Friday, February 05, 2021

Book Summary: Grammar Choices for graduate and professional writer

I just realize my mistakes when actually I made a summary but I named it a review (describing the pros and cons of a book). So, from this post, I would like to make summaries of books that I read. 

The summary is especially intended for me, to find faster what I read and remember in the past. In this occasion, I would like to summary a new book provided by my university: Grammar for Graduate and professional writers (2nd ed.) by Nigel Caplan. I resumed this book based on its eight chapters.

This summary only includes important points based on my judgments (and time).

Chapter 1: An approach to academic grammar 

In chapter 1, the author emphasized the ideas inside the books: 
1. Sentence can be broken into slots (clause, subject, verb, complement) 
2. Grammar is more than rules: a range of choices 
3. Your choices create three levels of meaning at the same time: the content of your sentence, your attitude or relationship with the readers, the organization of the text.

At the first concept, the author briefly described clause structure: a finite clause (a complete idea that can stand alone as a complete sentence), subject and verb, limitation of the type of words for each slot, complements (elements that come after and controlled by the verb), and non-finite clauses.

A few common errors on verb complementation include:
  • A small number of reporting words CANNOT be followed by a "that" noun clause. They include support, present, present, discuss, describe, oppose. Thus, the following sentences are wrong.
  • The research supports that the previous finding is true. The data described that the higher resistance, the lower current.
  • The verb "make" and "let" are complemented by a verb in the base form, without "to". It is better to replace "make" to "force", "require", "cause", "lead to", "let" to "allow", "permit", "enable" "facilitate." 
The excerpt of this first chapter is freely available here

Chapter 2: Clause combination

Chapter 2 of this book focuses on equal clause and unequal clause, as an extension of a simple sentence with a finite clause. The difference between an equal clause and an unequal clause is shown below; equal clauses are combined by coordinating conjunctions while unequal clauses are combined by subordinating conjunctions.

Aside from the differences between equal and unequal clauses, the following are the most important takeaways from chapter 2:
  • Punctuating simple, compound, and complex sentences: "and" for any coordinating conjunction, "because" for any subordinating conjunction, and however for any sentence connector.
  • Clauses introduced by "most of", "some of", "two of" are non-restrictive clauses. They need a comma.
  • Three meaning created by clauses: elaborating (e.g., "... ; in fact, ..", ".. and indeed...", ".., which.."; extension (e.g., "Moreover", "..whereas.."); enhancing (e.g., ".., so..", "Although..").
  • Fragments and run-ons are not acceptable in most academic writing, e.g., "Because it is different from the previous " (fragment), "Culture shock is not usual, it happens to almost everyone who moves to a new place" (run-on).

Chapter 3: Embedded, Noun, and Complement Clauses

Embedded clauses are restrictive clauses (that ..., without coma) that restrict the meaning of a noun phrase. 
1a. The students, who had been nervous about their exam results, are waiting for their teacher in that room. (non-restrictive, all students)
1b. The students who had been nervous about their exam results are waiting for their teacher in that room. (restrictive, some students)

Embedded clauses can be reduced. Most cases are "with/that" with "be". See the example below.
Another issue that is to be solved in this paper is the effect of silence regions in speech.

Noun clauses are dependent clause (a clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, e.g., "when he is coming...") that usually complements or reporting linking verbs, nouns or adjective. There are three types of noun clauses:
  1. Subordinator using "that", e.g., "The previous research found that bacteria are present.
  2. Indirect question using "whether", e.g., "Researcher wonder whether the bacteria are present
  3. Indirect question using "where". e.g., "Researchers ask where bacteria are present."
Some exceptions:
  • wonder can be followed by if, whether, any wh-question, but not that.
  • Argue usually followed by that
  • Realizes takes that and what clause but not wh-question, if, or whether.
A complement (noun) clause s a noun clause that is embedded in a noun phrase or used after an adjective. The most commons are claim, argument, fact, e.g., 
The fact that the first simple DNN architecture works is a significant achievement.

Not all nouns can be followed by noun clauses; only nouns that refer to facts, ideas, and opinion can be followed by complement noun clauses. The nouns such as notion, belief, point, principle, evidence, and chance.

Chapter 4 

The focus in chapter 4 is is verb forms. Verbs can be modified in four ways: time, aspects, voice, and modality. The combination of time and aspect is called Tenses, where this unit more focuses on. The summary of Tenses can be shown in the figure below (taken from the book).


Chapter 5

Chapter 5 discusses the noun phrase. One of the most important topics in the noun phrase is whether it needs a determiner, the articles. As I resumed another book: Three Little Words, it is not easy to choose what article needed by a noun phrase. From this book, I obtained additional information that the choice of an article also depends on whether the writer and/or reader know the exact reference of the noun. The following figure shows the resume of the use.

The next chapters talk about Hedging, Boosting, and Positioning (Chapter 6), collocation and corpus searching (Chapter 7), and beyond sentence (Chapter 8). This book, perhaps, is the most complete book explaining grammar and style in academic writing.  It is more complete than free grammar for academic writing or other books. I wish I already read and understand it before pursuing my doctoral degree. But this is not too late.
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