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Notions of Correctness and Appropriateness - Part 1

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Good morning friends and welcome back to NPTEL lectures on Effective Writing and standing before you is Bindo Mishra. In this lecture we are going to talk about the Notions of Correctness and Appropriateness. The title of the lecture may make you very curious as to what exactly is meant by correctness and appropriateness. Writing can also be effective provided we are conscious of the correctness and appropriateness. Now, how can we make our writing correct? What exactly do we mean by correctness?. In language, in effective writing correctness is actually the hallmark of all writings. When we talk about correctness, naturally our mind goes to the rules of the grammar. Today the age that we are living in, we are actually influenced by lots of attractions. We have several attractions which also act as deviations my difference. So, when we write something or when you write something at times you actually either because, you are ignorant or because of a sick hurry and divided aim; you forget to stick to the grammatical rules that could make your sentences correct, that could make your writing effective. So, the first rule that all of us as writers should take into consideration is to follow standard grammatical rules. Nowadays, because of the excess of our use of computers, technology and many more gadgets what is happening is that we are being least bothered about rules. But, my dear friends, please do remember that while we pay scant attention to writing correct sentences, what results is the impression that goes out because whatever you have written that becomes a part of record. So, whatever goes out, it actually creates a bad image of us. Hence, we have to follow standard grammatical rules. It is very difficult to talk about all the rules of grammar in a few classes, but then I have decided to touch upon those issues which at times are being paid less attention and which at times are being ignored. So, in this lecture we are going to talk about the use of capitalization because, at times many of us often become unaware of using capitals. And, sometimes we use small letters when we have to use capitals. Then we also come across the use of double negatives, because we are getting addicted to computers, we are getting addicted to several sorts of things in our day to day lives. And, we become quite ignorant of the fact that language goes by grammar and grammar means following the sequence, following the rules. So, we shall also be talking about the double negatives, sometimes people in order to write correctly what they do is they make use of double negatives. You can you can have a look at how in the two sentences that I have mentioned, the writer has not been able to understand the sort of error that he has committed. He could not hardly foresee the result of his lethargy. My dear friends both the words could not and hardly they are actually negative and we all know that in a sentence in order to be meaningful we have to use only one negative. So, what actually the writer of this sentence wanted to say was that he could not foresee the result of his lethargy. So, what is to be done is to obliterate or to remove one negative word, it could better be said he could hardly foresee the result of his lethargy. The second sentence again I have never seen nobody. Now, if you have a look at it, it appears to be grammatically correct because grammar says that a sentence is made of a subject of a verb and also of an object. So, in the given sentence we can see when we say I have never seen nobody, again here we come across a case of double negatives; what actually the writer of this sentence meant was I have never seen anybody. So, what happens is we actually ignore the users and that is why we actually put a challenge to correctness. All of you will believe that we actually want to write and we want to write correct English. So, in order to write correct sentences, in order to write effective sentences we have to be aware of some of these very important grammatical rules which are often ignored by us. Then comes the use of verb, we all know we all have been using verbs in a number of sentences most of the time. But, there are situations when we make use of verbs, but then unknowingly we commit errors that could not be condoned, that could not be excused. Another important segment of correctness is subject verb agreement, subject number agreement which we shall be talking about when we go to this specific section on syntax and then we shall also be talking about the use of voice. Whenever we write, we actually write to mean, we want to be understood and as we have discussed earlier we have different aims to communicate, we have different aims to write. And, depending upon the exigency of the situation, depending upon the need of the situation we have to frame sentences and paragraphs and for that it is language, it is grammar that plays a significant role. Now, the word capitalization because that is that is first on my list and many of the novice people when they start writing certain titles, what they ignore is they actually ignore where to capitalize or where to make use of small letters. So, please do remember the very first rule which may appear to be very ordinary, but it will be quite helpful when you are capitalizing, when you are writing. Because, my dear friends you are going to capitalize throughout your lives on the sort of writing that you do. So, the very first rule that all of you should remember is capitalize the first word and all important words in the title. Whenever there is a title see to it that the first word is capital and not only the first word, but all important words in the title are also to be capitalized. Do remember that articles are not capitalized and also capitalized all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives and prepositions