Real World Vocabulary

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Vocabulary, arranged by lesson

for Successful Writing for the Real World

by DeWitt Scott and Michael Krigline, 2008 --

 Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press 外语教学与研究出版社

ISBN: 978-7-5600-7264-7; Chinese title: 高级实用英语写作

This list is given according to the lesson in which these words first appear. The Glossary in the textbook is arranged alphabetically.

I consider words and their definitions to be in the public domain, or at the very least to be subject to “fair use” laws. To whatever extent that it is in my rights to do so, I hereby grant teachers permission to use these definitions, without cost, for academic purposes. Michael Krigline (February 2008; also see our Website Standards and Use Policy.)

Note that many English words have several meanings, so the definitions provided below are intended to explain how a word is used in this book (the definitions are not exhaustive).

Verbs are given here in their infinitive form, regardless of how they appear in the text.

{4} {C} etc.—These references tell you in which chapter (or appendix) a vocabulary word was introduced.

ft.—this means that a word was not a required vocabulary word, but was introduced in the chapter some other way (usually in a footnote)


Common abbreviations:


AmE/BrE: American or British English (

(adj): adjective

(adv): adverb

ans: answer

avg: average

[c]: countable noun

EFL/ESL: English as a Foreign Language/English as a Second Language

e.g.: abbreviation for “for example,” used to introduce an illustration or sample (from Latin: exempli gratia)

esp: especially

i.e.: abbreviation for “that is,” used to introduce an explanation (from Latin: id est)

(n): noun

NPU, PKU, MIT, etc.: These are the abbreviations for university names. (You can usually substitute the abbreviation for any university.) These initials stand for Northwestern Polytechnical University (西北工业大学), Peking University (北京大学), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

sb: someone/somebody

sth: something

TEFL/TESL: Teaching English as a Foreign (or Second) Language

TS: topic sentence

[u]: uncountable (or non-count) noun

[u&c]: noun that can be uncountable or countable, depending on the meaning or usage in a particular sentence

(v): verb

[vi]: intransitive verb

[vt]: transitive verb

[vti]: verb that is transitive or intransitive, depending on the meaning or usage in a particular sentence


Lesson by lesson glossary:


Basic English-learner terms (things your teacher expects you to already know IN ENGLISH)

abbreviation (缩写, 缩略词): a short form of a word (etc. for etcetera/and so forth), expression (i.e. for "that is"), title (Dr. for Doctor), name (NBA for National Basketball Association), and so forth {1}

adjective (or adj) (形容词): [technical] a word that describes (i.e., modifies) a noun or pronoun (the adjective form of this word is “adjectival”) {1}

adverb (or adv) (副词): [technical] a word that describes a verb, adjective, another adverb, or a whole sentence (the adjective form of this word is “adverbial”). {1}

apostrophe (‘) (省字符,所有格符号): the punctuation mark that looks like a single inverted comma or half of a quotation mark (“) and that is used in contractions (hadn’t = had not) and some possessives (Kathy’s = belonging to Kathy). {1}

“be” or “to be”: “to be” is the infinitive form of is/are/was/were {1}

capitalize (大写): [vti] to write a letter of the alphabet as a capital letter, i.e., in its large or “upper case” form (e.g., “A” instead of “a”; “B” instead of “b”) (opposite: to make lower case; to write in lower case) {1}

clause (分句,从句): [technical] group of words including a subject and verb {1}

collocation (搭配,习惯性的搭配): [u&c, technical] the way words are used together, or a particular combination of words that are generally used together {1}

colon (:) (冒号): the punctuation mark that looks like a period with a dot over it {1}

comparative (比较级): [adj & c; technical] the form of an adjective or adverb that shows a change when something is considered in relation to something else (e.g., smaller is the comparative of small, and more expensive is the comparative form of expensive) {1}

contraction (缩写): a shorter, informal way to write some words or word pairs (e.g., hadn’t is the contraction for “had not”; we’re = we are; int’l = international) {1}

determiners (限定词): [c; technical] a group of words that come before nouns to say which thing you mean (e.g., the, a, an, some, my, your, each, this, either) {1}

direct object (直接宾语): [technical] the person or thing that is affected by the action of a transitive verb: e.g., “Tom” in “Mary loves Tom.” {1}

infinitive verb (不定式): [technical] the basic form of a verb, usually used with “to” as in “to be” or “to study” {1&C}

intransitive verb (不及物动词): [technical] a verb that does not need an object: e.g., “They arrived” or “He listened.” {1}

lower-case letter (小写): a letter of the alphabet written in its small form (e.g., “a” instead of “A”; “b” instead of “B”) (opposite: upper case) {1}

modify (to be modified by) (修饰): [vti, technical] to describe or limit a word’s meaning (e.g., in the phrase “Tom likes fast cars,” the adj fast modifies cars to describe what kind of cars Tom likes; in the phrase “Lily is wearing the dress with red dots,” the phrase “with red dots” modifies dress) {1}

omit (省略): [vt] to leave out ; to fail to include something that is normally there {1}

phrase (短语): a group of words that have a particular meaning when used together {1}

prefix (前缀): [technical] a group of letters added to the front of words to change the meaning (e.g., un-, dis- and multi- in the words unfinished, dishonor and multicolored) {1}

preposition (介词): [technical] a word used before a noun or pronoun to show a relationship with some other part of a clause (e.g., before, on, by, with) {1}

pronoun (代词): [technical] a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase (e.g., “she” instead of “Mary” or instead of “the woman”) (Other pronouns include “I,” “they,” “some,” “these,” and “which,” though not all of these words are ALWAYS pronouns.) {1}

reflexive (反身代词): [technical] a word that “points back” to the person doing the action or to a noun/pronoun in the same sentence (e.g., in “I relax” the verb relax is reflexive because this is something I do to myself; in “Mike went by himself” the pronoun himself is reflexive because it points back to Mike) {1}

suffix (后缀): [technical] a group of letters added to the end of words to change the meaning (e.g., -ly and -ness in the words quickly and openness) {1}

superlative (最高级): [adj & c; technical] a term that expresses the highest degree of sth (e.g., the smallest is the superlative of small, and the most expensive is the superlative form of expensive) {1}

tone (语气): [technical] general feeling or character expressed in a piece of writing {1}

transitive verb (及物动词): [technical] a verb that must have an object (e.g., “Molly found” is not a complete sentence; the transitive verb found needs an object like “Molly found her keys.”) {1}

upper-case letter (大写): a letter of the alphabet written in its large form (e.g., “A” instead of “a”; “B” instead of “b”) (opposite: lower case) {1}

verb tenses (时态): (you should know the difference between present, past, perfect, continuous, etc.) {1}


