From: Harbrace College Handbook
SENTENCE PATTERN: Subject + Predicate
--------------------- ----------------- Enthusiastic freshmen + were registering. ------SUBJECT-------- ----PREDICATE----
Verb may function as predicate or as part of predicate:
As predicate: I teach. As part of predictate: I teach every day.
A verb consisting of more than one word.
Class had started. I am going to try.
Commonly used words in verb phrases: has, have, had, be, am, is, are, will, ....
Example: You will never completely finish learning.
PATTERN: Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object
The bookstore always sells to students many books.
To find subject, use verb and ask a question beginning with who or what:
Who sold the books?
To find direct object, find subject and verb; then use them in a question ending with whom or what:
The bookstore sold what?
Transitive verb: Verb that requires a direct object to complete its meaning. Example:
High winds leveled the building.
Learn to recognize meaningful English word orders. The most commonly used patterns are:
PATTERN 1: Subject + verb
PATTERN 2: Subject + verb + direct object
PATTERN 3: Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object
Sometimes these patterns are rearranged:
Example: His last question I did not answer.
PATTERN: Object + subject + verb
A part of speech used to make a statement, to ask a question, or to give a command or direction.
Examples: notify, notifies, are notifying, notified
Note: Do not confuse verb forms with verbs! Examples of verb forms:
"She gave him written instructions."
("Written" is a modifier.)
"His writing all night long tired him."
("Writing" is the subject!)
"I want to write."
("To write" is the direct object.)
"The urge to write left him."
("To write" is a modifier.")
Examples: man, men; kindness, kindnesses; United States; an understanding; nation's, nations'
A part of speech that names a person, place, thing, idea, animal, quality, or action.
The breakthrough came just before midnight.
Examples: I, me, my, mine, myself; they, you, him, it, this, these; who, whose, whom; which, that one, ones, one's; both, everybody, anyone.
A part of speech that serves the function of a noun in a sentence.
He paid them for it.
Examples: good; young, younger; youngest; a, an, the three men, educated people, this day
A part of speech that modifies or qualifies nouns and pronouns; sometimes they modify gerunds. Generally adjectives are placed near the words they modify.
Tired and disheartened, she decided that the problem was unsolvable.
Examples: rarely saw, call daily, soon left, left sooner , nearly always cold, very short
A part of speech regularly used to modify a word or word group other than a noun or pronoun.
Do you write well?
Examples: at times, between us, because of rain, before class
A part of speech that is used to show the relationship of a noun or the object of the preposition to some other word in the sentence.
The answer is in the book.
(Shows the relationship of the "book" to the noun "answer.")
Examples: Math and Computer Science, in or out, long but informative, long because it is complex
A part of speech used to connect words, phrases, or clauses.
Ouch! Oh, pardon me.
A part of speech used for simple explanations.
PHRASE: A group of related words without a subject and a predicate and functioning as a single part of speech.
Verb phrase: The computer has crashed. Noun phrase: The fastest processor is the DEC alpha. Prepositional phrases: The class is in McBryde Hall. Participial phrases: A borken eyeglass is useless.. Gerund phrase: Reading a manual is tiring. Infinitive phrases: That is the problem to be solved now.
CLAUSE: A group of related words that contains both a subject and a predicate and that functions as a part of a sentence.
SUBORDINATE (or dependent) CLAUSE: A subordinate clause is not a sentence, and functions as a single part of speech -- as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.
I must admit that CS5014 is my first computer science class. (Noun clause functioning as a direct object) The first Computer Science class that I ever had was CS5014. (Adjective clause modifying "class")
SENTENCE: When I arrive on campus, I first check my mailbox. FRAGMENT: When I first arrive on campus. SENTENCE: I first check my mailbox.
Example: The proof is straightforward.
Example: One window contains text, and the other window contains graphics.
Example: The proof is omitted because it is lengthy.
Example: The proof is omitted because it is lengthy, but a proof outline is given below.
Never put a period at the end of a fragment.
