Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Most Common Punctuation Errors

Most common Punctuation Errors made by students of English as another Language

Punctuation errors are very subtle mistakes that users of English as a Second Language often make.
While English as a Second Language students use up much time checking for mistakes in grammar and vocabulary when writing, they often overlook punctuation  due to certain reasons.
Yet punctuation errors can dent their reputation as much as grammatical and vocabulary lapses could.
Below is a list of common punctuation errors :
1. Comma Splice
Many users of English as a Second Language try to use comma to link two independent clauses, making them commit the common punctuation error called comma splice.
An independent clause can stand as a sentence because its idea is complete. It can be punctuated with an end-stop punctuation like period, exclamation mark, question mark, or even a semi-colon.
To connect two independent clauses in one sentence, do this:
Use any of the correlative conjunctions called the FANBOYS:
 f = for, a = and, n = nor, b = but, y = yet, so = so.
To separate the two independent clauses into two separate sentences, simply use the appropriate end-stop punctuation.
Saleem had planned to confess that he ate all the chocolates, he ate more to feel brave.
Saleem had planned to confess that he ate all the chocolates, so he ate more to feel brave.
Saleem had planned to confess that he ate all the chocolates. He ate more to feel brave.
Saleem had planned to confess that he ate all the chocolates; he ate more to feel brave.
2. No Comma after Introductory Element
Learners of English as a Second Language repeatedly forget to use a comma after the introductory element that brings in the main part of their sentence, pushing them to commit yet another punctuation error.
To fix this problem, it is important to always use a comma after the introductory element and before the main part of the sentence.
For Example:
Honestly her chicken curry is the spiciest in the whole continent.
Honestly, her chicken curry is the spiciest in the whole continent.
3. Comma in Restrictive Element
Still another punctuation error that English as a Second Language learners frequently make is the use of comma with a restrictive element in a sentence.
A restrictive element can be a clause, phrase, or word that modifies a word in a sentence and alters the meaning of a sentence when deleted.
A quick fix to this mistake is to simply avoid using a comma in restrictive elements.
For Example:
Aslam bought the engagement ring, that she badly wanted, at the black market.
Aslam bought the engagement ring that she badly wanted at the black market.
Aslam bought the engagement ring, which she badly wanted, at the black market.

4. Apostrophe to Form Plurals
Learners of English as a Second Language make the grave mistake of using apostrophes to form the plural form of a word, making them commit a very common punctuation error.
Apostrophes are used to show possession (Arham’s bike) or contraction (Arham’s coming up with a new book about the history of bicycles). They are not used to form plurals.
To form plurals, simply add –s, –es, or words that show plural form.
Its going to be a fun day! The dog’s are going to the beach.
It’s going to be a fun day! The dogs are going to the beach.

5. Too Many Punctuation Marks and Ellipsis
To express strong emotions like surprise, shock or disbelief, people who are learning English as a Second Language use several punctuation marks at the end of their sentence.
It requires an expertise to use punctuation marks that causes them to make a mistake in punctuations.
To avoid this error, limit punctuation marks to only one or use them to minimum extent.
Moreover, avoid using exclamation marks in formal writing or writing for business, academe, or other professions.
When are you going to deliver the box of vinegar I ordered?!#!!??
When are you going to deliver the box of vinegar I ordered?
Please let me know when I can expect the box of vinegar I ordered.
The same rule applies with ellipsis, which should only have three dots.
Chintu, our monkey, is sleeping … … …
Chintu, our monkey, is sleeping.
6. Quoting for Stress
Just like native English speakers, English as a Second Language learners would like to stress certain important words in their sentence.
Unfortunately, they do this by using quotation marks, which is not exactly the correct thing to do.
To highlight certain words in a sentence, use boldface type, capitalize all the letters, or even change the font’s color.
Better yet, use adjectives or adverbs to draw attention to certain words.
Using quotation marks to highlight words can result in confusion or even doubt.
Yes, this is because quotation marks are often used to denote irony.
Quotation marks are also used for quoting words, sentences, or reported speech.
This is the “best” wedding of the year!
This is the best wedding of the year!

