University of Kairouan Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences Department of English FIRST YEAR LICENCE FONDAMENTALE ET APPLIQUEE
READING AND WRITING
1-What is a paragraph? A Paragraph is a basic unit of organization in writing in which a group of related, sentences develops one main idea. A paragraph can be as short as one sentence or as long as ten sentences. The number of sentences is unimportant; however, the paragraph should be long enough to develop the main idea clearly. A paragraph has three major structural parts: - a topic sentence - supporting sentences - a concluding sentence 2- Length of a paragraph Often there are questions from almost all students about how long a paragraph is and how many sentences a-paragraph contains.There are no appropriate answers for those questions. However,you should keep in mind. that a paragraph should be neither so short that the main idea of the paragraph is not developed and sufficiently expanded, nor so long that it tends to break down into so many sub-ideas that it would be better to organize them into separate paragraphs. In other words, how long a paragraphwill be depends on how clearly a topic sentence is discussed or explained. 3-parts of a paragraph A paragraph is made up of three kinds of sentences that develop the writer’s main idea, opinion, or feeling about a subject. These sentences are: a. A Topic sentence b. Supporting sentences c. A Concluding sentence
The first line of a paragraph is usually indented. This indentation of a paragraph indicates where the paragraph begins. In a composition that contains many paragraphs, there will be several indentations to make it easy for the reader to see where each new paragraph or idea in the composition begins. One paragraph, however, contains only one indentation because there is only one beginning point. Remember that you must capitalize the first word in each sentence and end each sentence with a punctuation mark, most often a period (.). The chart below shows how the example paragraph is organized.
PRACTICE Read the following paragraph and identify its three main parts as indicated below There are three reasons why I prefer jogging to other sports. One reason is that Jogging is a cheap sport. I can practise it anywhere at any time with no need for a ball or any other equipment. Another reason why I prefer jogging is that it is friendly to my heart. I don’t have to exhaust myself or do excessive efforts while jogging. Finally, I prefer this sport because it is safe. It isn’t as risky as other sports like gymnastics, racing or horseback riding. For all these reasons, I consider jogging the best sport of all. I. TOPIC SENTENCE: ........................................................................................................................... II. SUPPORTING DETAILS */ First one: .................................................................................................................. Example: ....................................................................................................................... */ Second one: ............................................................................................................. Example: ...................................................................................................................... */ Third one: ............................................................................................................... Example: ...................................................................................................................... III. CONCLUDING SENTENCE: ........................................................................................................................
3.1 The TOPIC SENTENCE
A-what is a topic sentence? The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. It not only names the topic of the paragraph, but also limits the topic to one or two areas that can be discussed completely in the space of a single paragraph. The specific area is called the controlling idea,or focus. Notice how the following topic sentence states both the topic and the controlling idea. 4
Gold is prized for two important characteristics. Gold : topic two important characteristics : controlling idea The controlling idea is the central idea that is developed in a paragraph. Therefore, the controlling idea is the summary of all the information contained in its paragraph. Consequently, no information that cannot he summarized by the controlling idea can be included in a paragraph. Thus, the controlling idea is a restricting idea because it limits the information that can be included in its paragraph. Generally, the topic comes first and the controlling idea comes second in the topic sentence. However, the controlling idea may come first. A. A good architect is both an artist and a mathematician. Topic Controlling idea B. Artistic talent and mathematical ability are two qualities of a good architect. Controlling idea Topic Readers most often greatly rely on what the topic sentence says so as they can decide if the paragraph is worth reading or not. It gives them a broad view of what you are writing about because the topic sentence is meant to state the main idea of the paragraph. It helps readers save time as it tells them what the reset of the paragraph is all about. If they are interested in the topic, they will continue reading; if not; the topic sentence has given them guiding clues that help them be selective in their reading. The topic sentence in each paragraph is the short cut that helps the readers economize the amount of time and effort when they are skimming for gist or scanning for specific information. That’s why your topic sentence should be a sort of clincher, that is - a tempting statement that catches the readers’ attentions and entice them to carry on with the reading of the paragraph. Consider the following paragraph: Parents can help their children be successful in school by encouraging them. Children Topic Controlling idea usually enjoy playing games instead of studying. Therefore, parents should take the responsibility to monitor their studying. They should also remind their children to do their homework at home after school. Moreover, parents can encourage them to study by buying story books with pictures, or they can buy text books or tapes that help children learn to spell or read. The best way to encourage children to study efficiently is to reward them when they get an “A”. As a child, I experienced this. My parents gave me a gift when I got ‘A’ in my math lesson. I was very excited. As result, if parents really want their children to succeed in school, they need to pay attention to their children’s studies and encourage them. In the paragraph above, the topic sentence is the following: Parents can help their children be successful in school by encouraging them. The topic of the sentence is how parents can help children succeed in school; the controlling idea is encouraging them. The reader might ask the following questions and expect the paragraph to answer them: How can parents encourage their children? What specific things should parents do to encourage their children? How will this encouragement lead to success? B-Placement of the Topic Sentence In general, a sensible plan is to tell readers what the paragraph is intended to discuss before it is discussed. Thus, the common practice in writing a paragraph is to begin with the topic sentence and to follow it with supporting sentences. The topic sentence serves the special purpose of announcing the paragraph's topic. Using this approach to placement of the topic sentence, the reader can more easily identify the central point that the writer is making.The topic sentence, however, may be stated or placed anywhere in a paragraph; that is, it may be placed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a paragraph. However, as a beginning writer, you should place the topic sentence at the beginning of a paragraph. 5
Here is an example of a paragraph with a topic sentence stated at the beginning. There are many advantages to living in a village. First of all, one is much closer to nature and can enjoy more peace and quiet. In addition, life in the country is much slower and people tend to be more open and friendly. A further advantage is that there is much less traffic, and as a result it is much safer place to bring up young children. In conclusion, it can be seen that village life is suitable for retired and those who want to have more peace and less stress. Here is an example of a paragraph with a topic sentence stated at the end. The heart weighs about 11 ounces and is the size of a clenched fist. The heart of a man performs at about 60 to 80 beats a minute. In a year it beats some 40 million times. At each beat it takes in nearly a quarter of a pint of blood; in a single day it pumps 2,200 gallons of blood, and in the course of a single lifetime about 56 million gallons. Is there any other engine capable of carrying on such heavy work over such a long period of time without needing to be repaired? Obviously the human heart is a small yet highly efficient piece of equipment. C- Characteristics of a good topic sentence A good topic sentence, which defines the controlling idea clearly and precisely, must meet three requirements. It must be 1. Complete, 2. Limited, 3.and Specific. Being complete: Like any other sentence, a topic sentence must be a complete sentence: that is, it must consist of a subject and a predicate. In fact, if it is not a complete sentence, it is not a sentence at all, but rather a sentence fragment or a part of sentence. Study the following: 1. Fragment: Learning English Complete: Learning English is useful for everyone. 2. Fragment: Ways to learn English Complete: There are many easy ways to learn English. 3. Fragment: If you know English Complete: If you know English, you will have many advantages. Being limited: In addition to being complete, a topic sentence must also be limited: that is, it must express one and only one controlling idea which will be expanded into a complete paragraph. It must be clearly limited in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too a narrow. In this way, you will not have either too much or too little to write about. Compare the following sentences.
A: A good student must have
Idea 1 idea 2 B: A good student must have at least two learning habits and he should be responsible for his studies. Note that sentence A contains only one idea ("have at least two learning habits"), whereas sentence B has two ideas ("have at least two learning habits" and "should be responsible in his studies"). Therefore, sentence A is a better topic sentence because sentence B has more than one idea and is not a good topic sentence. Again, compare the following pair of topic sentences 6
Two controlling ideas A : Kairouan is famous for traditional artefacts and it has beautiful landscape. One controlling idea B: Kairouan is famous for its Islamic architecture. Being specific: A topic sentence should not be too general, or too vague. You should narrow down your subject to be more specific. A. Too general: My neighborhood is a nice place to live in. A good topic sentence: My neighborhood is fascinating because people from many countries live in it. B. Too general: Sports are exciting. Still too general: Watching a soccer game keeps me involved. Much better: Watching the Tunis derby between CA and E.S.T kept me on the edge of the chair. When you start to write about a very general topic, such as university, vacations, or nuclear power, you must narrow it down to a limited topic that can be discussed in one paragraph. For example, there are many specific things about university, such as classes, students, teachers, and the campus, that you can discuss. You may narrow down the subject of college to the more specific subject of a roommate. University-dormitory living-roommates- my roommates –Jane Samples: 1. Topic Sentence: "Many television cartoons contain an unhealthy amount of violence." Notice that this sentence clearly identifies that the key topic of the paragraph is violence in television cartoons. It also indicates that the remainder of the paragraph will discuss how much violence cartoons typically contain, and how/why this violence is unhealthy for viewers. 2. Topic Sentence: "An increasing number of people in the world are enjoying the benefits of organically grown fruits and vegetables." This topic sentence indicates that the remainder of the paragraph will cover the trend in the world toward eating organic foods. The reader can also expect learning more in this paragraph about the specific benefits of organic foods.
PRACTICE 1: Read the following topic sentences and decide on the best topic sentence. Remember that a topic sentence must have one single controlling idea A-COMPUTERS 1. Computers are unnecessary and make our life complicated. 2. Computers save us time and make our lives easier. 3. Computers are a necessary part of modern life. _____________________________________________________________________________________ B-MUSIC 1. Playing a musical instrument helps children to develop in discipline and self confidence. 2. Music can teach children to understand their own culture. _____________________________________________________________________________________ C-TELEVISION 1. Television gives free and interesting entertainment to people of all ages. 2. Television advertising is far more effective than advertising in magazines or newspapers. 7
3. Television has enormous influence on politics. _____________________________________________________________________________________ PRACTICE 2: Write specific topic sentences for possible paragraphs on the following topics. Example: Teenagers and drugs Topic sentence: Drug addiction has caused a huge increase in crimes of violence which is committed/done by teenagers. 1. Animals Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ 2. Television Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ 3. University Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ 4. Technology Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ 5. Getting married Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ 6. Learning a foreign language Topic sentence: _______________________________________________________________________________ PRACTICE 3: Narrowing Subjects from General to Specific Fill in the space in each funnel until you arrive at a specific subject. Try to add at least three or four ideas to each group. ENTERTAINMENT-singers - rock singer – superstar - Madonna 1. FRIENDS - my best friend…………………………………………………………….……… 2. SPORTS - individual sports …………………………………………………………….…..………… 3.DIVORCE–children……………………………….…………………………………..…………….. 4.CLASSES – my best/worst class …… …………….……………………………………..………….. 5. VACATIONS……………………………….……………………………………..…………… 6.MUSIC……………………………….……………………………………..…………………………… PRACTICE 4: A. Write a topic sentence for the following paragraphs. 1. Topic: Using Internet _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. Firstly, all of the latest information is available to you; in your home, at any hour of the day or night. Also, on-line shopping makes it possible to search through catalogues to find exactly what you want at the best price, so you can save both time and money. By joining a newsgroup or chat group, you can share your hobbies and special interests, and perhaps make friends all over the world. Finally, e-mail is popular because it is faster than sending a letter and cheaper than a telephone conversation. 8
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. Due to difficult life conditions, people are more aggressive towards each other. Couples do not tolerate a few mistakes. In addition, women think that life is always difficult unless they have their own economics independence. Being economically independent is the desire of many women. They want to earn money and spend it as they wish. Nowadays, there are many women working outside their homes and are independent. As a result, some regard divorce as the best way to get this independence. They hope to be free and stand without one’s help. 3. Topic: My Father’s Death _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. First of all, I felt great sadness and loneliness. For the firs few months, my loneliness was so great that I often dreamed that my father would miraculously return. In addition, throughout the rest of my childhood, I was afraid of losing someone else whom I loved. Whenever my mother was away from home, I was nervous until she returned. Finally, the loss of my father caused me to develop a greater sense of responsibility. For example, I believed that with my father gone I was responsible for helping my mother with her chores. My father’s death, therefore, left me lonely, frightened, and responsible – a young child with adult feelings. 4. Topic: Teenagers Smoking _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. Teenagers tent to be curious about new things. They smoke for the sake of knowing how it feels. Unfortunately, once they started to smoke their first cigarette, they would have the second, the third, and then become accustomed to it eventually! Just like the addiction of taking drugs. (mere: only, sake: cause) 5. Topic: Space Technology
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. Firstly, telecommunication satellites have greatly improved global communications. Meteorological satellites also provide advance information. Furthermore, some special satellites register the earth’s resources and military information. Scientists are working to develop space technology to use in different areas. 7. Topic: Tourism _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______. Nearly three million people depend, directly or indirectly, upon tourism for their jobs. Tourism employs twenty times as many people as the car industry, and earns four as much money as agriculture. We need tourists’ money in fact they provide more jobs for all of us.
3.2 THE SUPPORTING SENTENCES
The body of every effective paragraph consists of ideas or details that support and explain the topic sentence. The number of supporting details required in a paragraph depends on what the writer is trying to show. The supporting sentences must give information that reinforces the main idea stated in the topic sentence. So there should at least be three supporting details because one or two make the paragraph less convincing and not worth the effort done to build it. Thus the students are strongly advised to provide at least three strong details which can support the main idea. The students can use all the writing techniques necessary to make the paragraph sustainable and eligible: descriptions, definitions, examples, elaboration and exploration. If any of the supporting details doesn’t correlate with the main idea or does not support it, it will break the unity of the paragraph.
Supporting sentences may be classified into one of two groups: major support sentences or minor support sentences. MAJOR SUPPORT SENTENCES A major support sentence has only one function: it develops the controlling idea of a paragraph by telling the reader something new or different about that idea. It directly supports the controlling idea by making that idea more easily understood. My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. First, it is noted for the Wheaton River, which is very wide and beautiful. Also, on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill, which is unusual because it is very steep. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. This tree stands two hundred feet tall. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place. MINOR SUPPORT SENTENCES A minor support sentence has two functions: (I) it develops its major support sentence by telling the reader something new or different about that sentence, and (II) At the same time it helps its support sentence develop the controlling idea. It directly support its major support sentence by making it more easily understood. It indirectly supports the controlling idea of the paragraph by helping its major support sentence make that idea more easily understood. Therefore, a minor support sentence must be closely related both to its major support sentence and the controlling idea of the paragraph. My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. First, it is noted for the Wheaton River, which is very wide and beautiful. On either side of this river, which is 175 feet wide, are many willow trees which have long branches that can move gracefully in the wind. In autumn the leaves of these trees fall and cover the riverbanks like golden snow. Also, on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill, which is unusual because it is very steep. Even though it is steep, climbing this hill is not dangerous, because there are some firm rocks along the sides that can be used as stairs. There are no trees around this hill, so it stands clearly against the sky and can be seen from many miles away. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place.
THE CONCLUDING SENTENCE In formal paragraphs you will sometimes see a sentence at the end of the paragraph which summarizes the information that has been presented. This is the concluding sentence. You can think of a concluding sentence as a sort of topic sentence in reverse. You can understand concluding sentences with this example. Consider a hamburger that you can buy at a fast-food restaurant. A hamburger has a top bun (a kind of bread), meat, cheese, lettuce, and other elements in the middle of the hamburger, and a bottom bun. Note how the top bun and the bottom bun are very similar. The top bun, in a way, is like a TOPIC SENTENCE, and the bottom bun is like the CONCLUDING SENTENCE. Both buns "hold" the meat, onions, and so on. Similarly, the topic sentence and 13
concluding sentence "hold" the supporting sentences in the paragraph. Let's see how a concluding sentence (in bold font) might look in our sample paragraph about Wheaton: There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First, Canada has an excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live in . Notice how the concluding sentence summarizes the information in the paragraph. Notice also how the concluding sentence is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the topic sentence. A concluding sentence is helpful to the reader because it signals the end of the paragraph and because it is a reminder of the important points. A concluding sentence serves three purposes: 1. It signals the end of the paragraph. 2. It summarizes the main points of the paragraph. 3. It gives a final comment on the topic and leaves the reader with the most important ideas to think about. Use one of the following end-of-paragraph signals to introduce your concluding sentence: END-OF-PARAGRAPH SIGNALS These are followed by a comma These are not followed by a comma Finally, As a result, In conclusion, Indeed , We can see that Therefore, It is clear that In summary, In brief, These examples show that Thus, There can be no doubt that The evidence suggests that The examples that follow demonstrate two different types of concluding sentences. The first one paraphrases the topic sentence; that is, the concluding sentence repeats the main idea of the topic sentence in different words. The second example summarizes the two main points of the paragraph, which were not specifically stated in the topic sentence. Synonyms, words that have the same basic meaning, do not always have the same emotional meaning. For example, the words stingy and frugal both mean "careful with money" However, to call a person stingy is an insult while the word frugal has a much more positive connotation. Similarly a person wants to be slender but not skinny, and aggressive but not pushy. Therefore, you should be careful in choosing words because many so-called synonyms are not really synonymous at all. Gold. a precious metal. is prized for two important characteristics. First of all, gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion. Therefore, it is suitable for jewelry, coins, and ornamental purposes. Gold never needs to be polished and will remain beautiful forever. For example, a Macedonian coin remains as untarnished today as the day it was minted twenty-three centuries ago. Another important characteristic of gold is its usefulness to industry and science. For many years, it has been used in hundreds of industrial applications. The most recent use of gold is in astronauts' suits. Astronauts wear gold-plated heat shields for protection outside spaceships. In conclusion, gold is treasured not only for its beauty but also for its utility.
STEP I Underline the topic sentence in each paragraph. STEP 2 Determine the main idea of each paragraph. STEP 3 Add a good concluding sentence to each. You may either paraphrase the topic sentence or summarize the main points. 14
STEP 4 Begin each concluding sentence with an end-of-paragraph signal. Paragraph I You can be a good conversationalist by being a good listener. When you are conversing with someone, pay close attention to the speaker's words while looking at his or her face. Show your interest by smiling and/or nodding. Furthermore, don't interrupt while someone is speaking; it is impolite to do so. If you have a good story wait until-the speaker is finished. Also, watch your body language; it can affect your communication whether you are the speaker or the listener. For instance, don't sit slumped in a chair or make nervous hand and foot movements. Be relaxed and bend your body slightly forward to show interest in the person and the conversation. _____________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Paragraph 2 Modern communication technology is driving workers in the corporate world crazy. They feel buried under the large number of messages they receive daily. In addition to telephone calls, office workers receive dozens of E-mail and voice mail messages daily. In one company, in fact, managers receive an average of 100 messages a day. Because they don't have enough time to respond to these messages during office hours, it is common for them to do so in the evenings or on weekends at home. _____________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________
UNITY and COHERENCE in PARAGRAPHS:
COHERENCE Another element of a good paragraph is coherence. The Latin verb cohere means "hold together." In order to have coherence in writing the sentences must hold together; that is, the movement from one sentence to the next and in longer essays, from one paragraph to the next) must be logical and smooth. There must be no sudden jumps. Each sentence should flow smoothly into the next one. Consider the following paragraph: My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. First, it is noted for the Wheaton River, which is very wide and beautiful. On either side of this river, which is 175 feet wide, are many willow* trees which have long branches that can move gracefully in the wind. In autumn the leaves of these trees fall and cover the riverbanks like golden snow. Second, on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill, which is unusual because it is very steep. Even though it is steep, climbing this hill is not dangerous, because there are some firm rocks along the sides that can be used as stairs. There are no trees around this hill, so it stands clearly against the sky and can be seen from many miles away. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place. The above paragraph is easy to read and understand because (1) the supporting sentences are in some kind of logical order and (2) all the ideas in the paragraph flow smoothly from one sentence to the next (3) appropriate transition signals are used to connect the different ideas. There are four ways to achieve coherence. The first two ways involve repeating key nouns and using pronouns that refer back to key nouns. The third way is to use transition signals to show how one idea is related to the next. The fourth way to achieve coherence is to arrange your sentences in a logical order.
