Areas that show potential for improvement in our department:

  • Proper use of articles (a,an,the).
    1. Choosing between indefinite articles (a,an) and definite articles (the).
    2. When to not use an article, e.g. Please hand me that screwdriver. I dropped my teacup. I bought a TV and VCR at the July 4th sale. The prisoners were fed only bread and water. Now that I've thought about it, I realize I have absolutely no idea what the rules for using articles are.
    3. In my opinion, this is the single greatest source of grammatical errors in written work by non-native speakers. The rules for articles are hard to grasp, especially if they simply don't exist in someone's native tongue.
    • suggested by Robert, support - proofreading work by masters and PhD level authors, pervasiveness - omnipresent
  • Assertiveness.
    1. How to show when you do and when you don't understand the conversation.
    2. The importance and etiquette of interrupting in American communication.
    • suggested by Robert, support - personal interactions, pervasiveness - unknown
  • Proofreading.
    1. Good writing is rewriting.
    2. Nothing should ever be sent without at least one proofreading, even a quick email. Following this advice, we will still miss mistakes, but we will build the habit of proofreading and cut down on our more embarrassing errors. (Proofreading more than once should be reserved for jobs that need perfection; manuscript writing as opposed to quick emails.)
    • suggested by Robert, support - personal observation, pervasiveness - unknown
  • Singular and plural subject-verb agreement in complex situations.
    • suggested by Robert, support - personal observation, pervasiveness - unknown
  • All those irregular nouns and verbs.
    1. I'm 32 years old, but I'm a 32 year old man. Huh? No...'s'. What? Why? Those crazy heteroclites.
    2. The worst part about all these nouns and verbs that break the declension rules is that they can make us doubt those rules or trick us into trying to generalize something that only happens with one irregular word.
    • suggested by Tatsuki via Robert, pervasiveness - they're everywhere

  • Good habit, bad habit
    1. Some of us pick up the bad habit of using the following phrases too much: "you know", "I mean", "like", "uhhh"
    2. Too much hand gesture can be distracting
    3. Tendency to use long sentences in passive tense
    • suggested by Chuan, support - personal observation, pervassiveness - high
Topic revision: r8 - 26 Apr 2013, JohnBock

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