Misplaced modifiers

Self Teaching Unit:
Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers
©t 2000, 1999, 1998, 1998 Margaret L. Benner
The link is acknowledged below

Misplaced Modifiers
A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is improperly separated from the word it modifies / describes. 

Because of the separation, sentences with this error often sound awkward, ridiculous, or confusing.  Furthermore, they can be downright illogical. 

For example:  On her way home, Shazia found a gold man's watch.
The example above suggests that a gold man owns a watch.
Misplaced modifiers can usually be corrected by moving the modifier to a more sensible place in the sentence, generally next to the word it modifies. 

 For example: On her way home, Shazia found a man's gold watch.
Now it is the watch that is gold.

There are several kinds of misplaced modifiers:
1. Misplaced adjectives are incorrectly separated from the nouns they modify and almost always distort the intended meaning.

     Example 1: The child ate a cold dish of cereal for breakfast this morning. 

  Correct the error by placing the adjective next to the noun it modifies.
 The child ate a dish of cold cereal for breakfast this morning.

     Example 2: The torn student's book lay on the desk.
   Corrected: The student's torn book lay on the desk.
Sentences like these are common in everyday speech and ordinarily cause their listeners no trouble.  However, they are quite imprecise and, therefore, should have NO place in your writing.
2. Placement of adverbs can also change meaning in sentences.
     For example, the sentences below illustrate how the placement of just can change the sentence's meaning.
    Just means only John was picked, no one else:
 Just John was picked to host the program. 
    Just means that John was picked now:
John was just picked to host the program.
  Just means that John hosted only the program, nothing else:
   John was picked to host Just the program.

Each of these sentences says something logical but quite different, and its correctness depends upon what the writer has in mind.
Often, misplacing an adverb not only alters the intended meaning, but also creates a sentence whose meaning is highly unlikely or completely ridiculous.
     This sentence, for example, suggests that we brought a lunch slowly:

         We ate the lunch that we had brought slowly.
     To repair the meaning, move the adverb slowly so that it is near ate.
We slowly ate the lunch that we had brought.

3. Misplaced phrases  may cause a sentence to sound awkward and may create a meaning that does not make sense.
The problem sentences below contain misplaced phrases that  modify the wrong nouns. 
To fix the errors and clarify the meaning, put the phrases next to the noun they are supposed to modify. 

   Example  (a corner smoking pipes?)
The three bankers talked quietly in the  corner smoking pipes.
    Corrected:  The three bankers smoking pipes talked quietly in the corner.
    Example  (a house made of barbed wire?)
 They saw a fence behind the house made of barbed wire.
     Corrected: They saw a fence made of barbed wire behind the house.

4.  Misplaced clauses may cause a sentence to sound awkward and may create a meaning that does not make sense.
The problem sentences below contain misplaced clauses that  modify the wrong nouns. 
To fix the errors and clarify the meaning, put the clauses next to the noun they are supposed to modify. 
    Example 1 ( a buttered woman?) 
The waiter served a dinner roll to the woman that was well buttered.
    Corrected: The waiter served a dinner roll that was well buttered to the woman.
Be careful!  In correcting a misplaced modifier, don't create a sentence with two possible meanings.
    Example: The teacher said on Monday she would return our essays.
Problem:  Did the teacher say this on Monday or will she return the essays on Monday?)  
  Correction #1  (meaning the essays will be returned on Monday)
The teacher said she would return our essays on Monday.
  Correction #2  (meaning that the teacher spoke on Monday)
    On Monday  the teacher said she would return our essays.

Reference: https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/moduledangling.htm

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


Descriptive Writing

·         A description is a picture in words that helps the reader see, hear, taste, smell, or feel something that the writer has experienced.
·         Description is giving details about a person, place, thing etc. that allows the reader to experience what you have.

