Little Things are Important

 

         This blog has two parts, a condensed version (with both English and Chinese versions) and a longer one (English only, for now).

 

Short version (the long version follows the Chinese version of the short version below)

Part One: What are the Little Things?

 

 Capitalization, punctuation, and spacing

 *** Capitalization

Start each sentence with a capital letter and remember to capitalize the first letter of what we call “proper nouns.”

*** Punctuation and Spacing

Use a space after a period. Do not put a space before a period. Use only one space between each word (not two). I prefer two spaces after a period (older style). Today, many people use only one. That's ok.

 

Part Two: Why are little things important?

The correct use of capitalization, punctuation, and spacing is very important. How important? I earn several hundred dollars each month correcting these little things. But more importantly those little things are important to you. If you write a letter for a company, if you prepare your resume, or if you apply for college or take the written portion of the graduate record exam (GRE) these things will suddenly become very important to you.

 ***中文***

细节很重要


这篇博客的内容有两种版本:简洁版和详细版。
简洁版
第一部分:细节包括什么?

单词的大小写、英文标点符号以及空格的使用方法

***单词的大写(首字母)

记住每个句子的第一个单词的首字母要大写,此外专有名词的第一个字母也要大写。

***标点和空格

在英文句号后面要使用空格。不要在句号前面使用空格。在每个单词之间要有一个空格(不是两个空格)。我喜欢在每个英文句号后面留两个空格(这是比较传统的风格)。如今很多人在句号后面只使用一个空格,这也没关系。

第二部分:为什么细节很重要?

单词大写、标点符号以及空格的正确使用是非常重要的。到底有多重要?仅仅依靠修改这些细小的错误,我每个月就能赚到数百美金。但是更重要的是这些细节对你来说很重要!当你给一家企业写信时,当你准备你的简历时,或者当你申请大学或者参加GRE考试的笔试部分时,这些细节会突然变得很重要。

*****

 

Long version

 

Little Things are Important

Five or more versions of this blog exist on the internet. I want to emphasize as simply as possible the importance of what I call “The Little Things.” At the end of this blog I will also add some useful contact information. If I have directed you to read this blog it is because you made one of those two things, to improve your use of “The Little Things” in your writing or you need the contact information.

 

Part One: What are the Little Things?

What are “The Little Things?” To say it very simply they are capitalization, punctuation, and spacing. Why are they important to my Chinese friends? First, because Chinese teachers of English concentrate on other things and neglect these little things and second, because native speakers find them very important. I will explain more below.

 

Capitalization

Let me say it quickly at first so that if you have difficulty reading English you can capture my meaning quickly. First, I will discuss capitalization. Start each sentence with a capital letter and remember to capitalize the first letter of what we call “proper nouns.” I will illustrate with two groups of words.

 

Common nouns (not usually capitalized)

            a house; a building; a city; state

Proper nouns (first letter capitalized)

            The White House; The Emperor’s Palace; New York; New York

Exception: when referring to a specific noun the common form is still capitalized because it represents the proper form. Examples: When I was in New York I spent two weeks in that City.

 

Common nouns (not usually capitalized)

            a province; a country; an organization

Proper nouns (first letter capitalized)

             Sichuan Province; The People’s Republic of China; the Boston Celtics

Note: please note that I capitalize the word province if it refers to a specific province. Example: He lives in Hunan Province but he was born in another province. He has been living in the Province for 14 years.

 

Common nouns (not usually capitalized)

            a ship; a storm; a religion

Proper nouns (first letter capitalized)

            The Starship Enterprise; Hurricane Sheila; Buddhism

 

Also, use "I" as a word and not "i." When you say, "i did something" it looks very strange to me!

 

Punctuation and Spacing

As an editor I often have to correct the punctuation a Chinese writers of English. I will explain why this is frustrating below. For now, let’s look at some good and bad examples.

A correctly punctuated (and true) paragraph: I woke up early this morning and checked my e-mail, chatted with a few friends on QQ, and waited for my cousins to arrive. At 8:00, they drove up. They spent the day working in my yard, planting plants, cutting down trees, and trimming shrubs. Why did I leave at 2:00 p.m.? I had to see a physical therapist.

An INCORRECTLY punctuated (and true) paragraph: I woke up early this morning and checked my e –mail ,chatted with a few friends on QQ , and waited for my cousins to arrive .At 8:00 ,they drove up . They spent the day working in my yard ,planting plants,cutting down trees,and trimming shrubs.Why did I leave at 2:00 p .m. ? I had to see a physical therapist .

What is the difference? The first paragraph has a correct use of punctuation and spacing. In the second paragraph a variety of spacing methods are used with the punctuation none of which are correct.

 

Part II: Why are little things important?

The correct use of capitalization, punctuation, and spacing is very important. How important? I earn several hundred dollars each month correcting these little things for Chinese, Japanese, and other non-native speakers of English. But more importantly those little things are important to you. If you write a letter for a company, if you prepare your resume, or if you apply for college or take the written portion of the graduate record exam (GRE) these things will suddenly become very important to you.

I’m trying to keep this blog simple. But put yourself in the place of an American working for a corporation in China. You want to hire a salesman, but you want to hire and native speaker of Chinese who can also contact other businesses for your company using both English and Chinese. You receive 11 resumes from highly qualified candidates. Any one of them could probably do the job well. Seven of those applicants have resumes consistently use spaces incorrectly. Four of those applicants pay attention to the little things very carefully. Your next decision is very simple. You place the seven resumes aside and do not consider them for the job. You now have four resumes from people who will write good English.

 

Why Americans Consider the Little Things Important

When I was in third and fourth grade, after I had mastered the alphabet and basic words my teachers began to look at my writing more closely. They suddenly emphasized good capitalization, punctuation, and spacing. After that, my teachers assumed I knew how to use these little things correctly. At the college level, if I made three or more errors with these little things on a paper I wrote for my English teacher I would get a failing grade. Yes, we do consider this very important. American teachers teach the little things had a very young age. I suspect you’re an adult or close to it. When I read your blogs I expect you to know about these very simple little things. If you neglect them consistently I won’t keep editing your blogs. Why? It is simply a matter of time. I have added nearly one hundred new friends on this web site this week. I will refer some of you to this blog. But I need to spend my time correcting blogs of people who show a strong desire to improve. I’m a work with a few of your blogs, but if you continue to ignore the little things I will move on to help other people.

 

Part Three: Where You Can Find More Information

Some people will want to know other ways to contact me. This bit of text will give you that information.

 

My free English classes:

See links on this website.  I will expand this later.  I teach English every Saturday at 8 p.m. Beijing Time on Skype.

My Skype ID: headsedge

(Note: another Sedgehead, a Canadian botanist who study sedges like me uses the name Sedgehead on Skype. She had wondered why she suddenly had many Chinese people trying to contact her. My name on Skype is Headsedge)

QQ 2563613199

Gmail, MSN, YahooIM, and on the internet generally www.dioenglish.com, www.lang-8.com, www.ok-english.net, etc.: Sedgehead

If you search the internet you can find many of my blogs on several sites under Sedgehead, or my real name, Philip E. Hyatt.

I am a professional writer, editor, botanist, and ecologist.