The Sentence

Today we are going to talk about the sentence. There are several things a sentence needs or it is not a sentence.

First, a sentence always starts with a capital letter beginning its first word.

Second, a sentence ends with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point. A period is used for most sentences. If the sentence is a question, it needs a question mark. If you are saying a command or want to emphasizes something, use an exclamation point.

Note: Be careful in using exclamation points too much or it feels like shouting. Use in moderation.

Inside the sentence, there are two parts: the subject and the predicate.

The subject is who or what the sentence is about. It can be a person, place, thing, or idea. It is usually a noun or a pronoun. A proper name such as Lisa or Utah is always a noun. It can also be less specific like dog or love. A pronoun substitutes for a noun. Some pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, and they.

A predicate describes what the subject does or what happens to the subject. It is action and it always includes a verb.

A sentence fragment either has no subject, no predicate, or even with both is still incomplete.

Ex: Because the cake fell. – Even though there is a subject (the cake) and a predicate (fell) the word because makes it still feel incomplete, and in fact it is incomplete. Because indicates that there is something further to be said about what happened after the cake fell, something that happened as a result of the cake falling.

A run-on sentence is one that is too long and probably has two complete thoughts in it. In other words, the sentence could in reality be two sentences because there are two subjects and predicates. You can use commas and semicolons to join them if you feel the two ideas need to stay together. However, my rule of thumb is if using a normal font and size the sentence is more than three lines long, it is too lengthy and needs to be divided or otherwise redone.

In summary, a sentence begins with a capital letter; it ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point; it has a subject and a predicate.

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Study Tips

So in the past I have talked about time management, specifically in terms of your classes,here and here. Now you have your whole schedule figured out, including your classes and study time. Now the question is: what do you do with your study time?

First off, I strongly encourage everyone to double check their schedule. Nothing interfering with class or study time? Plenty of time to get to or from school scheduled in? Two to three hours of study scheduled for every hour you spend in class planed for? (Note: This is an average. Depending on the class, you may need less time. Or you may need more time. Also, you may do huge blocks of study time, such as three hours at once, or you can break those same three hours up and spread them up.)

All of that is lined up? Great!

Second, where do you study? It is good to study at the same place all the time if possible, and yes, it is not always possible. Clear off everything from your study area except what you need to study.

Third, go over the assignment. If you have any questions about the assignment, be sure and ask your classmates or your teacher.

Now you have your study time set aside, your study area chosen and ready, and you understand your assignment. Now what?

Break up your assignment into smaller parts. Are you writing a paper? Start by figuring out what you want your main point point of your paper to be and write a thesis statement. Decide on several supporting points. Now you are ready to do some research to find facts and figures and examples to support all of your points. As a side note, you may need to switch the order here. If you are writing a topic about which you are unfamiliar, you may need to do some research before you decide on your supporting points. Are you doing a project? Figure out what are the steps you need to complete to successfully finish your project and go from there.

Study is work. It takes concentration and mental energy. Sometimes it is hard to focus. If you are having trouble concentrating, mix things up. Work on one assignment for a bit or one part of an assignment then after you have completed the first part, work on something completely different for a bit before you go back. Try timing yourself. If you are having trouble concentrating, can you finish your current part in 15 minutes? Maybe 20 minutes?

If you are reading, writing notes or highlighting text can help you keep your mind on what you are reading. Don’t try to focus on everything when you are reading. What is the author’s main point? What are the main examples the author uses to support their point? Do they talk about other opinions?

It may not always be possible, but it is wonderful when you can get your reading assignments done before class. The reason why it is wonderful is because you will then already be familiar with the material and you will know what questions you still have and can bring them up in class. Also, good teachers usually will in their class lecture focus on the parts of the reading material that they feel are most important and are most likely to be in an exam or are most likely to be needed for future projects or internships.

Finally, be sure when studying to give yourself breaks. About ever half hour it is good to get up, stretch, get some water, check in with and check on your family.

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Percents

We see percents all around us. The state sales tax is a percent, stores often offer a certain percent off for sales. Here is how you can find out the percent of just about anything.

The basic formula is:

part/whole = %/100

You can use this to find out the percentage of something, for instance what percent is 14 out of 52?

14/52 = %/100

Multiply both sides by 100 to get % by itself:

(100)14/52 = (100)%/100 : 1400/52 = %

Now divide 52, which leaves us with: 26.9%.

You can also use it to find out what a percent equals in real terms. For example, what is 12% of 74?

x/74 = 12/100

Again, multiply both sides so the variable is by itself, in this case 74:

(74) x/74 = (74) 12/100 : x = 888/100 : x = 8.88

Note: If you are trying to calculate the percentage of change, it is the same basic formula except on the bottom is your starting point and on top is the change in real terms. Percent and 100 are the same as on the other side of the equation. If you are calculating change, this can be a negative number if the change is going in a negative direction.