(1) The Basics

ft. real world (the real world): [c] life after college; everyday life in business, education, research, etc., when your work is evaluated by others or affects others (and not just a teacher); real-world (with a hyphen) can also be used as an adjective {preface}

1. persuade: [vt] convince; cause somebody to do something by reasoning {1}

2. boil down: [vti] to give soup a stronger flavor by reducing the water content while cooking; to make information clearer by leaving out unnecessary things {1}

ft. blasphemy: [u&c] disrespectful talk about sacred/holy things {1}

ft. obscenity: [u&c] language that is sexually offensive {1}

3. writer: [c] person who writes; an author {1}

4. editor: [c] person responsible for the contents of a publication {1}

5. articles: [c] things written about a particular subject for a newspaper or magazine; GRAMMAR: the words a, an, and the, used to mark nouns, i.e., to show that a noun is to follow and to provide a little information about that noun. “The” is called a definite article; “a/an” are indefinite articles. {1}

6. review: [c] an informed opinion, written to influence the reader’s choice or appreciation of something; (AmE [vti]) to look again at something you have studied (British equivalent: revise) {1}

7. topic sentence: [c] an interesting sentence that gets the reader’s attention and introduces the topic of a paragraph {1}

8. implication: [c] something you believe to be demonstrated by a particular situation or set of facts: e.g., if your essay states that campus trees act like soldiers (defending, protecting, giving…), then (by implication) we should respect the trees like we respect soldiers, or (by implication) students should feel safer because of the trees. {1}

9. vague: (adj) unclear because of a lack of details or because a specific description is not available {1}

10. colloquial: (adj) language or words that are informal, and that are usually only used in spoken communication (口语) {1}

11. title: [c] a short name that identifies a book, article, essay, movie, etc.; a word that (usually) comes before someone’s family name to show position, profession or respect (e.g., Dr., Mrs., Prof.) {1}

12. lean: (adj) without fat or waste; thin—usually in a healthy sense {1}

13. double-space: [vti] to type or write on every other line, allowing room above your text for hand-written corrections {1}

ft. hand in (or turn in): [vt] to give an assignment to a teacher (or sometimes a boss, official, etc.) {1}

ft. turn in (see hand in)

14. wordy/wordiness: using more words than necessary when a more concise term, phrase or grammatical structure is possible {1}

15. Chinglish: an informal term (it’s not an official word) that refers to an incorrect mixture of the Chinese and English languages; producing Chinglish expressions is a natural part of the process of learning English {1}

16. due date: [c] the time or date on which something is expected (especially rent payments, homework assignments, or the birth of a baby); “What are their due dates?” is the same as “When are they due?” {1}


(2) Don't Copy: Learn to Paraphrase

1. plagiarism (to plagiarize): [u] presenting someone else’s artistic or literary work as if it were one’s own {2}

2. inadvertent: (adj) not intentional; done without knowing what you are doing {2}

3. expulsion: [u&c]  forcing someone to leave a school without permission to return {2}

4. quotation (direct quotation/quote): [c] writing that tells what someone says in that person’s own words; quotations are placed inside quotation marks

     (“ ”), also called inverted commas in British English {2}

5. documentation: [u] the practice of adding notes to a piece of writing in order to reveal the source of your information (the verb form [vt] would be to document; also see footnote) {2}

ft. document (see documentation)

6. automatic: (adj) done without thinking about an action; an automatic machine works without a person’s help {2}

7. intellectual property (IP): [u&c] creative works that can be protected by copyright or other legal means, and which can often be easily copied illegally (such as software discs, published material, essays written by other students, or music/movie discs) {2}

8. tarnished: [n, adj, vti] metal (like silver) that has lost its color and brightness (or the process of becoming like this); a reputation/record/etc., that has become worse in the eyes of others (the opposite of a shining reputation) {2}

9. paraphrase: [vt] to express in a shorter or clearer way what someone has said or written {2}

10. footnote: [c] a note at the bottom of a page of writing that offers an explanation or reference information (an endnote is a similar note placed at the end of a chapter instead) {2}

ft. endnote (see footnote)

11. ellipsis: a punctuation mark (…) used to show that something is missing from a sentence (especially a quotation) {2}

12. emphasize (-ise BrE): [vt] to give additional importance to something (the noun form is “to give emphasis”) {2}

ft. emphasis (see emphasize and emphatic) {2}

13. idiom: [c] a fixed group of words with a different meaning from the meanings of its words {2}

14. in which case: [also “in this case”, “in some cases”, etc.] (case is [c], usually singular) “if this happens”; an idiomatic expression that refers to a particular situation, example or circumstance {2}

ft. optional: (adj) indicating a choice; not required, but acceptable or possible {2}

ft. attribute: [vt] to give credit to someone for writing or creating something {2}


(3) Before You Get Started

1. typical person: someone who has the usual or average characteristics of a group of people {3}

2. sufficient: (adj) as much as is needed; enough {3}

3. measure of: “A/the measure of” refers to a sign of something’s strength or importance {3}

ft. sloppy: (adj) careless, messy or dirty (often because sth is not done thoroughly or carefully) {3}

ft. fuzzy: (adj) unclear, confused; the hairy way a kitten feels {3}

4. gibberish: [u] something you write or say that has no meaning or that is too difficult to understand; meaningless or unintelligible talk {3}

5. free-writing: a technique used to loosen up a writer’s brain; putting on paper anything that comes into your head {3}

6. prose: [u] written language in its usual form (i.e., not poetry) {3}

7. obvious: (adj) easy to notice or understand {3}

ft. sequence: [c] a series of events, sentences, etc., where one follows another {3}

ft. direct-mail: advertising that is sent to individual addresses through the post (as opposed to advertising that appears on TV or in a newspaper for a general audience) {3}

8. copywriter: [c] someone who composes the text for advertisement or other printed things {3}

9. anecdote: [c] a story, often used to illustrate a point {3}

10. echo: [c] a sound that bounces so you hear it more than once; a repeat of something, esp. an idea {3}

11. opener: [c] (AmE) the first sentence or point in a paragraph, speech, explanation, etc.; an “opener” implies that additional points will follow {3}

