Chapter 2: Personal Management

10 Writing

Before you write

Ray, your Strategy Coach

Fact vs. opinion

Activity 1

Decide if the statements below are fact or opinion.

  • Susan is the manager of CDN Malls.
  • Ten employees work in Administration at CDN Malls.
  • Raja likes his job.
  • The mall is having a Halloween event on October 30 and 31.
  • The Halloween event will be fun.
  • It is important to be a responsible employee.
  • Maria feels bad about getting back to work late.
  • Someone tripped and fell in the mall.
  • Sam works for a good company.
  • The Safewalk review is on October 12.

Activity 2

Ana works at Cellphones Plus, a kiosk directly in front of where the loose tile was in the mall. She saw the employee from Tech Shop trip and fall. Read the text from Ana’s description of what happened. Look for fact and opinion statements.

I was at work on Saturday. It was the 28th of  August. I work every Saturday. I think it’s the busiest shift. Ahmed from Tech Shop tripped and fell. I felt really bad for him. He looked so awkward, and everyone seemed to be staring at him. He fell right in front of our kiosk. I was sure that someone was going to trip there because there’s a tile that was loose. I think someone was going to call Maintenance about it. Yeah, so Ahmed was carrying the box, chatting with a customer. Then all of a sudden there was a crash, and he was on the floor. I think that whatever was in the box probably broke because the crash was really loud. They had to take the box back to the store and get the customer a new item.

It was around 10:15 when it happened. Yeah, it must have been because I had only been working for a little while, and the mall opens at 10 o’ clock. So, I was helping a customer. It was a super busy Saturday, maybe because it was a long weekend? Ahmed is a really nice guy. He’s always helping customers. The box he was carrying looked pretty big. I think it was a new stereo or computer. There must have been a sale or something at Tech Shop because lots of people were shopping there.

They really need to take better care of the floors here. That was just an accident waiting to happen. I went to see if I could help Ahmed after I finished with my customer, but someone from Security came right after that. I think he hurt his hand or wrist or something like that because they called for paramedics. They had to take him to the hospital to get X-rays.

A person from Maintenance came about 15 minutes later to put up a safety cone. I guess they started to fix the floor today.

Determine which of the following phrases from Ana’s statement of what happened are fact and which are opinion.

  • I was at work on Saturday.
  • I think that whatever was in the box probably broke because the crash was really loud.
  • Ahmed from Tech Shop tripped and fell.
  • He fell right in front of our kiosk.
  • Ahmed’s a really nice guy.
  • A person from Maintenance came about 15 minutes later to put up a safety cone.
  • They really need to take better care of the floors here.
  • I went to see if I could help Ahmed after I finished with my customer.
  • I think he hurt his hand or wrist or something like that.
  • I think it was a new stereo or computer.

Notice that the statements that are facts are all written in the past tense.

Ray, your Strategy Coach

Using the past tense in descriptions

When writing descriptions of past events, you will need to use the past tense. Pay attention to how the simple past tense and past progressive are used.

Simple past tense is used to describe actions that began and ended in the past.

  • Regular verbs take -ed on the end; for example: worked, finished, sorted.
  • Irregular verbs have their own special forms; for example: write- wrote, hear-heard, feel-felt.

Use the simple past tense for the following:

  • An action that began and ended in the past
    • I worked yesterday.
  • Actions that occurred at the same time
    • Yesterday, I made the schedule, and he organized the files.
  • A series of actions that began and ended one after the other
    • First we signed in, next we looked at our duties for the day, and then we went to the meeting.

Past progressive is used to describe an action that was in progress for a period of time in the past.

  • Past progressive is created by using was or were + the ing form of the verb; for example: I was walking; You were calling; He was looking; They were sorting.

Past progressive works for the following:

  • An action that was in progress when another one interrupted it

* I was unpacking the boxes when she arrived.

  • Actions that were in progress at the same time

* Ahmed was answering the phones while Paul was helping customers.

