Research Problem: How to Narrow Your Research Topic

research topic choice

It is very typical for students to set off on a research topic, only to find out that the topic they’ve chosen is too broad. If you are lucky, you will find out before you conduct too much research, because much of the research you carry out in the beginning will be useless once you finally do narrow your topic.

It is a good idea to run your initial research idea by a teacher or librarian to get an expert opinion. He or she will save you some time and give you some tips on narrowing the scope of your topic.

How Will You Know If Your Topic Is Too Broad?

If you find yourself in the library staring at a shelf full of books that could work as references for your topic, your topic is too broad. A good topic addresses a specific question or problem.

If your topic can be summed up in a word or two, like smoking, school cheating, education, overweight teens, corporeal punishment, Korean War, or hip hop, it is too broad.

If you have trouble coming up with a thesis statement, your topic is probably too broad.

A good research project must be narrowed down in order to be meaningful and manageable.

How to Narrow Your Topic

The best way to narrow your topic is to apply a few of the old familiar question words, like who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Paddling as punishment.
Paddling in grade school. (where)
Emotional effects of paddling in grade school. (what and where)
Emotional effects of paddling on female children (what, who)
Hip hop dancing.
Hip hop as therapy. (what)
Hip hop as therapy in Japan. (what and where)
Hip hop as therapy for delinquent youth in Japan. (what, where, who)
Eventually you will see that the process of narrowing your research topic actually makes your project more interesting. Already, you’re one step closer to a better grade!

Another Tactic for Getting a Clear Focus

Another good method for narrowing your focus involves brainstorming a list of terms and questions related to your broad topic.

To demonstrate, let’s start with a broad subject like unhealthy behavior as an example. Imagine that your instructor has given this subject as a writing prompt.

You can make a list of somewhat-related, random nouns and see if you can ask questions to relate the two topics. This results in a narrow subject! Here is a demonstration:

That looks really random, doesn’t it? But your next step is to come up with a question that connects the two subjects. The answer to that question is the starting point for a thesis statement.

Art and unhealthy behavior: Is there a specific piece of art that represents the hazards of smoking? Is there a famous artist who died from an unhealthy habit?
Sandwiches and unhealthy behavior: What happens if you eat sandwiches every day for dinner? Are ice cream sandwiches really bad for us?

Finding the right research question

bulls eye

The first and most important step when writing an academic paper is choosing a topic that will advance knowledge and add another building block to the study of science and humanity. As a corollary, it’s quite unlikely that a journal editor will accept a paper that does not have a good research question.

A clearly defined research question increases chances of publication, because it gives the researchers greater clarity on developing the study protocol, designing the study, and analyzing the data.  A well-defined research question also makes a good initial impression on journal editors and peer reviewers. In contrast, a poorly formulated research question can seriously harm your chances of publication, among other adverse effects, because it can easily lead to the perception that the research wasn’t well thought out.

Although a single paper can address more than one research question, it is good practice to focus on one primary research question. 3 So what makes a good research question? While the answer may vary for different types of papers and across disciplines, there are a few overall criteria that you should keep in mind, whether you are writing about Shakespeare, stem cells, or steel processing.

So what?

First and foremost, any research question should pass the “so what?” test 4: the findings that result from pursuing this question must be important, interesting, and meaningful. Once you have determined the possible outcomes of your research, always ask yourself “So what?”

be guided

For example, the research question “Are good surgeons likely to have long fingers?” is highly unlikely to yield any meaningful knowledge. On the other hand, a targeted question like “Do dexterity tests predict surgical performance among residents?” could help medical training professionals improve training programs in surgical techniques.

Lack of originality in findings – in other words, “novelty” – is one of the most common reasons for rejection by journals. Editors of scientific journals stress on novelty and “unobviousness”; the research question should not already have an obvious or undisputed answer.  As some journals reject up to 90% of the papers submitted for publication, it is important to ensure that your paper stands out and provides value in one of the following ways:

contributes new information that has real-world application or leads to further lines of research,
corroborates existing information and extends their generalizability or applicability,
provides findings that contradict the literature, or
critically reviews and analyzes the literature.
Good research questions can arise from critical thinking about current practices and problems, from applying new concepts or methods to old problems, and from ideas that emerge when you teach your subject to others. Replication is acceptable…sometimes

Not all papers convey absolutely unknown information. For instance, it may be interesting to know whether other researchers’ observations can be replicated (especially if the observations were controversial or weak but significant), whether the findings in one population also apply to others, or to clarify known relationships by using new methodologies.

Tips for finding and formulating good research questions

Clinical or field experience, as well as your own research interests, is obviously important in identifying potential lines of research. However, a thorough review of the existing literature is always critical to make sure your question hasn’t become irrelevant. In addition, keep abreast of current developments in the field to avoid doing the very same thing someone else has done (with the enormous amount of scientific output being produced nowadays, this is not an unlikely scenario).

