... My only comment is in regard to the use of "and/or" in the last sentence. "And/or" means that either both circumstances are possible or only one of two circumstances is possible; however, it tends to be clumsy and awkward because it makes the reader stop and puzzle over your distinction. The more of these “stop signs” we have in our documents, the less effective the documents become as the reader’s frustration with the content increases. Another problem is that too many writers use "and/or" inexactly, so you may have a reader looking at your usage and thinking, “Well, that’s incorrect because I use and/or differently.” Again, this is a pause that pulls the reader out of the text to reconsider not what you’ve written, but how you’ve written it. The best thing to do is recast the sentence to be more precise and avoid confusing your reader with the awkward “and/or” construction.I couldn’t leave it alone. It’s like a pin in my neck. The funny thing is, it’s completely naïve of me to tell students they should know this stuff by now. The fact is, the majority of people hacking out technical and business documents don’t know this stuff by now, so why should college seniors? Hell, I barely know this stuff and I'm pretending to teach it.
What I should be helping these students do is recognize when something is amiss in their writing and then rely on the handbook or style guide to confirm the hunch. I don’t want to teach grammar and I don’t want pre-professional engineers to hate writing because they hate grammar. The trick is sliding it in without them knowing it – like when you have to mash up your dog’s pill and sprinkle it into his bowl of Chick-O-Beef parts.
The nasty little grammar pill. Bad medicine that, once taken, tastes oh so good.