Tag Archives: communication

Mood vs. Tense

By: Maeve Maddox

From: Daily Writing Tips

Many people are not quite clear as to the difference between the grammatical terms mood and tense. For example, I’ve seen such expressions as “subjunctive tense” and “progressive mood.”

Because both tense and mood have to do with verbs, the confused terminology is understandable. Tense, however, refers to time, whereas mood refers to manner of expression.

Tense
The three possible divisions of time are past, present, and future. For each, there is a corresponding verb tense:

Present: He walks now.
Past: Yesterday he walked.
Future: Tomorrow he will walk.

Each of these tenses has a corresponding complete tense: perfect, past perfect (pluperfect), and future perfect:

Perfect: He has walked every morning since Monday.
Past Perfect: He had walked a mile by the time we joined him.
Future Perfect: By tomorrow, he will have walked twenty miles.

Each of these tenses has a continuous or progressive form:

Present Continuous: I am still walking.
Past Continuous: I was still walking when you phoned.
Future Continuous: I shall/will be walking when you reach town.
Perfect Continuous: I have been walking since early morning.
Past Perfect Continuous: I had been walking for an hour when you phoned.
Future Perfect Continuous: When you see me, I shall have been walking for six hours.

Mood
Mood is the form of the verb that shows the mode or manner in which a thought is expressed. Mood distinguishes between an assertion, a wish, or a command. The corresponding moods are: Indicative (assertion), Subjunctive (wish), and Imperative (command).

Note: Unlike some languages, English does not have an “Interrogative Mood”; questions are formed by changing word order and not by altering the verb.

The word indicative derives from Latin indicare, “to declare or state.” Indicative Mood expresses an assertion, denial, or question about something:

Assertion: I liked him very much before he did that.
Denial: He is not going to remain on my list of friends.
Question: Will you continue to see him?

The word imperative derives from Latin imperare, “to command.” Imperative Mood expresses command, prohibition, entreaty, or advice:

Command: Go thou and do likewise.
Prohibition: Stay out of Mr. MacGregor’s garden!
Entreaty: Remember us in your prayers.
Advice: Beware of the dog.

The “true subjunctive” equivalent to the Latin Optative Mood (opare, “to wish”) is rare in modern English. Examples of the “true” subjunctive: “If I were king,” “God save the Queen!”

In most contexts dealing with unreal situations, speakers used a mixed subjunctive. The use of the auxiliaries may, might, should, and would creates a mixed subjunctive in which one verb is in subjunctive and another in indicative mood:

If I should see him, I will tell him.
He came that they might have life.

According to the Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar,

the distinctive subjunctive forms are now confined to the verb be and to the third-singular forms of other verbs; they are still common in American English, while in British English they are confined to very formal styles.

In American English, the subjunctive often occurs with the following verbs:

suggest: I suggest that she refuse his offer.
demand: They are demanding that he go to London for an interview.
propose: The father proposed that his son be locked up to teach him a lesson.
insist: We all insisted that he accept treatment.

British usage tends to use should in such constructions: I suggest that she should refuse his offer.

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Uses of the Comma

A comma is a versatile punctuation mark, serving ten basic functions. Here’s an enumeration, with examples.

  1. Separate the elements in a series: “Groucho, Harpo, and Chico developed the philosophy called Marxism.”

Many periodicals and websites, and most colloquially written books, omit the serial, or        final, comma, but it is all but mandatory in formal writing and is recommended in all     usage. As language maven Bryan Garner observes, “Omitting the serial comma may   cause ambiguities, whereas including it never will.”

  1. Separate coordinated independent clauses: “I like the Marx Brothers, but she thinks they’re too silly.” (An independent clause is one that can stand on its own as a sentence but is linked with another by a conjunction and/or a punctuation mark.)

Exceptions include sentences with closely linked clauses (“Go to the window and see          who’s there”) and those with a compound predicate (“The Marx Brothers are known for   their puns and their sight gags”).