You can also find new research questions from the literature. For instance, the Discussion section of many papers often mentions unresolved questions and additional experiments or studies that can be done. In particular, if the conclusions or generalizability of another study has attracted a lot of controversy, you could attempt to replicate the study in order to validate its results. 4 In sum, a good research question can arise when you identify gaps and weaknesses in the existing literature.

A beginner’s Guide : Doing Ethnography

ethnography of communication

Ethnography of Communication or Ethnography of  Speaking
Of the variety of ways of interpreting discourse, the ethnography of speaking is especially useful in probing the significance of market discourse. The basic tenets of the ethnography of speaking – also called the ethnography of communication – have been elaborated in a number of articles and books.

Principal among these is work by Hymes (1962, 1964, 1974), Hymes and Gumperz (1972), and Bauman and Sherzer (1974, 1975). Subsequent work by Duranti (1985) has further enriched the approach. Ethnographers of speaking seek to determine the speech codes and repertories of members of a speech community, including the values, strategies and norms which govern speech production and  nterpretation (Bauman and Sherzer 1974). These ethnographers focus on a number of basic sociolingustic concepts: speech communities and events, elements of linguistic structure, repertoires, and codes. Ethnography is the preferred methodological vehicle for such study. Because much language choice is subconscious, and because context critically determines the signalling of social information, fieldwork techniques that elicit and challenge the verbal skills of speakers are essential (Gumperz 1974). Field immersion and data collection in situ, rather than artificial laboratory manipulations, are thus required.

Dell Hymes’s SPEAKING Model

In the development of his descriptive theory of speech behavior, Hymes (1962, 1972, 1974) has proposed the acronym “SPEAKING” as a mnemonic to organize the components that contribute to the complexity of verbal interaction. The eight foci of Hymes’ analysis can be briefly reviewed. 


Setting and Scene
“Setting refers to the time and place of a speech act and, in general, to the physical circumstances” (Hymes 55).The living room in the grandparents’ home might be a setting for a family story.
Scene is the “psychological setting” or “cultural definition” of a scene, including characteristics such as range of formality and sense of play or seriousness (Hymes 55-56). The family story may be told at a reunion celebrating the grandparents’ anniversary. At times, the family would be festive and playful; at other times, serious and commemorative.

Speaker and audience. Linguists will make distinctions within these categories; for example, the audience can be distinguished as addressees and other hearers (Hymes 54 & 56). At the family reunion, an aunt might tell a story to the young female relatives, but males, although not addressed, might also hear the narrative.

Purposes, goals, and outcomes (Hymes 56-57). The aunt may tell a story about the grandmother to entertain the audience, teach the young women, and honor the grandmother.

Act Sequence
Form and order of the event. The aunt’s story might begin as a response to a toast to the grandmother. The story’s plot and development would have a sequence structured by the aunt. Possibly there would be a collaborative interruption during the telling. Finally, the group might applaud the tale and move onto another subject or activity.

Cues that establish the “tone, manner, or spirit” of the speech act (Hymes 57). The aunt might imitate the grandmother’s voice and gestures in a playful way, or she might address the group in a serious voice emphasing the sincerity and respect of the praise the story expresses.

Forms and styles of speech  (Hymes 58-60). The aunt might speak in a casual register with many dialect features or might use a more formal register and careful grammatical “standard” forms.

Social rules governing the event and the participants’ actions and reaction. In a playful story by the aunt, the norms might allow many audience interruptions and collaboration, or possibly those interruptions might be limited to participation by older females. A serious, formal story by the aunt might call for attention to her and no interruptions as norms.

The kind of speech act or event; for our course, the kind of story. The aunt might tell a character anecdote about the grandmother for entertainment, but an exemplar  as moral instruction. Different disciplines develop terms for kinds of speech acts, and speech communities sometimes have their own terms for types.

These terms can be applied to many kinds of discourse. Sometimes in a written discussion you might emphasize only two or three of the letters of the mnemonic. It provides a structure for you to perceive components.

As stated earlier, Hymes’  framework can be used for ever greater elaboration of performance; its principal value resides in its comprehensiveness. In the balance of this article,the framework will be employed to interpret two speech events embedded in a local system of consumption.


For purposes of discrete, linear exposition, the following sections of this article examine speech events in the sequence proposed in Hymes’ model.  What follows is an ethnographic overview of a speech event.

