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Breaking the Rules: “Don’t Let Good Grammar Spoil Good Writing” and Passive/Active Voice

 

Oldies can be goodies: one of the wonderful things about the IEEE PCS Newsletters Archive is that much of its advice to writers remains valid.

Philip Yaffe’s “Don’t Let Good Grammar Spoil Good Writing,” from the April 2009 IEEE PCS Newsletter, tells us why breaking grammar rules can create positive results, depending on context and purpose. For example, Yaffe argues against the rule: if we start a sentence in the past tense, we need to stay in the past (same) tense. Following this rule, we’d write:

The United Nations this morning reported that malaria was still a worldwide health menace.

Yet the whole point of this sentence is to indicate that malaria presents a current threat to our health, and therefore, would be more correctly written with “reported” and “is” – two different tenses.  His article focuses on rules around past versus present tense, bullet points, and paragraphing, but provides a good reminder for us to reevaluate our adherence to grammar rules that might hamper the function of our sentences.

For example, it’s really time to update up thinking around certain “rules” (and misconceptions) involving the Active versus the Passive voice.
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“It’s New Job Season” Part 1: A Different Way of Thinking About you Cover Letters

The first quarter is traditionally a strong hiring season for companies, and also a time when people turn to thoughts of new jobs and career paths. Professional communication skills are key to taking advantage of those opportunities, particularly in … [Continue reading]

RFP for Guest Editorship and Special Issue Topic: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication

December 2018 Issue The IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication requests proposals for guest editorship and special issue topic for the December 2018 issue. Anyone may propose a topic and apply for guest editor status. Guest editors … [Continue reading]

CFP: CEEA 2017 in Toronto

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Submissions for IEEE ProComm 2017 Now Open!!

We look forward to seeing your proposals, reading your papers, and seeing you in Madison!!  Submission deadline extended until January 13, 2017! http://sites.ieee.org/pcs/procomm2017/ … [Continue reading]