A. Repetition of Key words
The easiest way to achieve coherence is to repeat key words frequently in your paragraph. Key words are the words carrying most significance in a paragraph. key words are those words a writer wants the reader to focus on as the paragraph progresses. Look at the model paragraph about gold to see how it uses this technique to achieve coherence. The key noun in this paragraph is gold. Circle gold pronouns that refer to it. Gold, a precious metal, is prized for two important characteristics. First of all, go gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion. Therefore, it is suitable for jewelry, coins, and ornamental purposes. Gold never needs to be polished and will remain beautiful forever. For example, a Macedonian coin remains as untarnished today as the day it was minted twenty-three centuries ago. Another important characteristic of gold is its usefulness to industry and science. For many years, it has been used in hundreds of industrial applications. The most recent use of gold is in astronauts' suits. Astronauts wear gold-plated heat shields for protection outside spaceships. In conclusion, gold is treasured not only for its beauty but also for its utility. You should have circled the noun gold seven times, the pronoun it twice, and the pronoun its three times. Echo Words & Phrases: Echo words and phrases allow writers to remind the reader of the topic being discussed without becoming repetitive, as too much repetition of the same words can be distracting and even irritating to a reader. Echo words are actually synonyms for the key word, but they can also be phrases. Consider the echo words in the following paragraph about tourists and souvenirs:
The steady production of souvenirs throughout the mid-20th century has created a well that collectors can tap. The objects that have proved the most desirable in recent years are ones dating from the 1920s through the 1960s. For collectors, the good news is that the tablecloths, tumblers, snow globes, ashtrays, charm bracelets, and other objects from this period were produced in such large quantities that surviving examples are still easy to find and affordable. Prices range from a few dollars to a few hundred, with many falling between $20 and $40. The key word in this paragraph is "souvenirs." To avoid repetition of this word, however, the author uses substitutes: "objects" and "examples." Note, too, that the author adds adjectives and modifying phrases to the echo words to further clarify her meaning, as in "other objects from this period," and "surviving examples." Echo words and phrases are far more desirable than general pronouns like "this" and "it" because they do add so much clarity to the sentence. In fact, using these general pronouns can often get developing writers into trouble with pronoun reference problems, so an echo word or phrase is a far better choice for a subject.
In the following paragraph, the key noun is never repeated. Replace the pronoun it with the key noun English wherever you think doing so would make the paragraph more coherent. English English has almost become an international language. Except for Chinese, more people speak it than any other language. Spanish is the official language of more countries in the world, but more countries have it as their official or unofficial second language. More than 70 percent of the world's mail is written in it. It is the primary language on the Internet. In international business, it is used more than any other language, and it is the language of airline pilots and air traffic controllers all over the world. Moreover, although French used to be the language of diplomacy, it has displaced it throughout the world.Therefore, unless you plan to spend your life alone on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is a useful language to know.
B. Use of Consistent Pronouns
When you use pronouns instead of key nouns, make sure that you use the same person and number throughout your paragraph. Don’t change from you to he or she (change of person), or from he to they (change of number).
A-In the following passage about dolphins, replace some of the pronouns with appropriate singular or plural nouns. Dolphins are interesting because they display almost human behavior at times. For example, they display the human emotions of joy and sadness. During training, when they do something correctly, they squeal excitedly and race toward their trainer. When they make a mistake, however, they droop noticeably and mope around their pool. Furthermore, they help each other when they are in trouble. If one is sick, it sends out a message, and others in the area swim to help it. They push it to the surface of the water so that it can breathe. They stay with it for clays or weeks-until it recovers or dies. They have also helped trapped or lost whales navigate their way safely out to the open sea. They are so intelligent and helpful, in fact, that the U.S. Navy is training them to become underwater bomb disposal experts. B. In the following paragraph, the pronouns are not consistent. Correct them to make this paragraph more coherent. Olympic athletes must be strong both physically and mentally. First of all, if you hope to compete in an Olympic sport, you must be physically strong Furthermore, an aspiring Olympian must train 17
rigorously* for many years. For the most demanding sports, they train several hours a day, five or six days a week for ten or more years. In addition to being physically strong he or she must also be mentally tough.. This means that you have to be dedicated to your sport, often giving up a normal school family, and social life. Being mentally strong also means that he or she must be able to withstand the intense of international competition with its media coverage. Finally, not everyone can win a medal, so they must possess the inner strength to live with defeat.
C. Transition Signals
Transition signals are words such as first, second, next, finally, therefore, and however,or phrases such as in conclusion, on the other hand, and as a result. Think of transition signals as traffic signs that tell your reader when to go forward, turn, slow down, and stop. In other words, they tell the reader when you are giving a similar idea (similarly, moreover, furthermore, in addition), an opposite idea (on the other hand, however, in contrast), an example (for example), a result (as a result), or aconclusion (in conclusion). Major Connectors Look at the words in bold font in the paragraph about my home town. Do you see how they help guide the reader? For example, consider the words, First, Second, and The third amazing feature. We can call these words major connectors. Major connectors help organize the main parts of your paragraph. This paragraph has three main parts: (1) a part about the Wheaton River, (2) a part about Wheaton Hill, and (3) a part about the Big Old Tree. Another way of saying this is that this paragraph has three main points which are indicated by the major connectors. Using such major connectors is an important way of providing coherence in a paragraph. Minor Connectors What about the other words in bold, such as those appearing in the phrases "these trees" and "this hill"? We can call these minor connectors. Minor connectors provide coherence to a paragraph by connecting sentences within each of the main parts of your paragraph. That is, when you write about your main points, you can use minor connectors to link your details to each main point. Here are some of the most commonly used connecting words and phrases and the purposes they serve. Purpose To add another idea To arrange ideas in order or time Connecting Word/Phrase furthermore, in addition, also, moreover, likewise, similarly first, finally, meanwhile, eventually, next, subsequently, ultimately, at the same time
To add an illustration or explanation for example, for instance, in other words To conclude or sum up hence, therefore, thus, accordingly, in brief, in conclusion, consequently
To connect two contrasting ideas; to on the other hand, however, yet, conversely, nonetheless, differeniate ideas nevertheless, rather, although, on the contrary To emphasize or confirm indeed, naturally, of course, certainly, undoubtedly, admittedly, plainly
Be careful, however, not to overuse transitional expressions. Save them for significant connections between ideas that you want to call special attention to. Overuse can be distracting.
A-Compare paragraphs 1 and 2 that follow. Both paragraphs give the same information, yet one paragraph is easier to understand than the other because it contains transition signals to lead the reader from one idea to the next. Which paragraph contains transition signals and is more coherent? Circle all of the transition signals that you can identify. 18
Paragraph 1 A difference among the world's seas and oceans is that the salinity varies in different climate zones. The Baltic Sea in Northern Europe is only one-fourth as saline as the Red Sea in the Middle East. There are reasons for this. In warm climates, water evaporates rapidly. The concentration of salt is greater. The surrounding land is dry and does not contribute much fresh water to dilute the salty sea water. In cold climate zones, water evaporates slowly. The runoff created by melting snow adds a considerable amount of fresh water to dilute the saline sea water. Paragraph 2 Another difference among the world's seas and oceans is that the salinity varies in different climate zones. For example, the Baltic Sea in North Europe is only one-fourth as saline as the Red Sea in the Middle East. There are two reasons for this. First of all, in warm climate zones, water evaporates rapidly; therefore, the concentration of salt is greater. Second the surrounding land is dry and, consequently, does not contribute much fresh water to dilute the salty sea water. In cold climate zones, on the other hand water evaporates slowly. Furthermore, the runoff created by melting snow adds a considerable amount of fresh water to dilute the saline sea water. B- Choose the transition signal that best shows the relationship between the sentences in each group from the choices given in parentheses. Write the signal in the space.Add punctuation and change capital letters to small letters if necessary. Example: A recent article in Era magazine suggested ways to reduce inflation. The article suggested that the president reduce the federal budget; furthermore it suggested that the government reduce federal, state, and local taxes. (however, in contrast, furthermore) 1. The same article said that the causes of inflation were easy to find ________ the cure for inflation was not so easy to prescribe. (however, for example, therefore) 2. Era also suggested that rising wages were one of the primary causes of inflation _______________the government should take action to control wages. (however, therefore, for example) 3. In physics, the weight of an object is the gravitational force 2 with which the Earth attracts it_________ if a man weighs 150 pounds, this means that the earth pulls him down with a force of 150 pounds. (moreover, therefore, for example) 4. The farther away from the Earth a person is, the less the gravitational force of the Earth _________a man weighs less when he is 50,000 miles from the Earth than when he is only 5,000 miles away. (in conclusion, therefore, however) 5. A tsunami is a tidal wave produced by an earthquake on the ocean floor.The waves are very long and low in open water, but when they get close to land, they encounter friction because the water is shallow ____________the waves Increase in height and can cause considerable damage when they finally reach land. (on the other hand, as a result, for example)
D. Logical Order
In addition to using transition signals and repeating key words and pronouns, a fourth way to achieve coherence is to arrange your sentences in some kind of logical order. Your choice of one kind of logical order over another will, of course, depend on your topic and on your purpose. You may even combine two or more different logical orders in the same paragraph. The important point to remember is to arrange your ideas in some kind of order that is logical to a reader accustomed to the English way of writing. Some common kinds of logical order in English are chronological order, logical division of ideas and comparison/contrast. Each kind of order has its own special words and phrases to show the relation ships among the ideas. For example, in a piece of writing using chronological order you would expect to find a lot of time expressions: first, next, after that, finally, before the last war, after 1990, since then, in 20 10, while working on the project, etc. In a Paragraph describing differences (contrast), you would find these expressions: the most noticeable difference, larger than, unlike, on the other hand, in contrast, differ from In a paragraph showing similarities (comparison), you would find these expressions: similarity, similarly, as expensive as, just as, just like, compare with, in comparison. 19
Often sentences have implicit logical connections that help the reader follow the thread of a discussion or argument.Consider the example below: Chinatown offers one of the largest Asian American grocery districts in the country. Skinned animals hang in windows of butcher shops here like clothes hang in the windows of suburban department stores. Though no transitional expression is used, the passage is coherent. It is clear that the writer is continuing a discussion of grocery stores in Chinatown, offering an interesting an distinctive detail about these stores. A good way to test the coherence of your paragraph is to examine each sentence and ask yourself what your reader would expect you to say next based on that sentence. Given the first sentence in the passage above, a reader might ask "What are these stores like?" or "What is distinctive about these stores that draws Asian-Americans?" The next sentence supplies an acceptable answer to that question, and so the passage is coherent.
Choose one of the topic sentences below and write a paragraph that develops it. Use transition signals to connect the supporting sentences smoothly. You may use the transition signals suggested for each topic, or you may use others not listed. Add other sentences without transitions if you need to in order to explain the topic completely. Topic Suggestions Drinking laws The effects of divorce Working mothers
Like coherence,Unity is another very important characteristic of good paragraph writing. Unity means that you discuss only one main idea in a paragraph. That is, all the sentences -- the topic, supporting sentences, the detail sentences, and (sometimes) the concluding sentence -- are all telling the reader about ONE main topic. If your paragraph contains a sentence or some sentences that are NOT related to the main topic, then we say that the paragraph "lacks unity," or that the sentence is "off-topic." Look at the following paragraph, which is similar to the paragraph that we have studied above. Does it have perfect unity? Try to find the sentence that is off-topic: Each of the Russian space exploration projects had specific major goals. For example, the Vostok project was designed to test whether or not human beings could survive and function in outer space. For another example, the Voshkhod project was intended to find out whether people could work in the weightless environment of space. One Voshkhod cosmonaut experimented with weightlessness by taking a "spacewalk." That is, he floated in a spacesuit outside his Voshkhod spacecraft, connected to it by a tether. The cosmonaut to do this was Alexei Leonov. Several weeks later, Leonov's spacewalk was followed by that of U.S. astronaut Ed White. Finally, the Soyuz project, with three cosmonauts, had goals of testing spacecraft and space flight skills so that people could fly long missions in Earth orbit. This paragraph is generally good, but the sentence, Several weeks later, Leonov's spacewalk was followed by that of U.S. astronaut Ed White, does not have anything to do with the major goals of the various Russian space projects. That is, it is an "off-topic" sentence, so we can say that the paragraph somewhat lacks unity. In order to improve the paragraph, we should omit this sentence, even though it is historically accurate. PRACTICE
B-Study the following paragraph and decide whether there are irrelevant sentences and then revise it. In general, the closer a region is to the equator, the warmer its climate will be, but other factors also have an influence on temperature. for example, distance from the sea is important because although water absorbs heat more slowly than land, it retains it longer. Consequently, throughout the cold months of winter the sea warms the nearby land just as a radiator warms a room. This is why it takes longer to heat a pound of water through one degree Centigrade than it does to heat a pound of earth the same amount. Another important factor is the height of a region above sea level. The higher you go up a mountain, the less dense the air is. Finally, physical features such as high mountains influence the temperature of nearby regions. If mountains cause rain to fall frequently, the nearby regions become cooler than other regions in the same latitude. If mountains block the passage of cold winds, nearby regions become warmer than unsheltered regions in the same latitude.
Comparison and Contrast Paragraphs
When writing comparison or contrast paragraphs, a writer stresses how two or more things are alike or how they are different. Comparison paragraphs explain how two or more things are similar or alike. Contrast paragraphs explain how two or more things are dissimilar or different. Paragraph samples • Comparison paragraph
The educational systems of Europe and the United States are similar in a number of ways. To begin with, elementary school classes look the same everywhere. There are about twenty to twenty-two pupils per class, and the classes are coeducational. Also, there is one teacher for all subjects for each grade (except in Scandinavia), and the majority of elementary school teachers are women. In addition, the subjects which are taught at the elementary level are basically the same everywhere: reading and writing, mathematics, introductions to the sciences, music, sports, and art. The only major difference in the elementary curriculum is that most Europeans study a foreign language in elementary school, but most American children do not. As a result, American and European educational systems differ in some ways You can hardly imagine George and Jack are actually twins. It is almost impossible for George to sit still for more than 30 minutes at a stretch and he is the chattiest person among his groups of friends. His twin brother Jack, however, is a boy of few words and loves to read books in solitude rather than going out to enjoy parties. Unlike George, who has a ready smile on his face and is quick to greet everybody he knows on his way, Jack usually plods along silently, often too lost in deep thoughts to even return a greeting in time. The two do not even look alike. George is a chubby looking boy on the verge of being overweight; in contrast, Jack is simply “skinny” with sunken cheeks and a sharp chin. While relatives and family members call George a friendly “public relations officer”, they fondly refer to Jack as the “absent-minded professor”. Even their parents can hardly understand why the two brothers are so different.
• Contrast paragraph
PARAGRAPH STRUCTRE As you have learned in previous lessons, a well-organized paragraph consists of topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. The topic sentence In a comparison or contrast paragraph, usually the topic introducer tells the two things to be compared or contrasted, and the topic sentence tells the controlling idea. The topic sentence should also indicate the emphasis of the paragraph, either similarities or differences. In a comparison or contrast paragraph, the emphasis is usually on one or the other. Very commonly if you are comparing two rather dissimilar things, acknowledge the obvious similarities but focus on the differences. If you are comparing two obviously similar things, acknowledge the obvious differences but emphasize the similarities. Compare the following two topic sentences and see which one is better. 1. Although both our pet cats look lovely, their differences in temperament is constant source of amusement. 2. Our two pet cats are quite different. Obviously, topic sentence 1 is better than topic sentence 2 for three reasons: First, topic sentence 2 is too general to be developed in one paragraph. it does not restrict the controlling ideas as to what points of the two cats to contrast. Second, topic sentence 1 not only indicates the point to be contrasted but also reveals that the purpose of the writer is not just to show the difference but to reveal a source of amusement. Third, topic sentence 1 acknowledges the obvious similarity of the two pet cats, and then indicates the differences a s the focus of the paragraph. The points to be compared or contrasted are usually indicated in the topic sentence. If you were asked to compare and contrast two people, you could compare their looks, backgrounds, philosophies, the ways they treat people, their attitudes toward life, their intelligence, their lifestyles, and so on. Then it is best to 22
restrict the points of comparison to two-four points and choose the most significant points for comparison or contrast that would support the controlling idea. For instance, If you were comparing two politicians in order to show that one is more diplomatic, you would not bother with comparing and contrasting their tastes in food; it would be irrelevant. Emphasis in comparison or contrast Supporting sentences Items to be compared or contrasted should be comparable. The points or items to be compared or contrasted should be parallel or of the same category; otherwise, the items would be incomparable.
For example, if you were contrasting two new models of automobiles, you might come up with the following points of comparison after brainstorming:
Features to Be Contrasted
exterior styling colors seats and interior comfort instrument panels sound systems tires navigation systems air bags and safety features cupholders and compartments price and discounts performance and handling options engine, transmission, suspension, and brakes handling gas mileage color and upholstery choices
You must then pick several of the points of comparison or contrast that seem most important, probably no more than three or four, to develop in your paragraph. You couldn’t possibly develop all of the points in
your brainstorming list in one paragraph. After deciding which points to cover, you must be sure to make your points of comparison clear and actually develop them. Also, you must include a discussion of each thing being compared or contrasted with each point of comparison. You can’t, for example, talk about the Ford’s engine without talking about the Toyota’s, too. Furthermore, you must organize your paragraph in such a way that your reader does not have to jump about from one point to another. The Concluding sentence No matter whether it is a comparison or contrast paragraph, the concluding sentence is usually a restatement of the topic sentence or a summary of the points compared or contrasted in the development of the paragraph. to show a cautious attitude, the writer may mention little of exceptions.
PRACTICE CHOOSE an appropriate conjunction from those shown below to finish the paragraph. in the same way likewise another similarity similarly whereas too while both however Even though we come from different cultures, my wife and I are alike in several ways. For one thing, we are thirty-two years old. In fact, our birthdays are in the same month, hers on July 10 and mine on July 20. _________ is that we both grew up in large cities. Helene was born and raised in Paris and I come from Yokohama. Third, our hobbies are alike _________. My wife devotes a lot of her free time to playing jazz piano. _________, I like to spend time after work strumming my guitar. A more important similarity concerns our values. For example, Helene has strong opinions about educating our children and raising them to know right from wrong. I feel _________. Our children should receive a good education and also have strong moral training.
