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Writing Course Lesson Four

This lesson touches on the use of correct grammar that can apply to email writing as well as all your writing. Since we tend to write emails quickly, it is easy to make grammar mistakes, particularly with verbs.

There are 10 basic grammar points in this lesson that you should master for effective writing. A good web site to review English grammar is http://www.englishclub.com/grammar.

Task 1

Read the grammar point. Complete the sentence with the correct form of the word. Then check your answers with our suggested answers.

1. Present simple and present continuous (be + ing)
Rule: Use the present simple to talk about factual information or describe routine habits or activities. Use the present continuous to describe ongoing actions or temporary situations.

Johnson and Johnson __________ (make) a variety of household products. The company ____________ constantly (make) innovations.

2. Future
Rule: Use the future (going to  / will) to talk about what you intend to do or an offer to do something.

The new product __________ (be) a huge success.  To learn more about it I ___________ (go visit) the head office in San Francisco next week.

3. Past simple and present perfect
Rule: Use the past tense to talk about completed events or actions. Use the present perfect (have + verb) to talk about events that started in the past and continue until now.

Jim _____________ (work) at IBM for 25 years before he retired. He _____________ (have) many interesting projects during his career.

4. Articles
Rule: Use the indefinite article (a / an) before a noun mentioned for the first time. Use the definite article (the) before a noun identifiable to the reader.

Steve Jobs was _______________ unknown techie when he first started out. Later he became one of ______________ most well-known businessmen in the world.

5. Modal verbs
– Use “may” or “might” to show uncertainty
– Use “must” or “have to” to show obligation,
– Use “can,” “could,” and “would” to make a request or make an offer
– Use “should” to give advice,

We ____________ know more about our target market before we launch our web site.  We ____________ be clear about the particular age group we would like to sell to.  I know someone at Synergistics we __________ ask to help us.  I think it ____________ be a good idea.

6. Question words
– Use “who” for people
– Use “where” for place
– Use “why” for reason
– Use “when” for time
– Use “what” for information

We are putting together a questionnaire. The first question is “___________ is your date of birth?”  The second question is “____________ were you born?”  It continues with “____________ did you receive your MBA?  The next question is “__________ has had the greatest influence on your career?”  The last question is “______________ do you want to work for our company?”

7. -ing forms and infinitives
Use the infinitive (to + verb) after these verbs: agree, decide, expect, intend, plan, refuse, wish
Use the -ing form after these verbs: appreciate, consider, deny, mind, postpone, report,  suggest

The director decided _____________ (hire) a new sales manager.  He suggests ______________ (meet) with him as soon as he joins the company,

8. Conditionals
– Use the future real conditional (If / when + simple present, will ..) when you talk about an agreement or hypothetical proposals.
– Use the past real conditional (If past tense, past tense) when a proposal is less certain.

If we _____________ (use) the outsourcing website Elance, we _____________ (find) many qualified web designers.   If our expenses _____________ (not be) so high, we _________   (can) hire freelancers.

9. Passive voice
– Use the passive when you are not interested who is responsible for the action.
– Use the passive to describe a process or a procedure.
– Use it when you want to be more impersonal.

Microsoft ______________ (found) in 1975.  When the company went public in 1986, three billionaires and 12,000 millionaires ____________ (create) from its employees. In the 1990s the company ________________ (charge) with antitrust violations.

10. Relative clauses
– Use a relative clause to give additional information in a sentence.
– Use who / that to identify people
– Use that / which to identify things

Did you read the email ___________ I sent to you? It refers to the new head of Human Resources __________ has just joined our company.

1. makes, is constantly making  2. will be, am going to visit  3. worked, has had  4. an, the  5. should, must, could, may  6. what, where, when, who, why  7. to hire, meeting  8. used, would find, were not, could  9. was founded, were created, was charged  10. that, who[/note]

Task 2

Imagine this situation: You run a successful earth-friendly business. A local radio station wants to interview you for their “Successful Entrepreneurs” series. Before they interview you, they would like you to respond briefly to the following questions.

Write an email of 100 – 125 words outlining some of your ideas.

– Thank the person for inviting you to appear on the show.
– Describe how your business educates people.
– What products or services does your website sell?
– What milestone (significant event) are you celebrating this month?
– What has made your business successful to date?
– What is the next project on your to-do list?





Sample answer:

[note]To: Lynn Haywood
From: A. Gore
Cc: B. Clinton
Subject: Response to interview questions

Dear Ms. Haywood,

Thank you for inviting me to appear on your radio show and talk about my educational online business, “One Step at a Time.” Here are brief answers to the questions you sent me.

My website educates people of all ages on how they can help the Earth. Through simple tasks done weekly, we show them how they can lessen their environmental impact.

We don’t sell earth-friendly products ourselves. We introduce visitors to the best products available on the market. We make a small commission on each purchase.

This month we are celebrating a new milestone: we now have 10,000 visitors a month coming to our site.

Our success is due to great content that inspires people and makes them want to share it with others. They have confidence in the products we recommend.

The main project on our to-do list is to contribute 10% of our profits to five worthy environmental organizations and causes.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Best regards,

A. Gore
One Step at a Time.com
Washington, D.C.
202 – 654 7899[/note]