Learning to write – pronouns

I thought this was going to be an easy one, and it would just be an extension of nouns. However, it seems pronouns are just as complicated.

Pronouns are essentially words that take the place of nouns. And from my understanding, their only purpose is to make the text more interesting.

Instead of writing ‘Sam wants to be a lawyer, therefore, Sam needs to go to law school’.

Sam wants to be a lawyer, therefore, he needs to go to law school’.

There are many different categories of pronoun, there are: personal, relative, subject and object, demonstrative, indefinite, reflexive, intensive, possessive, reciprocal and lastly interrogative.

So… let us start with the personal pronouns.

The personal pronouns are: I, me, you, he, she, her, him, it, we, us, they and them.

Despite the term ‘personal’ they do not have to refer to a person – what is it?

They are essentially the pronouns that are associated with ‘person’ in writing i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd.

Relative pronouns

These are used to connect relative clauses – which can be restrictive (provides essential information about the noun) and non-restrictive (can be left out without affecting the meaning of the clause) – to independent clauses. Relative clauses are used to identify the noun that came before them.

The relative pronouns are: which, that, whom, whose, who, when, what.

My writing, which is relatively poor, is improving.

Subject and object pronouns

Who and whom. When referring to a subject use the ‘who’ pronoun, and when referring to an object use whom. I will look at subject and object in another post. But in short, the object is acted upon by the subject.

To whom, should I send this letter?

Who will receive the letter?

Demonstrative pronouns

A demonstrative shows distance as I spoke about in this post.

The demonstrative pronouns are: that, this, these, those.

This is used for singular items that are nearby, whereas, these not those (over there) is used for many items that are close.

Indefinite pronouns

Are used when you need to refer to something unspecific, one, none, other, some, anybody, everybody and no one.

Reflexive and intensive pronouns

reflexive pronouns are used when both the subject and object of a verb refer to the same person or thing. They have self or selves on the end. Himself, themselves etc

The writer set himself the task of writing about pronouns.

Intensive pronouns are more unnecessary as a category in my opinion; they are similar to reflexive pronouns but they do a different thing, they add emphasis.

I wrote the blog post myself. The ‘myself’ is unnecessary but it adds emphasis.

Antecedents

Not technically a pronoun but it is important. The antecedent is the noun that the pronoun refers to.

My girlfriend (antecedent) bakes me cakes, I love her (pronoun) for that.

Possessive pronouns

its, his, her, our, their, My, your and whose

Seems obvious, and it is. Basically, they show possession

Absolute pronouns (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs) can be substituted for the thing that belongs to the antecedent.

BloggerX is working on his blog post.

They are absolute because they stand alone and do not modify nouns.

Reciprocal pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another

each other refers to two things, one another refers to multiple things.

These are used when two or more things are acting in the same way towards the other.

The blogger and commenters are talking to one another.

Interrogative pronouns

These, as the name suggest are used in questioning: whose, who, what, which

who wants to leave a like and follow?

Learning to write – Articles

This week I am going to be focusing on Articles of speech.

What is an Article? Or a Article?

Well, all the following are articles: the, a, an.

Articles are words that define nouns. What does it mean to define a noun?

Take the following sentences:

At the park, I kicked the football

At a park, I kicked a football.

The use of the and a here give specificity to the situation. ‘The park’ is a specific park whereas

a park’ is any park.

There are technical terms for the differences in the two types of article. Definite and Indefinite.

The is the definite article as it makes the noun specific, and yep, you guessed it, a and an are indefinite articles.

Which indefinite article do I use? I hear you ask’.

Well, there is a general rule for this, and yes there are exceptions. The rule is a comes before a noun where the noun begins with a consonant, and ‘an’ comes before a noun that begins with a vowel.

For example:

I want an Ice cream – started with an ‘I’ (vowel) and therefore, is an.

I want a new car – adjective started with ‘n’ (consonant) and therefore, is a

There is such a thing as a zero article.

