English Grammar for Scientific Writers
This seven-week summer workshop is entirely informal, free of charge, and open to anyone. No registration is required. Its home page is now on Blackboard, under "Organizations." If you are affiliated with Florida State University, you can enroll yourself to gain access to the site (instructions below, no obligation to attend the workshop). If not, please call or e-mail me, so that I can arrange guest access.
The summer 2012 workshop will begin in the first week of July (probably at the FSU College of Medicine), day and time to be arranged. If you would like to participate, please let me know the times when you could not attend.
The weekly sessions are semi-independent; that is, you need not attend every earlier session to benefit from the later ones (although the material covered in "Whirlwind Basics" and "Commas" helps a lot). If you attend, please download the handouts and bring them with you, either on paper or electronically. I will not provide photocopies.
Although sessions are scheduled for two hours, if all goes smoothly, they often end early. Participants may leave at that time, or the extra time can be used for questions from previous sessions, extra practice in analyzing sentences, or editing clinics. If you're having trouble with a passage, have questions about it, or just want to see what changes an editor would recommend, bring it along (in electronic form) or e-mail it to me ahead of time. As time permits, I'll edit it before your eyes on the big screen, explaining my changes as I go.
The seven sessions are
- Whirlwind Basics:
A very rapid review of the parts of speech (verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection) and sentence structure (e.g., transitive active, intransitive complete, subjects, predicates, direct and indirect objects, prepositional phrases, verbals, etc.)
Grammar basics examples.doc
Grammar basics definitions.doc
Grammar basics parts of speech practice.doc
Grammar basics clause practice.doc
Everything you need to know to put commas in all the right places and none of the wrong ones. This session also covers the notorious "which-that" distinction.
- Lesser Problems I: use of the semicolon (It's not hard, and journal editors will be impressed.); use of "nor" (What's wrong with that sign on the main entrance to Dirac Library?); nonredundant use of "both" (the sound of one hand clapping); choosing between "like" and "as" (with brief history of cigarette advertising); hyphenation of all kinds (and when not to use it); use of n-dashes and m-, 2m-, and 3m-dashes (what they are—and 1–2 ways to t——e them)
Lesser problems I examples.doc
- Dangling Modifiers: On belay! Find out what's wrong with "Growing at my field site, I found six plant species" and "The compound was analyzed using Jones's technique" and several ways to fix it. A bonus section at the end covers the "poss-ing" construction (learn where the apostrophe-"s" should go in "This addition results in the insert region 'looping out' as a single strand until replication incorporates the insert into the recipient genome" and why).
Dangling modifier examples.doc
- Lesser Problems II: split infinitives (". . . to boldly go . . ."); irregular plurals (Did you know that "opera" is the plural of "opus"? Or why "vitae" is plural but "curriculum vitae" is singular?); use of "this" and "such" as pronouns without antecedents (This is important; as such, we'll study it.); "due to" and "based on" (when can you use them?); number agreement (Is "Each man sold their car" grammatical? Well, yes, but probably illegal.); the top four ways of omitting needless words (Strunk and White would be proud.)
Lesser problems II examples.doc
- Parallelism: Sure, you knew about correlative conjunctions and comma series, but how about parentheses and colons?
- Lesser Problems III: mysterious abbreviations (bring along any that puzzle you, in case I've overlooked them); incorrect substitutions (like "while" for "although" and "since" for "because"); neologisms ("I solubilized the compound in 3 ml of the grindate."); gender reference (some of the solutions are worse than the problem); verb tense (relax, it's not hard); "fuzzy with" (a chance to apply your semicolon skills); jargon (Could a nonnative speaker with a good dictionary read your work?)
Lesser problems III examples.doc
The material covered in this workshop is essentially identical to that covered in weeks 5-9 of BSC 5936 Scientific Communication.
Supplementary handouts (these topics are not specifically addressed during the workshop but have been requested by past participants)
A and An
Alleviate and rescue
Alleviate and ameliorate
Using articles with organism names
When to use "of" with "both"
Capitalizing organism names
"Subject to" and "subjected to"
Who and whom
To enroll yourself in the workshop's blackboard site, log into Blackboard and click the "Organizations" tab at the top (just below the search box). Search on the word "grammar." When the workshop's entry appears, click the tiny down-arrow just to the right of its "organization ID," then click "enroll." The workshop's site should then appear on your Blackboard page, under "my organizations."
Department of Biological Science
Florida State University
Dr. Anne B. Thistle, 4061 King Life Sciences Building
Office hours: by appointment