Speech Event I: The Miracle Worker
The vendor’s booth is sandwiched between stalls containing a variety of new and used goods, on a crowded midway of the swap meet. It is a bright summer afternoon, and consumers stroll unhurriedly down the many aisle:; of the open air market. The vendor’s platform is elevated several feet off the ground, permitting him to speak down (literally as well as figuratively) to his audience. His table is filled with
vegetables and props. The psychosocial occasion of this performance — its cultural definition — is the “demo.” The demonstration is also likened to a “show.” If the patter is alleged to be a hard sell, it is tempered at least by strains of amusement and diversion. This exists as one of hundreds of scenes through which consumers move during their site visit.

The vendor himself is a middle-aged Anglo sporting sunglasses and a cowboy hat, in affectation of perceived local canons of dress. The consumer cluster toward which he directs his pitch is composed of Whites, Asians, Hi.spanics and Blacks.

While his principal objective i;; to sell a $10.00 vegetable cutter to prospective customers, a number of ancillary objectives are apparent. He uses his pitch to recruit an audience.  literally distracting consumers from the cacophony of the midway, enticing them to focus upon his message. The information and entertainment he provides to his client base are significant components of his ends.
The act sequence of the vendor is arresting. In terms of form, he relies on a rising-then-falling intonation pattern. Among the rhetorical tropes employed most extensively are hyperbole and apostrophe.

The content of the message is focussed principally on product attributes, convenience, and economy. The speech modalities invoked impart a special distinction to the message. The pitch is
humorous, and the humor is largely of a disparaging or deprecating nature. Consumers are frequently the butt of his humor. The vendor adopts a conspiratorial tone, implicitly and explicitly promising to assist consumers in impression management; in fact, successful deception of significant others is one of (he benefit bundles consistently touted. Finally, the vendor delivers his pitch in a perfunctory, detached, methodical manner. The precision and ease promised by the product are echoed in the vendor’s pitch, where the cadences are often clinically delivered.

The instrumentalities in evidence are varied. Multiple channels are employed. The pitch itself is delivered on an oral/aural level. The demonstration occurs in a visual channel: vegetables, tools, rinse bowls and assorted props are manipulated to communieative ends. A
signboard behind the vendor’s table serves to display his product’s name, and functions as a dart board of sorts that permits the vendor to toss vegetables sliced “as thin as poker chips” up on permanent display. The pitch is delivered in standard midwestem American English, with no code- or register-switching during the performance.

The behaviors and proprieties attached to speaking, and issues su:rrounding decoding are fairly transparent in the vendor’s pitch. Although following a practiced script, sufficient allowance is made for extemporizing. For example, the vendor engages consumers (individually, or as a rhetorical collective) in banter and in ridicule throughout his pitch. He also commits several intentional “mistakes” in his presentation, using self-effacing remarks to bond his prospects more tightly to him. While implicit expectations of all actors call for an uninterrupted performance, punctuated interruption is in fact the norm.

Some heckling and cross-talk emerges from the audience, with sotto voce argumentation and post-hoc criticism being common occurrences. Notions of turn-taking in conversational interaction prevail overall. Because the vendor is not a regional native, and because he travels a transcontinental market circuit, he employs a generic or functional language devoid of local resonance. Popular
cultural references (for example, to soap operas) are as specialized a use of language as the vendor permits himself.

Of the speech genres employed by the vendor, the pitch is the predominant or overarching category. However a number of other subgenres combine to give his pitch its distinguisliing characteristics. Principal among these subgenres is the joke, and principal among
joke themes is the disparaging of the consumer as buyer. If joking is construed as ritual behavior (Sherry 1980), then the topics of the vendor’s jokes can be used as indices of social stress upon which his product is positioned to have primary impact. Role expectations,
time pressures, kith and kin relations and consumption skill are a few of the topics of his joking interactions.

Extensive reliance upon comparative advertising makes it clear that formal comparison is an important subgenre of pitch composition. Finally, proverbs and proverbial expressions are important units of pitch composition. Comparison and admonition modulated through humor is a fair characterization of the vendor’s genre development

Speech Event 11: Chop Chop Chop

While this vendor’s booth is also sandwiched between the stalls of other vendors on a similarly crowded midway, it differs in several respects from the one previously described. This booth is set up entirely at ground level, with the vendor’s table being the only
barrier between him and his prospective customers. In this sense, he is on equal footing with his prospects.
The vendor has erected an awning over his table. This canopy provides shade for him and a number of consumers who have surrounded his stall. His performance unfolds literally in the round, unlike the proscenium based performance of his competitor. The cultural definition of the speech event is identical to the one just described: “demo” couched as “show.”

The vendor in the present event is a middle-aged Korean male. He is dressed in a casual west coast style, but as will become clear, his apparel is more semiotically significant than that of his competitor. The consumer cluster he has recruited is quite similar to that
of his competitor, with the exception of a greater proportion of blacks. In terms of ends, the goals and outcomes of the Korean vendor are similar to his Anglo counterpart, with one significant exception: the Korean vendor closes more sales. Whether this is attributable to
price, performance or some permutation remains to be considered.

