Sunday, January 31, 2010

Words that end with ING

Can we begin sentences with words that end with ING? Sure. Here are some words that end with ing - reading, talking, dancing, trying.

Words that end with ING are interesting because they can play two very different roles in a sentence. The same word can take on the role of a verb (action) and noun (thing). For example, if I say "I am reading right now," the word "reading" describes what I am doing at the moment; it is an action; therefore, the word is being used as a verb. However, if I say, "I love reading," the word "reading" describes the thing that I love. Things are named by nouns; therefore, the word here is used as a noun.

When the word with ING is used as a noun, it is called a gerund. It is ok to begin sentences with gerunds, but not ok to begin them with verbs. If you begin a sentence with a verb, you will sound like Yoda from Star Wars who regularly started sentences with verbs (Remember him we must). In English, sentences need to start with nouns, so Yoda would not be a good role model when it comes to speaking.

Starting a sentence with a gerund (word with ING working as a noun) is a different story. Here are some examples:
* Writing well is an important skill for a manager.
* Teaching is my passion.

When you start the sentence with a gerund, it is typically followed by the verb TO BE and an explanation. For example: Exercising is good for you. Gardening is relaxing.

Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming.

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Dealing with apostrophes

Someone asked about thanking people for a donation in someone's name. Do you thank them for a donation in NAME'S memory or in NAMES' memory. This is a great question that has to do with apostrophes.

Apostrophes are usually used for two things - to create contractions (Mary's not here) and to show possession (this is Mary's book). The question about a donation has to do with possession. In other words, we are talking about somebody's memory. If it is the memory of one person, then the apostrophe goes right after the person's name (MARY'S). If there are several people (let's say a family), then you put their name in the plural form and then place the apostrophe after that (the WILSONS' memory).

The easy rule to remember is that if something belongs to one, then apostrophe comes after that one (Mary); if something belongs to many, then apostrophe comes after the many (Wilsons).

Thank you for the question.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

The etiquette of folding letters

I once worked with a workshop presenter who would submit his paperwork to me folded into a little rectangle. He used a regular number 10 envelope, but folded the sheet of paper six or eight times, until it felt like a little plump cushion inside the envelope. It always irked me to receive a crumpled document, and I wondered if he might be sending out other important documents in a similar fashion.

Thanks to the question posted earlier, we can address this topic:
Is there a special way to fold a business letter (8 1/2 x 11) before placing it in the envelope? Should the folded side or the unfolded side be seen when the receiver opens it?

Business letters are typically mailed in number 10 envelopes, which require that the sheet of paper be folded in three. To fold a business letter, pull the bottom of the letter towards the top (to right below the address) and crease it. Then pull the top part of the letter down until the edges meet and crease it.

Insert the letter into the envelope right side up. In other words, the person opening the letter should be able to look at it and read it without having to turn it around.

When mailing a letter, also make sure that the paper is not bent or rumpled (prior to folding) and that it is clear of any stains.

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Punctuation with quotation marks

Thank you for your welcoming comments. I would like to address one of the questions that was posted earlier - should punctuation go before or after quotation marks at the end of a sentence.

The rules vary somewhat for different punctuation marks. Periods and commas, for example, always go within the quotation marks. It does not matter whether the period or comma belongs to the quote. For example,

"Annie," he said, "don't close the door."

Question marks, semicolons, colons, and exclamation points may go inside or outside of the quotation marks. That typically depends on whether the punctuation belongs only to the quote or to the entire sentence. For example,

Brian asked, "What is the time?"
When do you plan to discuss "The Wednesday Sisters"?

Hope this helps. Please keep submitting questions.

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