that stand either last or contain more than five letters. Now, look at the look at some of the examples that I have given. The Baltic Sea, the Baltic Sea now you may question me why I have capitalized the first word the, though I have already said that the article cannot be capitalized. But, since with this the title begins that is why the first word has been capitalized, the Baltic Sea the first letter. The Baltic Sea, The Renaissance, World War Second, The Russian Revolutions; all these are names and that is why they have been capitalized. But look at the last phrase here, the last title here The Grapes of Wrath. So, here also we have capitalized and we have capitalized the first letter in all these words in all these words. But, then there is one word of we have not capitalized because, it is in the midst of all these words and that is why this has not been capitalized. Then when you are mentioning somebody the designation and the title, the designation and the title has to be capitalized. Please do remember any title preceding a name for example, President Kalam; so, both the president and Kalam, the first letter the first letter of both these words is capital. And, then whenever there is a designation, whenever there is a title and the title is followed by the name so, and the name is very significant, very important the person holds an important place. So, in that case this designation show Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister you will find that all the words have been capitalized. But, then here we have not capitalized which is an article fine, but then we have capitalized prime minister. But, then when this designation appears in the midst of the sentence then there is no need to capitalize. For example, he became professor at the age of 40, the country has a new precedent. It is actually this in the form of a sentence and that is why even though they are words which are titles, which are important positions, but they have not been capitalized. Again the name of courses, the name of journals, the name of universities etcetera are also capitalized, have a look at it; University of Madras fine. But, then when you say I read in a university, the word university will not be capitalized. When there are certain relationships and these relationships actually specify some individuals, then once again the first letter is capitalized for example, Mother Teresa was a noble soul. So, here we all understand that mother word is a word of relationship, but then since it refers to one individual and one individual which became so important that is why we should always write like this. But, when you write it in the form of a sentence for example, my mother, my father, my brother; so, in that case even though these are relationships, they will not be capitalized. After capitalization we move on to punctuation, most of the time my dear friends you will find people are not aware of punctuations. Thanks to technology that has actually disturbed off the beautiful punctuation which actually used to mean, which actually used to denote, which actually use to tell a lot. But, then as careful writers we have to be very particular and we have to make effective use of punctuation in order to write effectively. So, some of the common punctuation marks which most of the time we ignore or which most of the time we do not pay much attention to are being mentioned here. The first is period which is very common, you all know that every sentence ends with a period or a full stop. But, then there are certain abbreviations also and designations also they actually take period. For example: you have a degree, you are an M.Tech, you are an M.A., you are a Ph.D, you will find that all these degrees they actually take a period, you are a D.Litt; even some sort abbreviations say for example, when you write doctor. So, we do not write doctor D’Souza, doctor Sinha, doctor Mishra like that, but then we simply write the abbreviated form. The same is the case with professor; so, we write Prof and then we put a period. Next is colon; so, colon actually most of the time since we do not have much time and in order to save time we often forget to make use of colon. And, that actually obscures the sense of the meaning that we actually want to convey, a colon actually is used to indicate further explanation and also to introduce list of items. Whenever you are mentioning so many things, naturally you put a colon there. Nowadays, in modern times when people write somebody a letter there also they write dear mister such and then they put a colon, this is actually the new use. Ah But, then in a sentence when you are going to give a colon, when you are going to make use of colon; so, you have to see that just after colon the first word that you write that actually should not begin with a capital, that will begin with a small letter. Man is full of desires: he loves only those who can satisfy them all, this is actually a clause and this is actually a clause which actually means that has a complete sense in it. But, then we have put a colon because we are going to talk about something and something is being explained. Likewise in the other sentence also we are going to mention about three romantic words and we talk about Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats. And, you will find after colon the names that we gave all these names are in capitals, names only; but not the pronounce as you have seen in the first sentence. Then again there is another troublesome punctuation mark that is semicolon and on many occasions we are often confused between colons and semicolons but, then we have to be quite careful while you are making use of that. Semicolon actually is used to indicate two independent constructions which are joined without a conjunction, without a conjunction. I think you might be thinking that I am taking you back to your school days, but my dear friends at times it becomes very important to be reminded of what we learnt in our