A part of a sentence -- such as a phrase or a subordinate clause -- written with the capitalization and punctuation appropriate to a sentence
A computer consists of 1. A CPU. 2. A main memory. 3. I/O devices.
A computer consists of 1. a CPU, 2. a main memory, and 3. I/O devices.
(Click here for rules on display lists, and here for rules on colon use.)
Test for Sentence Completeness:
When proofreading a manuscript, test each word group written as a sentence to see if it passes the following two tests:
- it has at least one subject and one predicate, and
- the subject and predicate are not introduced by a subordinating conjunction or by a relative pronoun.
Example of violation of test (2):
When the input is negative, especially if a user hits the wrong key.
(Subject is "input," verb is "is." However, they are introduced by subordinating conjunction "when.")
Do not carelessly link two sentences with only a comma (comma splice) or run two sentences together without any punctuation (fused sentence).
Sentences: The processor is a Pentium. It runs three times faster than an 80486.
Comma splice: The processor is a Pentium, it runs three times faster than an 80486.
Fused sentence: The processor is a Pentium it runs three times faster than an 80486.
Comma splice example:
The processor is a Pentium, it runs three times faster than an 80486.
Correct either a comma splice or a fused sentence by one of the following methods:
Corrected: The processor is a Pentium, which runs three times faster than an 80486.
Corrected: The processor is a Pentium. It runs three times faster than an 80486.
Corrected: The processor is a Pentium; it runs three times faster than an 80486.
PATTERN: MAIN CLAUSE; MAIN CLAUSE.
Corrected: The processor is a Pentium, and it runs three times faster than an 80486.
PATTERN: MAIN CLAUSE, and MAIN CLAUSE.
CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBS: An adverb used to connect or relate main clauses:
accordingly, also, anyhow, besides, consequently, furthermore, hence, henceforth, however, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore, thus, and so on.
Example: I don't like the answer; however it appears to work.
TRANSITIONAL PHRASE: A phrase used to provide transition between clauses or sentences:
as a result, at the same time, for example, in addition, in fact, in other words, on the contrary, on the other hand, that is
Past papers conjectured that the answer is zero; on the contrary, it is one.
Conjunctive adverbs and transitional phrases connecting main clauses are preceded by a semicolon.
Suffixes that turn nouns into adjectives: Noun -> Adjective
-al, -ic, -ish, -like, -ly, -ous
The danger is clear. [Noun]
The answer is dangerous. [Adjective]
Suffix that turns an adjective into an adverb: Adjective -> Adverb
First some definitions used in subsequent patterns:
Examples of linking verbs:
forms of to be, feel, look, smell, sound, taste, appear
PATTERN 1: Subject + Linking verb + Subject complement
He felt good.
He is good.
[In above examples, "good" is an adjective modifying "he."]
PATTERN 2: Subject + verb + adverb
In pattern 2, the adverb refers to the action of the verb.
He searched quickly for the answer.
[The adverb "quickly" qualifies "searched."]
PATTERN 3: Subject + verb + object + object complement
In pattern 3, the object complement is an adjective that modifies the object.
The boy dug the hole deep. ["deep" hole]
I sometimes forget mathematics principles.
I sometimes forget mathematical principles.
Use the proper case form to show the function of pronouns or nouns in sentences.
English is easier than some other languages because nouns and some indefinite pronouns (anyone, someone, everyone, and so on) have a distinctive case form only for the possessive (the student's notebook).
But a remnant of the origin of English is that the six pronouns have distinctive forms in all three cases and must be used with care:
___________________________________________________________________ Subjective: I we he, she they you who Possessive: my our his,her their your whose (mine) (ours) (his),(hers) (theirs) (yours) Objective: me us him, her them you whom ___________________________________________________________________
He and I solved the problem together.
That is his solution.
His solving the problem was a breakthrough. [Varied order]
Which of the following is correct?
- Two students -- John and me -- solved the problem.
- Two students -- John and I -- solved the problem.
- The problem was solved by two students, John and me.
- The problem was solved by two students, John and I.