Topic sentence Point 1 Detail A Detail B Point 2 Detail A 27
A -- B
Detail B Point 3 Detail A Detail B Conclusion
Topic sentence Subtopic A
A --- B
Details about Subtopic A Subtopic B
Details about subtopic B
Cause and Effect Paragraphs
A cause and effect paragraph is a paragraph that indicates the cause (or reason) that produces an effect (or result), or the paragraph that points out the effect (or result) produced by a cause. The function of cause/effect is usually to answer the questions 'Why", such as Why did it happen?" or"What", such as 'What are its causes?" or 'What are its effects?" In short, the cause/effect paragraph explains why a condition occurs or the effect that this condition brings about. Cause/effect models can be found in many kinds of writing and can be used for any of the writer's purposes: to justify or condemn some action, to prove or disprove an idea, belief or assertion, to explain or to give an account of something or situation, to convince, or to draw a conclusion. Consider the following example paragraphs. Students drop out of college for many reasons. First of all, some students are bored in school. These students may enter college expecting non stop fun or a series of fascinating courses. When they find out that college is often routine, they quickly lose interest. They do not want to take dull required courses or spend their nights studying, and so they drop out. Students also drop out of college because the work is harder than they thought it would be .These students may have made decent grades in high school simply by showing up for class. In college, however they may have to prepare for two hour exams, write fifteen page term papers or make detailed presentations to a class. The hard work comes as a shock and students give up. Perhaps the most common reason students drop out is that they are having personal or emotional problems. Younger students especially, may be attending college at an age when they are also feeling confused, lonely, or depressed. These students may have problems with roommates, family, friends or girlfriends. They become too unhappy to deal with both hard academic work and emotional troubles. For many types of students dropping out seems to be the only solution they can imagine. Television negatively influences people's behavior in a number of ways. First of all, advertisements force people to buy things they may not need. For example, those who buy campingequipment, but they never go camping. Someone who buys a new car but can't really afford it.Also,someone who buys a new computer even though his or her old computer works fine. The most important negative effect is that television may lead to violence. When children see terrible things on TV and sometimes act them out. They may not be able to understand right from wrong and think that violence is ok. In conclusion, television influences everybody’s behavior in negative ways. Therefore, people should consider those effects before they start to watch television programs.
2-STRUCTURE OF CAUSE/EFFECT PARAGRAPHS
Cause/effect paragraphs generally follow basic paragraph format. That is, they begin with a topic sentence and this sentence is followed by specific supporting details. For example, if the topic sentence introduces an effect, the supporting sentences all describe causes. Here is an example:
In recent decades, cities have grown so large that now about 50% of the Earth's population lives in urban areas. There are several reasons for this occurrence. First, the increasing industrialization of the nineteenth century resulted in the creation of many factory jobs, which tended to be located in cities. These jobs, with their promise of a better material life, attracted many people from rural areas. Second, there were many schools established to educate the children of the new factory laborers. The promise of a better education persuaded many families to leave farming communities and move to the cities. Finally, as the cities grew, people established places of leisure, entertainment, and culture, such as sports stadiums, theaters, and museums. For many people, these facilities made city life appear more interesting than life on the farm, and therefore drew them away from rural communities.
Notice how each supporting sentence is a cause that explains the effect mentioned in the topic sentence. In the chart below are the main ideas of the above paragraph, to help you understand the relationships better: EFFECT (Topic Sentence) Cities have grown very large. [There are several reasons for this.] (Cities have grown very large.) CAUSES (Supporting Sentences) Factory jobs attracted people. Better schools attracted families to move to the city. Places of leisure, entertainment, and culture made city life appear more interesting.
(Cities have grown very large.)
3- Cause and Effect Conjunctions
Here are some common conjunctions that can be used to express cause and effect: since because consequently as a result therefore for this reason because of + noun phrase due to + noun phrase so
There are two things you must be careful of when using these conjunctions. First, you must order the cause and the effect corerctly. For example, in the sentence Sally closed the window because the weather outside was cold. the CAUSE is the fact that the room was cold, and the EFFECT is Sally's closing the window. The conjunction because is placed in the correct position here, which is right before the cause. Similarly, in the sentence Because the weather outside was cold, Sally closed the window. the conjunction because is correctly placed before the part of the sentence that expresses the cause, even though the subordinate clause because the room was cold is now at the beginning of the sentence. (Note that the first letter of the conjunction is now capitalized.) However, in this sentence: ??The weather outside was cold because Sally closed the window. even though it is grammatical, it does not make sense because a person's opening or closing a window does not influence the weather. 30
Second, you should be careful when using commas. Conjunctions such as therefore, consequently, as a result, and for this reason are usually followed by a comma, as in these examples: The weather was cold; therefore, Sally closed the window. The weather was cold. Therefore, Sally put on her coat. The weather was cold. Consequently, Sally put on her scarf. A blizzard hit the town. As a result, the schools were closed. The adverbial clause conjunctions since and because are exceptions. These are attached directly at the beginning of CAUSE-sentence without a comma, as in the example above, Because the weather outside was cold, Sally closed the window. The comma here is placed at the end of the subordinate clause. The coordinating conjunction so is also different from the ones above. This conjunction has a comma before it, as in this sentence: The weather was warm, so Jim turned on the air conditioner. However, in formal academic writing, so may not be used at the beginning of a sentence (although you will often see it in informal writing): The weather was warm. So Jim turned on the air conditioner. (too informal -- avoid this usage)
THE NARRATIVE PARAGRAPH
A narrative paragraph ‘tells a story’, that is, it tells about a series of events that happened to the narrator.
In writing a narrative paragraph, you share with the reader some personal experience of your own in order to make a point or convey a message. You may choose to tell how your grandfather influenced your desire to become an scientist, or perhaps you’ll relate the story of the time you didn’t make the cut for the basketball team. Whatever story you tell, your purpose is to share with others some experience that has taught you something or changed you somehow.
Read the following paragraph and answer the question that follow One Saturday last June, just two days after my high school graduation, a night of celebration turned into a costly and embarrassing lesson on the dangers of drinking and driving. Out with a girlfriend for a wild night on the town, we made stops at such popular hangouts as Studebaker's, Baggy Drawers, and Night Lights, and at each of these spots I drank a margarita or two. (Yes, I had a fake ID.) I was giggly by 11:00, tipsy by midnight, and flat out soused by the time we shut the bars down at three. Of course, as I hollered farewells to my friends and poured myself into the car, I was dead certain that I was sober enough to drive home safely. With one eye shut to keep the road from blurring, I weaved down Monroe Avenue. One minute there was not a soul on the road in front of me, and the next--crash! I had plowed into the back of a big green Buick. When the police arrived--instantly, it seemed--they gave me a breath test even before asking to see my license. Naturally I registered drunk. After filling out pages of forms and checking to see that nobody was injured, the police took me to jail, where I was photographed, fingerprinted, and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). I had to pay a $2,000 fine and attend driving school for three months. It was there, viewing gory films of accident victims with their bodies crunched under tires and heads wrapped inside bumpers, that I made a promise not to drink and drive ever again. Underline the topic sentence and the concluding sentence . Where and when did the events take place? Who is telling the story? Who are the characters in this story? What happened exactly? In what way did the story end? What message is the writer sending ?
1-Elements of a Narrative Paragraph
Narrative paragraphs contain several regular elements:.
Setting. The setting refers to the background in which the story takes place. There are several components necessary to create a setting:
Place. This usually refers to the geographical location of the story. The story may move from one place to another. For example, a story may begin in a particular city in England. By the middle of the story, the character(s) may find themselves in other locations within England. Time. First, this refers to the period of history, if the story is set in the past. If the story could happen now or at some recent unspecified time, we say that it is "contemporary." If it is a science fiction story, it may be set in the future. Time also refers to the season, month, and even time of day. Climate/Weather. This is an aspect of setting which can be important to the novel. If the story begins in the midst of a hurricane, it is significant to the story. Atmosphere. This is the mood or feeling of the story, the emotional quality that the story gives to the reader. The setting of the story is usually responsible for creating the mood or feeling of the story. You might say that a novel opens with a mysterious atmosphere, a gloomy atmosphere. Like the setting, the mood may change throughout the novel.
Plot. The plot is a synopsis of the storyline in chronological order. The plot usually arises out of the conflict in the story, which eventually builds to a climatic moment. The basic plot is comprised of the following:
• • • •
Introduction. Refers to the beginning of the story where the characters and setting are presented. Problem/Conflict. This is where the events in the story become complicated and the problem in the story is revealed. Climax. This is the turning point in the story in which the reader wonders what will happen next (i.e., will the problem get solved or not?) Solution/Conclusion – This is the point in the story in which the problem is solved
Characters. Refers to people, animal, robots, etc., who play parts in the action of the story.
• • •
The protagonist is the main character throughout the novel. A novel can have more than one protagonist (e.g. two or even three main characters). The force with which the protagonist is in conflict is called the antagonist. The force can be a person or persons, society or an internal struggle within the main character.
Focus • Narrative effect is the main point of your story—the moral, the message, the insight you offer. Without a
specific narrative effect, your writing is merely a series of unconnected events. If you are unsure what your main point is, you might ask yourself, “Why am I telling this story? Why should someone else be interested in reading about my experience?” In addition, you must decide whether to reveal your point explicitly (stated directly) or implicitly (suggested but not stated).
Point of view •
Decide which point of view, first-person or third-person, works best for your narrative. Most personal narratives are written in first-person, but third-person can be effective as well. First-person tends to be more subjective,
Organization of narrative paragraphs
The narrative paragraph consists of three basic parts: The orientation, the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph, establishes the setting, characters, and other essential elements of the story. The complication (supporting sentences)involves rising conflict that leads up to the climax (the point of highest action in the story).
Then, in the resolution, (concluding sentence)the conflict is resolved and the narrative effect is revealed or suggested.
The order in which the events are presented in the narrative paragraph is very important to the overall unity of the paragraph. You must decide whether chronological time or psychological time best suits your story. In chronological time, events are described in the order in which they happened; in psychological time, events are described according to the connections between them, as they might be arranged in someone’s memory. The techniques of flashback and flashforward can also be part of your narrative’s time structure. Use flashback to recall an event from the past that has a significant impact on the present. 35
Use flashforward to jump to the future and show a possible outcome for the events in the present. Both of these techniques, if used well, can contribute greatly to the effectiveness of your narrative. Complete this paragraph using;after,before,when
The most common transition words used in narrative writing is are:
Time Relationship Transitions after afterwards before during eventually first in the meantime later meanwhile next now once second soon sooner then today until when
Language and style
Details add depth and color to your narrative. If your paragraph consists merely of dry facts, readers quickly grow uninterested. Use very detailed, evocative description to immerse the reader in the situation or place you describe. Your goal is to make the scene come alive for the reader.
.Use Sensory Details
It is important to remember that human beings learn about the world through using the five senses. They are our primary source of knowledge about the world. Therefore, writing which incorporates vivid, sensory detail is more likely to engage and effect the reader. In other words, use clear, precise language that keeps your reader’s attention. Also make use of sensory language (language that appeals to the senses), especially when you are writing a highly detailed scene. Don’t just tell us that spring was in the air—describe how the sun felt on your skin, how the birds sang in the trees, how the dew sparkled on the grass. Make the reader see, smell, hear, feel, and taste the scene you’re writing.
When you recall an experience that you had, do you sometimes smile at remembering what a person said or did, or even get angry over a remembered insult once hurled your way? When writing a narrative paragraph about one event in your life, the use of dialogue will definitely make the event more vivid to your readers. Make sure your characters talk like people in real life. Real people do not use full sentences when they speak. This is your chance to use fragments. Be sure to make the conversation lifelike by using slang, interjections and other ‘real’ speech patterns. The lady at the next table to the slob could take it no longer. Secretly I hoped she would do something to stop the obscene slurping coming from his fat lips. I watched her rise majestically from her seat; serious intent, like a soldier on a mission, furrowed her white brow. "Sir", she enunciated clearly to the huge slurping hulk. There was a grunt in return from the grazer, but she had his attention. "Sir, you are inhaling your soup in such a manner as to distract your fellow diners." All activity stopped in the restaurant as we waited for his reply. Astonishment puckered his dimpled jowls to be replaced by a red infusion, which spread from the greyish collar of his neck, slowly gliding to the stark blinking eyes. "Listen, lady," the voice was thick guttural, "who do you think ya are, the Queen of bloody Sheba?"
.Finally, use appropriate metaphors and similes. Figurative language can add to your narrative by suggesting to
your reader how you felt in a particular situation. For example, to say that the police officer who gave you that first ticket was “really tall” doesn’t convey the sense of terror you felt as well as “he towered over me like Mt. Everest.” Metaphors and similes can be very helpful in revealing your narrative effect to the reader.
How to write narrative paragraphs
A How to Start There are various ways to begin a narrative paragraph, but one of the easiest is to use the 5W’s – who, what, where, when, why – to ensure reader understanding of what you have written. Who should clearly introduce the character. Is this an adult, child, etc.? What introduces your event to the reader. Wherehelps establish the mood and atmosphere for thsetting of the event you are re-telling. Whenexpands on the time the event took place, and Why is a brief explanation of the circumstances leading up to the event. Another good method for starting the narrative paragraph is to use an anecdote, a brief amusing or interesting story about a real person or event. B How to Finish . The most common method for ending a narrative paragraph is to refer back to your topic sentence, and by rewording it, use it to tie up the loose ends of the paragraph. For exampleif the topic sentence is, "Appearances can be deceptive", re-word the idea into something lik"That is how I learned that the outside does not always reflect the inside."
The following narrative paragraph lacks time transitions. Fill in the blanks with the appropriate transitions to give the paragraph coherence. When,then ,first,before,later,then ,eventually,when,in the meantime,today,after,afterwards Let me tell you the story about a woman named Jyll and a friend of hers called Jack. – The 1.__________ thing that happened was that Jyll was running out of fresh water at her cabin. She decided she would have to walk into town to pick up some fresh spring water. 2.__________ she left she wanted to contact her neighbour, Jack, to let him know she would be out of the area for the day. 3.__________ she left the cabin, she grabbed the old wooden pail. 4.__________ she would use it as a signal to Jack that she was absent from the cabin. She tied a rope around the handle of the pail and 5.__________ was able to toss the pail up into the air and over the giant arbutus tree next to the cabin. High up there it could be seen by Jack while he stood on the porch of his cabin down the road. He would know she was away from the cabin. This was a safety measure. Jyll 6.__________ went off to town for the spring water not knowing that Jack had gone tumbling down. 7.__________ that day, it was discovered what had happened. 8.__________ Jyll had gone to fetch the pail for water, she hadn’t noticed Jack coming around the bend in the forest path. 9.__________ the doctor and police were able to reconstruct the scene of the crime. It seems that when Jyll threw the pail up in the tree, it hit Jack’s crown on its way down. 10.__________ Jack has had his nob patched, but he hasn’t seemed the same fellow. 11.__________ Jyll has been known to giggle at Jack’s disaster which sometimes gets her in trouble with his mother. 12.__________ Jack and Jyll still play at being neighbours, but Jack won’t go near the water pail.
Try to unscramble the following paragraph by numbering the sentences in the order they should appear.
Finally I was able to calm down long enough to understand what the man was saying _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ In downtown Calgary it can sometimes seem quite dangerous when the sun goes down. This danger became very real to me one summer evening. Next he leaned ominously into the car blowing toxic liquor fumes across my face. During the rush hour one evening after work, I was driving down Centre Street, and was stopped by the red light across from the York Hotel. Before I knew what had happened an old man had grabbed my door handle. Later I realised how foolish I had been to drive with the doors unlocked. Now I started to panic as his hands fumbled on the car seat because I thought he wasgrabbing for my purse. After this experience, my sense of safety in Calgary was destroyed. Then I realised all he wanted was a cigarette, and gingerly I extended the pack to him When he started muttering, I drew back even further against the driver’s door. After snarling, "Darn light stuff", he took two smokes and my lighter, and backed out othe car.
Using Connotative Language in Narrative Writing The language used in narrative writing helps the reader imagine himself in the events you tell about. Don’t just relate the series of events because this creates a boring list. Use specific, vivid words to relate your story instead of passive language. Example: Instead of, "It happened while I was standing in the shower, so I
Write, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
couldn’t hear the gas leaking "The blast of water from the shower deadened the other house noises, hiding the deadly hiss of gas." The man walked down the street. The girl hit her knee on the stairs. The baby cried in her crib. The cowboy fell off his horse. The child ran out the school doors.
by Elizabeth Alvarado (Fall 2005) The worst day in my life was July 21, 2004. On that day, I received a call from a staffing company. The man told me he had made an appointment for me with a potential employer and that my interview was at 1: 30 p.m. I looked at my watch, and it was 1 p.m. I got ready and told my husband to drive me to the interview. We left so we could have enough time to look for the address. After all, punctuality is something employers look for. As we were driving on the freeway, we heard a pop followed by a hissing of air escaping with great force. We started feeling the car jumping. We pulled over to the side of the road onto the shoulder. The front tire had popped and lost all of its air. My husband went to the trunk of the car and pulled out the carjack and the spare tire to fix the car. By this time, my stomach was upset. I was sweating and kept looking at my watch. It became like a ritual. Every two to three minutes I checked
Answers 1. 2. first before 5. 6. eventually then 9. 10. after afterwards
in the meantime today
Example Text: Paragraph Without Sensory Detail Grandmother Workman reached over and grabbed her grandson's arm. He was nervous because the staircase was so steep, but she leaned against him and they began to climb. Comment These are the beginning sentences of a paragraph which describes a boy helping an elderly woman up a flight of stairs. The scene seems simple enough, but it leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. Without the inclusion of sensory detail, the writing seems vague and non-specific. How might the author use descriptive detail to make the scene more vivid? Example Text: Add Sight Gandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs. Comment Visual details are often successfully incorporated into writing. Details which appeal to our sense of sight ensure that the reader is able to give faces to characters, or add concrete details to a setting. For example, through adding visual detail, a room can become more than just a blank, vague receptacle. It becomes a small, oblong room with peeling maroon wallpaper and cracked ceiling tiles. A visual description allows readers to place themselves within a text. In the sample text, visual details help accomplish this through encouraging the reader to create a mental image of the characters, setting, and action. Example Text: Add Sound Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs. 40
Comment The human sense of hearing is an important means of communication. Next to visual details, auditory details are most commonly included in writing. This is because sounds give us a primary experience of the world. Sounds can remind us of personal memories, or can create images in our minds. For example, the sound of a ship's whistle might remind a person of a summer's night in New England, or of a tour of duty in the military. Sounds recreate personal, sensory experiences. The addition of auditory details gives the writer the opportunity to create a more detailed, layered, texture. In the sample text, the writer has incorporated references to sounds which allow the reader to infer the state of the old staircase, as well as the physical condition of the grandmother. Example Text: Add Smell Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs. Comment The sense of smell is commonly overlooked in writing. However, it is the human sense of smell that is most closely linked to the brain. The receptors in the brain which are responsible for processing smells are very close to the area of the brain responsible for the storage of memory. Because of this link, scents are able to cause vivid sensory re-creations of memories. Our sense of smell has an uncommonly strong power over our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. In the sample text, the addition of olfactory details helps set the mood of the paragraph by triggering our senses. Haut du formulaire Bas du formulaire Example Text: Add Touch Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs. Comment The sense of touch encourages us to investigate the world around us by feeling it and learning the texture, shape, and size of things. Tactile images can be powerful sensory triggers. They allow a reader not only to visualize a scene, but to experience it. Inclusion of the sense of touch prevents the reader from remaining distanced or detached from the writing. In the sample text, the sense of touch has been engaged through allowing the reader to recreate a primary sensation: the feel of a person's breath on the back of his or her neck. This is a sensory experience that most people have encountered. Therefore, through recalling familiar tactile sensations the writer encourages the readers to put themselves in the place of the characters. Example Text: Add Taste 41
Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs. Comment The human sense of taste allows a person to do much more than simply select and enjoy food. There are four familiar tastes: Sweet Salty Bitter Sour By appealing directly to any of these tastes, a writer has the unique opportunity to affect a reader's senses. Memories, feelings, people, and places can all be suggested through the sense of taste.