  1. Separate an introductory word (“Naturally, I agree with you”), phrase (“Last summer, I went on a long vacation”), or subordinate clause (“If you’re too busy now, wait until later”) from the remainder of the sentence.
  2. Separate an optional parenthetical element from the remainder of the sentence. “We have, in a manner of speaking, won despite our loss.” (The phrase “in a manner of speaking” could also be set off by em dashes or parentheses, depending on whether the writer wishes to emphasize the interruption of the statement “We have won despite our loss” or wants to diminish it as an aside.)
  3. Separate coordinate adjectives from each other: “I could really use a tall, cool drink right now.” (Do not separate non-coordinate adjectives with a comma; https://www.dailywritingtips.com/coordinate-and-noncoordinate-adjectives/ explains the difference between these two types of adjectives.)
  4. Separate an attribution from a direct quotation: “She said, ‘Neither choice is very appealing’”; “‘That’s not my problem,’ he replied.” (A colon may be precede a formal pronouncement or an attribution that forms a complete thought, as in, “He had this to say: ‘Her point is irrelevant.” Omit punctuation when the attribution is implied, as in “Your response ‘Her point is irrelevant’ is evasive.”)
  5. Separate a participial phrase or one lacking a verb from the remainder of the sentence: “Having said that, I still have my doubts”; “The deed done, we retreated to our hideout.”
  6. Separate a salutation from a letter (“Dear friends,”) or a complimentary close from a signature in a letter (“Sincerely,”). A colon should be used in place of a comma in a formal salutation.
  7. Separate elements when setting off a term for a larger geopolitical entity from that for a smaller one located within it (“Santa Barbara, California, is located on the coast”) and for elements of street addresses (“1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC”) (and dates (“January 1, 2013”).
  8. Separate groups of three digits in numbers: (Let me tell you how to make your first 100,000,000 dollars.” (Because large numbers are difficult to scan, it’s usually better to use one of the following forms: “100 million dollars,” “one hundred million dollars.”)

From

Daily Writing Tips

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Rules for Writing Dialogue

  1. Dialogue should stay on topic,
  2. Use dialogue as you would regular speech,
  3. Opt for the speaker said over all others,
  4. Avoid long speeches,
  5. Sound like the character, right down to accent and incorrect grammar
  6. Show what the characters are doing while they’re talking,
  7. Keep characters’ speech consistent.

When breaking the rules makes sense…

How many rules have you broken and why? Breaking these rules can be helpful and useful or it can be a sign of poor writing. Writer’s Digest magazine warns, however, “Words can be barbs. They can be sabers. They can be jewels. Don’t let them be marshmallows that are passed back and forth.” Dialog is the most useful technique writers have to define and develop characters, move the story, and provide background. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. Knowing when to use them and when to break them is the difference between ‘writing’ and ‘good writing’.

An editor comes to the rescue…

You think it sounds just about perfect, your spouse and a few lodge friends love it. But is it ready for submission. An editor could be just what you need to put your manuscript over the top. By editor, I’m talking about a professional editor, not a friend or relative—an unbiased individual who will give you a professional evaluation of your manuscript.

 

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Book Talk vs. Book Review

A book talk in the broadest terms is what is spoken with the intent to convince someone to read a book. Book talks are traditionally conducted in a classroom setting for students; however, book talks can be performed outside a school setting and with a variety of age groups as well. It is not a book review, a book report, or a book analysis.

The book talker gives the audience a glimpse of the setting, the characters, and/or the major conflict without providing the resolution or denouement. Book talks make listeners care enough about the content of the book to want to read it. A long book talk is usually about five to seven minutes long and a short book talk is generally less than a minute long.

On the other hand, a book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. Books can be reviewed for printed periodicals, magazines and newspapers, as schoolwork, or for book web sites on the Internet. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essays. Such a review may evaluate the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers may use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work.