Judging which is correct requires the definition of appositive:
A noun or noun substitute set beside another noun or noun substitute and identifying or explaining it.
I met Maria, a physicist.
[Physicist is in apposition with Maria.]
Rule: An appositive takes the same case as the noun or pronoun with which it is in apposition.
Thus only the second and third of the above sentences are correct.
Which of the following is correct?
- The student whom he advises has arrived.
- The student who he advises has arrived.
- He is the student with who I am best acquainted.
- He is the student with whom I am best acquainted.
In formal writing, use whom for all objects.
Thus only the first and last of the above sentences are correct.
Which of the following is correct?
- It was me who solved the problem.
- It was I who solved the problem.
Use the subjective case for the complement of the verb "be."
PATTERN: Subject + linking verb "be" + subject complement
Thus "It was I who solved the problem." is correct!
The user should turn on his computer
was correct; now usually regarded as inapproriate
One should turn on one's computer.
regarded as stilted in Americal English
The user should turn on his/her computer.
Users should turn on their computer.
incorrect but frequently used
Users should turn on their computers.
pluralizing; one good solution
The user should turn on the computer.
Turn on your computer.
rephrasing; another good solution
Rule: Make a verb agree in number with its subject.
The risk of the experiments seems great.
[Singular subject/verb: risk seems]
The risks of the experiments seem great.
[Plural subject/verb: risks seem]
Rule: Make a pronoun agree in number with its antecedent.
The author types her own manuscripts.
["Author" and "her" are singular.]
The authors type their own manuscripts.
["Authors" and "their" are plural.]
Hint:To avoid mistakes, underline each subject/verb and antecedent/pronoun and compare their number.
Ex.: Consequently, 0 and 1 are solutions. [plural verb]
Ex.: Either 0 or 1 is a solution. [singular verb]
Ex.: Each student knows the answer. [singular verb]
Ex.: The whole class is active. [singular verb because class is a unit]
Ex.: Physics fascinates me. [singular verb]
Ex.: Kleinrock's Queueing Systems also contains the proof. [singular verb]
For subsequent references use the mnemonic (spell the letters) or acronym (readable).
These theories and tools are the subject of the emerging field of knowledge discovery in databases (KDD). At an abstract level, the KDD field is concerned with the development of methods and techniques for making sense of data.
I use Pascal.
I use FORTRAN. (FORmula TRANslation)
Compound words may be:
For coinages too recent to appear in a dictionary, check with journals (especially IEEE Transactions or ACM Transactions) or professional societies.
Example: e-mail and later email
Adjectives: sign-up sheet, pop-up menu
Verbs: sign up, pop up
- Sign-up for a time slot.
- Pop-up a menu.
- Read the sign up sheet.
Poor: A time not for action but words.
Better: A time not for action but for words.
Poor: To corrode is wearing away.
Better: To corrode is to wear away.
Poor: To observe, to classify, deduce -- these are great pleasures for the scientist.
Better: To observe, to classify, to deduce -- these are great pleasures for the scientist.
Each trial t (t = 1,2, ...) proceeds as follows:
- The learner receives instance vector xt in RN.
- The learner is required to compute a prediction yt in R.
- The learner receives a reinforcement signal rt in R.
When the list contains phrases:
Graphs are either
- rectangular, using dots, lines, or bars,
- pictorial, with quantities shown through size or number of pictured items.
When displaying words or phrases that you want to set off each item visually, begin each with a capital.
Know the location and use of all safety equipment:
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire blankets
- Chemical showers
a factor of 3
See Figure 3.
Experiments 1, 2, and 3 included 7, 29, and 8 subjects, respectively.
I worked on the project five years ago.
Fifty-four subjects participated.
one-fourth of the sample
Example: Fermat's last theorem
The waitress's table
Example: Moses' laws
Two months' delay
For conscience' sake
Examples: Dot the i's and cross the t's.
Example: during the 1990s
Note: A space should never occur before a colon.
Example: Select one category: poor, average, good.
Poor: The meetings are in: Iowa, Texas, and Utah.