A zero article usually applies to plurals or mass nouns

For example:

People are not good with wasps (including me). As ‘wasps’ is plural, no article is required.

It is also worth noting that pronouns and proper nouns do not require articles.

for more articles like this click here

Easily influenced – Week nine as a PhD student

This was written well over three months ago, and I remember the next morning after writing this and thinking, that I would never publish this as it is quite weird. I think it is essential to show the process of improvement so it will be posted.

Week 9. I mentioned last week that I had a lab meeting this week, surprisingly, It went very well. To explain why I have to take you back to my first year at university. During the 1st summer holiday, I spent my time working as a paid intern at an olive factory. It was closer to my parents home than it was to my home, so during the week I would stay with my parents, and travel home on the weekend. I got bored almost instantly and the fact that I had stopped learning was grinding on me; I decided I should learn a language (One of my friend’s brother learnt mandarin and now is earning a wedge in China). I’m sure, that most people reading this are native English speakers. My thinking was to choose a language by-the-numbers, so Spanish or Chinese. However, I didn’t really want to learn either. Another one of my friends was studying computer science; I ended up choosing to learn a programming language instead. I must skip forward to the present day, as the nostalgia is leading me to become a tourist in my own youth (Sickboy). I am leaving the realms of beginner python programmer and am now touching the bottom of the boot of an intermediate programmer. I have previously mentioned that I have been working with ImageJ to analyse the colour of decaying plant tissue. I showed the group what I had been doing and got a fantastic reception. Now I am mid-development on my own program; it will do what I was doing in ImageJ but in an automated fashion. When I have finished writing this program, I will have something I can use throughout the rest of my PhD which should make things easier in the long-run.

In other news, I finally finished ‘Look Homeward, Angel’ by Tom Wolfe. I did not enjoy reading the book therefore, I will be switching back to non-fiction. With Christmas approaching I am feeling a strong bout of niggardliness coming on (if you have read the book you won’t be surprised by that word) I sensed this would be an issue now that I am more fiscally aware. I will just have to try and re-program my brain, a seasonal patch back to Self 0.5 when consumption was the well-placed hit that kept me on the ride. This week has been one of the better ones, but if you forced me I could not pin down exactly why that is, my guess would be a sense of progress. I earned £5 this week for being a participant in a psychology experiment; the true meaning of the study has eluded me, but the task was related to finding smiling faces among other facial expressions and then hitting the appropriate button upon seeing a smiling face. Half an hour of being a lab rat; £5 tacked on to my net-worth, I’ll take that over a real job all day long.

Next week presents us with a plethora of Christmas parties, my first exposure to partying with academics, into the fray we go! I am also going back to the lab to correct some of the work that was brought up in the lab meeting; the meeting was very productive. Another reason for getting back into the lab is that I am tired of staring at my computer screen. I’m running out of steam for this week’s post and am trying to wrap up. Choose a blog. Choose an error. Choose to work 9-5 as anonymous desk flesh because you’re too scared to do anything else. Choose to be like everyone else. Choose a mortgage. Choose a cat or dog, or both. Choose consumerism and a life filled with debt. Choose to read something else, by someone who can actually write. Don’t choose anything; rise with the tide and have your life be dictated by circumstance, there are no right answers.

P.S. I wasn’t high while writing this: I watched Transpotting2 last night.

Learning to write – nouns

Recently I realised that the goal of this blog was to improve my writing and that I had lost sight of that. To rectify this, I have decided to take an in-depth look at all the aspects of writing, starting with nouns.

I have used My grammar and I by Caroline Taggart and Grammarly’s blog post on noun’s as a resource for this post.

This should be a quick one? The essence of a noun is that it is a ‘naming word’.

However, as is the way with the English language, there are many categories and sub-categories within the categories of nouns. So, without further ado, let’s get into nouns. Fun fact: every sentence must have a subject, and the subject will be a noun.