school days, but then we are forgetting nowadays. It is also used I mean semicolon is also used to separate independent clauses which are joined either by however and therefore. Now, this will actually because when you punctuate your sentences, when you punctuate the words of the sentence you are actually going to convey your sense very effectively. For example: wise men learn by other means mistakes; fools by their own, you will find that these two sentences are independent unit, independent constructions. And, but then you have clubbed it together and in order to make them convey their sense what you do is you actually have to write, you actually have to make a mention of semicolon. And, then the last one which I think is often being ignored or people at times become very confident of making use of a comma, but then there are situations when they also come across several difficulties and confusions while they are making use of comma. My dear friends comma is used though we use in use them in sentences, but at times when you are writing and this is very common; the common mistake that we come across. When you are writing dates, degrees, salutations and parenthetical expressions the use of comma becomes mandatory. For example: the sentences that I have provided here; the people of this country are, I believe extraordinarily courteous. Now, you see here both after our and I believe I have put a comma because we use so, demands because when you are going to separate it and also when you are going to make use of certain dates say September 9, 2019. So, September 9 and 2019 they are actually to be separated by a comma. Again whenever you are making use of parenthetical expressions as I said; the new minister I think so, when you read it the meaning becomes clear. So, whenever somebody writes actually he or she writes just for others to understand and punctuation are just like these stations. Just are these stations that that they are actually transitions and they help you understand the implied sense of the writer. After punctuation now we move to the standard and free writing. Now, as I said earlier that because of the lack of time and since we are very much occupied every now in them, we are also becoming very ignorant of the uses of prepositions, pronouns, and articles. And, what happens the result is that when you create a sentence because of the bad referent, because of the faulty use of prepositions and also of articles your writing does not become effective rather it becomes ineffective. And, please do remember that there are many words especially there are many words and the greatest trouble that we face is from verbs; most of the time we face problems from the verbs. So, for example, here you can see how the writer has been very careless while using prepositions look at the first sentence. When we grow old, we become sensitive against all sorts of happening. So, this against is a wrong use of course, having an expertise on the use of prepositions is a difficult job. But, then all of us if we can try we can really develop a sort of expertise and you have to consult a good grammar book; so, that you may remember. Now, over the years it has been found that people are making bad uses of prepositions and they are not only obscuring the sense, but they are also projecting their bad image. Now, look at the second sentence: the performance of the new pipe is superior than the old ones. You must all remember that words like superior and inferior, senior, junior all these words actually take the preposition to. So, whenever you come across such a word, please see to it that you make use of preposition to; then whoever loved that love not in first sight, this is actually a quote from a very celebrated author. So, we often say love at first sight, but when you are using sentences you often forget that. So, we must say love at first sight, love not at first sight again in the sentence like seen dogs even to death, no seen dogs even after death. So, these are the faulty uses, but then in order to understand how you can make use of correct prepositions it is better to go through a good book of grammar. Now, as I was discussing that most of the time we come across the faulty use of verbs which we can say that these words are troublesome verbs. Now which are these troublesome verbs? One must always remember that there are 5 troublesome verbs, 5 categories; I mean 5 categories of verbs. So, the first is the relational words, relational words or the relational verbs. Now, these relational verbs at times people have been found making a very inappropriate use of that. For example: verbs like appear, belong to, consist of, equal, include, require; all these verbs we also remember that these verbs cannot be cannot be used in the progressive forms. So, now many people because they have actually a fancy for speaking English and writing English what they do is, you can come across such expressions. Why is he appearing so sad today, I mean this is actually a faulty use; why is he not resembling his father, you are seeming tired. Now, all these in all these sentences we find that the words or the verbs which have been used in their progressive, they are faulty rather what we should say is why does he appear so sad, he does not resemble his father, you seem tired fine. So, we cannot make use of progressive here, again after relational words we should let us come to some other troublesome verbs. There are as we said verbs of relation, verbs of emotion. What are the verbs of emotion? Words like adore, abhor, detest, like, dislike, hate, love all these are verbs of emotion. So, one should never use them in their progressive forms, you cannot say I am disliking you, I am hating you, I am loving you know. So, all these verbs they actually do not allow you to make their progressive, but there are some exceptions when you can. Now, let us look at this example where you can revise it, Indians are adoring Gandhi even today. What we must say is Indians adore