The purpose of descriptive writing is to make our readers see, feel, and hear what we have seen, felt, and heard. Whether we're describing a person, a place, or a thing, our aim is to reveal a subject through vivid and carefully selected details. Model Descriptive Paragraph On the third finger of my left hand is the pre-engagement ring given to me last year by my sister Doris. The 14-carat gold band, a bit tarnished by time and neglect, circles my finger and twists together at the top to encase a small white diamond. The four prongs that anchor the diamond are separated by pockets of dust. The diamond itself is tiny and dull, like a sliver of glass found on the kitchen floor after a dishwashing accident. Just below the diamond are small air holes, intended to let the diamond breathe, but now clogged with grime. The ring is neither very attractive nor valuable, but I treasure it as a gift from my older sister, a gift that I will pass along to my younger sister when I receive my own engagement ring this Christmas. Analyzing the Model Description Notice that the topic sentence in this paragraph not only identifies the belonging (a "pre-engagement ring") but also implies why the writer treasures it (". . . given to me last year by my sister Doris"). This kind of topic sentence is more interesting and revealing than a bare announcement, such as, "The belonging I am about to describe is my pre-engagement ring." Instead of announcing your topic in this way, focus your paragraph and gain the interest of your readers with a complete topic sentence: one that expresses an attitude or a reason as well as identifies the object you are about to describe. Once you have introduced a topic clearly, you should stick to it, developing this idea with details in the rest of the paragraph. The writer of "My Tiny Diamond Ring" has done just that, providing specific details that describe the ring: its parts, size, color, and condition. As a result, the paragraph is unified--that is, all of the supporting sentences relate directly to one another and to the topic introduced in the first sentence.
The model paragraph:
My most valuable possession is an old, slightly warped blond guitar--the first instrument I taught myself how to play. It's nothing fancy, just a Madeira folk guitar, all scuffed and scratched and fingerprinted. At the top is a bramble of copper-wound strings, each one hooked through the eye of a silver tuning key. The strings are stretched down a long, slim neck, its frets tarnished, the wood worn by years of fingers pressing chords and picking notes. The body of the Madeira is shaped like an enormous yellow pear, one that was slightly damaged in shipping. The blond wood has been chipped and gouged to gray, 43
particularly where the pick guard fell off years ago. No, it's not a beautiful instrument, but it still lets me make music, and for that I will always treasure it.
Structure of a descriptive paragraph
• The topic sentence for a this descriptive paragraph is: My most valuable possession is an old, slightly warped, blond guitar--the first instrument that I ever taught myself how to play. This sentence not only identifies the prized belonging ("an old, slightly warped, blond guitar") but also suggests why the writer values it ("the first instrument that I ever taught myself how to play"). • The supporting sentences support this topic sentence with specific descriptive details. . It's nothing fancy, just a Madeira folk guitar, all scuffed and scratched and finger-printed. At the top is a bramble of copper-wound strings, each one hooked through the eye of a silver tuning key. The strings are stretched down a long, slim neck, its frets tarnished, the wood worn by years of fingers pressing chords and picking notes. The body of the Madeira is shaped like an enormous yellow pear, one that was slightly damaged in shipping. The blond wood has been chipped and gouged to gray, particularly where the pick guard fell off years ago • The concluding sentence concludes the paragraph and emphasizes the personal value of the item.
No, it's not a beautiful instrument, but it still lets me make music, and for that I will always treasure it.
Activities: 1- Identify the topic sentence. 2- Underline the spatial transitions in this paragraph. 3- How are the details arranged. 4- Below is a topic sentence for a spatial paragraph, followed by supporting detail to develop the paragraph. On a sheet of paper, sketch out a map of a college campus, locating each building where you think it belongs in relation to other buildings . Then write out a paragraph beginning with the topic sentence below. Add spatial transitions to introduce each of the eight buildings according to their order of location. Topic sentence: On Maria’s first visit to the college campus, she saw many buildings. Supporting detail: 1- The administration building. 1- The library. 2- The classroom buildings 3- The faculty offices. 4- The student centre and cafeteria. 5- The bookstore. 6- The gymnasium and athletic fields. 7- The refectory room. In the following paragraph, observe how the writer moves clearly from a description of the head of the clown (in sentences two, three, and four), to the body (sentences five, six, seven, and eight), to the unicycle underneath (sentence nine). Notice also how the concluding sentence helps to tie the paragraph together by emphasizing the personal value of this gift. 1) A Friendly Clown On one corner of my dresser sits a smiling toy clown on a tiny unicycle--a gift I received last Christmas from a close friend. The clown's short yellow hair, made of yarn, covers its ears but is parted above the 44
eyes. The blue eyes are outlined in black with thin, dark lashes flowing from the brows. It has cherry-red cheeks, nose, and lips, and its broad grin disappears into the wide, white ruffle around its neck. The clown wears a fluffy, two-tone nylon costume. The left side of the outfit is light blue, and the right side is red. The two colors merge in a dark line that runs down the center of the small outfit. Surrounding its ankles and disguising its long black shoes are big pink bows. The white spokes on the wheels of the unicycle gather in the center and expand to the black tire so that the wheel somewhat resembles the inner half of a grapefruit. The clown and unicycle together stand about a foot high. As a cherished gift from my good friend Tran, this colorful figure greets me with a smile every time I enter my room. 3) Gregory Gregory is my beautiful gray Persian cat. He walks with pride and grace, performing a dance of disdain as he slowly lifts and lowers each paw with the delicacy of a ballet dancer. His pride, however, does not extend to his appearance, for he spends most of his time indoors watching television and growing fat. He enjoys TV commercials, especially those for Meow Mix and 9 Lives. His familiarity with cat food commercials has led him to reject generic brands of cat food in favor of only the most expensive brands. Gregory is as finicky about visitors as he is about what he eats, befriending some and repelling others. He may snuggle up against your ankle, begging to be petted, or he may imitate a skunk and stain your favorite trousers. Gregory does not do this to establish his territory, as many cat experts think, but to humiliate me because he is jealous of my friends. After my guests have fled, I look at the old fleabag snoozing and smiling to himself in front of the television set, and I have to forgive him for his obnoxious, but endearing, habits. There are various ways to organize the details in a descriptive paragraph. You may move from the top of the item to the bottom, or from the bottom to the top. You may start at the left side of the item and move right, or go from right to left. You may start with the outside of the item and move in, or go from inside to out. Choose the one pattern that seems best suited to your topic, and then stick to that pattern throughout the paragraph. Essays Essay Writing Overview The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training. Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned both in class—which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student—and as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres within essay writing. However, before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay. What is an Essay? Though the word ‘essay’ has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere, which means ‘to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out’. Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic. 45
Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing. The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise, and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from her purpose; she must be deliberate and interesting. It is the purpose of this handout to help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres. This handout will include a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing:
• • • •
The Expository Essay The Descriptive Essay The Narrative Essay The Argumentative (Persuasive) Essay Baker, Allen Brizee.
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. Note: The Modes of Discourse: Description, Narration, Exposition, Argumentation (EDNA) The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.
TIPS FOR WRITING A PARAGRAPH CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD PARAGRAPH Topic sentence, which includes the topic and a controlling idea. Supporting ideas (usually 3 - 6), which support the topic sentence Reasons, examples, names, numbers, and senses give details for and further explain the supporting ideas. • Optional concluding sentence, which leaves the reading with something to think about and may summarize the supporting ideas if the paragraph is long. • Unity, which means that all sentences in the paragraph directly support the topic sentence. o Coherenence, which means that all the information of the paragraph is well-organized, logically ordered and easy to follow. Process of Writing a Paragraph: 1. Compose your topic sentence. Think of a topic and a controlling idea that will narrow the topic enough to support it well in one paragraph. 2. Brainstorm supporting ideas. Choose 2 - 6 supporting ideas that do a good job supporting your topic sentence. 46
• • •
3. Write your paragraph in topic outline form as follows. Don't actually write sentences in the outline, except for the topic sentence. Topic sentence: A. Supporting idea 1. 1. 3. B. Supporting idea 2. 1. 3. C. Supporting idea 3. 1. 3. Concluding sentence:
4. Put your supporting ideas in a logical order. 5. For each supporting idea, think of reasons, examples, names, numbers, and senses that further explain the idea. For balance, each supporting idea should have about the same amount of reasons, examples, names, numbers, and senses. 6. Think of a concluding sentence. 7. Write your paragraph using sentences. Use the coherence strategies to make your paragraph easy to follow. Here is an example: We came up with a good topic sentence and supporting ideas: Topic sentence: Choosing a college or university can be difficult. Supporting ideas: 1. Good Location, 2. Affordable, 3. Good preparation for major We decided to order these supporting ideas according to importance as shown in the outline below. Now we put this information into outline form and added some reasons, examples, names, numbers, and senses for each supporting idea. Topic sentence: Choosing a college or university can be difficult. A. Good preparation for your major 1. Hard curriculum 2. Qualified professors B. Affordable 1. be able to pay tuition and living expenses 2. Possibility of scholarships C. Good Location 1. Study environment 2. Possibilities of part-time job in your major Concluding sentence: You should consider these points carefully so you can choose the most appropriate college or university for you. Finally, we wrote the paragraph using sentences and trying to make the paragraph coherent using different coherence strategies. CHOOSING A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY Choosing a college or university can be difficult. The most difficult part is finding a university that prepares you well for your future career. In order to get a good job, the curriculum that is taught must be 47
thorough and up-to-date. In addition, the professors must be highly qualified and respected in their fields. Another difficulty in choosing a university or college is affordability. You need to be able to pay the tuition fees and living expenses. Some institutions might be able to offer you scholarships if you cannot afford the fees. A good location is also very important when choosing a school. The environment should be safe and quiet to facilitate studying. Moreover, there should be possibilities near the school for parttime or summer jobs in your major, so you can get some practical work experience. You should consider all of these points carefully so you can choose the most appropriate college or university for you.
PRACTICE 2: By using information, please write a well-organized paragraph. Note: You don’t need to use all notes A. Topic: The Value of a University Education Questioning whether you should go to university? Here are five ways that a college education will make you a better person: 1. It will likely make you more successful. 2. It will give you a better quality of life. 3. It will give you the power to change the world. 4. It will be something you can pass on to your children. 5. It makes you a major contributor to the greatest nation on earth. 6. It provides you greater economic strength and security 7. It will give you more prestigious employment and greater job satisfaction 8. It will give you greater knowledge of the world events 9. It will give you more self-confidence 10. It will give you more money and greater quality of lifer. The Value of a University Education _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 48
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B. TOPIC: BASKETBALL Basketball is attractive. Basketball is fast, exciting, and unpredictable Basketball team has few members; you can become familiar with each player's personality. Basketball is a fast moving game that can be played on both indoor and outdoor courts. Basketball is an excellent conditioning sport that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls alike. Participation in athletic sports like basketball, improves physical fitness, coordination and selfdiscipline 7. Basketball gives children valuable opportunities to learn about teamwork. 8. Basketball games can be played on school playgrounds, home driveways, and indoor gyms. 9. One major advantage about basketball is that the skills needed for the game can be practiced individually. Many families purchase portable basketball nets for home use. 10. Jumping rope at home is another great way to prepare to play basketball. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
PRACTICE 3: Choose three of the following topics and write well organized paragraphs. PARAGRAPH TOPICS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Attending summer courses. Custom union Using mobile phones Being single Getting married Having a job while attending college Shopping by TV. Learning a foreign language Boys and girls should attend separate schools. 10. Tourism 11. Being wealthy 12. Using nuclear energy. 13. Computers in the workplace 14. Being a famous person 15. Technology 16. Credit cards 17. Benefits of being young 18. Benefits of watching TV 19. Owning a car
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MORE PARAGRAPH SAMPLES Copy and write… Read and copy the following paragraphs exactly… A. ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES 1. Advantages Advantages of Using Computers There are several advantages of using a computer. First of all, it is especially beneficial in the workplace, where employees can do their work far faster that they could in the past. In addition to this, computers can be educational and fun. From a very young age, children can gain basic computer skills by the help of programs which help them to learn, draw, paint, and play. As a result, in today’s technological world, this knowledge can only help them in the future. To sum up, computers are useful for our fast-fast moving world of high technology. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 51
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 2. Disadvantages Disadvantages of Using Computers There are various negative aspects to using computers. Primarily, many jobs have been lost because computers can do a lot to tasks more efficiently than humans. This has led to high unemployment in many countries. What is more, computers can actually cause health problems. Endless hours in front of a screen can cause eyestrain and headaches. These are serious side effects. As a result, computers should be used carefully and they should not replace people. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ Advantages 7. Advantages of Living in a Village There are many advantages to living in a village. First of all, one is much closer to nature and can enjoy more peace and quiet. In addition, life in the country is much slower and people tend to be more open and friendly. A further advantage is that there is much less traffic, and as a result it is much safer place to bring up young children. In conclusion, it can be seen that village life is suitable for retired and those who want to have more peace and less stress. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 52
5. Disadvantages 1. Disadvantages of Living in a Village There are certain drawbacks (disadvantage) to life outside the city. Firstly, because there are fewer people, one has a smaller number of friends. Therefore, entertainment, particularly in the evening, is difficult to find. Furthermore, the fact that there are fewer shops and services often means that there are fewer employment opportunities. As a result, one may have to travel long distances to work elsewhere, and this can be extremely expensive. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 6. Advantages Advantages of TV Commercials Ads on television give consumers a lot of information. They let consumers know what products look like, how much they cost, and where they are available. For example, a Toyota dealer wants to sell the Toyota Camry. The dealer’s ads will show the new Camry over and over again and tell the consumer that the Camry has power windows, six cylinders, and so on. In addition, the ads may compare the Camry with the Mercedes. They may say that the Camry runs as well as the Mercedes but the Camry’s price is much cheaper. The ads may also tell where to buy the Camry. When consumers see these ads, they think about all this information about the Camry. Then they can decide if it is the car they want. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 7. Disadvantages 53
Disadvantages of Watching Television w Watching movie can destroy human’s psychology and imagination in some ways. For example, when you watch a horror movie your psychology is affected by this movie badly. Mostly, you may want to be a monster or a murder. Another example would be science fiction movies. As we know, science fiction movies have full of imagination. When people watch this kind of movies, they think whatever they watched it could be in real life. As a result, because of its some bad effects people should choose movies carefully and they should never forget that they are not just watching a movie _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 8. Disadvantages Disadvantages of Watching Television w Watching movies especially American movies cause to change people’s life views and life styles for number of reasons. Almost in every American movie you can easily see a beautiful house which has a garden or it is constructed seashore. Moreover, most American movies, you see that people eat simple food. They do not have any eating culture. Therefore, it causes people’s eating habits. What is more, people use movies in order to change history. They easily change an event which occurred in the past in the direction of their ideas. For that reason most countries life style can be changed by movies. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 9. Advantages Advantages of Watching Television w TV is a good teacher for everyone for several reasons. There are several programs for preschool children, for example Sesame Street and Tarchın and his friends.. These are well-organized programs that teaches children to count and to say the alphabet. They also have interesting characters that they tell stories and sing songs. Also, television has programs for students. When I was a high school student, there were many kinds of learning programs, like foreign language and math education programs. These programs help students with their studies. Furthermore, thedre are some programs for adults about how to garden, how to make delicious dishes, how to fix things around the house and so on. In conclusion nowadays, television teaches us all kinds of things. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 54
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 10. Advantages Advantages of Tourism There are several advantages to tourism. To begin with, tourism brings a lot of money into a country and it also creates a lot of employment for people of the area. In addition, if there are a lot of tourists in the area, it makes the locals stay rather than leave to get jobs elsewhere. Lastly, tourism helps people to learn about other cultures and ways of life. As a result, we should give enough importance to tourism. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 11. Disadvantages Disadvantages of tourism There are some disadvantages to tourism. Firstly, in many cases the natural beauty of a place can be spoilt. Apart from this, tourism often brings more air, water and noise pollution. Also, places sometimes lose their character and traditions. Moreover, sometimes people’s language can suffer. As a result, if tourism is not controlled properly, it can be bad for a country. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 2. Advantages Advantages of Wearing the Same Uniform Wearing uniforms give all students equality, identity and pride. Primarily, uniforms give students equality. All students do not have the same financial resources and can't afford expensive clothes. Therefore, uniforms make it more equal among the rich and poor students. For example, student may want to wear designer clothes which some can afford but others can't. Secondly, uniforms give identity. 55
Students feel a sense of belonging when everyone has the same uniform. Students can tell who is from their school and who is not according to the uniform. Others can tell which students are from which schools and if someone is not behaving well, others will know which school that person is from. Moreover, uniforms give pride. If a sports team does well, students can feel proud together of that accomplishment. In addition to this, if a student is a good musician, others can feel proud that they are his/her classmates. Hence, students can "advertise" their school just by wearing their uniforms and be proud of the school they attend. Overall, I think wearing uniforms is a good thing. Students can feel equal to one an other. They can fee[ a sense of identity and pride that they wouldn't be able to feel as well if they didn't wear uniforms. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 13. Advantages Advantages to Living at a Dorm I would prefer to live in an apartment for a number of reasons. First of all, you don't have to cook for yourself. The most important one is that there are always a lot of people around so you won't feel lonely. Moreover, there is usually a laundry room in the basement so you don’t have to go anywhere else to do laundry. Furthermore; the dormitory is usually very safe since almost all dormitories have security guards. Overall, I prefer to live at a dormitory because I do not need to cook and wash my clothes for myself and there will be a lot of people around me. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ B. CAUSE and EFFECT PARAGRAPH SAMPLES 1. Effect 1. Alcoholism Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people in the world today. It not only affects the alcoholic, but also their family, friends, and co-workers strangers. Alcoholics may become angry and argumentive, or quiet and withdrawn or depressed. They may also feel more anxious, sad, tense, and confused. As a result, the effects alcoholism can have on the different aspects of a person's life. Therefore, we should help the number of alcoholics in Turkey and all over the world. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 56
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 2. Cause Alcoholism There are some reasons of using alcohol. First of all, the cause of alcoholism can be biological. It is often associated with a family history of manic-depressive illness. If parents are alcoholics, children may take alcohol later on. The second reason is alcoholism has psychological reasons. It can be related to emotional changeability. For example, alcoholics often drink hoping to drown their depressed feelings. Some of them also want to reduce strong negative feelings. Moreover, social and cultural factors play important roles in development of alcoholism. In some cultures, there is conflict between refusing and accepting the use of alcohol to be a social person. As a result, it is extremely important that whatever the reasons are we should avoid drinking alcohol. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______
3. Effects Effects of Parents on Children Parents can help their children be successful in school by encouraging them. Children usually enjoy playing games instead of studying their boring lessons, so parents have to take the responsibility to monitor their studying and to remind them to do their homework at home after school. Parents should also encourage their children to study by buying story books with pictures, or they can buy text books or tapes that help children learn to spell or read. The best way to encourage children to study efficiently is to reward them when they get an “A”. As a child, I experienced this. My parents gave me a gift if I had 57
studied well, and then I was very excited. So, if parents really want their children to succeed in school, they need to pay attention to their children’s studies and encourage them. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 4. Effects _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ Question: Why do some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer. 5. Causes Studying Outside There are many reasons students choose to do this why students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. To get a college degree from a university outside their home country may be prestigious for students. Many people think that students may get a better education outside their home country. Moreover, students may get more money in their job if they have a degree from outside the country. Furthermore, some students may get scholarships to study abroad. Therefore, they may pay less to study abroad and the programs can be better abroad. In short, students study abroad for a number of reasons. Most students get a good education wherever they go if they are strong-minded to achieve something in their studies. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 58
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Question: Movies are popular all over the world. Explain why movies are so popular. Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer. . 6. Causes Watching Movies There are many reasons why people all over the world enjoy watching movies. To begin with, they offer an escape. For that reason, some people go to the movies to see how others live. If you are poor, it is a way to escape that life for a few hours. Next, movies provide entertainment. Because, they are fun to watch andlet you imagine what other people's lives are like. Finally, movies are available everywhere. Movie theaters can be found in almost every town, all over the world. If there is no theater, there is usually a video store with movies. As a result, watching movie is one of the important activities of people. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ Question: Many parts of the world are losing important natural resources, such as forests, animals, or dean water. Choose one resource that is disappearing and explain why it needs to be saved. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion. 7. Causes World is in Danger Many parts of the world are losing important natural resources, such as forests, animals, or clean water. First of all, nature is a home for animals. There are thousands of species that live in forests and when the forests die, they die too. Moreover, rain forests also are habitat of many insects, birds, animals depend on it for survival. Finally, forests are beautiful to look at, walk through, hike in the forest, and look at all the flowers. Furthermore, you can take exciting photographs. In short, forests are natural resources that must be saved because they provide so much good for so many people and animals. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 59
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ C. COMPARE and CONTRAST PARAGRAPH SAMPLES 1. Similarity and Differences Classroom Behavior Rules There are some similarities and differences in the classroom behavior rules between North America and my country, Turkey. First, there is the student’s right to speak. In North America, students can ask the teacher questions. They can even ask questions when the teacher is giving a lesson. Similarly, in my country students have the right to ask questions. However, they can only ask questions at the end of the class. Next, students respect their teachers. In North America students look up to teachers and respect them. For example, when the teacher asks them to speak they must look into the teacher’s eyes to show respect. Likewise, in my country, Turkey, students respect teachers; however, when a teacher asks us to speak we look down to show respect. We do not look into their eyes. In conclusion, there are both similarities and differences in the way students behave toward their teachers in the classroom. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 2. Compare and Contrast Two English Teachers There are both some similarities and differences between my old English teacher in high school and my present English teacher. Both my English teachers control the class well. If a student makes trouble in the classroom, we are all responsible and had extra work. This makes the student unpopular (alone, without friend) and nobody wants to be unpopular. Both my teachers know their subject well. They both make sure we know the rules of the language very well. Although my teachers have these similarities, they also have differences on these same points. When a student is always troublesome in class, my old teacher would go to the parents because my school is small and everybody would know each other in the city. In contrast, my present teacher sends the troublesome student to a counselor. Then the counselor sends the students to the assistant principal and so on. Also, the way my two teachers teaching method of English is different. My teacher back home would teach us a rule of grammar and then give examples. In contrast, my present if we need a rule we work it out from the examples, teacher gives us examples first, In conclusion, both my English teachers with their similarities and differences are excellent teachers. 60
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 3. Compare _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ C. ARGUMENTATIVE PARAGRAPH SAMPLES 1. Argumentative Importance of University Education People attend university to prepare for a career, to attend for personal fulfillment and to make more money in the job market. First of all, some attend university in order to prepare for a career. They learn about a particular subject in depth there. In addition to this, employers want employees who have very specific knowledge. Secondly, some attend for personal achievement. Adults may attend university just for the joy of learning. Students also may feel a sense of success by learning new things. Finally, some attend in order to make more money in the job market. Because, If one has specialized skills, one can make more money in the job market. In short, people attend college for many reasons some of which include desire to prepare for a career, personal fulfillment and financial rewards. _____________________________________________________________________________________ ________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ 61
_____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion. 2. Argumentative Enemy of Communication Communication between friends and family has been destroyed due to television. Television is such a passive activity that family and friends often forget what meaningful communication is. Therefore, television makes passive. When people watch television, they do not talk with one another. People also enjoy the relaxation of watching television, but forget that communication is important. Although many people watch television in order to relax, they give less time to family and friends. Moreover, Television often causes arguments. Not only family members argue about what to watch on TV but also friends do. In addition to this, children argue with their parents to buy them toys they see advertised on TV. In conclusion, television has destroyed communication between family and friends. People do not communicate in the same way as they did before television was invented. People spend less time with family and friends and more time with TV this is destructive. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Face-to-face communication is better than other types of communication, such as letters, e-mail, or telephone calls. Use specific reasons and details to support your answer. 3. Argumentative Face to Face Communication I believe that face-to-face communication is better than other forms of communication. It is more personal, more effective and more honest. When you talk to a person face-to-face, it is more personal. You see them, their actions, and their feelings. Besides, when you write a letter or email, you do not get this same kind of experience. Moreover, face-to-face communication is usually more effective because you can easily see the other people’s expression and feelings about a topic. That means you can change your conversation to fit the situation. For example, you want to ask your boss or a raise, but you can see that he is in a bad mood or he is distracted...then you would wait for another time. Furthermore, body language is more effective than spoken language. Seventy percent of communication is through gestures. 62
You can't get this with email, letters and telephone conversations. In short, face-to-face communication is better than other forms of communication. Most people have more personal, effective, and honest conversations when they meet face-to-face. _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _______
Example: There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First, Canada has an excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live. Supporting Details What are supporting sentences? They come after the topic sentence, making up the body of a paragraph. What do they do? They give details to develop and support the main idea of the paragraph. How do I write them? You should give supporting facts, details, and examples. Example: There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First, Canada has an excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live.