Ex: You start with 10 units and end up with 15 units. What is the % of change?

Start is easy – 10 units. Change is the difference between end and start: 15-10=5.

5/10 = %/100

(100) 5/10 = (100) %/

500/10 = %

50 = % The change was 50%.

Note: Another thing to watch for: if you are asked to find out two percents, for example, if you loose 50% and then gain 50%, the answer is not the number you began with. For example, 50% of 100 is 50: 100 – 50 = 50. However, 50% of 50 is 25: 50 + 25 = 75. Yep, you would need 100% for 50 to get back up to 100.

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Dressing for an Interview

So you’ve sent your resume out, filled out some applications, and someone actually wants to talk with you! Wonderful! You are going to have a chance to talk with someone in person!

As much as our society would like us to say today looks do not matter, the fact of the matter is that for good or ill everyone makes first impressions based off of the way people look. We all do it to one extent or another, and the person you are interviewing will also be making some initial judgements about you based on how you are dressed.

First, and most important, is be clean. Shower. Have your teeth brushed, your hair nicely trimmed and combed. Cleanliness goes to your clothes and shoes as well. Unless what you are planning on wearing is amazingly unwrinkleable, you probably want to iron it whether you usually iron things or not.

Ideally, go to where the interview will be held before hand not just to make sure you can find the place and have some idea of the travel time required. Look around. See what kind of environment it is, how people are dressed there. As a good rule of thumb, dress at least as well as your future boss does if not better.

If the environment is business formal, that means for men suits with jacket, tie, and white shirt and black shoes and belt. For women it means business dresses or suits with a skirt and flats or pumps. No sandals, no slacks. At least for the interview.

If the environment is business casual, for men that means slacks or maybe khakis with collared button up shirts or maybe polos. Wear nice shoes, not sneakers, and a belt. For women this means skirt or slack (or capri/flood slacks if it is summer) with a nice shirt. No t-shirts. If it is summer maybe sandals but no flip-flops. For both women and men, if it is cold or rainy wear the best coat you have and avoid the glove and scarf set with the scull and cross bones on them.

Gentlemen, on the day you interview, make sure you shave or trim your facial hair. Do not wear anything in any piercings you may have. Ladies, make sure your skirt is at least knee length. Do not wear too much jewelry or too much make-up. Ladies and Gentlemen who have tattoos, if it is one you would be embarrassed for a prospective employer to see make sure it is covered. Simple is good. Be sure to look at yourself in a mirror where you can see yourself entirely before you leave. Do you look like someone who could do the job you are interviewing for?

One last note. Once you have the job you should get training on the company’s various policies including the dress code. Follow their policy for day to day dress. Observe your co-workers and you will have a good idea of what is the norm for the company you are now employed at. If you have any specific questions about dress, your boss or Human Resources should be happy to answer them.

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Fractions

Fractions can be a little bit tricky, so let’s go over some basic rules.

Adding and Subtracting Fractions

In order to add and subtract fractions, the denominators (the bottom part of the fraction) need to be the same. This is good:

2/3 + 5/3 = 7/3 or 2 & 1/3

Note: Always simplify the fraction to it’s simplest form. It is also often useful to separate out to write larger fractions like the one above as a whole number and a fraction.

This needs some work:

1/4 + 1/2

In this second case, you would need to multiply both the numerator (the top part) and the denominator (the bottom part) of 1/2 by two. This would be 2/4. Now both fractions have the same denominator and the fractions can be added:

1/4 + 2/4 = 3/4

Multiplying Fractions

To multiply fractions, multiply across top to top, bottom to bottom:

1/3 x 2/5 : 1 x 2 = 2; 3 x 5 = 15 : 2/15

Note: If you can cancel anything out going across, do so as it simplifies things in the long run.

Ex: 5/6 x 2/3 : 5/2*3 x 2/3 : 5/2*3 x 2/3 : 5/3 x 1/3 : 5 x 1 = 5; 3 x 3 = 9 : 5/9

Dividing Fractions

This is the one that is a bit tricky. For dividing fractions, you want to take the divisor (the number under the division sign or to the right), flip it around, and multiply.

Ex: 1/2 ÷ 1/3 : 1/2 x 3/1 : 1 x 3 = 3; 2 x 1 = 2 : 3/2 or 1 & 1/2

Remember while dividing you can cancel out once you have flipped the divisor. Remember to put the fraction in its simplest form. Instead of 12/16, put 3/4.

Also remember that the left side remains the same. It is the right side that is flipped.

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Debt

Note: While I hope the ideas in this post will be useful, I am not a professional on this subject so take this with a grain of salt.

Lots of people are in debt these days – debt on credit cars, debt on a car, mortgage on a house, student loans for college. It can be rather overwhelming. So how does one get out of debt?

