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Farrell, Edith R., 1933-
  Title: Side by side. Edith R. Farrell, C. Frederick Farrell, Jr.
  Published: Lincolnwood, Ill., USA : Passport Books, c1995.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PC 4112 F27 1995
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection


  Author: Heffernan, James A. W.
  Title: Writing : a college handbook / James A.W. Heffernan, John E. Lincoln.
  Published: New York : W. W. Norton, c1994.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 H438 1994
    Status: Second Floor


  Title: 21st century grammar handbook / edited by the Princeton Language Institute and Joseph Hollander. --
  Published: New York : Dell Publishing, 1993.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 A12 1993
    Status: Reference


  Author: Rosen, Leonard J.
  Title: The Allyn & Bacon handbook / by Leonard J. Rosen and Laurence Behrens.
  Published: Boston : Allyn & Bacon, c1992.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 R677 1992
    Status: Second Floor
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Pancoast, Scott R.
  Title: The Business grammar handbook / Scott R. Pancoast and Lance M. White. --
  Published: New York : M. Evans, 1992.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1479 B87 P36 1992
    Status: Reference


  Author: Leggett, Glenn H., 1918-2003
  Title: Prentice Hall handbook for writers / Glenn Leggett, C. David Mead, Melinda G. Kramer.
  Published: Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, c1991.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 L39 1991
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Lunsford, Andrea A., 1942-
  Title: The St. Martin's handbook for Canadians / Andrea Lunsford, Robert Connors, Judy Z. Segal.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Nelson Canada, c1991.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1112 L85 1991
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Mulderig, Gerald P.
  Title: The Heath handbook / Gerald P. Mulderig, Langdon Elsbree.
  Published: Lexington, Mass. : D.C. Heath and Co., c1990.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 E43 1990
    Status: Second Floor


  Author: Troyka, Lynn Quitman, 1938-
  Title: Simon & Schuster handbook for writers / Lynn Quitman Troyka. --
  Published: Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, c1990.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 T696 1990
    Status: Second Floor
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume:
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Raimes, Ann, 1938-
  Title: How English works : a grammar handbook with readings / Ann Raimes.
  Published: New York : St. Martin's Press, c1990.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1128 R233 1990
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection


  Author: Glatthorn, Allan A., 1924-
  Title: The Nelson Canada young writer's handbook / Allan A. Glatthorn, Willa F. Spicer.
  Published: Scarborough, Ont. : Nelson Canada, 1990.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 G59 1990
    Status: Mezzanine, Instructional Materials Collection



  Author: Foley, Stephen Merriam.
  Title: Conventions & choices : a brief book of style and usage / Stephen Merriam Foley, Joseph Wayne Gordon.
  Published: Lexington, Mass. : D.C. Heath, c1986.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 F5147 1986
    Status: Second Floor



  Author: Irmscher, William F.
  Title: The Holt guide to English : a contemporary handbook of rhetoric, language, and literature / William F. Irmscher.
  Published: New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1976.

  Holdings:
    Location: Elizabeth Dafoe Library
    Call Number / Volume: PE 1408 I67 1976
    Status: Second Floor