The act sequence of the Korean vendor is every bit as arresting as that of his Anglo counterpart. The form of speech preferred by this vendor is a staccato shout, modulated intermittently by a chant. The pitch is a hybrid of soliloquoy and stichomythia, with the rhetorical question forming the basis of what is essentially a lecture. Message content centers on product attributes, but in contrast to the competition, focuses as well on issues of health and utility. These are important positioning differences that arise from the vendor’s
cultural values system and his reading of American lifeways, as much as from business strategy.

The “key” component of this speech event differs markedly from the first. The Korean vendor is very serious in demeanor, and his performance is quite painstaking. He has a vigorous, animated style, conducting his demo with a flourish. His language becomes part of the slicing, dicing, cutting procedure he demonstrates, the words and cadences of his patter as much a cutting instrument as the implement itself. His style is quite personalized, despite the fixity of the script. Perhaps the best way to characterize the modality of his pitch is to call it ingratiating. The vendor bonds his audience with the gift of his performance. He is as eager to perform well as he is to close the sale.

Instrumentalities evident in the second pitch are quite distinct as well. Again, the pitch itself is delivered on oral and aural levels. Visually, however, this speech event is far more evocative than its counterpart. While the same demonstration props are evident (albeit
manipulated more dexterously), additional props are employed to create a hotter semiotic environment. The vendor wears a roll-up cap to which is attached a button which proclaims “I love Chop Chop Chop.” This same logo is emblazoned in larger letters across his T-shirL
Framed newspaper clippings attesting to the vendor’s local celebrity are attached to the awning struts of his stall. Consumers familiar with his performance through local mass media or from having seen it in other open air markets refer to the vendor himself as “Chop  hop.”

Speech forms themselves are also distinct from those present in the pitch described earlier. The Korean vendor’s heavily accented American English is both a tactical and unintentional source of much of the humor of the pitch. The incongruity (some of it staged, as befits proper showmanship) of the persona and the accent gives the performance much of its power. The colloquial use of American English (the pitch is replete with idiomatic expressions such as “loolcing good!” and “I gotta go”) contributes to this effect. Furthermore, the Korean vendor is adept at code switching, delivering parts of his pitch in English, Spanish and Chinese; relevant targets are acknowledged and complimented, while the audience as a whole is delighted.

Interaction and interpretation norms are also sufficiently different from the first pitch as to warrant comment. The Korean vendor’s script is rigid and permits no extemporizing or adhoc interplay with the audience. An uninterrupted performance is expected and delivered. No heckling occurs during the pitch, and the cross-talk among the audience is entirely supportive. Calls of “Yeah Chop Chop!” or “Go Chop C!hop!” are common. In fact, the presence of a larger coterie of black consumers produces an interesting synergy with the
vendor’s presentation style. One black consumer begins an antiphonal, overlapping call and response-type commentary in support of the pitch, much like the speech form that would be expected during a liturgical service. Because the vendor is a “local” (despite or
because of his ethnicity) he is able to use language strategically to target his prospective customers in a way that the non-native vendor does not. Such effective linguistic targeting may contribute to the vendor’s successful closing rate.

Finally, the genre of this second speech event is still the pitch, but the subgenres undergirding it differ noticeably from the first. The Korean vendor’s pitch is primarily a lecture, peppered with colloquial expressions. While joking occurs, it is less formal than that of the
counterpart pitch, and consumers, when criticized, are disparaged for their dietary patterns rather than their shopping acumen. The length of the pitch is half that of Anglo vendor’s; the Korean vendor’s performance is more stylized and yet less rhetorically elaborate than that of his competitor

work cited :  Hymes, Dell. Foundations of Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1974.

Doing Ethnographic Study


What is Ethnography?
The term ethnography has come to be equated with virtually any qualitative research project  where the intent is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice. This is sometimes referred to as “thick description” — a term attributed to the anthropologist Clifford Geertz writing on the idea of an interpretive theory of culture in the early 1970s (e.g., see The Interpretation of Cultures, first published as a collection in 1973). The use of the term “qualitative” is meant to distinguish this kind of social science research from more “quantitative” or statistically oriented research. The two approaches, i.e., quantitative and qualitative, while often complementary, ultimately have different aims.

While an ethnographic approach to social research is no longer purely that of the cultural anthropologist, a more precise definition must be rooted in ethnography’s disciplinary home of anthropology. Thus, ethnography may be defined as both a qualitative research process or method (one conducts an ethnography) and product (the outcome of this process is an ethnography) whose aim is cultural interpretation. The ethnographer goes beyond reporting events and details of experience. Specifically, he or see attempts to explain how these represent what we might call “webs of meaning” (Geertz again), the cultural constructions, in which we live.