The simple answer is to not get into debt in the first place. Drive a clunker if that is all you can pay cash for. Work two or three jobs in the summer so you can go to school in the fall. Work a part time job while going to school. Don’t get or use credit cards. Here at Provo College, we have a wonderful Financial Aid office. They will be more than happy to help you figure out if you qualify for student aid.

However, for whatever reason, you are already in debt. You have tons of credit cards. You have student debt. You have a mortgage. What do you do now?

First, have an emergency fund. Life always happens, and you do not want to be stuck with using credit cards to deal with emergencies. $1000 is a good fund. Do whatever it takes to get that $1000, then do not touch it unless there really is an emergency. If you do use the fund, replace it as soon as possible.

Second, go through all your credit cards. There is an argument for keeping one or two for emergencies, but do you really need fifty? Go through your credit cards. Get rid of most or even all of them.

Third, list all your debts from the lowest to the highest. Pay the minimum fee on all of them except for the lowest one. Pay as much extra as you can into your lowest debt. When that debt is gone, you no longer have to think about it any more and you can use the money you were using to pay your lowest debt and put it now towards your next lowest debt. When your second lowest debt is gone, use the money you were paying towards it towards your third lowest debt. This process snowballs and soon you will be left with only your largest debts: mortgage, maybe school or a car. Use this same process to work on your school and car debts. At this point all you should have left debt-wise is your mortgage if you have a house. Guess what? Now all that money you were putting towards your other debts you can now put towards your mortgage or towards a down-payment on a house. Mortgages have interest which accumulates over time. This is why you want to have as large down payment as possible. This is also why if you can pay extra on your mortgage not only will the mortgage be payed off earlier, in the long run you will be paying less money because less interest will have accumulated.

This may seem like a daunting process, and it is. But it can be done. Accumulate no more debt than you already have if at all possible, avoid credit cards and get rid of most of the ones you have, get your emergency fund in place, then start attacking your smallest debt. When you have gotten rid of that first debt, no matter how small, it will give you a great sense of accomplishment. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So go take that first step.

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MLA Documentation II

Last time, we discussed how to do a Works Cited page for the end of your paper. This time we will discuss how to do parenthetical in-text citations. The main point in writing an in-text citation is for the reader to have enough information to look up the full reference to the cited work if they desire. This always consists of two parts:

  • The source of the work cited.
  • The place in the source where the quote or allusion appears.

For most works, this will mean citing the author or authors and the page number.

Ex: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austin 1).

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin begins, ““It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (1).

Note: Use the same convention for authors in in-text citations as for the works cited page: list up to three authors, if there are more list only the first and et al. Only use the last name for the in-text citations.

Occasionally, there are books with no authors listed or you are using several works by the same author. In this case, use the title as another point of reference.

Ex: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austin, Pride and Prejudice, 1).

Note: If the title is in the text, use the full title. If not, if the title is short (three words or so) keep it as it is. Otherwise shorten it to three words or less, not including A, An or The.

If a source has no page numbers, use only the author and/or title as demonstrated above.

If a source uses paragraph numbers or sections instead of page numbers, put those instead and include what they are.

If the source is a multivolume work and you used several of the volumes, include the volume number in the in-text citation.

Note: If you used only one volume in a multivolume work, only that one volume will be listed in the works cited page.

If you are using an item that is a quote in the work you are citing, try to quote the original source. If you cannot, indicate that it is a quotation.

If a corporation is the author and the title of the corporation is long, try to incorporate the author name into the text.

Cite non-print works such as a web source as shown above as far as possible.

Usually cite items such as movies or songs by titles.

Two rules for where to put in-text citations:

  1. Make it clear where your borrowing begins and ends. Yes, this includes indirect quotes and facts.
  2. Keep the citation as unobtrusive as possible.

Make sure if a paragraph has two or more sources that it is clear which in-text citation goes with what source.

Ordinarily, the citation comes before any punctuation needed by the sentence. Hence, why comas, periods, etc. come after the citation. The exception is if it is a direct quote that uses a question or exclamation mark. In that case, use what the quote requires then put a period after the citation. If the quote is indented from the main text and therefore it does not need quotation marks, use the punctuation of the quote, even a period, and there is no punctuation needed after the citation.

When to use footnotes or endnotes.

Sometimes you may want to refer to several sources at once. Using a footnote or endnote in this case would make the citation less obtrusive. Also, if you want to make comments about the source or include information that is not easily included in the text, footnotes or endnotes may be the ideal way to go.

To do a footnote or endnote indent half an inch (basically tab), do the note number with a period, a space, then the note itself. If doing a foot note, place it on the page on which the citation appears and have four spaces between the text and the footnote. Single-space the note.

If doing an end note, have it on an Endnote page titled as such in numerical order. The endnote page should be between the text and the Works Cited page. Double space the notes.

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