12. headline: [c] five to eight words that tell the main idea of an article {3}

ft. pun (to make a pun): [c] words that sound alike, in such a way that the result has two meanings and is often amusing (also called a “play on words”); example: “Seven days without food makes one weak/week.” (“one” could mean “someone” or the number; orally, “weak” could mean “lacking strength” or “seven days”) {3}


(4) Type of Writing: Documented Academic Essays

1. thesis statement: [c] (sometimes abbreviated thesis, esp. AmE) the topic sentence of an academic paper’s introduction (usually the final sentence), which concisely previews the main argument or content of the essay {4}

2. thesis: [c, theses] (chapter 4) an idea or opinion about something you are presenting in a formal way; short for “thesis statement,” referring to the main idea of your paper; (chapter 14) long piece of writing about a particular academic subject, written as part of a university degree program {4}{14}

ft. spew: [vti] to flow out in large quantities, generally in a negative sense (spew must be followed by a preposition) {4}

3. sound: (adj) sensible; based on valid reasoning or principles; healthy {4}

4. subtle: (adj) say something in an indirect (and sometimes clever) way; to understand a subtle statement you must pay attention {4}

5. prone: (adj) likely (to do), especially something bad or harmful {4}

6. intriguing: (adj) interesting because it is strange, mysterious or unexpected {4}

7. provocative: (adj) something that provokes a response, i.e., will make people angry/excited or create a lot of discussion {4}

ft. query: [c] a question asked in order to get information or check that something is true {4}

8. rhetorical question: [c] a question asked for effect—no direct answer is expected {4}

9. parenthesis: [c, parentheses] (AmE) a form of punctuation, namely a pair of moon-shaped signs put around words or symbols to show extra information: ( ); called rounded brackets or brackets in BrE {4}

ft. brackets (see parenthesis)

ft. rounded brackets (see parenthesis)

10. bibliography: [c, bibliographies] a list of books and articles (especially those you consulted) on a particular subject, appearing at the end of a book or paper {4}

11. superscript: [u&c, adj] a letter or number written slightly above (and often slightly smaller than) a normal line of type: e.g., a footnote reference number {4}

12. defaults (or default settings): the options automatically chosen by a computer (e.g., font size and style), unless the user selects something different {4}

13. cut and paste: a common action on a computer, where the user deletes text (ctrl+x) from one place and inserts it (ctrl+v) in another place {4}

14. block quote: [c] a direct quotation that is longer than one sentence, and which is printed with wider margins than its surrounding text; block quotes do not need quotation marks {4}

15. brackets: [c] (AmE) a form of punctuation, namely a pair of square signs put around words or symbols to show extra information: [ ]; called square brackets in BrE; in BrE, brackets are this symbol: ( ) {4}

16. reputable: (adj) having a good reputation; known to be true, believable, or reliable (e.g., as a source of information) {4}


(5) How to “Talk” to Them

1. double standard: [c] when you have one rule for something or somebody, but a different rule for something or somebody similar {5}

2. monologue: [c] a speech given by one person, or when one person dominates a conversation so others cannot participate {5}

3. nebulous: (adj) something that is vague or without a definite shape {5}

ft. Madison Avenue: synonym for “the advertising industry”; a street in New York City considered to be the center of the US advertising and public relations industry {5}

4. potent: (adj) something that has a powerful effect on your body or mind {5}

5. jargon: [u] special words used by people in the same profession, group, hobby, etc. {5}

6. exaggerate: [vti] to make something sound better than it really is {5}

ft. be suspect (see suspect)

7. suspect: (adj) not to be quickly trusted, believed, or depended on: e.g., “Wearing dark glasses at night makes you look suspect.” “If your friend finds out you lied, your words will always be suspect.” {5}


(6) Type of Writing: Product Descriptions

1. product description (or PD in this book): a written introduction (often very short) intended to persuade a reader to buy a product or service {6}

2. catchy: (adj) something (often a song or phrase) that is easy to remember {6}

3. testimonial: [c] a statement that supports a claim or praises the qualities of someone or something {6}

4. labeling (labelling BrE): the business practice of including instructions or warning on packages, particularly to protect consumers {6}

5. shelf life: the time a product can sit unopened before it becomes unsafe or unhealthy to use {6}

6. competitor: [c] a business that sells a similar product to yours, and thus which is trying to influence the same customers your company is trying to influence {6}

7. gimmick: [c] a trick, special technique, or offer used to get someone’s attention (this word usually has a negative implied meaning, as in advertising gimmick) {6}

8. put sth on the market: (idiomatic) to publicly introduce a product so that people can begin to buy it {6}

9. scorn: [u] deep criticism or contempt based on the feeling that something is inferior or stupid {6}

10. literal: (adj) word for word; according to something’s original, basic or technical meaning {6}

11. redundant: (adj) not necessary because something else does the same thing {6}

12. bland: (adj) tasteless; dull; sth that does not stir up excitement, opinions or emotions {6}

13. synonym: [c] two words with nearly the same meaning {6}

14. bullets (in word processing): [c] dots or other designs that indicate the beginning of a new item in a list {6}


(7) Writing is a Process

1. modifiers: [c, technical] words (like adj. and adv.) and phrases (especially prepositional phrases) that limit or give details about other words {7}

2. composition: [c] a short piece of writing (especially for a class); a piece of music, art, or poetry {7}

3. illuminate: [vti] to give light to; to make something bright, light, happy or clear {7}

4. contrived: [vti] arranged or written in a way that seems false or unnatural {7}

5. ruthlessly: (adv) without pity or heart; harsh; very strict {7}

6. forget it (one of many colloquial uses): “don’t do this”; “that is not a worthwhile option”; it is used to say that sth is not very important or not worth considering {7}

7. bigoted: (adj) strongly prejudiced against everyone of a different race, religion, political viewpoint, etc., esp. when such prejudice keeps you from listening to anyone with these differences {7}

8. critique: [vt] to make comments about the good and bad qualities of a piece of writing or artwork {7}


(8) Better Writing Study Guide (Part 2)

1. connective: [c, technical] a word used to join phrases, clauses and sentences {8}

2. compound sentence: [c] a sentence made of two or more independent clauses, joined by a comma + conjunction or a semi-colon {8}

3. parallelism: [u] the state in which there is a balanced relationship or similarity between two things (e.g., the grammar structure before and after the word “and”) {8}