Conclusion Sentence What is the closing sentence? The closing sentence is the last sentence in a paragraph. What does it do? It restates the main idea of your paragraph. How do I write one? Restate the main idea of the paragraph using different words. Example: There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First, Canada has an excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at university. Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live.
HELPER WORDS COMPARE AND CONTRAST PARAGRAPH In a compare and contrast paragraph, you write about the similarities and differences between two or more people, places, things, or ideas. Example: Write a paragraph comparing the weather in some cities in Turkey. The following words can help you to write a good compare and contrast paragraph: Helper Words: SIMILARITIES is similar to both also too as well DIFFERENCES On the other hand however but in contrast differs from while unlike to
SIMILARITIES is similar Example: Spring weather in Trabzon is similar to spring weather in Rize. both Example: Both Trabzon and Rize have rain in the spring. also Example: Samsun also has a rainy spring season. too Example: Artvin has a rainy spring season, too. as Example: As well, Sinop has rainy spring season. 64
DIFFERENCES on the other hand Example: On the other hand, winter is much colder in Van. however Example: However, winter is much colder in Erzurum. but Example: Ankara has a mild winter, but Erzurum has a cold one. in contrast to Example: In contrast to Ankara, Erzurum has a cold winter. differs from Example: Erzurum differs from Van by having a cold winter. while Example: While Ankara has a mild winter, Erzurum has a cold winter. H. Fill in each blank with an appropriate transition signal from the list provided. Use each only once. Then use correct punctuation. for instance moreover furthermore in conclusion however but for example such as 38 International on of Japan For many years Japanese consumers have been very slow in accepting foreign goods, mainly because they are very selective and will only purchase high-quality products. Lately ______the consumer market has been changing. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, koku-saika, which is defined as "internationalization," is influencing young Japanese consumers, who are very eager to purchase and enjoy products from countries around the world. The greatest access into the Japanese market has been by the food Industry. Traditionally, the protein staples in Japan has been fish products, _______in the last decade or so, the Japanese have been consuming more beef. In fact, annual per capita consumption is expected to be about seven kilos in the next decade. __________ they have acquired a taste for imported beverages, both of the nonalcohol or low alcohol varieties, like beer drinks and "light" wines imported from England, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, and Australia.________ young people, especially women who are aware of the Importance of health and fitness, are eating Western-style breakfasts. __________ they enjoy fruit, milk, and brantype cereals imported from the United States. Not only Western countries but also Asian nations __________South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand have been benefiting from the changing diet of the Japanese consumer. __________Japan is Importing eels (fish) from Taiwan, asparagus (vegetable) from Thailand, and mangoes (fruit) from the Philippines. ____________the Japanese trend toward internationalization should become even greater as we approach the twenty-first century. It will certainly increase international trade, which will definitely be advantageous to many countries of the world. I. Improve the coherence of the following] paragraph by adding transitions at key places Women’s Liberation and English The -women's lib' movement toward greater equality for women has produced some permanent changes in the vocabulary of English. New words have been added. The words feminist, sexist, and male chauvinist have become common during the past thirty-five years or so. Another new word is the title Ms., which is often used in place of both Miss and Mrs. A change is that sexist titles of many occupations have been neutralized. A chairman is now a chairperson (or sometimes simply chair), a waiter/waitress is now a waitperson, and a high school or college freshman is now a first-year student. A mailman is now a mail carrier, and an airline stewardess is now a flight attendant. In time, English pronouns may also change as a result of women's desire for equality. Attempts to give equal treatment to masculine and feminine pronouns in English have led to the search for a new pronoun form to replace he (such as he/she or s/he) when referring to neutral nouns like student and manager. Some of the new words such as Ms. are quite useful; you can use Ms. to address a woman when you don't know if she is married. The lack of a clear neutral pronoun can lead to awkward sentence construction. 65
B-Circle all of the transition signals in the following paragraphs and punctuate the transition signals if necessary Genetic Engineering Genetic research has produced both exciting and frightening possibilities. Scientists are now able to create new forms of life in the laboratory due to the development of gene splicing. On the one hand the ability to create life in the laboratory could greatly benefit humankind. For example it is very expensive to obtain insulin from natural sources, but through genetic research, scientists have now developed a way to manufacture it inexpensively in the laboratory. Another beneficial application of gene splicing is in agriculture. Genetic engineers have created a new tomato that doesn't spoil quickly. Consequently tomato farmers can now let the tomatoes ripen on the plant and develop full flavor and color before they are picked-no more green, flavorless tomatoes in grocery. In addition genetic engineers have created larger fish, frost-resistant strawberries, and more productive cows. On the other hand not everyone is positive about gene-splicing technology. Some people feel that it could have terrible consequences. A laboratory accident for example might cause an epidemic of an unknown disease that could wipe out humanity. Furthermore the ability to clone human beings is a possibility that frightens many people. In 1993, a researcher at George Washington University Medical Center cloned human embryos' by splitting single embryos into twins and triplets. These embryos did not develop into babies but it is possible that they could do so in the future. Because human embryos can be frozen and used at a later date, it could be possible for parents to have a child and then, years later, to use a cloned, frozen embryo to give birth to its identical twin.
CLASSIFICATION PARAGRAPH When writing a classification paragraph, you group things or ideas into specific categories. Example: Write a paragraph discussing two types of energy resources. The following words can help you to write a good classification paragraph: Helper Words: is a kind of can be divided into is a type of falls under belongs to is a part of fits into is grouped with is related to is associated with
a Coal is a kind of non-renewable resource. be Energy resources can be divided into two types. 66
a Coal is a type of non-renewable resource.
of under to of into with to with
Coal falls under the category of non-renewable resources. belongs Coal belongs to the category of non-renewable resources. is a part Coal is a part of the category of non-renewable resources. fits Coal fits into the category of non-renewable resources. is grouped Coal is grouped with non-renewable resources. is related Coal is related to other non-renewable resources. is associated Coal is associated with other non-renewable resources.
CHOICE / OPINION PARAGRAPH In a paragraph where you have to make a choice, you need to choose which object, idea, or action that you prefer. Often, you will need to give your opinion on a choice of actions or events. Example: Write a paragraph stating whether you would prefer to play basketball or football. The following words can help you to write a good choice paragraph: Helper Words: Point of View Personal Opinion in my opinion like/dislike belief hope idea feel understanding I think that I consider I believe it seems to me I prefer POINT OF VIEW in my In my opinion, basketball is more fun than football. 67
belief My belief is that basketball is more fun than football. idea My idea is that basketball is more fun than football. understanding My understanding is that basketball is more fun than football. I think I think that I would prefer to play basketball and not football. I I consider basketball to be more exciting than football. I I believe basketball is more exciting than lacrosse. it seems to It seems to me that basketball is more exciting than football. I I prefer basketball over football. PERSONAL OPINIONS like/dislike I like the sport of basketball because it is fast and exciting. hope I hope that I can play basketball in the future. feel I feel that basketball is my favorite sport.
that consider believe me prefer
SEQUENCE PARAGRAPH In a sequencing paragraph, you are writing to describe a series of events or a process in some sort of order. Usually, this order is based on time. Example: Write a paragraph outlining how a person becomes the prime minister. The following words can help you to write a good sequence paragraph. Helper Words: ORDER TIME first, second, third, etc. recently in the beginning previously before afterwards then when after after finally at last subsequently ORDER first, second, third, etc. First, you need to become a leader of a political party. Second, you need to win a seat in the House of Commons. Third, your party must have a majority of seats. 68
the In the beginning, you need to become a leader of a political party. Before becoming the prime minister, you need to become the leader of a political party.
then Then, you must win a seat in the House of Commons. after After winning a seat in the House of Commons, you must make sure you have a majority of seats. finally Finally, after all these steps, you can call yourself the prime minister. at Example: At last, you can call yourself the prime minister. subsequently Subsequently, you must make sure you have a majority of seats in the House of Commons. TIME recently She was recently elected prime minister. previously She is the new prime minister. Previously, she worked as a lawyer in Toronto. afterwards Example: She won the party leadership last year. Afterwards, she won the election. when Example: When she won the party leadership, she was still working as a lawyer. after Example: After winning a seat in the House of Commons, you must make sure you have a majority of seats. EXPLANATION PARAGRAPH In an explanation paragraph, you need to explain how or why something happens. Very often in social studies class, you will be asked to explore causes and effects of certain events. Example: Write a paragraph explaining why so many Europeans moved to Canada during the nineteenth century. The following words can help you to write a good explanation paragraph: Helper Words: Cause because since as a result of is due to Effect therefore thus consequently hence it follows that if . . . then last
CAUSE because Example: People moved to Canada from Europe during the nineteenth century because they had poor living conditions in Europe. since Example: Since living conditions in Europe were terrible, many people moved to Canada. as a result People moved to Canada from Europe as a result of poor living conditions in Europe. is due to / was due Example: The large influx of people to Canada was due to economic pressures in Europe. of to
EFFECT therefore Example: Living conditions in Europe were terrible. Therefore, many people moved to Canada for a better life. thus Example: Living conditions in Europe were terrible. Thus, many people moved to Canada for a better life. consequently Example: Living conditions were terrible in Europe. Consequently, many people moved to Canada. hence Example: Living conditions were terrible in Europe. Hence, many people moved to Canada. it follows that Example: Living conditions were terrible in Europe. It follows that many people moved to Canada. if ... then Example: If living conditions were better in Europe, then fewer people would have moved to Canada
DESCRIPTION PARAGRAPH In a description paragraph, you are writing about what a person, place, or thing is like. Sometimes, you may describe where a place is located. Examples: Write a paragraph describing what a polar bear looks like. Describe where Canada's industry is located. The following words can help you to write a good description paragraph: Helper Words: PROPERTIES MEASUREMENT ANALOGY LOCATION size length is like in colour width resembles above shape mass/weight below purpose speed beside 70
PROPERTIES size Example: Polar bears are big in size. colour Example: Polar bears are usually white in colour. shape Example: Polar bears have a special shape. purpose Example: The purpose of the polar bear's fur is to keep it warm. MEASUREMENT length Example: The length of a polar bear's claws is 20 cm. width Example: The width of a polar bear's head is about 50 cm. mass / weight Example: Polar bears weigh up to 650 kg. speed Example: Polar bears can swim at a speed of 40 km per hour. ANALOGY is like Example: A polar bear is like other bears in shape. resembles Example: A polar bear resembles other bears in shape. LOCATION in Example: Most of Canada's manufacturing is located in Ontario and Quebec. above Example: The ceiling is above us. below Example: Most of Ontario is below Hudson Bay. beside Example: Quebec is located beside Ontario. near Example: Many companies are located near Toronto. north / east / south Example: Ontario is west of Quebec.
EVALUATION PARAGRAPH In an evaluation paragraph, you make judgments about people, ideas, and possible actions. You need to make your evaluation based on certain criteria that you develop. In the paragraph, you will state your evaluation or recommendation and then support it by referring to your criteria. Example: Write a paragraph evaluating whether pesticides should be used on farms. The following words can help you to write a good evaluation paragraph: Helper Words Criteria for Evaluation Recommendation good / bad suggest correct / incorrect recommend 71
moral / immoral right / wrong important / trivial
CRITERIA good / Example: The use of pesticides such as DDT is bad for the environment. correct / Example: The belief that pesticides must be used is incorrect.
moral / immoral Example: The use of pesticides to control pests is immoral because it harms the environment. right / Example: It is wrong to use pesticides because they harm the environment. important / Example: The issue of pesticides is an important one because it affects the environment. wrong trivial
RECOMMENDATION suggest Example: I suggest that pesticides should not be used to control pests. recommend Example: I recommend that pesticides should not be used because they are harmful to the environment. advise Example: I would advise farmers not to use pesticides if possible. argue Example: I would argue that pesticides should not be used because they harm the environment.