Ethnographers generate understandings of culture through representation of what we call an emic perspective, or what might be described as the “‘insider’s point of view.” The emphasis in this representation is thus on allowing critical categories and meanings to emerge from the ethnographic encounter rather than imposing these from existing models. An etic perspective, by contrast, refers to a more distant, analytical orientation to experience.

An ethnographic understanding is developed through close exploration of several sources of data. Using these data sources as a foundation, the ethnographer relies on a cultural frame of analysis.

Long-term engagement in the field setting or place where the ethnography takes place, is called participant observation. This is perhaps the primary source of ethnographic data. The term represents the dual role of the ethnographer. To develop an understanding of what it is like to live in a setting, the researcher must both become a participant in the life of the setting while also maintaining the stance of an observer, someone who can describes the experience with a measure of what we might call “detachment.” Note that this does not mean that ethnographers cannot also become advocates for the people they study. Typically ethnographers spend many months or even years in the places where they conduct their research often forming lasting bonds with people. Due to historical development and disciplinary biases, in the past most ethnographers conducted their research in foreign countries while largely ignoring the potential for work right here at home. This has meant that much of the ethnography done in the United States today is now being done outside of its disciplinary home. Increasing numbers of cultural anthropologists, however, have begun doing fieldwork in the communities where they themselves live and work.

Interviews provide for what might be called “targeted” data collection by asking specific but open-ended questions. There is a great variety of interview styles. Each ethnographer brings his or her own unique approach to the process. Regardless, the emphasis is on allowing the person or persons being interviewed to answer without being limited by pre-defined choices — something which clearly differentiates qualitative from more quantitative or demographic approaches. In most cases, an ethnographic interview looks and feels little different than an everyday conversation and indeed in the course of long-term participant-observation, most conversations are in fact purely spontaneous and without any specific agenda.

Researchers collect other sources of data which depend on the specific nature of the field setting. This may take the form of representative artifacts that embody characteristics of the topic of interest, government reports, and newspaper and magazine articles. Although often not tied to the site of study, secondary academic sources are utilized to “locate” the specific study within an existing body of literature.

Over the past twenty years, interest has grown within anthropology for considering the close relationship between personal history, motivation, and the particulars of ethnographic fieldwork (e.g., see Hoey & Fricke 2007). It is undeniably important to question and understand how these factors have bearing on the construction of theory and conduct of a scholarly life. Personal and professional experiences, together with historical context, lead individual researchers to their own particular methodological and theoretical approaches. This too is an important, even if unacknowledged, source.

Ethnographic fieldwork is shaped by personal and professional identities just as these identities are inevitably shaped by individual experiences while in the field. Unfortunately, the autobiographical dimension of ethnographic research has been downplayed historically if not discounted altogether. This is mostly understandable given a perceived threat to the objectivity expected of legitimate science, to reliability of data, and to integrity of our methodology, if we appear to permit subjectivity to intervene by allowing the ethnographer’s encumbered persona to appear instead of adhering to the prescribed role of wholly dispassionate observer.

Most anthropologists today point to Bronislaw Malinowski, author of such landmark ethnographies as Argonauts of the Western Pacific (first published in 1922), as a kind of founding father to ethnographic fieldwork, the practice of “participant-observation.” Malinowski’s early twentieth century ethnographies were written in a voice removed and utterly unrevealing about the nature of the ethnographer and his relationship to people studied. Since Malinowski’s time, the personal account of fieldwork has been hidden away in notes and diaries. These “off the record” writings document the tacit impressions and emotional experiences without which we cannot, as ethnographers, fully appreciate and understand the project of our research itself. Malinowski’s diaries were published after his death in a revealing autobiographical account of his inner life while in the field (A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term, first published in 1967). We learn in his diaries that, among other details, Malinowski longed to write great novels even as his scientific writing effectively defined the practice of cultural anthropology for much of the twentieth century.

Of many important lessons for anthropologists, Malinowski’s diaries hold two especially relevant ones here. First of these is that, at its heart, ethnographic writing is a means of expressing a shared interest among cultural anthropologists for telling stories – stories about what it means to be human. The other is that the explicit professional project of observing, imagining and describing other people need not be incompatible with the implicit personal project of learning about the self. It is the honest truth of fieldwork that these two projects are always implicated in each other. Good ethnography recognizes the transformative nature of fieldwork where as we search for answers to questions about people we may find ourselves in the stories of others. Ethnography should be acknowledged as a mutual product born of the intertwining of the lives of the ethnographer and his or her subjects (for more on these points.


Removing Printer Ink From Skin

ink stains

Ink stains can be caused by several common culprits: broken pens, bleeding print, leaky toner cartridges, or tipped-over ink bottles. Regardless of the cause, there are many methods that people can employ to get rid of ink stains.