4. syllable: [c] word or part of a word that contains a single vowel sound {8}

5. dependent clause: [c, technical] a clause that gives information about the main clause but that can not stand alone as a sentence (also see clause and independent clause) {8}

6. conjugate (a verb): [vti] to change the form of a verb to show person (I, you, he…), number (singular or plural), mood (showing doubt, commands, etc.), voice (active/passive), and tense (present, past…). {8}

7. singular: (adj) the form of a word used when writing about only one person or thing {8}

8. plural: (adj) the form of a word used when writing about more than one person or thing {8}

9. vigilance: [u] careful attention to details in order to avoid problems or to notice them as soon as they appear (a soldier on guard duty must have vigilance at all times) {8}

10. referent: [c, technical] (AmE) the thing or idea that a symbol, word or phrase (such as a pronoun) points to {8}

11. interchangeable: (adj) two or more things (e.g., words) that can be used in place of each other {8}

12. technically: according to specific rules (such as grammar rules); in a strict sense {8}

13. independent clause: [c, technical] part of a sentence that could stand alone as a sentence if other words were taken away (also see clause and dependent clause) {8}

14. parenthetical: (adj) an extra explanation or comment about your point (often written in parentheses) {8}

15. fluff: [u] soft bits of material that have come from wool, cotton, feathers, etc., especially when used as padding for toys and warm clothes; words or phrases that make a sentence longer without giving useful information {8}


(9) The Simple Sentence

1. tinker: [vi] to make small changes in something, hoping that it will work or look better {9}

ft. doodad: [c] a minor decoration, often added without originally planning to do so; doodad is also used to refer to something you can’t remember the name of {9}

2. monotony: [u] a boring lack of variety {9}

ft. the __ industry (see industry)

3. industry; the __ industry: all of the companies which make up a particular type of trade, service or factory-based kind of work (e.g., the airline industry includes those who make and fly airplanes, sell tickets, operate airports, etc.) {9}

4. critics: [c] people who make judgments about the good and bad qualities in art or performances; by extension, people who express strong dislike or disapproval {9}

5. clutter & to clutter: [u] things scattered somewhere in an untidy way; junk (in writing, clutter can also be called wordiness or fluff); [vt] to fill a space in an untidy or messy way {9}

ft. aggrieved: (adj) showing unhappiness (or anger) when you think someone has treated you in an unfair way {9}

6. tangent: [c] something that makes a sudden turn or change from a line of thought {9}

7. postpone: [vt] to put something off; to delay an event or action until a later time {9}

8. drive home (sth) (or drive sth home): (idiomatic) to make something (often a point or example) completely clear (in this idiomatic expression, “drive” refers to using force/forcefulness, and “home” means the center or the position desired) {9}

9. propel: [vt] to push or drive forward {9}

10. string out: [vt] to spread things in a line; to be “strung out” also means to be very upset or tired, or to be under the influence of illegal drugs {9}

11. typographical: (adj) related to preparing written material for printing; “typo” has come to represent a “typographical error”—such as pushing the “f” key instead of the neighboring “g” key {9}


(10) Be Specific, Precise and Brief

1. detective: [c] sb whose job is to discover information about crime (many work as police officers, though “private detectives” like Sherlock Holmes[福尔摩斯] work independently) {10}

2. AP: abbreviation for the Associated Press, a well-known and highly respected news agency {10}

3. tumbler: [c] a drinking glass with a flat bottom and no handles (the name comes from a drinking glass that is no longer used—it had a round or pointed bottom so that it couldn’t be put down until it was empty; to tumble means to fall) {10}

4. imply: [vt] to suggest that sth is true; to make sth clear without saying it directly {10}

5. concrete: (adj) definite; real; specific (opposite of abstract) {10}

6. knead: [vti] to fold, press or work with sth like dough or clay in order to remove lumps; to massage muscles in a similar way to reduce pain or help someone relax {10}

ft. the end-all (see end-all)

7. end-all; the end-all: the most important part of sth, especially of someone’s life {10}

8. royalties: [c, usually plural] money earned after creating a book, song, invention, etc., depending on how many CDs, books, movies, etc. are sold {10}

9. plot (of a movie or story): [c] the events that make up the main story of a film, book, etc. {10}


(11) Type of Writing: Reviews

1. entity: [c, entities] (formal) something that exists as a single and complete unit (an entity can be a person, place, thing, group, idea, etc.) {11}

2. constructive: (adj) in a way that builds up; i.e., that gives helpful suggestions instead of trying to make someone upset {11}

3. proprietor: [c] (formal) someone who owns a business, esp. a restaurant, hotel or retail store {11}

4. anticipate: [vt] to be ready for something you expect to happen {11}

ft. in a rut: (idiomatic) sth that never changes or is always done the same way, so you are bored with it (a “rut” is the path that wheels make in the mud—if enough vehicles go the same way, then all that follow “fall” into their rut and the path keeps getting deeper) {11}

5. user friendly: (adj) easy to use or operate (especially applied to electronics and computers); user friendliness is the degree to which sth is user friendly {11}

6. explicit: (adj) stated or shown in a particularly direct and clear way {11}

7. implicit: (adj) something that is suggested or understood without being stated directly {11}

8. forgo [or forego]: [vt] to omit or do without something, esp. by choice in order to get to something more important {11}

9. digress: [vi] to temporarily move away from the central topic or argument when speaking or writing {11}

10. metaphor: [c] a figure of speech containing an implied comparison {11}


(12) People Like Stories about People

1. abstraction: [c] something that is general or theoretical instead of being specific; [u] the mental state of being too distracted to concentrate {12}

2. controversial: (adj) causing argument or disagreement because many people have strong yet different opinions on the subject {12}

3. nuance: [c] a slight difference in color, meaning, etc., that is hard to notice without help {12}

4. cliché: [c] an over-used expression that has lost its meaning or power; tired words {12}

ft. DIY, do-it-yourself: (adj) describing the practice of changing or repairing things yourself (esp. around the house) instead of paying someone else to do it {12}

5. shift gears: (idiomatic) the gears in a car’s motor are the metal pieces that transmit motion from the motor to the wheels, so to shift gears means to enable the car to continue increasing speed; to Americans (by analogy), to shift gears means to help something keep moving forward {12}