Better: The meetings are in the following states: Iowa, Texas, and Utah.
Example: We are left with one question: Who will pay?
The six basic uses of the comma are
Because we were running several tests that day, we were late to the meeting.
Due to a diminishing tax base, state financed universities increase tuition annually.
We read the proof; few of us, however, were convinced that the theorem was true.
The numbers are relatively prime (i.e., neither number divides the other).
Note: A space should never occur before a comma (e.g. , this is wrong).
The manuscript, along with a cover letter, was sent to the editor.
He spent hours reading the paper that arrived in today's mail.
Nonessential: He spent hours reading "Broadcast Algorithms for Hypercubes," which arrived in today's mail.
Example: The experiments turned out to be a disaster, and I wound up canceling my vacation to repeat them.
Example: Experimental studies, theoretical models, and anecdotal evidence all suggest that the phenomena is real.
Long, complex trajectories are hard to model.
Long and complex trajectories are hard to model.
Sometimes in technical writing strings of adjectives preceding nouns contain no commas:
a 5-hp 230-V dc shunt motor
a mass storage control protocol
The manager asked, "Who will take responsibility?"
The question we ask ourselves is, Who will take responsibility?
Judith Sinclair, Vice-President, chaired the meeting.
[See also "Compund Words" for another use of the dash.]
A dash is typewritten as two hyphen keystrokes: - -
Some word processors and text formatters convert two successive dashes to a wide horizontal line (an em dash).
Note: Use three dashes in LaTeX or Tex.
Uses of dashes:
Using integrated circuits -- tiny slices of pure silicon embedded with traces of impurities -- engineers reduced a roomful of vacuum-tubes to a tiny black box.
If he insists on visiting -- and I hope he won't -- then please let me know.
The triathlon events -- running, swimming, and biking -- test one's endurance.
Okra, squash, and peas -- these are the vegetables that I most dislike.
Strunk and White state, "A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses." [p. 9]
An ellipsis is three points: ...
Use an ellipsis to represent deleted material in a sentence. Use a space before and after an ellipsis if it occurs within a sentence.
Conrad defines visualization as "a representation ... of an abstract object through spatial relationships."
Use four points for ommissions at the end of a sentence.
Conrad defines visualization as "a representation of an abstract object through spatial relationships...."
In LaTeX, use \ldots to produce an ellipsis.
The curve resembles a sine function (Figure 3).
Neptune's atmosphere is dominated by the Great Dark Spot (GDS).
Omit commas after short introductory adverbial phrases (less than five words).
Herbert J. Muller (1905-1967) states that instability is one of the conditions of life.
Figure 1. Two views of the keyboard: Installing the template (left); raising the legs (right)
Two solutions are compared: (1) computational geometry and (2) analysis.
There is no consensus on whether to put a period or other terminal mark after a whole sentence beginning with a capital within parentheses:
(This is a whole sentence.)
The mistake (see Figure 7) is ubiquitous.
Note: Never put a space after ( or before ).
He wrote, "Dear fiends [sic]."
"Not once did he [Richard Wagner] compromise."
Read the old CS5014 text (Elements of Style [New York: MacMillan, 1979]).
Use a semicolon
The answer is clear; let's act.
Do not let an elliptical construction -- one in which words are omitted but clearly understood -- fool you.
The logic and the mathematics are wholly impeccable; the premises wholly invalid.
The second clause omits the word "are."
A large number of decision tree and rule-induction algorithms are described in the machine learning literature (Quinlan 1992; Apta and Hong 1996; Breimann et al. 1984).
Enclose material copied from other sources in double quotes:
Rogers defines categorical data as "a set of values for which no total ordering exists."
If the material you copy contains double quotes, change them to single quotes:
The 1994 report argues that "extensive simulation of caches (e.g., 'proxy' servers) is required."
Use double quotations for the titles of works published within other works (e.g., conference and journal articles, book chapters):
The best paper title I've ever read is "Instance-Based Learning."
The normal style rules in English follow those of printers:
He said, "Call home."