Gandhi even today. So, these words will not take their progressive forms rather in some cases, when somebody asks you do you hate this, you can always say; of late I have started hating it. But, then since you have not developed that sort of expertise, you are actually learning that is why you should remember that these verbs they do not take their progressive forms. Next are the verbs which are a perception for example, the verbs like see, smell, taste, these are the verbs of perception. You cannot say I am not hearing anything fine, you must rather say I do not hear anything because here is a perception no hear, you hear with your ear. So, I do not hear anything. Sometimes in a legal sense we can say the judge had been hearing everything very patiently, you they have a hearing in the court on such in such date, but then these are simply exceptions. The old man cannot see fine, because hear is referred to add sight, but when you make use of see with a progressive it actually takes a different meaning. For example, he is seeing the minister tomorrow, I am seeing the professor tomorrow. So, that actually means you are going to visit, you are going to meet him. On occasions verbs which are from the category of possession for example, at times we say I owe you a debt, we cannot say I am owing you a debt. I have a car, they have a car, you have a car, not they are having a car fine. At times people make bad use of it and they say he is having a fleet of cars; no he has got a fleet of cars. So, has referred to the sense of possession. I have given quite a good number of examples and you can with your patient reading you can learn them. Now, sometimes the last category of verbs we are coming to words such as believe, forget, know, mean, mind, realize, recollect, recall; all these verbs are the verbs or cognition, cognition I mean understanding; cognitive term is from the psychology. So, sometimes when you say I do not think he is so bad, I do not think you cannot say I am not thinking he is so bad. When you say I do not think he is so bad, you are actually expressing a sort of opinion, he is think. But, then when you are going to do something, when there is a possibility; you can say I am thinking of buying a new house, buying a new car like that. How do you feel? And, the response will be I am feeling better fine, but you cannot say how are you feeling today, you should always say how do you feel today, isn’t it? So, these 5 category of verbs: relational, verbs opposition, emotion, cognition; so, one has to keep all these verbs into consideration. And, next is the use of articles and pronounce; all of you know that there are 3 articles a, an, the; you have been reading. But, then when it comes to making use of it, you actually go by the formula that if a word begins with a vowel sounds vowel sound, then naturally it will take an. No, my dear friends you must also remember another rule the choice of article a, an, the is not confined only to vowel letter, but to vowel sounds. For example, my brother is an SDO, my friend is a university professor fine. An honest person always stands true even in adverse condition. Here of course, you will find the word honest begins with h, but since when we use the word honest; so, the sound that comes is a which is a vowel. Again, there are some quotes which I have taken and I have made it very you know with the sort of understanding that since you remember that is why I have made bad use of articles here. Have you ever heard anyone saying the thing of beauty is a joy forever? It is a famous quote. So, what is wrong here? A thing of beauty is a joy forever, in the second one also which is from Romeo and Juliet; all of you might have heard the story of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, where the heroine Juliet says what is in a name, that which we call by rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Actually this refers to the story between Romeo and Juliet, Romeo loves Juliet, but then the families of both of them are at war with each other, are into trouble. And, hence Romeo is not going to acknowledge his love because, Romeo’s name is Romeo Montague. So, it is on this that Juliet replies what is in a name, the rose that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So, here also we have made a wrong use of the; so, we can change it what is in a name. Again the last one, the last stanza that I have taken is from Wasteland and where you can see how dexterously the celebrated author, the celebrated poet has made the crops you planted last year in your garden, has it began to sprout? Will it bloom this year? Or has this sudden frost disturbed its bed? Here you can see not only the use of articles, but also the use of pronoun has it disturbs, disturbed its bed. So, my dear friends whenever you are going to make use of effective sentences, you have to see that you can be effective simply by making your sentences correct. Then one of the most important segments of correction is also agreement. And, it has been seen that people at times when they are when they come across a long sentence, they do not find that their age a sort of synergy between the subject and the verb. And, two of them that I have here tried to explain is most of the time people while making use of either or neither nor in a sentence, what happens is they are confused whether the word would be singular or plural. All of us should remember that when the subjects are connected by either or and these subjects are singular, the verb will be singular. But, the problem arises when there are different subjects. For example, if one subject is singular and the other is plural what should you do? So, in that case you should remember, that if the subjects are different then the verb should agree with the nearest subject. Now, have a look at this and then later you can yourself create several sentences. Neither the culprit nor the witnesses were issued summons in the case. Here you see the first subject is