6. patch together: [vt] to make something quickly or carelessly by joining various different ideas, pieces, etc. Note that “to patch together” is often negative, while “to patch” is positive, meaning to fix old clothing (or a tire, roof, etc.) by adding a piece of material (i.e., instead of buying a replacement) {12}

7. gerund: [c] a noun—often describing an action, state or process—that is formed by adding “ing” to a verb (e.g., running, enjoying, lifting) {12}



(13) Better Writing Study Guide (Part 3)

1. collective noun: [technical] a term that represents a group of related people or things that are considered as a unit (e.g., a family, the public, or the Internet) {13}

2. generic: (adj) common; belonging or referring to a broad group instead of to one thing {13}

3. specific: (adj) something particular the reader/listener knows about; not general {13}

4. derived ([vti] often passive): indicates that one thing (usually positive) has come from something else: e.g., “all power is derived” or “pleasure is derived from eating” {13}

5. exhaustive: (adj) extremely thorough and complete {13}

ft. definite article: (see articles)

ft. indefinite article: (see articles)

6. unspecified: (adj) not stated in an exact and detailed way; not specific {13}

7. social entity: a person or group who can be regarded as a single unit, such as roommates, the head of a family, or a family as a whole (also see entity in chapter 11) {13}

8. emphatic: (adj) expressed in a strong way to show importance or to add power or emotion; for emphasis {13}

9. abstract: (adj) theoretical; general instead of reflecting specific details, examples, or ideas  {13}


(14) Punctuation

thesis: (see chapter 4)

1. tabloid: [c] small-sized newspaper, often sensational in style, written so as to excite or surprise people {14}

2. advice columnist: [c] someone who is regularly given space in a newspaper to answers personal letters from readers—usually from anonymous readers looking for guidance {14}

3. correspondent: [c] someone employed to go someplace and report the news concerning that place {14}

4. belittle: [vt] to make comments that tend to make someone or something seem small or insignificant {14}

5. amplify: [vti] to make louder, and by extension to make a point stronger by giving more information or emphasis {14}

6. nudge: [vt] to gently push forward or toward a goal; to gently push someone in order to get his/her attention {14}

7. petty: (adj) not generous, and over-concerned with unimportant things {14}

8. crutch: a stick used to help someone walk (e.g., because of a leg injury); something that gives support or help {14}

9. gush: [vti] to speak or behave (e.g., to express praise or pleasure) in a way that other people think is too strong or exaggerated {14}

10. appositive: [c, technical] a noun or noun phrase placed after another noun to explain it more fully; to be in grammatical apposition {14}

11. sparingly: (adv) in a small quantity or amount {14}


(15) Looking Back (Midterm Review)

1. slip: [c&vi] a small mistake or oversight; to fall, stumble, or make a mistake {15}

2. red flag: [c] (AmE) something that alerts you about a problem or danger (a red flag is also an international symbol of communism, but Americans often use it idiomatically to mean a warning sign) {15}

3. vigilant: (adj) to be especially careful or watchful so that you will notice any danger or problem as soon as it appears {15}

ft. pulpit: [c] a high wooden desk in a church; a speaker stands behind this desk to give religious speeches {15}


(16) Recharge Your “IONS” (Active Writing)

1. activate: [vti] to give something movement when it is still (such as by starting a machine or beginning a chemical process); to add energy or involvement {16}

2. smother: [vti] to completely cover something, often in an unpleasant way (e.g., to suppress your emotions, restrict a child by giving too much attention, or kill an animal by not allowing it to breath) {16}

3. invigorate: [vt] to fill sb or sth with energy, life or renewed interest (usually passive unless used as the adj invigorating) {16}

ft. plaintiff: [c] sb who starts legal action against another person (the defendant) in a civil court (BrE: complainant) {16}

ft. defendant: [c] the person, company, etc., in a legal court who has been charged (accused) of doing something illegal {16}

4. squash: [vti] to press sth into a flatter or smaller shape (usually negative); to forcefully silence or suppress sb or their influence {16}

5: solo: (adj) done or appearing alone {16}

ft. be dilapidated (see dilapidated)

ft. dilapidated, to be dilapidated: (adj) to be old and in very bad condition (usually describing buildings, not people) {16}

ft. inmate: [c] someone being kept in a prison or jail {16}

ft. be dignified (see dignified) {16}

6. dignified: (adj) worthy of respect, usually because you act in a calm, serious and proper way {16}

ft. unanimous: (adj) a decision, vote, etc., agreed on by everyone; agreeing completely. Less common: sth done by everyone (e.g., “The teachers were unanimous in welcoming the new policy.”). {16}

7. saddle (sth) with: (idiomatic) to burden sth with a difficult or unwelcome task or add sth that will make things difficult (e.g., adding a saddle to a horse, which reduces its freedom, or giving sb a boring extra job that they don’t want) {16}

ft. strung out (see string out)

8. fault: [c] sth that is wrong with sth, which can either prevent it from working properly or reduce its value, or which needs to be improved {16}

9. evasive: (adj) so as to avoid being hurt (e.g., an evasive action would avoid a collision; an evasive answer would allow you to avoid hurting yourself by telling the truth) {16}


(17) Type of Writing: News Articles

Note: vocabulary words in the sample news article do not appear in bold type.

1. news article: [c] a timely, objective report about something that did or will soon happen, with information organized according to decreasing significance {17}

2. editorial: [c] a piece of journalistic writing that gives an opinion (usually from an editor) instead of reporting facts {17}

3. feature article: [c] a piece of journalistic writing that presents supplementary information or advice about a topic or event {17}

4. slant (on the news): [c] a way of writing or thinking that is based on a particular opinion or set of ideas; a biased perspective {17}

ft. the press (see press)

5. press, the press: [u] the news-gathering business in general; all people who write and publish the news (and journalists in particular). AmE: The press is… ; BrE: The press are… {17}

6. news release: [c] an official statement giving information to the press (e.g, about a new product or service) {17}

7. libel: [c] when sb writes or prints false or intentionally harmful statements (or photos) that damage someone’s reputation {17}

8. hallmark: [c] an positive idea, method or quality that is typical of a person or thing; “one of the best/most important things about” something (Hallmark is also the name of a famous greeting card company, whose slogan is “when you care enough to send the very best”) {17}

9. sentence case: (adj) the format of a line of type in which only the first word and formal nouns are capitalized {17}

10. title case: (adj) the format of a line of type in which all important words are capitalized (like the format of a book or movie title) {17}