The paper is called "Will C Survive?"
What really is the definition of "chaos"?
However, in Computer Science Rule 1 can lead to confusion:
My address is "firstname.lastname@example.org."
Most editors suggest choosing clarity first. Thus they recommend putting the period outside the closing quotes anytime it might cause confusion. Therefore write:
My address is "email@example.com".
Generally, try to use the present tense.
Use the present tense for the introduction:
This paper explores coupling the object model with concurrent execution. The first section reviews the literature...
Use the present tense in the introduction for statements of fact:
Shapiro's work shows that the problem is NP-complete.
Use the past tense for a procedural section:
The data was first subjected to a KW statistical test. Then the data was partitioned and was tested again.
Use the present tense for discussion:
This method provides a means for studying a new class of symmetries.... We are also investigating analogous transitions.
Use the present tense for results:
The data in Table 1 indicate that ...
Passive: The problem is stated in section 2.
Active: Section 2 states the problem.
First person: We chose the first for simplicity.
Passive voice: The first was chosen for simplicity.
Wrong: most unique, absolutely essential, quite impossible
Correct: unique, essential, impossible
The proof is very easy.
I found the paper extremely interesting.
Weak: The proof is very easy.
Stronger: The proof is elementary.
Weak: I found the paper extremely interesting.
Stronger: I found the paper captivating.
Poor: A method for iteration parameter estimation...
Better: A method for estimating iteration parameters...
Poor: ker(A) denotes null-space, and null(A) denotes the kernel
Poor: Let n and i denote, respectively, the capacity and number of jobs in a queue.
Better: Let c and n denote, respectively, the capacity and number of jobs in a queue.
1. Factorization Program
This section describes the algorithm to factor...
Example: Consider an open queueing network. Recall that a product-form queuing network ...
Avoid abrupt changes in mood or direction from sentence to sentence within a paragraph.
Once we move from a convex program to a general nonlinear program, matters become far more complicated. Certain topological assumptions are required to avoid pathological cases. The results apply only in a neighbourhood of a constrained minimizer, and involve convergence of subsequences of global minimizers of the barrier function.
Once we move from a convex program to a general nonlinear program, matters become far more complicated. In particular, certain topological assumptions are required to avoid pathological cases. Furthermore, the results apply only in a neighborhood of a constrained minimizer, and involve convergence of subsequences of global minimizers of the barrier function.
However, do not overuse linking words!
A list of linking words is given on page 41 of [H].
"According to Theorem 1.1, a single trajectory X(t,x) passes through almost every point..."
The author meant to say that for every point there is a unique trajectory that goes through it.
A good test is to ask, "Can the reader take this sentence literally?" If the answer is no, then rewrite the sentence!
Sentence (4) uses passive voice, which should be avoided.
Sentence (3) has a formal, stitled air, which is distracting.
Sentence (2) is permissible, even with a single author, in the sense of "the reader and I."
Sentence (1) is fairly uncommon today.
The choice of (1) or (2) is a matter of style. I suggest avoiding the first person whenever possible, but not at the expense of using the passive voice.
Find all usage errors in the following 10 sentences
Source: N.J. Higham, Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, Philadelphia: SIAM, 1993, p. 33
(A participle is a verb form used as an adjective.)
Q. When is "which" versus "that" used?
Example: He is the person that discovered X-rays.
Consider the Pei matrix, which is positive definite. ("Positive definite" gives information about the matrix.)
Consider the Pei matrix that is positive definite. (Distinguishes one from many Pei matrices.)
Usually a which-clause appearing inside a sentence is surrounded by commas. A which-clause appearing at the end of a sentence is preceded by a comma.
A. I suggest two rules:
a one-man show
a unit (The long "u" causes friction.)
a heavy load
an historic moment (The "hi" sound causes no friction.)
an honest man
Rule 2: For acronyms, pronounce the acronym to identify whether to use "a" or "an." For mnemonics, pronounce the first letter.
an IBM product ("I" is a vowel.)
a FORTRAN program ("FORTRAN" starts with a consonant.)