SOURCE: 1. http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/partopic.html 2. http://www.paragraphorganizer.com/inner/about_us.htm 3. http://archive.1september.ru/eng/1999/eng35-2.htm 4. First Steps in Academic Writing, Longman, Ann Hogue, 1995. 5. Writing Academic English, Longman, Ann Hogue, Alice Oshima, 1980. Connections Between Sentences A good paragraph has unity: All the sentences have a relationship to one another and to the main idea. The connection between sentences in a paragraph can be shown in several ways, but principally by the use of transitional words and phrases. Transitional words and phrases may be conjunctions, such as and, but, and however, or explanatory expressions, such as for instance, on the other hand, and so on. 72
Transitional words and phrases act as signals. They give directions. They tell where the paragraph is going. In this sense, transitional words and phrases also act to hold sentences together, achieving unity. Logical Connectives Additionally, the logical development chosen for the paragraph can be made very clear to the reader by the words used to connect one sentence to the next. These words are often referred to as logical connectives because they make clear not only the order but also the meaning of the writing. Each organizational pattern has its own logical connectives. Order of importance may be emphasized with transitional words and expressions such as first, a second factor, equally important, furthermore, of major concern, finally, least important, and most important. Transitional expressions such as equally, similarly, just as, however, on the other hand, despite, and otherwise may be used to emphasize comparison or contrast. Words particularly suited to writing about causes and effects are as a result, because, consequently, and therefore. Developing Unified and Coherent Paragraphs A paragraph is unified when every sentence develops the point made in the topic sentence. It must have a single focus and it must contain no irrelevant facts. Every sentence must contribute to the paragraph by explaining, exemplifying, or expanding the topic sentence. In order to determine whether a paragraph is well developed or not, ask yourself: "What main point am I trying to convey here?" (topic sentence) and then "Does every sentence clearly relate to this idea?" There are several ways in which you can build good, clear paragraphs. This section will discuss three of the most common types of paragraph structure: development by detail, comparison and contrast, and process. Finally, it will suggest that most paragraphs are built of a combination of development strategies. Paragraph Development by Detail This is the most common and easiest form of paragraph development: you simply expand on a general topic sentence using specific examples or illustrations. Look at the following paragraph (you may have encountered it before): Work tends to be associated with non-work-specific environments, activities, and schedules. If asked what space is reserved for learning, many students would suggest the classroom, the lab or the library. What about the kitchen? The bedroom? In fact, any room in which a student habitually studies becomes a learning space, or a place associated with thinking. Some people need to engage in sports or other physical activity before they can work successfully. Being sedentary seems to inspire others. Although most classes are scheduled between 8:30 and 22:00, some students do their best work before the sun rises, some after it sets. Some need a less flexible schedule than others, while a very few can sit and not rise until their task is completed. Some students work quickly and efficiently, while others cannot produce anything without much dust and heat. The topic sentence makes a general claim: that school work tends not to be associated only with school. The rest of the sentences provide various illustrations of this argument. They are organised around the three categories, "environment, activities, and schedules," enumerated in the topic sentence. The details provide the concrete examples which your reader will use to evaluate the credibility of your topic sentence. Paragraph Development by Comparison and Contrast You should consider developing your paragraph by comparison and contrast when you are describing two or more things which have something, but not everything, in common. You may choose to compare either point by point (X is big, Y is little; X and Y are both purple.) or subject by subject (X is big and purple; Y is small and purple.). Consider, for example, the following paragraph: Although the interpretation of traffic signals may seem highly standardized, close observation reveals regional variations across this country, distinguishing the East Coast from Central Canada and the West as surely as dominant dialects or political inclinations. In Montreal, a flashing red traffic light instructs drivers to careen even more wildly through intersections heavily populated 73
with pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. In startling contrast, an amber light in Calgary warns drivers to scream to a halt on the off chance that there might be a pedestrian within 500 meters who might consider crossing at some unspecified time within the current day. In my home town in New Brunswick, finally, traffic lights (along with painted lines and posted speed limits) do not apply to tractors, all terrain vehicles, or pickup trucks, which together account for most vehicles on the road. In fact, were any observant Canadian dropped from an alien space vessel at an unspecified intersection anywhere in this vast land, he or she could almost certainly orient him-orherself according to the surrounding traffic patterns. This paragraph compares traffic patterns in three areas of Canada. It contrasts the behaviour of drivers in the Maritimes, in Montreal, and in Calgary, in order to make a point about how attitudes in various places inform behaviour. People in these areas have in common the fact that they all drive; in contrast, they drive differently according to the area in which they live. It is important to note that the paragraph above considers only one aspect of driving (behaviour at traffic lights). If you wanted to consider two or more aspects, you would probably need more than one paragraph. Paragraph Development by Process Paragraph development by process involves a straightforward step-by-step description. Those of you in the sciences will recognise it as the formula followed in the "method" section of a lab experiment. Process description often follows a chronological sequence: The first point to establish is the grip of the hand on the rod. This should be about half-way up the cork handle, absolutely firm and solid, but not tense or rigid. All four fingers are curved around the handle, the little finger, third finger and middle finger contributing most of the firmness by pressing the cork solidly into the fleshy part of the palm, near the heel of the hand. The forefinger supports and steadies the grip but supplies its own firmness against the thumb, which should be along the upper side of the handle and somewhere near the top of the grip. (from Roderick HaigBrown, "Fly Casting") The topic sentence establishes that the author will use this paragraph to describe the process of establishing the "grip of the hand on the rod," and this is exactly what he does, point by point, with little abstraction. Paragraph Development by Combination Very often, a single paragraph will contain development by a combination of methods. It may begin with a brief comparison, for example, and move on to provide detailed descriptions of the subjects being compared. A process analysis might include a brief history of the process in question. Many paragraphs include lists of examples: The broad range of positive characteristics used to define males could be used to define females too, but they are not. At its entry for woman Webster's Third provides a list of "qualities considered distinctive of womanhood": "Gentleness, affection, and domesticity or on the other hand fickleness, superficiality, and folly." Among the "qualities considered distinctive of manhood" listed in the entry for man, no negative attributes detract from the "courage, strength, and vigor" the definers associate with males. According to this dictionary, womanish means "unsuitable to a man or to a strong character of either sex." This paragraph is a good example of one which combines a comparison and contrast of contemporary notions of "manliness" and "womanliness" with an extended list of examples. Review: Paragraph Development Although most paragraphs contain a combination of development techniques, which type of development best describes the following paragraphs: detail; comparison and contrast; process; or combination? 1. My secretary, incorrigibly English, says a true gentleman "knows instinctively when I prefer to light my own cigarette, never serves aces at me on the tennis court, and always removes his wristwatch." Among the few true gentlemen extant, she says, "Captain Horatio Hornblower, Bob 74
Dylan and Pierre Elliott Trudeau come to mind. Richard Burton, Joe Namath and Front Page Tom don't." (from Allan Fotheringham, "What is a Gentleman") 1. Development by Detail 2. Development by Comparison and Contrast 3. Development by Process 4. Combination of Development Methods 2. When I tell young softball players I played the game bare-handed, they regard me warily. Am I one of those geezers who's forever jawing about the fact that, in his day, you had to walk through six miles of snowdrifts just to get to school? Will I tediously lament the passing of the standing broad jump, and the glorious old days when the only football in the Maritimes was English rugger, when hockey was an outdoor art rather than indoor mayhem and at decent yacht clubs, men were gentlemen and women were persona non grata? No, but I will tell today's softball players that -with their fancy uniforms, batters' helmets, dugouts, manicured diamonds, guys to announce who's at bat over public address systems and, above all, gloves for every fielder -- the game they play is more tarted-up and sissy than the one I knew. (from Harry Bruce, "The Softball was Always Hard") 1. Development by Detail 2. Development by Comparison and Contrast 3. Development by Process 4. Combination of Development Methods 3. To identify the species the wasp apparently must explore the spider with her antennae. The tarantula shows an amazing tolerance to this exploration. The wasp crawls under it and walks over it without evoking any hostile response. The molestation is so great and so persistent that the tarantula often rises on all eight legs, as if it were on stilts. It may stand this way for several minutes. (from Alexander Petrunkevitch, "The Wasp and the Spider") 1. Development by Detail 2. Development by Comparison and Contrast 3. Development by Process 4. Combination of Development Methods 4. When I was young I often heard people say, "Canada is the Scotland of North America." Only recently did it occur to me that it might be worthwhile considering the extent to which this is true. As Scotland is the hard northern cap to the British island, with the rich farmlands and cities of England just below her, so is Canada to the United States. Both countries were gouged by the retreating glaciers, which left them on the subsistence level as far as good farmland was considered. It also gave them both a heritage of spectacular beauty uncrowded by cities and towns, and of this they were both inclined to boast. (from Hugh MacLennan, "Scotland's Fate, Canada's Lesson" [edited]) 1. Development by Detail 2. Development by Comparison and Contrast 3. Development by Process 75
4. Combination of Development Methods
Written by Dorothy Turner
punctuation Commas Students often place commas throughout their papers as if they are sprinkling raisins on their oatmeal. Although you shouldn’t use a comma unless you know a rule for it, commas are necessary for others to understand what we have said, to “get it.” It is easy to know when someone has finished a sentence: we see a period there. It is not as easy to know where a writer’s thoughts are going inside a sentence. Commas cause the reader to pause and better understand the elements that make up the sentence. In this module you will learn how to use commas correctly. Lessons will cover rules for comma use and common comma mistakes. Quick Comma Rules... In most situations, five general rules for comma use will help students use commas correctly. Some special situations for comma use are discussed toward the end of this module. 1. use a comma to separate items in a series. 2. use a comma with a coordinating conjunction to separate two independent clauses 3. use a comma to set-off non-essential elements such as a phrase or clause. Commas should be placed before and after a non-essential element in the middle of a sentence 4. use a comma after an opening clause, word, or phrase 5. use a comma to follow conventions of naming, citing sources, presenting addresses, dates, etc.
Rule 1: separate items in a series Rule 2: use a comma to Separating items in a series signals to the reader that the items are "like" in separate two some respect. The series may be a series of adjectives describing independent something, a series of things to pick up at the market, or a series of adjective, infinitive, or prepositional phrases. A series of two or more clauses items should be separated by commas; however, there is some debate Two or more about whether the last item in a list of three items should take a comma. independent Many grammarians would argue in this situation, leaving out the last clauses joined comma is acceptable. However, MLA format rules do require a comma together need before the last item in a series of three or more elements. strong punctuation: a examples: semi-colon, or a comma and a Felix dislikes spinach, broccoli, green beans, and brussels sprouts—any coordinating vegetable that's green. conjunction. Doing the dishes, washing the clothes, and mopping the floor are the This chores I hate most. punctuation tells the reader Finding healthy, appetizing fast food is difficult. that the clause could stand on Note: Sometimes a series seems to be "like" when it is not. In this its own as a situation, a comma should not be used between the items. For example, complete sentence. Writ She left her beautiful black leather handbag on the bus. ers join Haunted by the memory of last year's painful knee surgery, she protected clauses her knee with a strong brace during the tennis match. together to show a close A useful way to tell if items are "like" is to try placing the word "and" relationship between every item; if the sentence makes sense, then the items are like; if between ideas not, then they are unlike items and should not be separated by commas. and to vary the rhythm in the sound of their sentences. And the coordinating conjunctions—and, nor, for, but, yet, and so—also help writers identify the relationship between ideas and create coherence in their writing (take a look at the module on coordination and subordination for more information about using conjunctions effectively). Without adequate punctuation, the sentence will be a "run-on sentence": if no punctuation is included between independent clauses, the error is a "fused sentence," if the coordinating conjunction is provided and the comma is omitted, the error is a "comma splice" (for more detail, explore the module on run-on sentences). examples: Felix does not like spinach, nor does he like broccoli. We will be going to the mountains again this summer, but this time we will bring mosquito repellant. After graduation, Maya is going to travel throughout Southeast Asia for a year, and I will be staying home flipping burgers and going to school. Rule 3: use a comma to set off non-essential elements A non-essential element is information that is added to the core of a sentence to add further information— information that is useful, but not really essential to understanding the basic assertion. To signal the reader that a word, phrase, or dependent clause is non-essential information, writers set these elements off 77
by commas before and after the addition. The information is thus enclosed by commas. If the phrase occurs at the beginning or end of the sentence, only the comma separating the phrase from the rest of the sentence is needed. examples: She is, as you can probably tell, pretty nervous about public speaking. As you can probably tell, she is pretty nervous about public speaking. Once upon a time, before television, before computers, people read books for fun. Jake brought his best friends from school, John and Alex, home with him for Thanksgiving dinner. Note: In the last example above, the names of Jake's friends are non-essential information: Jake has only two best friends. However, if the names are essential to identifying the person, the names should not be set off from the sentence. Consider how the meaning changes with the presence or absence of enclosing commas in the following sentences: My sister Maria is pretty fun to hang out with. My sister, Maria, is pretty fun to hang out with. In the first sentence, because the name of the sister is included as necessary to the meaning of the sentence, the speaker could have more than one sister—this particular sister is fun to hang out with. In the second sentence, because the name of the sister is non-essential information, the speaker must have only one sister—my sister, whose name, by the way, is Maria, is fun to hang out with. Rule 4: use a comma after an opening clause, word, or phrase Introductory Clauses: When beginning a sentence with an introductory clause (as in this sentence), a comma is typically necessary to signal the reader as to when the introductory phrase or clause is complete. examples: As you can see, the problem is much bigger than we imagined. Because we have had so much rain this year, construction of the new highschool will take an additional six months. Jake brought his best friends from school, John and Alex, home with him for Thanksgiving dinner. Watch out, however, for clauses used as the subject of a sentence; one should never separate a subject from the verb of the sentence: example: What she has always wanted is now within her reach. Referring to what others have said shows that you are participating in an ongoing conversation about a topic. Introductory words: Sometimes a sentence begins with a single word that needs to be set off from the rest of the sentence. mild exclamations or interjections: Hey, I thought you were going to study tonight instead of come with us to the movies. 78
Ok, then show me how you do it. No, I don't want pineapple on my pizza. a name in a direct address: Miguel, do you want another cup of coffee? a sentence adverb: these are special transition words that always take a comma, or if they occur in the middle of a sentence, they are enclosed by commas. Examples of sentence adverbs include moreover, however, nevertheless, furthermore, frankly, sadly, and mercifully. Never use a sentence adverb to connect two independent clauses unless you use a semi-colon before the sentence adverb. I would love a new plasma television; however, I cannot afford one. Sadly, she has the flu and will have to skip the concert. Note: Grammarians disagree about the word "hopefully" used as a sentence adverb. Most hate this construction, arguing that it is ambiguous—the writer could mean a hopeful prediction, or "I am hoping." Introductory Phrases: Introductory phrases add information to the sentence and create interest in and anticipation for the information to follow. All phrases should be set off from the rest of the sentence by a comma with two exceptions: short prepositional phrases do not need a comma unless it is necessary for clarity, and introductory appositive phrases that are essential to the sentence should never be separated from the subject by a comma. examples: To help him understand how an internal combustion engine works, I drew a diagram. In San Francisco one finds plenty of good restaurants. At the restaurant we all ordered burgers and fries. Without a doubt, she is the nicest person I have ever met. The acclaimed critic Roger Ebert has been ill recently, and unable to host his television program, Ebert & Roeper. Rule 5: use a comma to follow conventions What follows reads a bit like a laundry list of comma use rules, but unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how we look at it), many conventions for the presentation of dates, names, times, citations, and quotations have risen up over time. Troublesome they may be, but these conventions allow us to quickly share and process information. . . . Use a comma to separate a city from a state, and after the state before continuing with the rest of the sentence: I have lived in San Francisco, California, for most of my life. . . . Use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year, and after the year before continuing with the sentence: The twins were born in June, 1979, one month before my 30th birthday. . . . Use commas to surround titles or degrees:
Professor Pete McSeed, Ph.D., received his doctoral from Amherst College a year before taking a teaching job at Yale. . . . Commas used with quotations are a bit tricky. When introducing a quote with a short introductory phrase like "He said," "Twain argues," or "As Huck puts it," the phrase should be set off from the quote by a comma. However, after an independent clause, a colon should be used instead. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck says, "All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised." Huck embraces life in the wild to the extent that a raft moving down a river can provide all the home he really needs: "We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." It is also important to note that a comma used after a quote to separate it from the rest of the sentence goes inside the closing quote. Twain's short story "Hunting the Deceitful Turkey," is wildly funny. . . . Use a comma to emphasize a shift or to cause the reader to pause before an important contrast or point of emphasis. He was angry, furious even. Tears were streaming down her face because she was happy, not sad. You are going to make the cake for the party, aren't you? When Not to Use a Comma Here are some quick "don'ts" that may help you break any bad habits with comma use. Don't use a comma to separate the subject from the verb. wrong: To err, is human. corrected: To err is human. Don't place a comma between two sentence verbs or verb phrases. wrong: She walked out of the room, and started screaming about the grade on her essay. corrected: She walked out of the room and started screaming about the grade on her essay. Don't place a comma between two nouns, noun phrases, or noun clauses in a compound subject or compound object. wrong: I told my boss that I was sick, and that I would not be coming to work. corrected: I told my boss that I was sick and that I would not be coming to work. Don't put a comma after the main clause when a dependent clause follows it. wrong: I am not going to work today, because I am sick. corrected: I am not going to work today because I am sick. Don't sprinkle commas throughout your writing to try and imitate a speaking voice. Rely instead on language and logic, and an occasional well-placed comma to create voice. Take a look at a parody of this kind of comma abuse by blogger fandomcommahate 80
I, love, the comma, hate, comma abuse, hate, the people, who hate comma abuse, and hate, the people, who, love comma abuse, the perpetrators, the people, who, love them, the people, who, hate, them, and the, fandoms, which spawn them. Like, seriously. Also? Everyone else. Quotes & Quotation Marks Quotation marks are probably the most incorrectly used element of punctuation; students are often confused about when to use single or a double quote, how to use quotation marks to express irony, whether or not it is Ok to use quotes to identify a new term, and how to use quotation marks with direct quotes. The rules governing the use of quotation marks are specific; however, students don't usually sit down and read about how to use quotation marks properly. So good for you, for being here! In this module, students will learn the rules governing the use of quotation marks in the situations outlined below:
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with direct and indirect quotes for irony & emphasis to identify new terms to identify titles in dialogue Quotation Marks With Direct & Indirect Quotations
Short Quotes: Quotation marks are important in an essay which uses sources as evidence. Writers use quotation marks to signal the reader that the text within opeining and closing quotes is not the writer's original material. In an indirect quotation, when the writer paraphrases another person's words, quotation marks are not used, though it is important to provide a citation letting the reader know the source of the information. Direct quote: After finishing the entire sundae, she said, "And that's what I'm talking about!" Indirect quote: After she finished her chocolate sundae, she said that she wanted another one. Block Quotes: When the quoted material is longer than four lines of your own text, it must be offset and indented (the way the examples on this page are offset and indented); however, do not use quotation marks with an offset quote as the offsetting substitutes for the punctuation. Quotes within the quote still take punctuation marks, however. If you are writing an essay in MLA format, the quote should be double-spaced (in MLA format, double-spacing is maintained throughout the essay). Using Other Punctuation With Quotation Marks: Here is where things get tricky: students often just guess where to put commas, periods, and question marks when they finish with a quote and move back to their own writing. However, there are rules that govern the placement of other punctuation with quotation marks, and you may well be driving your English instructor up the wall if your commas are out of place. 81
Commas and periods after a quotation go INSIDE the closing quote: "I was so tired that I fell asleep in the library," said Donna. Mark Twain once said, "Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits." A comma should be used before a quote begins to separate a lead-in phrase from the quotation. If the lead in is an independent clause, however, use a colon: An analogy helps explain something complex by way of comparison with something that is easier to understand, for example, "Love is like a rose: it blooms and grows and creates joy; but it also has thorns." For example, the author of the essay on the Novato Train Station might employ a statement Gertrude Stein made about Oakland: "There's no 'there' there." A question mark or exclamation point goes inside the closing quote if the quote is a question or exclamation; if the sentence itself is a question or exclamation, place the punctuation outside the closing quote. Do not double up punctuation when using a question mark or exclamation point by adding in the usual comma or a period. Skip the additional punctuation: "What in the world were you thinking of?" I asked. What is the context for Twain's comment, "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards"? When omitting words in a quotation, use ellipses (three periods with a space between each period; and a space before beginning the ellipses). If the omitted material is after a complete sentence, keep the period then add the ellipses: Walker . . . was picked up by the A's just three days before the regular season was to start. The Sierra Nevada range is of greater elevation than the Rocky Mountains. . . . This and the coast range run nearly parallel with the shore of the Pacific. (Edwin Bryant, What I Saw in California) Ellipses may also be used to indicate a pause or an unfinished thought: "The details of my life are quite inconsequential. . . . Very well, where do I begin?" (Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) Capital letters: Basically, stick with the actual text of the quoted material. You do not need to change a letter to or from a capital to fit it into the structure of your sentence. One exception would be when you begin a sentence with a quotation: here you would capitalize the first letter of the sentence. Brackets: Brackets are used within a quote when you need to change a word, for example, when you need to make the quote fit the grammatical structure of your own sentence. Brackets are also used to indicate a single word omission, or the addition of words to clarify meaning: In "Like a Fox," the 10-year-old protoganist repeatedly tries to break away from her parents and childhood. She asks his mother to let her go alone to the lake to join her friends, to choose her own clothes, and to walk to school rather than ride with her dad. She argues that "nobody understands [her]" to anyone who will listen. Scientist Gail Monroe said, "The future of stem cell research [see definition] is in doubt." A Quote Within a Quote: 82
When quoting text that itself includes a quote, use single quotation marks to enclose the internal quote and distinguish it from the primary quote. In his book Free From School, Rahul Alvarez takes a year off from school to pursue an education of his own design. At sixteen, however, he is sometimes taken advantage of by strangers. For example, he is cheated by a man pretending to be a conductor when he takes a bus for the first time: "We both got into the bus, I took a seat and he put my luggage on the overhead rack. 'Ticket,' he demanded. 'How much?' I asked. '25 rupees,' he replied. I handed over the amount to him." (Rahul Alvarez, Free From School) Quotation Marks for Irony and Emphasis Irony: Ever seen someone use air quotes? People make air quotes when they want to express irony, as in "I just 'love' waking up at 6:00 am to catch a plane." Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies uses air quotes, but incorrectly, around familiar terms like "laser," and so does Joey in a classic episode of Friends (click here to see this bit on YouTube). Using quotes to express irony is tricky. Often it is better to rely on the logic of the sentence to indicate the irony; quotes can be construed as a sign of the author's laziness or inability to indicate irony in language. Neither of the sentences below needs quotation marks to make the irony clear because the logic reveals the irony. Those telephone solicitors are so kind and thoughtful to call during dinner time. I just love telephone solicitors. Slang: Quotation marks may be used around a word to indicate that a word is a slang term. In this case, one is calling attention to the fact that the term is slang. She called me a "garden tool"; I had no idea what she meant, but my guess is that she wasn't being kind. Emphasis: Most grammarians will tell you that using quotes to denote emphasis is incorrect, but people do it all the time. Take a look at the following emphasis quotes taken from the hilarious Gallery of Misused Quotations: You'll "love" our food! (menu in a diner in Hattiesburg, Mississippi) Help Wanted. Must have cash register experience and be "willing to work." (Weiner World Restaurant, Pittsburgh, PA) "Fresh" Fish (Byward Market, Ottawa, Ontario) You must be "21" to enter this bar! (a fan's local bar) "Parents" No candy sold on this aisle. (Weis Supermarket, PA) It is probably best to avoid using quotes for emphasis in college writing. Quotation Marks for Terms Before computers took the place of typewriters, quotation marks were used around words and phrases meant to be read as words or terms rather than for their content. Today, the use of italics is preferred. New terms should be placed in italics the first time they appear; thereafter, the terms should appear as regular, unitalicized text. The English word wimp, which means "to be timid or cowardly," comes from the Old English word for "wimple," which refers to the cloth women wrapped around their heads in medieval times. 83
Quotation Marks and Titles Quotation marks are used to set off the titles of short works; italics (or an underline, when italics are not available) are used to identify longer works. A short work is a work within a work, such as an episode of a TV series, a chapter in a book, an article in a magazine, or a song or poem. Longer works include books, full-length plays, full-length records (or cds), TV series, films, magazines and newspapers. Works of art are also italicized. Quotation Marks in Dialogue There are a few important rules for using quotations marks in dialogue.