11. fantasy: [c, fantasies] a type of story based on imagination, featuring magic or unusual worlds, creatures, experiences, etc. {17}

12. box office: [u&c](adj) the place where tickets for a public event (movie, theater, sports match, etc.) are sold; also used to describe success, based on the number of tickets sold {17}

13. blockbuster: [c] a book or film that enjoys enormous success {17}

ft. wardrobe (衣柜): [c] a piece of furniture in which to hang dresses, coats, suits, etc. {17}

14. propaganda: [u] biased or one-sided information, used to make others agree with you (usually a negative word) {17}

15. boycott: [vt] to refuse to buy, use or participate in sth as a form of protest {17}

16. protesters: people who strongly object to something, and who complain about it in public {17}

17. betray: [vt] to bring harm or be disloyal to someone who trusts you (your family, country, co-workers, etc.), often by helping an enemy {17}

18. disguise: [c&u or vt] something that changes the way you look to hide who you are, how you feel, etc.; the act of doing this {17}


(18) Adverbs and Adjectives

Note: to keep the focus on this chapter’s italicized adverbs, some of these verbs do not appear bold in the text.

1. write sth off: (idiomatic) to dismiss sth as worthless or as not being worth continued attention (esp AmE) {18}

2. blare: [vti] to make loud harsh noise {18}

3. clench: [vti] to close your teeth or hand tightly (often as a sign of anger or panic) {18}

4. mope: [vi] to act in a hopeless or uninterested manner because you feel sorry for yourself {18}

5. dejected: (adj) feeling or showing sadness and lack of hope {18}

6. fundamentals: [c] the underlying principles or most important ideas/rules of something {18}

7. evident: (adj) obvious; easily noticed or understood {18}

ft. pulverize: [vti] to crush something into a powder (as a figure of speech it means to completely defeat sb) {18}

8. incompetent: (adj) not having the skill or ability to do sth properly (especially a job) {18}

9. statesman: [c, statesmen] a widely-respected political leader, known for his impartiality in international affairs (e.g., Henry Kissinger or Zhou En Lai) {18}

ft. purist: [c] sb who strongly feels that sth should be done in a technically perfect or traditional way (esp. in art, sport, music and language) {18}

ft. noticeboard (see bulletin board) {18}

10. bulletin board: [c] a physical or electronic place to post information (BrE: noticeboard—which is one word, not two) (note, in the text bulletin board is hyphenated because it is used as an adj.) {18}

11. virtual: (adj) seen or created on a computer instead of in the real world; almost always, almost exactly so {18}

12. detour: [c] a longer than usual route from one place to another, especially due to heavy traffic or construction (AmE, this can also be used as a verb) {18}


(19) Better Writing Study Guide (Part 4)

1. clue: [c] information that helps you understand why something happens or how to interpret a situation, sentence, etc. {19}

2. ambiguity: [c, ambiguities] doubt caused by a situation where something can be understood in more than one way {19}

3. facet: [c] one of several interesting parts of something, such as the flat sides of a diamond {19}

4. air conditioner: [c] a machine that cools the air to make people more comfortable {19}

5. heater: [c] a machine that heats the air to make people more comfortable {19}


(20) Type of Writing: Editorials

Note: vocabulary words in the sample editorial & letter to the editor do not appear in bold type.

1. byline: [c] a line under a news or magazine headline saying who the article was written by (BrE: by-line) {20}

2. cluster: [c] a group of related things that are close together; similar things that exist in a dependent relationship (grapes grow in clusters) {20}

3. fake: [c & adj] not real but looking real, esp. used to describe inexpensive copies of things {20}

4. pirates/piracy/pirated: [n(c) & vti] evil sailors who destroy and steal from other ships; dishonest people who copy and sell someone else’s work; piracy is the act of doing this; pirated is an adjective used for fake copies {20}

5. copyright: [u&c] whoever has the copyright is legally allowed to use, duplicate or sell a creative work (e.g., book, article, movie) {20}

6. incentive: [c] something that encourages you to start something, invest, study harder and so forth {20}

7. lag (behind): [vti] to go, move, progress or develop slower than others {20}

8. innovation: [u&c] new ideas, methods or inventions, or the introduction of such {20}

ft. patent: [c] a legal document that gives you official rights to use or sell an invention {20}

9. price tag: a piece of paper or other label that tells how much something costs {20}

ft. mega-: [prefix] can mean “huge” or “one million” (esp. in computer jargon: megabyte = one million bytes) {20}

10. sprawl (suburban sprawl): [u] a large area of buildings, spread in an disorderly way {20}

ft. homogenization: [u] the process of making things look, feel or taste the same; this can be good (e.g., if you are talking about reducing racial discrimination) or bad (if you think the best thing about two minorities is how they are different) {20}

11. pedestrians: [c] someone walking near an area used by cars {20}


(21) Loaded Words

1. loaded word: [c] a word with a second, somewhat hidden, and often negative meaning; a word with multiple meanings, used to subtly or unconsciously influence the reader {21}

2. accommodate: [vti] if transitive: to make or have enough room for something; if intransitive: (to ~ to) to get used to a new situation {21}

3. slang: [u] very informal, and sometimes potentially offensive, language used by a people who belong to a particular group {21}

4. stereotype: [c] a fixed (often unfair) idea of what a type of person or thing is like {21}

5. articulate: (adj) able to talk about difficult subjects in a clear, easy to understand way {21}

ft. senile: (adj) mentally confused because of old age {21}

ft. nursing home: [c] a residential facility for people who can not physically care for themselves for medical reasons (often related to old age) {21}

ft. coed or coeducational: [c & adj] both genders together (for sports, studies, etc.) {21}

6. patronize: [vti] to talk to sb as if they are stupid when they are not {21}

7. sexism: [u] behavior that assumes one gender (usually women) is inferior to the other {21}

ft. sexist (see sexism)

8. esthetic (BrE: aesthetic): (adj) connected with beauty and the study of beauty {21}

9. derogatory: (adj) insulting; expressing a meaning that is disapproving or that is intended to lower someone’s reputation or status {21&J}

10. sneer: [c & vti] unkind smile or comment that shows you don’t respect sb or sth {21}

11. elitism: [u] a condition in which small groups of people have a lot of power or advantages {21}

12. snob: [c] someone who thinks he is better than or smarter than others {21}

13. coin a term/phrase: (idiomatic) to invent a word or phrase, and/or to make it popular {21}

14. partiality: [u] unfair preference or support for one thing over another {21}

15. cry wolf: (idiomatic) to frequently ask for help when you don’t need it; to tell so many lies that people stop believing you (The ancient story behind this saying is printed in the answer key for chapter 21) {21}


(22) Type of Writing: Feature Articles

Note: vocabulary words in the feature example do not appear in bold type.

