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Try your hand at some ―easy writing,‖ just to develop some confidence in case you are
anxious about your writing ability. Write a refrigerator note on each of the following
topics. Address it to someone specific, your apartment-mate or someone in your family.
Keep the message short and to the point.
1. You‘re going to be late. Say why.
“I have band practice, so don’t expect me until 10:00 P.M.”
2. A phone message you took for someone.
“Sue called to ask you if you could go to the movies Saturday night.” __________________
3. Ask a roommate or family member to leave you money on the kitchen table.
“Mom, I need $26.00 for a lab book. Please leave a check on the kitchen table.” _________
4. You‘re doing something with a friend and won‘t be home for dinner. Tell who and
“I promised Vartan I would study with him for tomorrow’s first economics test of the
semester. I probably won’t be home until 11:00 P.M. or so.” __________________________
5. Apologize for something (for example, being a grouch this morning).
“Dear Carole: I’m sorry I got a spot on your favorite shorts. I promise to pay you for a
Here is a chance to exercise your skill at being picky. Each of the sentences below
contains an error that our students have called ―picky.‖ Find and correct the error. If you
need help, ask your teacher!
1. We‘re having pecan pie for desert.
(Dessert is misspelled.)________________________________________________________
2. Between you and I, the band was awful.
(Using wrong pronoun—“between you and me.”)__________________________________
3. She is the most hardest worker.
(Using a double superlative—She is the hardest worker.) ____________________________
4. For a man of his size; he is very quick.
(Incorrect use of semicolon—“For a man of his size, he is very quick.”)________________
5. I‘m majoring in biology, I want to be a veterinarian.
(Creating a comma splice—“I’m majoring in biology. I want to be a veterinarian.”) ______
6. She moved to Florida. Which really surprised me.
(Second construction is a fragment—“She moved to Florida, which really surprised
7. For a person to get ahead, you must work hard.
(Shift in point of view—“For a person to get ahead, he or she must work hard.”) ________
8. A doctor know best.
(Plural verb with singular subject—“A doctor knows best.”) _________________________
9. A lawyer should respect his client‘s confidentiality.
(Sexist—“Lawyers should respect their clients’ confidentiality.”) _____________________
10. That car is her‘s.
(No apostrophe needed—“That car is hers.”)
Using your ear for the language, make a in the space beside any sentence you think is
incorrect. If you think the sentence is correct, leave the space blank.
1._____ I love to sailing.
2.____ Jamaica is a beautiful island.
3._____ My uncle never went Vietnam.
4.____ Between you and me, I‘m very tired.
5._____ He have a twitch because he is nervously.
6._____ She a good poem wrote.
7.____ What should we have for dinner?
8._____ I gived the man a dollar.
9.____ Stay sitted in your chair, please.
10.____ Jim is a faster talker than me is.
Here are the correct sentences:
1. I love sailing. Or I love to sail. (Omit the to or change sailing to to sail.)
2. Jamaica is a beautiful island. (Correct as written.)
3. My Uncle never went to Vietnam. (Should be went to, not went.)
4. Between you and me, I‘m very tired. (Correct as written.)
5. He has a twitch because he is nervous. (Should be has; no -ly needed after nervous.)
6. She wrote a good poem. (Original misplaced the verb wrote.)
7. What should we have for dinner? (Correct as written.)
8. I gave the man a dollar. (Gived is not a word.)
9. Stay seated in your chair, please. (Sitted is not a word.)
10. Jim is a faster talker than I am. (Not me is.)
For each of the following pairs of sentences, check the one written in standard English.
1. ______ (a).It ain‘t necessarily so.
(b).It isn‘t necessarily so.
2. ______ (a).You can‘t hang that one on me.
(b).You can‘t blame that on me.
3. ______ (a).Stop hound-dogging me about money.
(b).Stop pestering me about money.
4. (a).He doesn‘t care about it.
______ (b).He don‘t give a rap about it.
5. ______ (a).I bought the coolest earrings.
(b).I bought some very pretty earrings.
6. (a).She‘s preparing to go to the beach.
______ (b).She‘s fixing to go to the beach.
7. ______ (a).There‘s too much chin music at those meetings.
(b).There‘s too much talking at those meetings.
8. _(a).They spared no expense for the party.
______ (b).They went whole hog for the party.
9. _(a).I went to the seashore to relax.
______ (b).I went to the seashore to chill out.
10. ______ (a).I was, like, feeling real mellow.
(b).I was feeling very calm.
Below is an e-mail message written in everyday informal language by one student to
another. Underline the words or phrases that are informal or nonstandard English. Then
rewrite the paragraph in standard English.
Hey, Marcy What a blast to hear from you! I just been down here kicking around in the
new hood, chilling out every day, and having a ball. My Mom‘s been cool about
everything. She hasn‘t been on my back even once about school work. It just goes to
show you that the old lady is not as over the hill as I had thought. As for friends, so far
I‘ve got zip, zero, zilch. My love life is equally exciting. I met a couple dudes in the
cafeteria, but, I mean, like, guys always think they‘re so hot. It makes me want to puke.
This one guy I met, like, every second word out of his mouth was ―I, I, I, I.‖ I felt like
saying, ―gimme a break, will ya?‖ Well, whatever. So what‘s new by you?