·         In order to create a good description you must appeal the five senses and create pictures in the readers mind.

  • What senses are being used in the following sentences?
  • The puppy was black with three white paws and one white ear.  It had a long tail with a white tip.
  • As we walked into the room, the floor boards creaked.  We knocked into a table and the glass vase hit the floor.  Crash
  • The chocolate cake was so delicious.  It had peanut butter frosting which melted in your mouth.
  • The cool rain was hitting us in the face as we ran to the bus.
  • When we write a description, we must remember to:
  • begin with interesting opening sentences that tell what the description is about
  • use exact, vivid words to create a picture in the reader’s mind
  • include important details about what you are describing
  • put details in time order, spatial order, or in order of importance
  • use sense words that help your reader picture what you are describing
  • As I sat on the beach, I felt the gentle breeze coming from the water.  The warm sun was shining on the water making it sparkle.  It was so peaceful.  We enjoyed eating chocolate along with feeling gentle breeze.  The waves crashing against the shore were soothing.

Monday, 29 February 2016


Customer Complaints
Five Major Types That You Must Know!

Five Solid Reasons Why Customers Complaints Should Be Taken Seriously

Complaints are most important in the growth of any of the organization, specifically there are so many kinds of complaints but generally they are categorized under five major types which are as under:

Five Major Types of Customer Complaints

1.      Performance/Operations related complaints

2.      Customer Touch Point related complaints

3.      Marketing related complaints

4.      Business/Firm/Company service related complaints

5.      Illegitimate/False Complaints

Now let’s talk about each type one by one

Performance/Operations related complaints
Customer complaints related to product/service defects/shortcomings comes under this type, basically all product/service related complaints, issues are due to some operational or performance related malfunction, shortcoming that results in an uneven or defective value creation.

Customer Touch Point related complaints
A customer touch point complaint here specifically means complaints related to front line staff, administration that deals with your customers. These complaints mainly focus on behavior, attitude, performance (making errors in billing, charges, misbehaving, to be intolerant etc) of the front line employees and administration.

Remember in case you are a service provider, customer touch point complaints are far more important for your business than those who deal in tangible items. According to a study customer perception of a brand depends on front line employees/administration behavior, attitude. 

Similarly other studies have confirmed that employees performance can increase not only brand value but also regains/improves customer trust in the brand.

So if you want your customers to take your brand positively, to love your brand, to advocate about it then you need to improve your front line/administration behavior, attitude and performance.

Marketing Related Complaints
Means when customers complaints that your brand didn’t deliver on the commercial promises it made, like the promises (discounts, BOGO offers, sale etc) you made through your promotional, advertising campaigns with your target market.

So in case of any such complaints, you need to check with your marketing department, team and make sure that a promise made is a promise kept

Business/Firm/Company Service Related Complaints

Service complaints that implicitly report issues, problems not with your product/service but with your business, firm or company for instance your business doesn’t provide adequate human resource, training, equipment, tools, facilities, financial support etc to one or other department which is resulting in poor business performance that is affecting overall value delivery and thus resulting in customer complaints.

Such complaints aren’t related to any of the complaints types mentioned above but are still genuine, legitimate as they indirectly points to certain flaws, deficiencies, negligence in your business/firm/company standard operating procedures, policies and practices, protocols, overall strategy, tactics so on and so forth and thus demands careful analysis, evaluation of your business big picture.

Illegitimate/False Complaints

Any complaint that doesn’t come under any of these four types is clearly an illegitimate/false complaint and thus needs no attention but still you got to make sure that your customer who is making an illegitimate complaint get it, get that he/she is making an illegitimate complaint and therefore he/she can’t be entertained as he/she desires. 

Remember an illegitimate complaint maker is still your customer thus you need to take utmost care when dealing with such customer after all it costs five to eight times more to acquire new customer than to retain an old one.