Ink Composition
Ink was first developed in ancient Egypt and China around 2500 B.C. as a means of providing a permanent record when writing or painting on parchment or walls. To create the first inks, a carbon particle called lampblack was used as a colorant and combined with glues and gums, which acted as adhesives to hold the colorant to surfaces. Extensive drying time and poor durability made working with early inks problematic, and new materials were soon utilized to develop inks that could have color, faster drying times, and long-term permanence.

The use of ink expanded as advanced technologies in printing were achieved. Once limited to pens and brushes, ink’s applicability became mechanical with the arrival of Gutenberg’s printing press. Today, there are four common types of ink available which fulfill a wide range of functions, from creating painted ink artwork to printing computer-generated documents.

Types  of Ink  

Aqueous :    their properties     are     Water-  based ink with dye colorants they are used for water   based inks,  roller ball    pens.

Liquid     :   their   properties      are    Gel-based ink with dye colorants   they are used   for    Ballpoint, roller ball, and fountain pens.

Paste          :   their   properties    are      Petroleum or resin-based ink with pigment colorants  and used  for   Painted brush work.

Powder     : their  properties   are     Powder ink set with adhesives  and they are used for  Toner cartridges, embossing stamps

Stains made from aqueous or liquid inks are easiest to remove without the aid of a solvent, but paste and powder inks need a solvent applied to them to break down the chemicals used in the manufacturing of the ink.

Removing Ink Stains from Surfaces


Chemicals like rubbing alcohol and lubricant can be used to remove ink stains from skin, but there are a number of natural alternatives that can also be applied which are gentler for the skin. Baby oil or toothpaste can be rubbed onto an ink stain as a non-toxic stain remover, as can grape jam. The cleansing solution imbued in baby wipes has stain-lifting properties, so these handy wipes can be used if they are readily available. Whichever natural product is used, be sure to wash it away thoroughly with soap and water after the stain is gone.

Rubbing alcohol, hair spray, lubricant, or white vinegar can be applied to ink-stained fabrics to eliminate a stain; simply apply to the stain with a cotton ball or paper towel and allow it to sit for about thirty minutes. After the waiting period, apply a liquid detergent directly to the stain and rinse with water.

Ink stains on tabletops with synthetic finishes, like fiberboard, are much easier to remove than stains left on finished wood. Synthetic finishes can use the same removal methods that are appropriate for walls, but finished wood needs extra care to avoid ruining the finish. If possible, test out a stain removal method on finished wood by applying it to an area that is not seen before applying it to the stain.

Baking Soda
The baking soda method must be applied using caution because the abrasive properties within the baking soda can scratch a wood finish surface. Start off by combining water and baking soda to form a thick, but spreadable, paste. Spread the paste onto the ink stain and rub it in gently by hand using the finger tips. Dampen a soft cloth with room temperature water and lightly scrub the area to take away the paste. If hazing occurs on the surface from the baking soda, moisten a cotton ball with a small amount of rubbing alcohol and wipe the haze to remove.

sources :   e.bay .com/ how to clean

Business Letter Writing

main frame

Letter writing is a prized skill in the world of work. The higher you advance in your career, the more you will need to write letters. Letters are more formal and official than other types of business communication. They offer personal, verifiable authorization. Unlike e-mail, letters often must be routed through channels before they are sent out. Letters are the expected medium through which important documents such as contracts and proposals are sent to readers.


Characteristics of a Good business letter

  • Be clear,
  • brief and businesslike
  • Do not write confused,
  • overlong or pointless letter
  • Be polite and friendly
  • Do not be rude or patronizing
  • Write concise and purposeful letter
  • Do not try to write in a litrary style
  • Do not try to impress with your writing


There are four basic types of  business letters:

  1. inquiry letters,
  2. special request letters,
  3. sales letters, and
  4. customer relations letters.

Business letters can be further classified as

  • positive,
  • neutral, or
  • negative.

Inquiry and special request letters are neutral, sales letters are positive, and customer relations letters can be positive or negative.

Inquiry Letters
An inquiry letter asks for information about a product, service, or procedure. Businesses frequently exchange inquiry letters, and customers frequently send them to businesses. Three basic rules for an effective inquiry letter are to state exactly what information you want, indicate clearly why you must have this information, and specify exactly when you must have it.

Special Request Letters
Special request letters make a special demand, not a routine inquiry. The way you present your request is crucial, since your reader is not obliged to give you anything. When asking for information in a special request letter, state who you are, why you are writing, precisely what information you need, and exactly when you need the information (allow sufficient time). If you are asking for information to include in a report or other document, offer to forward a copy of the finished document as a courtesy. State that you will keep the information confidential, if that is appropriate. Finally, thank the recipient for helping you.