Marcy, I was glad to hear from you. I have just been spending time in the new
neighborhood, relaxing and having a good time. My mother has been very nice. She
has not bothered me at all about school work. That shows she is not as old as I had
thought.I have not made any friends yet. I have not been dating anyone, either. I did
meet a few fellows in the cafeteria, but they were very self-centered. I was disgusted.
One of them used “I” in every sentence. I did not want to listen to that. How have you
On a separate sheet of paper write two paragraphs on one of the topics that follow. In the
first paragraph, feel free to use nonstandard English. In the second use only standard
1. A personal desire
2. Portrait of someone I really admire
3. A time when I was lucky
4. One of the worst days in my life
5. Something that makes me laugh just thinking about it
In the blank provided, check the statement that most accurately represents the truth about
Example:______(a).If a myth leads you to think you can‘t write, you‘ll simply try
(b).If a myth leads you to think you can‘t write, you‘ll avoid writing.
1. ______ (a).To think you are bad at writing helps you to write carefully.
(b).To think you are bad at writing is to feel constantly scolded when you
2. (a).A myth is a belief that is popular but false.
______ (b).A myth is a religious truth.
3. (a).To be a good writer, you don‘t necessarily need to write about stuffy
______ (b).While in college, you must write only about intellectual ideas.
4. ______ (a).Writing with big words makes you sound intelligent.
(b). Good writers use accurate words, not big ones.
5. (a).Writing is difficult for almost everyone.
______ (b).A talented writer is one for whom writing is easy.
6. ______ (a).Writing a note to stick on the refrigerator requires complex thought.
(b).Good writing requires hard work.
7. ______ (a).If you write well, you will make no mistakes.
(b).Your ear for language can help you write.
8. (a).Standard English is English that is universally accepted by
______ (b).Standard English is not acceptable to dictionaries.
9. ______ (a).The expression ―between you and I‖ is standard English.
(b).The expression ―between you and I‖ is not standard English.
10. ______ (a).Irregardless is a standard English word.
(b).Irregardless is not a standard English word.
Unit Talk-Write Assignment
In this Talk-Write exercise and others to follow, you are asked to convert a spoken
paragraph into a more structured written one. The exercise is designed to apply your
speech skills to your writing. To do the exercise, turn the spoken sentences into standard
This particular assignment presents one student‘s comments during a class discussion
about personality. Here is what the student actually said in response to the question,
―What is the most interesting part of your personality?‖ Rewrite the casual spoken speech
into standard English in the lines provided.
Actually, I‘m sort of a funny guy, I guess. Mom always called me the family clown.
Come to think of it, kids way back in grade school used to look to me for smart-ass
answers to questions asked by teachers. Some times I‘d cross my eyes, bare my teeth, and
stick out my tongue—just to look freaky, you know. The kids always laughed. I mean, I
still play that role. Trouble is, I don‘t always feel like being funny. Some times I just
want to tell everyone to bug off and leave me alone, but when you‘ve gotten the
reputation of sporting a goofy ‗tude, you kinda feel obligated, you know. It‘s like, you
know, they‘re expecting you to make ‘em laugh. Even you dudes in this class put
pressure on me, you know. The other day our psych teacher asked us to define the word
―pessimist.‖ She probably expected some hoity-toity answer from our textbook
assignment, but I couldn‘t resist being the class joker by waving my hand high above my
head as if I had the perfect answer. ―Yes, Fred?‖ The teacher asked—and, of course, all
heads jerked around as if to say, ―Go ahead, you‘re da bomb, so say something funny . .
.‖ With triumph I belted out my dad‘s saying, ―A pessimist is a guy who looks both ways
when crossing a one-way street.‖ Naturally, the class cracked up, and some looked at the
ceiling as if to say, ―There goes that nut case.‖ What can I tell you? I‘m a total joker.
I think I am a funny person. My mother always called me the family clown. I
remember when I was in grade school, the other children seemed to expect me to make
jokes and give comical answers to questions. Sometimes I would cross my eyes, bare my
teeth, and stick out my tongue just to look silly. The other children always laughed. I
still play that role. The problem is that I do not always feel like being funny.
Sometimes I just want to tell everyone to go away and leave me alone, but because I
have acquired the reputation of being a comedian, I feel obligated to act like one.
That’s what people expect. Even you, the other students in this class, pressure me to be
comical. The other day our psychology teacher asked us to define the word
“pessimist.”. She probably expected some academic answer from our textbook
assignment, but I could not resist being the class clown by waving my hand high above
my head as if I had the perfect answer. “Yes, Fred?” the teacher asked—and, of
course, everyone’s head jerked around as if to say, “OK, goofball, say something funny
. . .” With triumph I repeated my father’s saying, “A pessimist is a guy who looks both
ways when crossing a one-way street.” Naturally, the class guffawed, and some
students looked at the ceiling as if to say, “There goes that nut case.” Clearly, I am a
For each of the following pairs of topics, check the one whose primary purpose is more
likely to entertain.
1. (a). Being completely broke is a great way to keep your roommate
from borrowing your money.
____ (b). Bird-watching is an educational hobby.
2. ____ (a). The homeless problem in the United States is getting worse.
(b). I love to help out hypocrites—just to listen to their extravagant