Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade

Here is my study notes of the online course Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Fundamental English Writing) on Coursera. The course is very helpful to get a reflection about the basis for English writing.

Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Fundamental English Writing)

Unit 1: Overview: Becoming a Successful Online Learner

  • Have Reliable Internet Access
  • Read Carefully
  • Get Organised!
  • Find a quiet place to work.
  • Polish Your Computer Skills
  • Participate
  • Log-In Regularly
  • DO NOT Procrastinate!

Unit 2: Learning the Parts of Speech

Eight parts of speech

Nouns

Nouns are a part of speech typically denoting a person, place, thing, living creature, or idea.

Pronouns

Pronouns are words that stand in for or replace nouns.

  • Subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. As their name implies, subject pronouns always function as subjects of a sentence.
  • Objective pronouns include me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. Objective pronouns always function as objects in a sentence, for example, the direct object, the indirect object, or the object of a preposition.
  • Indefinite pronouns can function as either subjects or objects. Also, they can be singular or plural or both (depending on the context in which they are used). The reason this is most important is that the number of the pronoun determines the number of the verb to be used, which you will study in the next unit. Singular indefinite pronouns use singular verbs. Plural indefinite pronouns use plural verbs.
  • Relative pronouns include, most commonly, that, which, who, whom, whoever, whomever, and where.
  • Demonstrative pronouns include This, That, These, and Those and can function as subjects, objects, and adjectives.
  • Possessive pronouns are pronouns used to refer to subjects in sentences that are specific person/people or thing/things belonging to a person/people [and sometimes to an animal(s) or thing(s)]. Possessive pronouns function as subjects, objects, and adjectives.
  • Interrogative pronouns, including and limited to who, what, which, and whose, are used to ask questions. These pronouns represent the thing that isn’t known (what the question is asking about). Interrogative pronouns can stand in for subjects.
  • Reflexive pronouns, including and limited to myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves, function as objects in a sentence; they show subjects performing actions on themselves.
  • Intensive pronouns, including and limited to myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves, emphasise another noun or pronoun.

Adjectives

Adjectives are words you use to modify a noun or a pronoun.

  • The three articles in English, a, an, and the (sometimes referred to as determiners) always function as adjectives in a sentence.
  • A descriptive adjective describes a quality of the noun the adjective modifies.
  • A proper adjective is formed by using a proper noun or formed from a proper noun.
  • Predicate adjectives follow the noun and are connected to the noun by a linking verb, which you will learn about in the next module.

Verbs

Verbs show what the subject of a sentence does.

  • Action verbs, which make up the majority of verbs, show/demonstrate an action.
  • Linking or state of being verbs do not show an action, including but not limited to am, is, are, become, and seem. These verbs explain the condition someone or something is in.
  • Helping or auxiliary verbs help describe the main verb. There are nine helping verbs that are always helping verbs; they are never the main verb. The helping verbs are:

    • May
    • Might
    • Must
    • Could
    • Would
    • Should
    • Can
    • Will
    • Shall

There are three verbs, be, do, and have, that can be either main verbs or helping verbs depending upon their usage.

Adverbs

Adverbs modify and describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link other words in a sentence and indicate the relationship between those words.

  • Coordinating conjunctions join words or word groups of equal importance, including and limited to FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So.
  • Correlative conjunctions are word pairs that join words or words groups of equal importance.

    • not only … but also
    • whether … or
    • both … and
    • not … but
    • either … or
    • as … as
    • nether … nor
    • Subordinating conjunctions are a word or group of words that introduces a subordinate clause.

Prepositions

Prepositions are words that connect nouns and pronouns to other words and show the relationship between the words.

Interjections

Interjections express surprise, emotion, or demand attention.

  • Amen!
  • Wow!
  • Hey!
  • Absolutely!
  • Bless you!
  • Ouch!
  • Damn!

Unit 3: Subjects and Verbs

Subjects

Subjects Words that identify the actor in a sentence or tell what/who a sentence is about.

  • Nouns are used to name persons, places, things, living creatures, and ideas.
  • Pronouns include personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and indefinite pronouns.
    • Personal pronouns have distinct characteristics, including number, person, gender, and case.
    • Possessive pronouns are pronouns used to refer to subjects in sentences that are a specific person/people or thing/things belonging to a person/people (and sometimes to an animal(s) or thing(s)).
    • Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions.
    • Indefinite pronouns complete the list of pronouns that can act as subjects in sentences.
    • The “understood” subject (you, a pronoun, is the “understood” subject). The “Understood You” occurs when you give a command or order to someone or suggest something to someone.
  • Gerunds (formed by adding –ing to a verb: swimming, driving, learning, jogging, writing)
  • Infinitives (the preposition to + a verb: to swim, to drive, to learn, to exercise, to agree)

Verbs

Verbs Words that either describe what action the actor is doing or provide a link to the condition/state of being of the subject. Verbs designate tense, the time when an action or state of being/condition takes place.

Punctuation

Punctuation Symbols that tell readers when a sentence ends. In English, terminal punctuation, also called stops and end marks, consists of the period, the exclamation mark, and the question mark. These three punctuation marks typically bring sentences to a logical close.

  • Use a period (‘.’) to end (1) declarative sentences, which state facts and opinions; (2) imperative sentences, which give commands and directions; (3) indirect questions; and (4) polite requests that are stated as questions.
  • The exclamation mark (or exclamation point) (!) follows an exclamatory statement or an interjection and is typically used to express strong emotion.
  • You use a question mark (?) at the end of direct questions.

Final remarks

In writing, you always want to make active voice your first choice. To recognise active and passive voice sentences, do the following:

  1. Find the subject of the sentence.
  2. Find the main verb of the sentence.
  3. Examine the relationship between the subject and the main verb.

To change passive voice to active voice follow these three steps:

  1. Delete the form of the to be verb.
  2. Use an active verb form rather than the past participial verb form.
  3. Make the object of the preposition and any words associated with the object of the preposition (but do not include the preposition) the subject of the sentence.

That is it.
Cheers!