1. human interest: (adj) the part of a story, film or event which appeals to peoples’ sympathy or curiosity (often by revealing feelings, opinions, needs, experiences, etc.) {22}

2. fireworks: [c, always plural] gun powder that explodes in the sky, producing colorful light and a loud noise (焰火) {22}

3. fabric: [u&c] the basic structure of something that is made up of strands or parts, but taken as a whole (like cloth, which is a new thing made up of strands of cotton); “to build sth into the fabric of” means that it is so much a part of the structure that it can’t be separated from it {22}

4. gadget: [c] a small, useful machine or tool that cleverly helps you do something {22}

5. premium, be at a premium: (idiomatic) to be scarce and therefore valuable {22}

ft. be at a premium (see premium)

6. digital: (adj) using a number-based system to record or send information (e.g., DVD means digital video disc because it stores a movie digitally) {22}

7. dissuade: [vt] to persuade someone not to do something {22}

8. release (a film or book): [vt] to make something (like a book or film) available for people to see or buy {22}

9. sacrifice: [n(c&u] & vti] to give up your desires, safety, or even your own life in order to help others (such as by putting yourself between them and harm) {22}

10. cross between: (idiomatic) a combination of two things or qualities (e.g., a mule is a cross between a horse and a donkey) {22}

ft. Passion, the Passion: (capitalized and with “the”) the suffering and death (on a cross) of Jesus Christ, founder of the Christian religion {22}


(23) Clichés and Show-offs

1. limp: [vi] to move slowly because sth has been injured or damaged {23}

2. shorthand: [u] an abbreviated form of writing; here referring to a shorter but less clear way of saying something (note: to be “shorthanded” means to not have enough workers to accomplish sth) {23}

3. catchall: (adj) intended to include all situations or possibilities {23}

4. antique: [adj & c] old and honored or valued because of its age (furniture, jewelry/jewellery, etc.) {23}

5. show-off: [c] a negative term used for someone who always tries to show how smart or skillful he/she is or who often seeks to impress others {23}

6. hibernation: [u] an extra long sleep, esp for animals who sleep all winter {23}

7. vogue: (adj) currently popular or fashionable (also “in vogue”) {23}

8. ban (sth): [vt] to say sth must not be done, seen, used, etc. {23}

9. hit list: [c] the names of people sb wants to harm or kill; here it means the list of word to “kill” or remove from your writing {23}

ft. proposition: [c] a statement, offer or idea that is worthy of being considered or discussed {23}

ft. scab: [c] an insulting word for someone who betrays his co-workers, especially when they are on strike {23}

10. icon: [c] a picture or symbol universally recognized to be representative of something; sb who is famous, esp one who symbolizes a movement, industry, era, etc. {23}

ft. unpretentious: (adj) a positive term for a person or place that does not have a false air of importance, superiority, etc. {23}

ft. dub: [vt] to change the dialog of a film, TV show, etc., into a different language {23}

ft. patriot: [c] someone who loves his/her country, often in an extraordinary way (a positive term) {23}


(24) Fighting Clutter

Note: vocabulary words in some of the examples do not appear in bold type.

1. weed & to weed: [c & vti] a wild plant that growing where it is not wanted that hurts crops and flowers; something that thrives where it shouldn’t; [vti] to remove unwanted things, such as removing dishonest politicians from office or removing unwanted plants from a garden or field (often to weed out) {24}

2. sprout: [vti] to start to grow {24}

3. padding: [u] something with little value (such as an old fluff-filled blanket) used to protect valuable things during shipping; extra words that make an essay longer without adding valuable content {24}

4. qualifiers: [c, technical] a term like few or a lot of that is used to show quantity {24}

5. paper clip: [c] a piece of wire bent so that it can hold sheets of paper together without damaging them (used here as an adjective, so a hyphen is added) {24}

6. prune: [vti] to cut off parts of a plant so that it will grow better; to make sth smaller by removing unwanted parts {24}

ft. void, to be void of: (idiomatic) no longer containing sth; to be completely lacking sth {J}

7. dilemma: [c] a difficult situation caused when all choices seem equally good or bad {24}

8. nuisance: [u&c] something that annoys or causes problems {24}

9. wield: [vt] to have and use something that is potentially dangerous, such as a weapon, power or authority (He learned to wield a sword; That company wields too much economic power.) {24}


(25) Metaphors

1. simile: [c] an implied comparison using like or as {25}

2. outskirts: [c] the part of a town that is furthest from the city center {25}

3. count your chickens before they hatch: (idiom) don’t make plans that depend on the good things you expect to happen—they might not happen as planned {25}

4. posterity: [u] future generations; those who will be alive after you die {25}

ft. sardines: [c]: small young fish, packed tightly and sold as food (idiomatic: “to be packed like sardines” means crowded into a small space)

ft. proliferate: [vi] to quickly increase and spread to many places {25}

ft. paint oneself into a corner: (idiom) to put oneself in a situation where there are no good choices, like someone painting the floor who doesn’t end up at the door! {25}

5. sprinter: [c] one who runs fast, short races {25}

6. helm: [c] the control wheel of a ship, and by analogy of a company, organization, etc. {25}

7. squall: [c] a sudden strong wind, usually full of rain or snow {25}

ft. life preserver: [c](AmE) a special ring or jacket that is used to prevent someone from sinking; also called a life belt or life jacket {25}

8. onomatopoeia: [u] the use of words that sound like the thing that they are describing: for example “hiss” and “boom.” Interestingly, these sound-words often differ from culture to culture. In America, dogs say “bark” or “woof,” while in China dogs say “wang.” {25}


(26) Business Correspondence

1. correspondence: [u] written communication that someone sends and receives (especially for official or business purposes), or the process of sending and receiving such letters, e-mail, etc. {26}

2. letterhead: [c] a company name, logo, address and other information printed on official stationery; [u] (AmE) a piece of paper so printed {26}

3. logo: [c] a design by which an organization can easily be recognized (e.g., Olympic rings, Nike swoosh, Coke ribbon) {26}

