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Introduction - Pg. xiv

xiv Introduction You know you have the intelligence, ambition, and resilience to succeed, but one problem holds you back. "I'm afraid of making embarrassing errors when I speak and write," you say to yourself. When it comes to expressing ideas or communicating your opinion, you're afraid your message is garbled or just plain incorrect. Having washboard abs and a body-fat count lower than the inflation rate will get you only so far in life. You know you need to know the basics of good writing--grammar, usage, punctuation, capi- talization, and spelling--to get where you want to go. That's why you bought this book. Memorizing lists of grammar rules isn't the answer. Wading through dictionaries and grammar books is about as exciting as watching reruns of Gilligan's Island or Green Acres . Besides, you can never find what you need; there are so many words! Your online spell checker drives you mad; the gram- mar checker buzzes like a pinball machine. You know you need to do the following: · Understand how to use the different writing aids, including dictionaries, thesauruses, style guides, reference books, and computer programs. · Identify the parts of speech and know when to use each kind. · Make English grammar work for you. · Write logical, complete, and graceful sentences. · Use correct capitalization and punctuation. · Write effective letters, memos, and electronic messages. What You'll Learn in This Book Success-conscious people are grammar-conscious people for many good reasons. You know that if you want to get ahead in almost any business or profession, you must speak and write reasonably correct English. That's what this book can help you achieve. You'll learn that business and personal writing is not a mysterious activity at which only a few people can succeed. Rather, writing is a craft, like barefoot aluminum foil dancing or cooking that can be learned by almost anyone willing to invest the required time and energy. This book is divided into six sections that teach you the practical, hands-on grammar and usage rules you need. You'll understand why certain rules exist and what function they serve in writing and speech. Most of all, you'll finish this book convinced that writing is fun as well as useful and important. Part 1, "No Uncertain Terms," first explores how many people feel about grammar, usage, and the mechanics of writing. This part provides the standards for effective communication, too. Next, you'll get the definitions of grammar , usage , mechanics , and style , so we're all starting this dance on the same foot. Then you'll assess your own writing strengths and shortcomings to find out how you can improve your writing--right now!