Sales Letters
A sales letter is written to persuade the reader to buy a product, try a service, support a cause, or participate in an activity. No matter what profession you are in, writing sales letters is a valuable skill.

To write an effective sales letter, follow these guidelines:

  1. Identify and limit your audience.
  2.  Use reader psychology. Appeal to readers’ emotions, pocketbook, comfort, and so on by focusing on the right issues.
  3.  Don’t boast or be a bore. Don’t gush about your company or make elaborate explanations about a product.
  4.  Use words that appeal to readers’ senses.
  5.  Be ethical.

The “four A’s” of sales letters are

  1. Attention,
  2. Appeal,
  3. Application, and
  4. Action.
  • First, get the reader’s attention.
  • Next, highlight your product’s appeal.
  • Then, show the reader the product’s application.
  • Finally, end with a specific request for action.

In the first part of your sales letter, get the reader’s attention by asking a question, using a “how to” statement, complimenting the reader, offering a free gift, introducing a comparison, or announcing a change. In the second part, highlight your product’s allure by appealing to the reader’s intellect, emotions, or both. Don’t lose the momentum you have gained with your introduction by boring the reader with petty details, flat descriptions, elaborate inventories, or trivial boasts. In the third part of your sales letter, supply evidence of the value of what you are selling. Focus on the prospective customer, not on your company. Mention the cost of your product or service, if necessary, by relating it to the benefits to the customer. In the final section, tell readers exactly what you want them to do, and by what time. “Respond and be rewarded” is the basic message of the last section of a sales letter.

Customer Relations Letters

These  deal with establishing and maintaining good working relationships. They deliver good news or bad news, acceptances or refusals. If you are writing an acceptance letter, use the direct approach-tell readers the good news up front. If you are writing a refusal letter, do not open the letter with your bad news; be indirect.

Follow-up Letters.

A follow-up letter is sent to thank a customer for buying a product or service and to encourage the customer to buy more in the future. As such it is a combination thank-you note and sales letter. Begin with a brief expression of gratitude. Next, discuss the benefits already known to the customer, and stress the company’s dedication to its customers. Then extend this discussion into a new or continuing sales area, and end with a specific request for future business.

Complaint Letters.

These require delicacy. The right tone will increase your chances of getting what you want. Adopt the “you” attitude. Begin with a detailed description of the product or service you are complaining about. Include the model and serial numbers, size, quantity , and color. Next, state exactly what is wrong with the product or service. Briefly describe the inconvenience you have experienced. Indicate precisely what you want done (you want your money back, you want a new model, you want an apology, and so on). Finally, ask for prompt handling of your claim.

Adjustment Letters.

Adjustment letters respond to complaint letters. For an adjustment letter that tells the customer “Yes,” start with your good news. Admit immediately that the complaint was justified. State precisely what you are going to do to correct the problem. Offer an explanation for the inconvenience the customer suffered. End on a friendly, positive note. For adjustment letters that deny a claim, avoid blaming or scolding the customer. Thank the customer for writing. Stress that you understand the complaint. Provide a factual explanation to show customers they’re being treated fairly. Give your decision without hedging or apologizing. (Indecision will infuriate customers who believe they have presented a convincing case.) Leave the door open for better and continued business in the future.

Refusal of Credit Letters.

  1. Begin on a positive note.
  2. Express gratitude for the applicant for wanting to do business with you.
  3. Cite appropriate reasons for refusing to grant the customer credit: lack of business experience or prior credit,
  4. current unfavorable or unstable financial conditions, and so on.
  5. End on a positive note.
  6. Encourage the reader to reapply later when his or her circumstances have changed.

source: Cengage

Subject and Verb Agreement

Blue banner

Basic Rule
The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb.

NOTE: The trick is in knowing whether the subject is singular or plural. The next trick is recognizing a singular or plural verb.

Hint: Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is singular and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use with they.

talks, talk
Which one is the singular form?
Which word would you use with he?
We say, “He talks.” Therefore, talks is singular.
We say, “They talk.” Therefore, talk is plural.

SV diagram 1

Rule 1
Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb.

My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.

These agreement rules do not apply to verbs used in the simple past tense without any helping verbs.

SV diagram 2

The agreement rules do, however, apply to the following helping verbs when they are used with a main verb: is-are, was-were, has-have, does-do.

SV diagram 3

The agreement rules do not apply to has-have when used as the SECOND helping verb in a pair.

SV diagram 4

They do NOT apply to any other helping verbs, such as can, could, shall, should, may, might, will, would, must.

SV 5

The subject-verb agreement rules apply to all personal pronouns except I and you, which, although SINGULAR, require PLURAL forms of verbs.

SV 5

Go to Link—>   (Exercise 1)

Rule 2
Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb as in Rule 1.

Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.

Rule 3
When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am.

Neither she nor I am going to the festival.

Rule 4
When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.

Rule 5
When a singular and plural subject are connected by either/or or neither/nor, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

Neither Jenny nor the others are available.

Rule 6
As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.

A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

Rule 7
Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not. Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.

The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.

Rule 8
The pronouns each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody are singular and require singular verbs. Do not be misled by what follows of.

Each of the girls sings well.
Every one of the cakes is gone.

NOTE: Everyone is one word when it means everybody. Every one is two words when the meaning is each one.

Rule 9
With words that indicate portions—percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder, and so forth —look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.

Fifty percent of the pie has disappeared.
Pie is the object of the preposition of.
Fifty percent of the pies have disappeared.
Pies is the object of the preposition.
One-third of the city is unemployed.
One-third of the people are unemployed.

NOTE: Hyphenate all spelled-out fractions.

All of the pie is gone.
All of the pies are gone.
Some of the pie is missing.
Some of the pies are missing.
None of the garbage was picked up.
None of the sentences were punctuated correctly.
Of all her books, none have sold as well as the first one.

NOTE: Apparently, the SAT testing service considers none as a singular word only. However, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, “Clearly none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. If in context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism” (p. 664).

Rule 10
The expression the number is followed by a singular verb while the expression a number is followed by a plural verb.

The number of people we need to hire is thirteen.
A number of people have written in about this subject.

Rule 11
When either and neither are subjects, they always take singular verbs.

Neither of them is available to speak right now.
Either of us is capable of doing the job.

Rule 12
The words here and there have generally been labeled as adverbs even though they indicate place. In sentences beginning with here or there, the subject follows the verb.

There are four hurdles to jump.
There is a high hurdle to jump.

Rule 13
Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time.

Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.

Rule 14
Sometimes the pronoun who, that, or which is the subject of a verb in the middle of the sentence. The pronouns who, that, and which become singular or plural according to the noun directly in front of them. So, if that noun is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.

Salma is the scientist who writes/write the reports.
The word in front of who is scientist, which is singular. Therefore, use the singular verb writes.
He is one of the men who does/do the work.
The word in front of who is men, which is plural. Therefore, use the plural verb do.

Rule 15
Collective nouns such as team and staff may be either singular or plural depending on their use in the sentence.

The staff is in a meeting.
Staff is acting as a unit here.
The staff are in disagreement about the findings.
The staff are acting as separate individuals in this example.
The sentence would read even better as:
The staff members are in disagreement about the findings.


see this —>

More on line exercises : Exercises

Source: Grammar

Appreciating Poetry



A. Poetic Devices
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE  :    Language using figures of speech and it cannot be taken literally.
IMAGERY    :                                      The representation through language of sense experience; language that appeals to the senses.
FIGURE OF SPEECH     :               Any way of saying something other than in an ordinary way.

figures of speech

List of common figures of speech :

  • SIMILE :    A comparison between two unlike things using words such as: like, as, than, similar to, resembles, etc.                          Example  :      Quiet as a mouse
  • METAPHOR :    An implied comparison between unlike things.
    Example  :    He’s a house.
  • ALLUSION :      A reference to something in history or literature.
      Example  :       She had a Cinderella wedding.
  • ALLITERATION  :   The repetition of initial sounds.
    Example  :  Seven steaks sizzled.
  • CONSONANCE :    The repetition of end consonant (every letter that is not a vowel) sounds.
     Example   : first and last, odds and ends, stroke of luck.
  • ASSONANCE  :     The repetition of vowel sounds.
    Example   : My words like silent raindrops fell.
  • PERSONIFICATION :  Giving human characteristics to an animal, object, or idea.                                                                                                     Example  :          The hours crawled by like years.
  • PARADOX                                     :          An apparent contradiction, which is nevertheless somehow true.
  • ONOMATOPOEIA                    :         “Sound words”; Words whose sound suggests their meaning.
    Example  :          buzz, click, snap, chop.
  • OXYMORON        :           The setting together, for effect, two words of opposite meaning.
    Example  : burning cold, screaming whisper.
  • OVERSTATEMENT     (or hyperbole)  :     An extreme exaggeration used for effect
    Example  :  I’ve told you a hundred times…; I’m starving; The suspense is killing me.
  • SYMBOL :         Roughly defined as something that means more than what it is.
    Example     :         A wedding ring is a symbol of commitment, love, honor, etc.                                                                                                                                               It is not just a ring. It’s shape (a circle) is also symbolic;                                                                                                                                                          A circle never ends and therefore the love is not supposed to.
  • PUN                            :                         play on words.
  • UNDERSTATEMENT          :            Saying less than what is meant, for effect.


 Poetry by Frost