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The words of each speaker need to be enclosed in quotes In quotes that go on for more than a paragraph, use a quote at the beginning, but not at the end of the paragraph until you reach the end of the quote, then include the closing quote. Every time a new speaker talks, the writer must begin a new line.
Take a look at this dialogue from Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice: “My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?” Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. “But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.” Mr. Bennet made no answer. “Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently. “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.” This was invitation enough. 1. Alice Williams began her career with her first book of poems "Daughters of The West." correct incorrect 2. She has long been interested in the "woman question," her appreciation of the vital importance of which is voiced in her poem, "The Present Hour," written for anre read before the Ohio State Council of Women. (Robert Luce, The Writer, 1862) correct incorrect 3. This was his written promise to me: "I agree to pay you one hundred dollars on the first day of June, 2007." correct incorrect 4. He advised me by letter that he would, on the first day of June, 2007, "pay me one hundred dollars." 84
correct incorrect 5. He correct incorrect 6. She said, "Is this the truth?" "Then I'd better tell my sister." "She ought to know." correct incorrect 7. She said, "Is this the truth? Then I must tell my sister. She ought to know." correct incorrect 8. The correct incorrect 9. correct incorrect 10. correct incorrect Add quotation marks where needed to the following paragraph. I just love surprise quizzes. I just "love" surprise quizzes. expression, "What's up, dude?" makes me crazy. said "that he was angry at having to work a double shift."
11. Geography is a science of observation, Sauer writes. The geographic bent [for students] rests on seeing and thinking about what is in the landscape. . . . In some manner, the field of geography is always a reading of the face of the earth"(Sauer 1963b, 392-393). (from "The Monument and the Bungalow," by Pierce F. Lewis," 1988)
12. I knew it before I got out of bed, she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they've gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We've thirty cakes to bake. (from "A Christmas Memory," by Truman Capote, 1966)
13. Footsteps. The door opens. Our hearts overturn. It's Mr. Haha Jones himself! And he is a giant; he does have scars; he doesn't smile. No, he glowers at us through Satan-tilted eyes and demands to know: What you want with Haha? For a moment we are too paralyzed to tell. Presently my friend half-finds her voice, a whispery voice at best: If you please, Mr. Haha, we'd like a quart of your finest whiskey. His eyes tilt more. Would you believe it? Haha is smiling! Laughing, too. Which one of you is a drinkin' man? It's for making fruitcakes, Mr. Haha. Cooking.
Correction 1. Alice Williams began her career with her first book of poems "Daughters of The West." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 2. She has long been interested in the "woman question," her appreciation of the vital importance of which is voiced in her poem, "The Present Hour," written for anre read before the Ohio State Council of Women. (Robert Luce, The Writer, 1862) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 3. This was his written promise to me: "I agree to pay you one hundred dollars on the first day of June, 2007." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 4. He advised me by letter that he would, on the first day of June, 2007, "pay me one hundred dollars." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 5. He said "that he was angry at having to work a double shift." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 6. She said, "Is this the truth?" "Then I'd better tell my sister." "She ought to know." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 7. She said, "Is this the truth? Then I must tell my sister. She ought to know." Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 8. The expression, "What's up, dude?" makes me crazy. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 87
I just "love" surprise quizzes. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 10. I just love surprise quizzes. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct Add quotation marks where needed to the following paragraph. 11. Geography is a science of observation, Sauer writes. The geographic bent [for students] rests on seeing and thinking about what is in the landscape. . . . In some manner, the field of geography is always a reading of the face of the earth"(Sauer 1963b, 392-393). (from "The Monument and the Bungalow," by Pierce F. Lewis," 1988) Answer given: 12. I knew it before I got out of bed, she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they've gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We've thirty cakes to bake. (from "A Christmas Memory," by Truman Capote, 1966) Answer given: 13. Footsteps. The door opens. Our hearts overturn. It's Mr. Haha Jones himself! And he is a giant; he does have scars; he doesn't smile. No, he glowers at us through Satan-tilted eyes and demands to know: What you want with Haha? For a moment we are too paralyzed to tell. Presently my friend half-finds her voice, a whispery voice at best: If you please, Mr. Haha, we'd like a quart of your finest whiskey. His eyes tilt more. Would you believe it? Haha is smiling! Laughing, too. Which one of you is a drinkin' man? It's for making Christmas fruitcakes, Memory," Mr. by Haha. Truman Cooking. Capote, 1966)
(from "A Answer given:
Total Total Total Percentage correct: 0 % Semicolon & Colon use
questions: machine graded graded: correct:
13 10 0
Balloon: thing to take meteoric observations and commit suicide with.—Mark Twain Did you know that in Greek, the semicolon is used to indicate a question? And the colon in Finnish and Swedish is used like the English apostrophe? The semicolon and colon are also used in mathematics, in computer code, and in emoticons : ). These symbols really get around. In the English language, they are also important symbols, and have been since before the 17th century. The rules governing semicolon and colon use in English writing are quite specific. In this module students will learn these rules, as well as how to use colons and semicolons effectively in their writing. Objectives:
learn to use semicolons and colons between independent clauses 88
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learn to use semi-colons with commas in a list learn to use colons with items in a list learn the other conventions of colon and semicolon use Semicolon Use Between Independent Clauses
A semicolon is used between two independent clauses to indicate a close relationship between ideas. A semicolon is stronger separation than a comma + coordinating conjunction, but not as strong as a period. Writers often use a semi-colon when they want to state an idea in more specific terms. For example, Using a quote also shows that you are informed; who you quote says something about your point of view —great minds think alike, so to speak. Semicolon with Sentence Adverbs: A semi-colon (or a period) should also be used with sentence adverbs such as "however," "moreover," "therefore," "at least," and "even so" to connect two sentences. Sentence adverbs are transition words rather than conjunctions, and so they cannot be used to connect clauses. For example, Usually she wakes up with a smile on her face; however, sometimes she wakes up ready to bite my head off. Maria made a big Italian dinner for the family; moreover, she made the cannolis herself! Below is a list of words typically used as sentence adverbs: to indicate time: then, meanwhile, henceforth, afterward, later, soon, at one moment...at the next, sometimes...sometimes, now...then to indicate addition: likewise, moreover, furthermore, in addition, besides, then too, also, partly...partly, for one thing ...for another (thing), what is more to indicate contrast or concession: however, nevertheless, still, on the contrary, instead, rather, one the one hand. . . on the other hand, exactly the opposite, at least to indicate a result: consequently, then, therefore, thus, hence, accordingly, as a result to indicate condition: otherwise
Note: On either side of the semicolon, the sentence must be an independent clause. It is not acceptable to connect a phrase to a clause with a semicolon. Semi-Colon Use With Commas in a List Typically, items in a list are separated by commas; however, when the items themselves require commas, what each comma in the list is being used for can be unclear. In this case, semicolons are used to separate the items in the series. For example, This party is really boring: the music is terrible; nobody is talking, at least not to me; and none of my good friends is here. 89
This summer on our road trip we will visit Fargo, North Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Boston, Massachusetts. Colon Use With Items in a List A colon is used after an independent clause to preface a list of items, even if the list includes only a single item. I am going to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for fajitas: chicken, green and red peppers, onions, cumin, tortillas, and hot sauce. I agree with the statement Gertrude Stein made about Oakland: "There's no 'there' there." It is not acceptable to use a colon after an incomplete sentence to begin a list, so be very careful to ensure that the clause is complete: incorrect: When you come to take the exam, bring the following: pencils, a pencil sharpener, a calculator, and a dictionary. correct: When you come to take the exam, bring the following items: pencils, a pencil sharpener, a calculator, and a dictionary. In the first version, the independent clause lacks a direct object, and so the sentence is incomplete. This mistake is corrected in the second version. Colon Use Between Independent Clauses A Colon can be used after an independent clause to introduce a list, but it can also be used to introduce another independent clause that illustrates or elaborates upon the idea in the first clause. One could think of the first clause as a kind of overture, and the second clause as the movement(s) of a symphony. Take a look at the following example. The sentence begins with an independent clause, "The seas were full of islands where spices grew and countless strange creatures lived," the rest of the sentence, which takes up the entire paragraph, illustrates the idea in that first clause: The seas were full of islands where spices grew and countless strange creatures lived: one-eyed men; men with a lip long enough to cover their whole face; men with only one foot, but that so large that they held it over them like an umbrella when they lay down in the sun to rest; two-headed men and men with no heads at all; men whose only food was snakes, and others whose favorite beverage was human blood; dragons and unicorns; woolly hens and sheep that grew on trees; and in one island a valley where only devils dwelt. (Ten Great Events in History, James Johonnot) Other Conventions of Colon Use Colon in Stating Time Use a colon between the hour and the minute. 10:30 p.m. The Bible When referring to passages in the Bible, use a colon between the chapter and the verse. John 11:35 Job 3:2 Titles and Subtitles A colon is used between a title and subtitle of a book or article. These days, however, many academics urge students to avoid creating titles in the "title colon subtitle" format because such titles can sound a bit 90 7:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m.
pretentious, or even inappropriately humorous for the content of the essay that follows. The title-colonsubtitle format is very popular in newspapers and popular magazines, however: this type of title enables the journalist to frame the subject and the angle the journalist will take on the subject in a single, short sentence. Colons: Annoying Convention or Useful Tool? (just made this one up) Art/Sci Collision: Of Human-Robot Bondage (title of a new lecture series at the American Museum of Natural History) Smarts in a Bottle: UK Government Evaluates Cognition Enhancers (title of article at Wired.com) Salutations In a business letter, a colon is placed after the salutation rather than a comma (used in informal letters). To Whom it May Concern: 1. How is Dear Sir: the Dear Mr. Spiegler semicolon used in a sentence?
For each sentence below, decide whether the dash should be replaced with a colon or a semicolon. 3. The earth has two motions-a daily rotation upon its axis, and a year revolution around the sun. semicolon 91
colon 4. Helen Keller's world is built of touch sensations, devoid of color and sound—but, without color and sound, it throbs with life. semicolon colon 5. Some semicolon colon 6. We hold these truths to be self-evident—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. semicolon colon For each sentence supplied below, add a second sentence, joined to the first with either a semicolon or a colon. Make sure that your choice reflects correct semicolon or colon use. 7. I watched the sun pass below the horizon. died without speaking—others spoke without dying. (Rabelais)
Contexts for Colon & Semicolon Use As mentioned in the lesson on colon use between independent clauses, a colon can be used to great effect when a writer wants to illustrate or elaborate on an idea. The colon can even set up a kind of mini-essay within your essay if after the first clause, you connect several illustrations together with semicolons. Try out this technique in the text boxes below. A starting sentence is provided for you. All you need to do is add sentences that illustrate or elaborate on that idea. In at least one of the exercises, try to connect several illustrations with semicolons. When you complete your sentence, check out our version of the sentence.
She w as a kind old w oman:
See our version
Having pets does not prepare a person for parenthood:
See our version
See our version
Semicolons in Context A semicolon is a useful tool for connecting two closely related ideas. It is also useful for creating balanced and smooth-flowing sentences since good balance comes from the repetition of similar structures or ideas. Consider the following balanced sentence: “What we have we Whiles we enjoy it; Why, then we (Shakespeare: Much Ado about Nothing, iv. 1.) As for man his days are (Old Testament, Psalm 103:15) as grass; prize but not being rack flower of the to lack’d the field so the and worth lost, value.” flourisheth.
Twins amount to a permanent riot; and there ain't any real difference between triplets and a insurrection. (The Babies Speech, Mark Twain) Now give this technique a try yourself. As in the colon exercise above, a starter sentence is provided for you. See if you can think of a sentence to place on the other side of the semicolon that is closely related to the idea before the semicolon. Remember, to create balance, repeat structures and ideas. When you complete your sentence, check out our version of the sentence.
A cup of coffee w akes me up in the morning;
See our version
We acquire our highest ideas in childhood;
See our version
In America, w e hurry;
See our version
1. The gardener needs the following tools for regular garden maintenance: a trowel, good garden gloves, fertilizer, and clippers. correct incorrect 2. Bring to the picnic: a blanket 94 to sit on, a salad, and drinks.
correct incorrect 3. It struck me that the movies had spent more than half a century saying, “They lived happily ever after” and the following quarter-century warning that they’ll be lucky to make it through the weekend. Possibly now we are now entering a third era in which the movies will be sounding a note of cautious optimism: You know it just might work. (Nora Ephron) correct incorrect 4. Women’s Wear Daily at least makes me feel dirty; People makes me feel that I haven’t read or learned or seen anything at all. (Nora Ephron) correct incorrect 5. The correct incorrect 6. You correct incorrect 7. I don't want to make money; I just want to be wonderful. (Marilyn Monroe) correct incorrect 8. Fashion correct incorrect 9. The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant; and let the air out of the tires. (Dorothy Parker) correct incorrect 10. My mother could make anybody feel guilty: she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know. (Joan Rivers) correct incorrect Write sentences demonstrating your understanding of correct semicolon and colon use according to the directions below. 11. Use a semicolon to connect two closely related ideas about places you like to visit. 95 is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. (Coco Chanel) can't ignore politics; no matter how much you'd like to. (Molly Ivins) first rule of holes; when you're in one, stop digging. (Molly Ivins)
13. Use a colon to introduce an in-depth explanation or elaboration of something.
14. Use a colon to introduce a list of items a student needs to be prepared for the first day of classes.
Correction Decide if semicolons and colons are used correctly in each quotation below. 1. The gardener needs the following tools for regular garden maintenance: a trowel, good garden gloves, fertilizer, and clippers. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 2. Bring to the picnic: a blanket to sit on, a salad, and drinks. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 3. It struck me that the movies had spent more than half a century saying, “They lived happily ever after” and the following quarter-century warning that they’ll be lucky to make it through the weekend. Possibly now we are now entering a third era in which the movies will be sounding a note of cautious optimism: You know it just might work. (Nora Ephron) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 4. Women’s Wear Daily at least makes me feel dirty; People makes me feel that I haven’t read or learned or seen anything at all. (Nora Ephron) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 5. The first rule of holes; when you're in one, stop digging. (Molly Ivins) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 6. You can't ignore politics; no matter how much you'd like to. (Molly Ivins) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: incorrect 7. I don't want to make money; I just want to be wonderful. (Marilyn Monroe) Answer given: 97
Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 8. Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. (Coco Chanel) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 9. The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant; and let the air out of the tires. (Dorothy Parker) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct 10. My mother could make anybody feel guilty: she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know. (Joan Rivers) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: correct
End Punctuation T he end of a sentence is signalled by a period, an exclamation mark, or a question mark. One almost never sees a question mark or an exclamation point in the middle of a sentence. A period, on the other hand, has many uses in addition to ending a sentence: for example, a period is used in titles, abbreviations, and placenames; and so, in these situations, a period is seen in the middle of a sentence. In this module, students will learn the rules for correct use of end punctuation, and to use end punctuation correctly and effectively in writing. ! ! ! . . .? ? ? The Period A period, also called a "full stop," is used to signal the end of most kinds of sentences . . . the period at the end of a sentence: A declarative sentence: a period is used to end a sentence that states a fact, such as "She laughed at my joke," or an opinion, such as "I believe it will rain today." An imperative sentence: a period is also used to conclude a sentence that issues an order, gives advice, or makes a request—though with requests, one may choose instead to use a question mark. order: Children will stay within school grounds during recess. They will discover the problem for themselves. advice: You should not be swimming so soon after eating. 98
We should go to the party tonight. request: Would you please change the oil for me. Please send her my congratulations on getting the promotion. Note: a good way to determine whether a request should end with a period or a question mark is to say the sentence out loud. If your voice goes up at the end of the sentence, use a question mark. Little rise in your voice indicates a level of formality and polite hesitation; a period expresses this polite tone. An indirect question: a period is used in a sentence that includes a question, but is itself not a question. Hilary asked us if we wanted to go swimming this afternoon. I wondered why she asked us if we had our bathing suits. other uses of the period Periods and Money A period is used between dollars and cents. No period is used when money is rounded to dollars: $45.89 $45 $1,150 $1,150.00 $.67 $1
Periods and Abbreviations Periods are not used in the abbreviations of familiar institutions, organizations, radio stations, long terms, and states do not take periods: CIA FBI BBB AAA KFOG AIDS BART EBMUD CA
Nor are periods used in abbreviations that have become widely accepted as replacment words for the full version: exam memo dorm web cell
Periods are used in abbreviations used for titles and unfamliar institutions and organizations: Dr. Mr. Ms. M.D. Ph.D. Col. M.A.D.D.