  • Focusing on or emphasizing the progress or length of time of the action

* They were repairing the floors for two weeks.

Complete the sentences with the correct forms of the verbs, either the simple past tense or the past progressive. Interactive material icon

  1. In the video, Raja             (ask) Paul about the email they got from Susan.
  2. Paul and Raja             (discuss) the email when a customer (arrive) at the desk.
  3. Raja             (think) the email to everyone was unnecessary.
  4. Paul            (say) it was normal to address things that way in Canadian workplaces.
  5. In Listening 1, Susan             (want)  to talk to Maria before she              (write) the incident report.
  6. Someone             (report) the loose tile to Norman at the Guest Services Desk and then he             (try) to get in touch with Maintenance.
  7. Maria              (walk) back to the Guest Services Desk when a customer             (stop) her.
  8. Maria and the customer             (talk) when Alex’s break             (start).
  9. An employee from Tech Shop              (carry) a box when he             (trip) on a loose tile.
  10. The employee             (fall),              (drop) the box, and              (break) his wrist.

Writing practice

Writing a description

Look at the Incident Investigation Report for the incident at CDN Malls. Most of the report has been completed, but the description of the incident in Section 5 is incomplete.

Incident investigation report page 1 Incident investigation report page 2 Incident investigation report page 3 Incident investigation report page 4

Write a description of the incident for Section 5 of the form based on what Ana said. Read or listen to Ana’s statement about what happened again if you need to. Remember to use facts from what Ana said to describe what happened. Write your description in the order that the incident happened and remember to use the past tense. Follow the steps that you learned from the Strategy Coach for writing a description of an event.

Writing progress check


The table is a special type of form called a rubric. Rubrics are often used to measure how well a person completes a task.

On the left side is the writing task or assignment, with the main requirements below it. The requirements show how you should complete the task.

There are spaces for checkmarks in the three middle columns to show how well you did. On the right side, there is a space for comments from the instructor or tester.

Complete the writing task on the next page, paying attention to the expectations in the rubric.

Chapter 2: Writing Progress Check
  • Topic: Personal management
  • Task: Write a description of an event that happened for an incident report.


Criteria Yes Some of it No What can you do better next time?
You introduced the description with the time, date, and setting.
You described what happened in the correct order.
You finished with the description of the outcome and how the problem was fixed.


There was an incident at the mall. Lisa Brent, a customer, was in the food court. She slipped on a wet floor. Read the conversation between Raja and Paul to find out what happened.

Raja: Hi.
Paul: Hi. What’s up?
Raja: A customer just had an accident.
Paul: Oh? That’s terrible! Where? Were you there?
Raja: Yeah. In the food court. It happened right in front of me.
Paul: On your break, right? Must have happened just a little while ago… 12:30, or so?
Raja: Exactly at 12:30. I looked at my watch.
Paul: Did the customer fall?
Raja: Yes. Someone had spilled some water on the floor. I don’t know why people don’t do the responsible thing and report such incidents.
Paul: People are just too busy, I guess. Was the customer hurt?
Raja: Pretty bad, I think. Maybe a broken bone. She tried to be brave about it, but I could tell she was in real bad pain. I called for an ambulance right away.
Paul: Wow!
Raja: Yeah, she was in pretty bad shape. Poor thing! Don, the guy who works at the delivery dock, was also there. He called for the cleaners right away.
Paul: Oh, good. All mopped up then?
Raja: The cleaner was there in a couple of minutes. Anyway, I had better get going. I need to write up the incident report. See you later.
Paul: Bye. Oh, I almost forgot. Sima was looking for you. She said it was urgent.
Raja: I will stop by her office. Thanks.
Paul: Sure.

Help Raja fill in an incident report. Use the information from the instructions of this task and the conversation between Raja and Paul to write a one-paragraph description of what happened. Include factual statements in the past tense to describe the incident. Make sure you include an introduction, a description of what happened, and a conclusion.


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