There are two approaches to book reviewing:
• Descriptive reviews give the essential information about a book. This is done with description and exposition, by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the author, and by quoting striking passages from the text.
• Critical reviews describe and evaluate the book, in terms of accepted literary and historical standards, and supports this evaluation with evidence from the text. The following pointers are meant to be suggestions for writing a critical review.

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Writing an Article

Have you thought about writing an article? Here is some interesting advice I found recently.

A good article makes the reader think. A great one forces him to react.

In the world of writing, which is all about communication, the mark of an expert is how much buzz or discussion his article generates, how many people weigh in with their opinions, what feedback is given and taken, where else the work is being bandied about. Complex subjects can easily become dry and dull if not handled carefully.
Unlike fiction, nonfiction on layered topics has no characters to make the reader care about them, no twists in the plot to keep up audience interest, and no emotionally charged
dramatic scenes to vary the pace of the narrative. So, you need to make sure that either the topic you are writing about is sufficiently interesting to make your audience feel strongly about it or the way you present it is unique enough to urge readers into some sort of action, whether it is vociferous agreement or vehement disagreement—anything but mild apathy.
From: Writer’s Guide to 2014.

Twitter has brought about the degradation of the English language. Charm ‘em, don’t cheat ‘em.

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Nine Must-Follow Manuscript Rules

by Anica Mrose Rissi
1. Revise, revise, revise! I don’t want to read your first draft, ever. (Tip: Your novel isn’t ready to send to me until you can describe it in one sentence.)

2. Start with conflict and tension to raise questions, arouse curiosity and (like musical dissonance) create the need for resolution.

3. Start with the story you’re telling, not with the backstory. Throw the reader directly into a conflict and let her get to know your characters through their actions. (Yes, this is another way of saying, “Show, don’t tell.”)

4. Give the reader something to wonder about and a sense of where the story is going—of what’s at stake.

5. Avoid explaining too much too soon. And, don’t be obvious. Trust your readers. Trust your characters. Trust your writing. If you find that chunks of your story need to include long explanations, go back in and write those chunks better, until the story explains itself.

6. Make sure your story has both a plot arc and an emotional arc. Cross internal conflict with external conflict. Give your characters moral dilemmas, and force them to deal with the consequences of their choices.

7. Read your dialogue out loud. When revising, ask yourself, “What is the point of this dialogue?” (Just as you should be asking, “What is the point of this sentence? What is the point of this scene?”)

8. Use adjectives, adverbs and dialogue tags only sparingly. (See “trust your readers,” above.)

9. Make sure your details matter.

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The Delayed Subject with There

by Maeve Maddox
From Daily Writing Tips

In conversation we’d probably find ourselves tongue-tied if we couldn’t begin sentences with the grammatical subject there:
There are only three eggs left in the refrigerator.
There’s a lot of traffic on the freeway this morning.
In each example there begins the sentence, but the true subjects– eggs and a lot of traffic –are delayed until after the verb.

There is nothing grammatically wrong with this construction. Did you notice that I just wrote a sentence beginning with “There is”? Simply placing the true subject first would create Yoda-speak:
Nothing grammatically wrong with this construction is.
Rewriting an expletive sentence (the kind that begins with a subject place-holder like “There”) requires a little more effort than simple reversal. That’s probably why we let so many of them creep into our first drafts.

Compare the following:
There is research that shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Research shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Not only is the delayed subject pattern wordy, but it can also lead to a lack of subject-verb agreement. Here are some examples from websites offering professional services:
There’s good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There’s areas of freezing drizzle/mist out there this afternoon.
There’s schooling costs, there’s health costs and they’ll continue to be provided out of the centres for those who are being temporarily resettled…(This was a government minister.)
Informal conversation is one thing, but writing for a professional purpose is something else again. If the “There is” opener is the preferred stylistic choice, then the delayed subject should agree with the verb that precedes it:

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