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Monday, September 24, 2012

Are You A Grammar Geek Too?

                                        Happy National Punctuation Day!

Did you know that September 24th has officially been declared as a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis? Well, now you do, so let the party begin!#$?!

Our words, both spoken and verbal, really affect our brand and how others perceive us.

The ninth annual National Punctuation Day®, the September 24 holiday that reminds America that a semicolon is not a surgical procedure, will celebrate the 2012 presidential election with a literary challenge — vote for your favorite Presidential Punctuation Mark in one, highly punctuated paragraph!

The rules: Write one paragraph with a maximum of three sentences using the following 13 punctuation marks to explain which should be “presidential,” and why: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon. You may use a punctuation mark more than once, and there is no word limit. Multiple entries are permitted.

In short, persuade them that your favorite punctuation mark should be the official punctuation mark of the President of the United States.  Contest entries must be received by September 30 to be considered for prizes. The winner(s) will receive a box of punctuation goodies, including a National Punctuation Day® T-shirt. Send entries, including name, address and phone number, to National Punctuation Day® headquarters at

In 2011, 220 entries in their paragraph contest were received from the United States, the Netherlands, Malta, Canada, England, and India.  In 2010, 356 people from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy (in Italian!) submitted more than 3,000 entries in our haiku contest, including 73 from a certain New York State employee who shall remain nameless.  

                                 Have a great punctuation day!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What you write tells

As technology advances, new forms of communication etiquette emerge. Such is the case with e-mail. Who was it that officially decided that WRITING IN ALL CAPS WAS CONSIDERED YELLING IN CYBERSPACE? I don't know, but now that's an accepted rule.

During the past decade or so, email "Do's and Don'ts" have evolved and will probably continue to do so. One of the classes offered at Workplace ESL Solutions is Business Writing, where you'll learn how to write concisely and professionally. Every word that leaves your mouth or your pen reveals a little bit about you and creates your brand, whether for good or for bad. It's important to know how to do it any language!

To help get you started, below is a list of some helpful tips to improve your email writing:

* Write a clear subject in the subject line
* Divvy up a long email with several topics into separate short emails that address one topic
* Press the send button after doing a quick edit and spell check
* Keep sentences short
* Don't use text abbreviations in emails
* Keep paragraphs short
* Use white space between paragraphs
* Respond quickly to an email you receive

* Write in all caps
* Reply to "all" without paying attention to who is going to read it
* Forward inappropriate jokes at work
* Write long, long emails so the reader has to scroll
* Use "urgent" or "important" on every email you write

Happy emailing!