culprit and the second subject is witnesses. Now, you might often be confused as to how we can do that, how we can do that. So, you see here the second subject is a plural and that is why you have made you stopped plural; had the witnesses being the first subject or culprit being the second, then again the work would have been work could have agreed with the culprit. So, please remember then we have taken another sentence, another example. The verb of a relative clause most of the time people often confuse between what is a relative clause. So, the verbs of a prefer relative clause will agree with the antecedent of the relative pronoun. For example, here you see this you look at the sentence; he is only one of those students who submits assignments in time. You might be thinking that here the nearest subject is students, but why we have put submits here, because the antecedent of the relative pronoun is he; he is only one of those students who submits assignments in time. The second sentence again like this: he who stands firm against all odds succeed finally, here odds is there, but then we have made use of succeeds because it actually should be in agreement with the world he. So, having discussed this agreement or sentence we also should try to differentiate between the use of a number of and the number of; most of the time people actually the thing that both are synonymous. No, when we use a number of actually it means the number of is always plural and the number of is always singular. A number of so, a number of questions remain answered as you can see, but when you say the number of; the number of courses, the number of MOOC courses has increased highly; has we are using has. But, then it is course here. Why. Because, the number we are actually talking of a number, we are talking of how many people know. So, this is what one should remember; again when a clause acts as the subject of a sentence it actually will agree with the notional subject. What is the notional subject? In many cases you will not find that there is a subject for example, what was once a dream has become reality. Now where is the subject? There is no subject; so, what we do is we consider it as a subject, we consider it as a notional subject and that is why this is one unit, we consider it as one unit and what was once a dream has become reality. Again, in the second you will find fearful jungles, this is being considered as subject, notional subject and then we make use of plural. There is actually confusion among people that whenever a word ends in s and this acts as the subject then it should be plural. No, there are several examples: politics, mathematics, measles, acoustics all these. So, these are actually they will always, they will always end with s, but they are singular. Politics is the art of the impossible, measles is still fatal disease, mathematics is an interesting subject. So, these are some of the basic things that every writer, I mean those who begin writing, those who are in the midst of writing; all these people should take these things into consideration. And, next is the use of voice; my dear friends all of you know that when we write something, when we are trying to convince people we actually use two sorts of sentences. Either we use them inactive or we use them in passive, depending upon the need. Sometimes you may feel that you do not need the agent, sometimes you feel that you need the agent and that is why you can make use of voice. Voices are two: active and passive. When you make a sentence in the active voice you actually try to show freshness. And, when you actually try to show less interest then you make use of passive transformations. For example, in a business world you will find when you are trying to lessen the gravity of the situation, you make use of passive voices my dear friends. So, a sentence in the active voice appears vigorous and the relations between the action and the agent appears natural. Passive voices appeared to be very artificial that is why most of the sentences that you write should be in the active. When you are going to say something, where you feel you are either trying to guide yourself, you are trying to defend yourself. For example, your case was not discussed in the meeting; somebody ask you was my case discussed in the meeting. And, you are actually not showing that much of interest, you say your case was not discussed in the meeting. But, then you want to be fresh, you say we discussed your case in the meeting fine. We have dispatched your consignments in this morning; we have dispatched this consignment in this morning. Now, somebody wrote a very angry later and you want to subside him. So, you can if you feel that you want to continue a relationship with that person I mean business relationship; so, then we have to use it in the very active one; we have dispatched or you can also you could have written your assignment, your consignment has been dispatched. But, then that would have made less sense; my dear friends, language is a very complex process. But, then as effective writers when we are writing we ought to see that we write correct sentences. We can go on speaking, we can go on discussing the rules of grammar ah, but remember that with the help of these grammatical rules, with the help of these structural units you actually are going to create an impression of yourself in the society, at the workplace. Hence, care ought to be taken that you make use of effective grammar, you write your sentence effectively; so, that the grammatical sense is not lost; because all of you want to have a good image in the days to come. And, in order to have a good image, it is always better to take care of making use of correct sentences that is what I mean by correction. In the next lecture we shall be talking about appropriateness. Till then keep correcting your sentences, if they are ungrammatical and keep writing correctly in order to be effective writers. Thank you very much, have a nice day.