4. addressee: [c] the person who is supposed to receive a letter or greeting {26}

5. surname: [c] one’s family name, also called a “last name” in English {26}

6. given name: (AmE) one’s personal or “first” name {26}

7. Dear Sir/Madam:  or  To whom it may concern: a common way to address a letter if the addressee’s name is not known {26}

8. regards: [c, always plural] friendly good wishes or greetings {26}

9. sincerely: (idiomatic, written immediately before your signature) the most acceptable way to end a business letter {26}

10. signature: [c] a name presented in legal, cursive form {26}

11. flush: (adj) with an even margin on a printed page (not indented); “flush left” means lined up with the left margin; “flush right” is lined up with the right margin (but this is rare in English writing); “justified” is lined up (i.e., flush) with both margins. {26}

ft. smudges: [c] dirty marks on a page, wall, etc., especially those caused by touching ink or paint before it dries {26}

12. legal action: [u&c] using the law and courts to settle arguments or put right an unfair situation (this is often a long and expensive process) {26}

13. alcohol: [u] the general term for any drink that can make you drunk (e.g., beer, wine, mao-tai, vodka, etc.) {26}

14. return address: [c] the address (place information) of the person who is sending a letter or package {26}

15. render: [vt] to express something in a particular way {26}

16. expatriate: [c] someone who works outside his/her own country (usually for a long period of time) {26}


(27) Little Slips

1. dangle: [vti] to hang or swing loosely and often unnaturally, as when you display food to an animal in order to get it to move; a dangling modifier hangs unnaturally, not connected to what it is supposed to modify {27}

ft. dangling modifier (see dangle and 27a)

2. CPA: (AmE abbreviation) Certified Public Accountant; an accountant (someone whose job is to maintain financial records) who has passed a set of official examinations {27}

3. certified: [vti (usually past participle)] in both AmE and BrE, certified means that something is correct or true, especially after some kind of test, but in BrE it can also mean that someone is dead or mentally ill (stick with the international meaning to avoid unintended humor!) {27}

4. laureate: [c] someone who has received an extraordinary honor or an important prize (especially the Nobel Prize) {27}

5. inoculate: [vt] to protect someone against a disease by putting a weak form of the disease into their body using a medical needle (also called to immunize or to vaccinate) {27}


(28) Misused Words

1. consensus: [u] an opinion accepted by almost everyone in a group {28}

2. immune system: [c] the parts of your body that work together to protect you from disease {28}

3. lobby & to lobby: [c, lobbies] a large hall at the entrance to a public building; one of several specific places in the British parliament where members vote or meet the public; a group of people who seek to influence government policies; [vti] to try to persuade those with political power that a law should be created or changed (e.g., a lobbyist lobbies the government on behalf of the environmental lobby). {28}

ft. suffrage: [u] the right to vote in public elections {28}

4. synonymous: (adj) having the same meaning or being very closely connected with {28}

5. ostentatious: (adj; +ly adv) (negative) designed or used to impress others regarding your wealth {28}

6. ancestor: [c] a part of your family from long ago, or something that developed over time into what exists today (e.g., the calculators that developed into modern computers) {28}

7. rhyme: [vti] to end with the same sound, or to put words together that end with the same sound {28}

8. precedent: [u&c] something similar that happened or existed before, especially one that can be used to give support to current actions {28}

9. extracurricular: (adj, only before noun) additional activities, clubs, jobs, etc., that students do but that are not part of someone’s studies {28}

ft. recycle [vti] or recycled: (adj) to process trash so that the material it is made from can be used again (especially paper, plastic and glass) {28}


(29) Summary

1. under construction: (prepositional phrase) being built, normally referring to a building, bridge, highway, etc. (perhaps this is short for the verb phrase “undergoing construction” or the prepositional phrase “under the process of construction”) {29}

2. strategic: (adj) useful or right for a particular purpose, esp. as part of a business, military, or political situation {29}

3. literate: (adj) able to read and write, but also used to mean well-educated or able to use computers, musical instruments or other complicated things (e.g., a computer-literate student) {29}

4. sabotage: [vt] to damage or destroy something so that it cannot be used any more (esp. things belonging to an enemy during a war) {29}


(Appendix C) Better Writing Study Guide (Part 1)

1. invert: [vt] to turn sth upside down or opposite to its normal condition (such as moving a phrase from the end of a sentence to the beginning) {C}

2. infinitive verb (不定式): [technical] the basic form of a verb, usually used with “to” as in “to be” or “to study” {1&C}

3. possessive: [technical] a word or the form of a word (usually an adjective or pronoun) that shows that something belongs to someone or something {C}

4. collocation (搭配,习惯性的搭配): [u&c, technical] the way words are used together, or a particular combination of words that are generally used together {1&C}

5. modals: [c, technical] (i.e., modal verbs) the set of English verbs always used with other verbs to express possibility, intent, permission or similar ideas (i.e., can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must, ought to, used to, need, had better, and dare) {C}

6. acquire: [vt; formal] to get something (usually over a period of time); to gain sth (such as knowledge, a skill, or a new “taste”) [To acquire a taste for sth means to begin liking it: e.g., beer, spicy food, Qing dynasty clothes, high-rise apartment living, etc.; many people like these things, but most would say there was a time when they didn’t like them.] {C}

7. emergency: [u&c] an unexpected and dangerous situation that has to be dealt with very quickly {C}

8. mastery: [u] thorough understanding of something, complete fluency in a language, or complete power over someone (the verb form would be “to master something”) {C}

9. comparative (比较级): [adj & c; technical] the form of an adjective or adverb that shows a change when something is considered in relation to something else (e.g., smaller is the comparative of small, and more expensive is the comparative form of expensive) {1&C}

10. capitalization: [u] writing a letter of the alphabet as a capital letter, i.e., in its large or “upper case” form (e.g., “A” instead of “a”; “B” instead of “b”) {C}

11. paragraph: [c] a group of sentences presenting a single idea through connected facts, arguments, or descriptions {C}

12. indent: [vt] to begin a new paragraph 1.3 cm or 0.5 inches from the left margin {C}

13. margin: [c] the empty space that goes around a page between what is printed and the paper’s edges {C}


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This resource was created for teachers and students using the textbook Successful Writing for the Real World

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© 2008 Michael Krigline, all rights reserved. People are allowed to print/copy this resource for personal or classroom use.

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