Nouns can also be the verb of a sentence, just to confuse things. An object can either be an indirect or direct object. A direct object is a noun that receives the action from the subject. An indirect is much rarer and is the recipient of a direct object.

Common nouns

Common nouns are nouns used to name a person, animal, place, thing or abstract idea. An abstract idea would be success, failure, delight, boredom etc.

There are two sub-categories of common nouns, concrete and abstract nouns.

Abstract nouns names something that has no physical existence, such as success, delight and failure.

Concrete nouns are used to name something you can sense with your senses – sight, smell, touch, sound, taste – e.g. parsnip, red, umami etc

All I have to say is why?

Proper nouns

Proper nouns are used to name a specific person, animal, place or thing. Christmas, Wednesday, John etc

Compound nouns

A compound noun as you may have guessed is a noun mad up of more than one word; normally it is two nouns but could be an adjective to.

Science-fiction, level cap, word limit, truck driver etc.

Yet another way of categorising nouns is by countable and non-countable nouns; why you would want to do this, I have no idea.

Countable nouns are used to name something that can be counted; I am not going to bother giving examples for this other than words, 238 words…Use fewer when talking about these nouns, again I don’t know why, probably just convention and now we cant be bothered to consolidate.

non-countable nouns: air, food, sand, wisdom, stupidity etc. Use ‘less’ when talking about these nouns

Last one, I promise!

Collective nouns

A collective noun refers to a group or number of individuals, such as staff, team, jury, colony. Basically, there are loads, check this out for all animal related collective nouns.

The key point is that it is one noun that talks about many of the same.

An issue with the collective noun is that one can refer to a group acting together, or all the groups the members of a group acting as individuals.

There is much more to this subject and I am not the man for the job, here is a good resource

I will leave plural and singular nouns for another day.

http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/collnoun.htm

Progress and Procrastination – week eight as a PhD student

In contrast to last week, I have managed to start writing this on Friday, Will I finish it? No courses this week, the only time I left the house was to attend the school’s weekly Wednesday seminar. The weekly seminar series is compulsory; students and academics have to give talks at least once a year. First years like me normally have until the summer before they have to do a turn. However, it still gives me fear, knowing I am going to get an email telling me when I have to perform. Anyway, that was the only time I actually went to the place where I work, which is one of the perks of doing a PhD. This week I have felt much less productive, I have been busy but it didn’t feel like I was getting much done. One of those weeks I guess. Also, our washing machine broke and we had our bathroom window break so that it was stuck open, not ideal. I am very distracted whilst writing this, as I am watching DrDisRespect at the same time.

I did not finish this on Friday night… It is now Saturday morning, today I have to un-plumb the washing machine so the new one can be installed, go to the gym, record the data from my experiment and re-evaluate what my short-term goals are for my experiments. I have a lab meeting coming up next week, where I will at the very least have to explain what I am up to. This isn’t really something you can wing and you generally get challenged each time on certain aspects of your thinking. But this Is one way in which one learns. I have a love-hate relationship with It, on one hand, I can’t live without challenge, on the other hand, I don’t enjoy being questioned in front of the group, who does? So I will still be working today but not at as much as I would on a weekday; I do try and keep a 9-5 schedule. I am very cautious of burning out, a phenomenon I encountered every exam period as, I am sure, every student has at some point. To be fair I fully understand the confusing literature on lettuce discolouration from the results of my experiments this week, so that is a big personal win. At least there Is a sign of progress. Although pink and brown are the obvious colours the eye is drawn to, they are not the most significant change. That most changed award goes to yellow, which increases subtly over shelf-life but no-one seems to care about it!

This week I got a personal best solve on the Rubix cube, one minute and twenty seconds. I am getting close to the sub one minute zone, pro’s only. We are going to start watching season two of stranger things this evening which is exciting, we binged-watched the first season last weekend. I think I will leave it here for this week; I am going to try and make this the best piece of writing I have done, in a grammatical sense, so far.

According to Grammarly, there are 19 advanced issues. Can you spot them?

Stumbling towards productivity – Week six as PhD student.