Essentials of a Good Report
Business Management
A report is a statement or form, which presents facts relating to an event, progress of action, State of business affairs in a comprehensive and systematic manner. The essentials of a good report are:

(a) The report should be addressed to definite person or body of persons and it should be started with a salutation "Dear Sir" or "Dear Sirs".
(b) The report should be accompanied with a brief title,
(c) The report should contain a table, which states page number in which a particular point is available.
(d) The object of the report must be clear in the opening paragraph.
(e) The facts available in the report should be complete and reliable. (/) Repetition of writing should be avoided.
(f) The report should be free from clumsy and it should be submitted at its proper time.

Essential stages of report writing:

All reports need to be clear, concise and well structured. The key to writing an effective report is to allocate time for planning and preparation. With careful planning, the writing of a report will be made much easier. The essential stages of successful report writing are described below. Consider how long each stage is likely to take and divide the time before the deadline between the different stages. Be sure to leave time for final proof reading and checking.
Stage One: Understanding the report brief
This first stage is the most important. You need to be confident that you understand the purpose of your report as described in your report brief or instructions. Consider who the report is for and why it is being written. Check that you understand all the instructions or requirements, and ask your tutor if anything is unclear.
Stage Two: Gathering and selecting information
Once you are clear about the purpose of your report, you need to begin to gather relevant information. Your information may come from a variety of sources, but how much information you need, will depend on how much detail is required in the report. You may want to begin by reading relevant literature to widen your understanding of the topic or issue before you go on to look at other forms of information such as questionnaires, surveys etc. As you read and gather information you need to assess its relevance to your report and select accordingly. Keep referring to your report brief to help you decide what is relevant information?
Stage Three: Organising your material
Once you have gathered information you need to decide what will be included and in what sequence it should be presented. Begin by grouping together points that are related. These may form sections or chapters. Remember to keep referring to the report brief and be prepared to cut any information that is not directly relevant to the report. Choose an order for your material that is logical and easy to follow.
Stage Four: Analysing your material
Before you begin to write your first draft of the report, take time to consider and make notes on the points you will make using the facts and evidence you have gathered. What conclusions can be drawn from the material? What are the limitations or flaws in the evidence? Do certain pieces of evidence conflict with one another? It is not enough to simply present the information you have gathered; you must relate it to the problem or issue described in the report brief.
Stage Five: Writing the report
Having organised your material into appropriate sections and headings you can begin to write the first draft of your report. You may find it easier to write the summary and contents page at the end when you know exactly what will be included. Aim for a writing style that is direct and precise. Chapters, sections and even individual paragraphs should be written with a clear structure. The structure described below can be adapted and applied to chapters, sections and even paragraphs.
  • Introduce the main idea of the chapter/section/paragraph
  • Explain and expand the idea, defining any key terms.
  • Present relevant evidence to support your point(s).
  • Comment on each piece of evidence showing how it relates to your point(s).
  • Conclude your chapter/section/paragraph by either showing its
    significance to the report as a whole or making a link to the next chapter/section/paragraph.
Stage Six: Reviewing and redrafting
Ideally, you should leave time to take a break before you review your first draft. Be prepared to rearrange or rewrite sections in the light of your review. Try to read the draft from the perspective of the reader. Is it easy to follow with a clear structure that makes sense? Are the points concisely but clearly explained and supported by relevant evidence? Writing on a word processor makes it easier to rewrite and rearrange sections or paragraphs in your first draft. If you write your first draft by hand, try writing each section on a separate piece of paper to make redrafting easier.
Stage Seven: Presentation
Once you are satisfied with the content and structure of your redrafted report, you can turn your attention to the presentation. Check that the wording of each chapter/section/subheading is clear and accurate. Check that you are brief regarding format and presentation. Check for consistency in numbering of chapters, sections and appendices. Make sure that all your sources are acknowledged and correctly referenced. You will need to proof read your report for errors of spelling or grammar. If time allows, proof read more than once. Errors in presentation or expression create a poor impression and can make the report difficult to read.