This week, I feel that I am finding my feet a little bit. I am still unsure what I am doing, but I have been doing something, which is progress in some sense. I have one training course this week that was about creative thinking and problem solving, as expected I felt about average in the group with my problem-solving skills. The creativity part was easily the most fun, as we just played games essentially. I noticed that the main effect of the creative activities was the awakening of my competitive side. For anyone else out there that has a highly competitive personality, you will know that is the best and worst of you at times. I feel that creativity is more fun in many ways, but often feels devoid of meaning, so I will not be donning my kimono and silk trousers anytime soon (I don’t know).

I Learnt how to use a new program (ImageJ) which made me feel productive for the first time in a while. However, I also tried to learn how to use scikit-image, the python module for image analysis and had a nightmare installing the module. If anyone has tried to switch to Linux from the ‘other two’ you will be well aware of the time-sink that can occur trying to get stuff to work, that you know would take minutes on the ‘other two’. I installed Linux as I wanted to learn a bit more about the technology I had been ignorantly using for the majority of my life. The massive positive is that my patience has drastically increased. There are so many problems you have to solve using Linux, such as getting the spellchecker to work in Libre Office, which was a good half-day. There have been many instances similar to that, however, i have not yet come across a problem that I could not solve eventually. I would recommend switching only from a hobbyist point of view or in professional circumstances, you would certainly be more productive in the ‘other two’ operating systems. But, having said that, most of the best things in life are due to their difficulty; there are also privacy and ethical issues to consider, but I will not get into that. Wow, that was very rambly, I do apologize.

In summary, it is coming along slowly, I still feel lost. The consolation is that everyone I speak to is feeling the same, and thankfully misery loves company.

Where are the beakers? Week four as a PhD student.

The clocks were rolled back at the end of this week; in theory giving us all an extra hour in bed, or in my case, another hour laying awake thinking about my PhD. This was written on the 29th of October 2017. Efforts have been doubled this week, and there is a much more noticeable increase in pressure. Pressure to get work done. I learnt what was expected of me in this 1st year was to essentially try as many different experiments as possible to try and find something suitable for taking forward. So, I have spent a lot of timing planning experiments this week. I’m trying to do the most basic experiments first, so I can get used to the lab and find where equipment is, as that Is genuinely the hardest, most daunting part of my PhD thus far. One of the main benefits to doing a PhD is also one of the most difficult things in the beginning. What I am talking about is how independent your work is. Of course, this depends on your lab group and your project, sometimes you will join an ongoing project and get help with your work. In my case, I am not joining an ongoing project, and all the work will be my own, therefore there is nothing set up for me, and I have to figure everything out for myself from the first instance. Where are the beakers! What do you mean I might have to buy them?

Other than dealing with logistics and busy work; I have been writing an abstract for a conference. Since I have no data, or experience in writing an abstract for conference submission, writing 300 words has been quite the challenge. But the challenge is why I wanted to do a PhD, so despite the pressure, I felt this week I am still happy! Going back to the difficulty of orienting myself in the lab, I organised a meeting with one of the post-docs in the lab for me and my fellow fresh PhD students, so we could ask questions like dude where’s my beaker. It turns out you have to either, order them yourself, or ask someone if you can borrow them. The same is true for almost all equipment, from spatulas to GC-MS systems. So, one of the key skills I think I will develop is the art of beg, borrow and, well, hopefully, I won’t need to complete that triad of skills.

The only other thing of note this week was the fact that, I am the only male 1st year PhD student in the Food Science and Nutrition department (this was the same in undergrad). I am yet unsure if this a good thing or not, it will certainly be easier for me to stand-out.

P.S. Looking back on this is a useful exercise in itself, I can clearly see 4 errors in the punctuation, and it is generally quite poor. This was written 16 weeks ago, it is nice to see how far I have come in such a short time. Although, you will not see this improvement for many weeks to come. I was very tempted to edit this piece, however, I think it is important to show the process.