Periods are also used after numbers or letters in an outline, unless the number or letter is enclosed in parentheses: I. A. 1. 1.1.2. (a) (iii)
Ellipses An ellipses, or a series of three periods (with a space between the last word or the period at the end of a sentence), is used to show an ommission of words in quote. If a single word is ommitted, use brackets ([ ]) to indicate the ommission. Walker . . . was picked up by the A's just three days before the regular season was to start. The Sierra Nevada range is of greater elevation than the Rocky Mountains. . . . This and the coast range run nearly parallel with the shore of the Pacific. (Edwin Bryant, What I Saw in California) Ellipses may also be used to indicate a pause or an unfinished thought: "The details of my life are quite inconsequential. . . . Very well, where do I begin?" (Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) 99
The Question Mark Use a question mark at the end of a direct question. Will you have milk with your tea? Can I dance with your date? What is your problem? A question mark goes inside the closing quote if the quote is a question; if the sentence itself is a question, place the punctuation outside the closing quote. Do not double up punctuation when using a question mark by adding in the usual comma or a period. Skip the additional punctuation: "What in the world were you thinking of?" I asked. What is the context for Twain's comment, "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards"? Use a question mark in parentheses to express doubt or uncertainty. But be careful not to overuse this technique, or use it as a substitute for explanation when an explanation would be useful. The captain was born in 1799 (?), and died in 1854. As discussed above, do not use question marks after indirect questions or polite requests. In a series of questions, it is acceptable to abbreviate questions after the initial question if the structure is clear. Are you really coming? For two weeks? Really? The Exclamation Point The exclamation point is believed to have its origins in the Latin exclamation io, a term used to express joy. In the English language, exclamation points allow writers to quickly let a reader know that a statement is emphatic. There is a world of difference between "No." and "No!" for example. Be careful, however, to use an exclamation mark for strong emotions; overuse of exclamation marks make it seem as if a writer is relying on symbols rather than language to convey meaning. Wow! Did you really get an A+ on that exam? Let's take a road trip! Listen! I think I hear something. I can't believe you got your nose pierced! Note: In a quotation, an exclamation point goes inside a closing quote if the quote is an exclamation; if the sentence itself is an exclamation, place the punctuation outside the closing quote. Do not double up punctuation when using a an exclamation point by adding in the usual comma or a period. Skip the additional punctuation: His doctor exclaimed, "Wow! It's lucky we caught this in time."
Fixing Common End Punctuation Mistakes If you discover the comment "EP" (for "faulty end punctuation") in the margin of a paper you have received back from your instructor, asking yourself the following questions may help you quickly figure out where you went wrong. Did I confuse a direct question with an indirect question? Did I forget about the rule against double end punctuation? (No expressions like"??!!?" are allowed.) Did I over-do it with the exclamations? (Use exclamation marks sparingly; mild exclamations do not take exclamation marks.) Did I forget closing punctuation altogether? (Seems unlikely, but sometimes this happens.)
punctuation to work
wherever for the
(including now he
abbreviations). for NATO
9. I can't believe I flunked English
10. Will you have time to finish writing the memo about the new schedule before you leave The passage below is taken from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In this passage, Twain uses many exclamation marks and question marks, but these have been replaced with periods. Read through the passages and decide where you think the exclamation 101
points and question marks belong. Copy the passage into a word processor for revision and then paste your corrected version in the text box. Or, if you prefer, copy and paste the text into the text box and do the editing there. 1. When I next came to myself, I seemed to have been asleep a very long time. My first thought was, "Well, what an astonishing dream I've had. I reckon I've waked only just in time to keep from being hanged or drowned or burned or something. I'll nap again till the whistle blows, and then I'll go down to the arms factory and have it out with Hercules." But just then I heard the harsh music of rusty chains and bolts, a light flashed in my eyes, and that butterfly, Clarence, stood before me. I gasped with surprise; my breath almost got away from me. "What." I said, "Are you here yet. Go along with the rest of the dream. Scatter." But he only laughed in his light-hearted way and fell to making fun of my sorry plight. "All "Tell right," I said resignedly, me, "let the what dream go on; I'm in no hurry."
"What dream. Why, the dream that I am in Arthur's court -- a person who never existed; and that I am talking to you, who are nothing but a work of the imagination." Answer given: Total Total Total Percentage Correct questions: machine graded correct: versions of graded: correct: -text: 1 0 0 %
When I next came to myself, I seemed to have been asleep a very long time. My first thought was, "Well, what an astonishing dream I've had! I reckon I've waked only just in time to keep from being hanged or drowned or burned or something.... I'll nap again till the whistle blows, and then I'll go down to the arms factory and have it out with Hercules." But just then I heard the harsh music of rusty chains and bolts, a light flashed in my eyes, and that butterfly, Clarence, stood before me! I gasped with surprise; my breath almost got away from me. "What!" I said, "you here yet? Go along with the rest of the dream! scatter!"
But he only laughed, in his light-hearted way, and fell to making fun of my sorry plight. "All right," I said resignedly, what "let the dream go on; dream?" I'm in no hurry."
"What dream? Why, the dream that I am in Arthur's court -- a person who never existed; and that I am talking to you, who are nothing but a work of the imagination."
-33"Oh, la, indeed! and is it a dream that you're to be burned to-morrow? Ho-ho -- answer me that!" 102
The shock that went through me was distressing. I now began to reason that my situation was in the last degree serious, dream or no dream; for I knew by past experience of the lifelike intensity of dreams, that to be burned to death, even in a dream, would be very far from being a jest, and was a thing to be avoided, by any means, fair or foul, that I could contrive. So I said beseechingly: "Ah, Clarence, good boy, only friend I've got, -- for you ARE my friend, aren't you? -- don't fail me; help me to devise some way of escaping from this place!" "Now do but hear thyself! Escape? Why, man, the corridors are in guard and keep of men-at-arms." "No doubt, no doubt. But how many, Clarence? Not many, I hope?"
"Full a score. One may not hope to escape." After a pause -- hesitatingly: "and there be other reasons -and weightier." "Other "Well, they ones? say -oh, What but I are daren't, they?" indeed daren't!"
"Why, poor lad, what is the matter? Why do you blench? Why do you tremble so?" "Oh, "Come, in sooth, come, be there brave, is be need! a I man do -want speak to out, tell you, a but good -" lad!"
He hesitated, pulled one way by desire, the other way by fear; then he stole to the door and peeped out, listening; and finally crept close to me and put his mouth to my ear and told me his fearful news in
-34a whisper, and with all the cowering apprehension of one who was venturing upon awful ground and speaking of things whose very mention might be freighted with death. "Merlin, in his malice, has woven a spell about this dungeon, and there bides not the man in these kingdoms that would be desperate enough to essay to cross its lines with you! Now God pity me, I have told it! Ah, be kind to me, be merciful to a poor boy who means thee well; for an thou betray me I am lost!" I laughed the only really refreshing laugh I had had for some time; and shouted: "Merlin has wrought a spell! merlin, forsooth! That cheap old humbug, that maundering old ass? Bosh, pure bosh, the silliest bosh in the world! Why, it does seem to me that of all the childish, idiotic, chuckleheaded, chicken-livered superstitions that ev -oh, damn Merlin!" But Clarence had slumped to his knees before I had half finished, and he was like to go out of his mind with fright. "Oh, beware! These are awful words! Any moment these walls may crumble upon us if you say such things. Oh call them back before it is too late!" Now this strange exhibition gave me a good idea and set me to thinking. If everybody about here was so honestly and sincerely afraid of Merlin's pretended magic as Clarence was, certainly a superior man like 103
me ought to be shrewd enough to contrive some way to take advantage of such a state of things. I went on thinking, and worked out a plan. Then I said:
-35"Get up. Pull yourself together; look me in the eye. Do you know why I laughed?" "No -but for our blessed Lady's sake, do it no more."
"Well, I'll tell you why I laughed. Because I'm a magician myself."
Grammatical sentences Correcting Sentence Fragments A sentence must be able to stand on its own as a completed thought. However, when writers are caught up in the flow of their ideas and are trying to capture those ideas on the page, they do not always pay close attention to the stops and starts of thoughts. As a result, writers often end up with sentences that are not complete—"fragments" of thought that need something more to stand on their own. However, what professional writers do that many beginning writers do not is to carefully proofread their work to make sure that before publication, each sentence passes the test for completeness. In this module you will learn to spot fragments in your work and to turn those fragments into complete sentences. By the end of this module students should be able to
• • •
recognize sentence fragments and their causes correct sentence fragments by revision and sentence combining use sentence fragments intentionally for special effect What is a sentence? A sentence fragment?
What is a sentence? Here are two definitions that may be useful: Definition 1: A sentence is a group of words arranged to express a complete thought. The arrangement of the words follows the rules of English grammar. Definition 2: A sentence is group of words that begins with a capital letter, has a subject and a complete or finite verb, and ends with a period. Complete sentences are also sometimes called independent clauses. Groups of words that modify part or all of an independent clause are called dependent clauses. Dependent clauses begin with subordinating words (relative pronouns, prepositions, or adverbs). By themselves, dependent clauses form sentence fragments. Keep the distinction between dependent and independent clauses in mind, because it will help you tell the difference between sentence fragments and complete sentences. 104
It is useful to group sentences into 4 types. 1) Simple sentences, which have one subject and one verb. Example: Pinnochio hoped to become a real boy. (“Pinnochio” is the subject; “hoped” is the verb. ) 2) Compound sentences, in which a conjunction links two simple sentences. Example: Pinnochio hoped to become a real boy, and the Blue Fairy granted his wish. 3) Complex sentences, which join a dependent clause to an independent clause. Example: After the Blue Fairy granted his wish, Pinocchio lived happily ever after. (“After the Blue Fairy granted his wish” is a dependent clause; “After” is the subordinating word.) 4) Compound-Complex sentences, which combine types 2 and 3. Example: After Pinnochio saved Gepetto, the Blue Fairy granted his wish, and he became a real boy. A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence punctuated as if it were complete. Consider the following passages to see if you can locate the sentence fragments: She didn't want to be on vacation anymore. She wanted to be back with her things. Her things that meant so much to her. The downtown takes you back to the time when there was a single sweet shop, baker, and post office in every city. When people knew the shopkeeper by name and knew about each other’s lives. In each paragraph, the last sentence is a fragment. The last sentence in the first paragraph lacks a sentence verb; and in the second paragraph, the word "when" turns the clause into a subordinate clause. In the rest of this module, students will learn how to correct sentence fragments. Correcting Sentence Fragments... Dependent clauses, and other groups of words that lack a subject or a verb, are called sentence fragments. Think of them as broken or incomplete thoughts. You need to fix them, so that your reader can understand your thoughts. Below, the common sources of sentence fragments are identified, and examples are given to help you identify and correct fragments in your own writing. Sentence Fragments Caused by a Missing Verb: After years of searching for a cancer cure, the scientist finally. This thought feels incomplete. It has a subject--“the scientist”--but not a verb. We wonder what the scientist finally did. Note that the thought can be completed in a number of different ways: Corrected: After years of disappointment in her search for a cancer cure, the scientist finally made a breakthrough. or After years of disappointment in her search for a cancer cure, the scientist finally gave up. other examples . . . My favorite flavor of ice cream. The two puppies. The clouds drifting in the sky. 105
Corrected: My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip. (verb: “is”) The two puppies chased each other. (verb: “chased”) The clouds were drifting in the sky. (complete verb: “were drifting”) Verb forms that end in “ing,” or participles, are not complete by themselves. They need an auxiliary or “helping” verb. In the last example above, “were” is the helping verb that completes “drifting.”
Sentence Fragments Caused by a Missing Subject: Zoomed down the slope on my new snowboard. Went to the video store. Hoping to be free. Corrected: I zoomed down the slope on my new snowboard. (subject: “I”) Tess and her mom went to the video store. (subject: “Tess and her mom”) The slaves were hoping to be free. (subject: “The slaves”)
Sentence Fragments Made up of Dependent Clauses: Because she was pregnant with my baby brother. While sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed. After I changed my fuel filter. Who led the slaves to freedom. Corrected: Because she was pregnant with my baby brother, my mother decided not to go skydiving with us. While sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed, Goldilocks dreamed of flying. After I changed my fuel filter, my car’s gas mileage improved. Moses was the prophet who led the slaves to freedom. At this point, you may be thinking these fragments are pretty easy to identify. In the real world, however, fragments are sometimes quite difficult to spot. They are often closely connected to a point in a previous sentence, and so they seem like correct sentences even when they are not. Take a look at the paragraph below and see if you can spot the fragments: The “nuclear family” has been the model for American home life since at least the 1950s when shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet were popular. In each of these shows, a steadfast and masculine father, a proper and demure mother, a little rascally boy to take after the father, and/or a perfect princess girl to bake with the mother, all living in a quiet suburban home with a white picket fence. 106
The last, long sentence is actually a fragment. The verb "living" is not complete, and so the sentence is a series of phrases. To correct the sentence, the subject must be located, and the correct form of the verb provided: The “nuclear family” has been the model for American home life since at least the 1950s when shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet were popular. In each of these shows, a steadfast and masculine father, a proper and demure mother, a little rascally boy to take after the father, and/or a perfect princess girl to bake with the mother, all live toether in a quiet suburban home with a white picket fence. One technique for spotting fragments is to reformat your essay, temporarily, as a worksheet. With this technique, you use a simple command to quickly separate each sentence onto its own line, so that the sentences can be seen more clearly . Using Sentence Fragments for Special Effect... Get a bicycle. —Mark Twain You will not regret it. If you live.
Occasionally, it is acceptable to use a sentence fragment for a special effect. However, be very careful here. Your reader may assume the fragment is unintentional if the rest of your writing is not polished and free of errors. A fragment can create emphasis on a single word or phrase: He stood stock still. Listening. Waiting for the sound of an approaching car. Baseball. The most American of sports is experiencing a real return to popularity. She wants a home with a white picket fence. Ozzie & Harriet's house, if possible. A sentence fragment can also be used to express a strong emotion: Selma told her dad she finished her homework. Yeah, right! She didn't even open her math book. Wow! I never knew that you could play soccer so well. A fragment can be used to present an answer to a question: How did we win the tournament? Nerve. Answer each question below as best you can. 1. What is a Answer given: 2. What must a sentence Answer given: 3. Is either of the following sentences a sentence have fragment? to Why be or why fragment? complete? not?
I don't understand the basic details of the argument. The initial assumptions and the definition of human nature being totally ambiguous. Answer given: 4. Is either of the following sentences a fragment? Why or why not? I love going Answer given: 5. Is either of the out following to eat. sentence a Especially fragment? for Why or Thai why food. not?
There are many wonderful things to do in San Francisco. For example, eating, eating, and eating. Answer given: 107
6. Write a paragraph explaining what "freedom" means to you. Make sure your paragraph is free of sentence fragments. Answer given: Run-on Sentences Run-on sentences are sentences with "signal" problems. Readers look for punctuation to signal the end of one independent clause and the beginning of another. Without appropriate punctuation readers are forced to determine the correct relationships, or else abandon the text altogether out of frustration. There are three variations of run-on sentences: sentences that use only a comma to join independent clauses, or "comma splices," sentences without any punctuation at all connecting independent clauses, or "fused sentences," and sentences that are simply joined by coordinating conjunctions like "and," without a comma. If a writer wants to be heard, she must be able to tell the reader how her ideas go together. In this module students will learn
to recognize and correct run-on sentences to use colons, semi-colons, coordinating conjunctions and sentence adverbs appropriately Correcting Comma Splices
A comma splice occurs when a comma is used without a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses together, as in the following sentence: comma splice: There is time to finish the project, we won't finish it if we go to the beach, however. Stronger punctuation is needed to connect two independent clauses. We can use a semi-colon if the logical connection between the statements is clear: corrected: There is time to finish the project; we won't finish it if we go to the beach, however. We can also use a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, or, for, nor, but, so, or yet) to connect two independent clauses. This is a good choice if the relationship between the clauses is unclear or needs emphasis: corrected: There is time to finish the project, but we won't finish it if we go to the beach. Separating the two clauses into two independent sentences with a period is always an option. Note, however, that a period creates stronger separation between ideas than the other options. corrected: There is time to finish the project. We won't finish it if we go to the beach, however. Rewriting the sentence to turn one independent clause into a dependent (or subordinate) clause is another option: corrected: There is time to finish the project although we won't finish it if we go to the beach. Often comma splices occur when the second clause begins with "this," "these," "that," or "those"; pay close attention to your sentence structure whenever you see these pronouns in your writing: comma splice: The drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes six-seven hours, this is a long and boring drive all by yourself.
corrected: This drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes six-to seven hours; this is a long and boring drive all by yourself. Correcting Fused Sentences Sentences are said to be "fused" when there is no punctuation connecting independent clauses. A coordinating conjunction may be present in a fused sentence, but without an accompanying comma, the punctuation is still inadequate. examples: fused sentences: I ate the whole pizza it was excellent. On our trip to Los Angeles, we spent two days at Disneyland with the kids and they were the best days of the whole vacation. I am going to get the new Gwen Stefani CD but you can borrow it any time. Use the same techniques for correcting fused sentences as you would use to correct comma splices (as described in the previous section). corrections: I ate the whole pizza; it was excellent. On our trip to Los Angeles, we spent two days at Disneyland with the kids, and they were the best days of the whole vacation. I am going to get the new Gwen Stefani CD, but you can borrow it any time. 1. I'm going to see Gwen Stefani this weekend, Danielle is going, too. Answer given: 2. The Phoenix is more than just a performance center, it’s a whole community center. Answer given: 3. The theater alone is not what makes it so unique, it is the colors, people, and city surrounding the theater that are most important. Answer given: 4. There is an “old world charm” about the café as you enter and it feels as if you are entering the home of an old friend or neighbor. Answer given: 5. A somewhat tattered vintage coat rack that looks like its on its last leg sits empty near the door and a combination of smells from freshly brewed coffee and pastries baking is enough to make you salivate the minute you step inside. Answer given: 6. Two large display cases adorned with a variety of different pastries, colorful fruit tarts, cakes and cookies sit proudly toward the back of the cafe and if its not terribly crowded (which about 99% of the time it is), the friendly clerks behind these cases, some with subtle Italian accents, greet you and buzz around like honeybees to help you obtain whatever treat it is you are craving. Answer given: 7. Being located in a prime spot along Columbus Ave, this bakery hardly goes unnoticed and people from a variety of cultures stop in to experience what it is it has to offer. Answer given: 8. We don’t make the trek down to the city often enough but over the past couple of years but I have made it a point to start bringing my two children in to Stella’s to experience what this café has 109
to offer. Answer given: 9. Stella’s is not just a place like Starbucks to stop in, grab a muffin and coffee and run, this is a place where locals (or anyone for that matter) can come to enjoy the delicious treats and delightful atmosphere that Stella’s has always been known for. Answer given: 10. Hoping to get some work done before school, Helena went to the coffee shop, got a large latte, put on her headphones, and opened her notebook, then she realized she had brought the wrong book. Answer given: 1. Write a paragraph about a favorite holiday memory. Proofread to ensure that there are no run-on sentences. Answer given: Problems with Pronouns Like Subject-Verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreeement is about parts of a sentence fitting together so that the reader does not stumble over mixed messages. A common problem in writing is that the writer does not always take care to match the pronoun to the antecedent (an "antecedent" is a fancy word for "the thing to which the pronoun is supposed to refer). This is the problem in the following sentence: "Everyone has their share," where "their" (plural) is not matched in number with "Everyone" (singular). Simple to fix, right? However, the issue gets more complicated when you are dealing with collective nouns (the crowd, men, students, etc.) or with indefinite words (person, doctor, etc.), or two antecedents joined by "and" "or" or "nor." In addition, problems arise when the antecedent for a pronoun is unclear. These "pronoun reference" problems often arise between sentences when a general pronoun such as "that," "this," or "it" is used to refer to an idea in a previous sentence. In this module you will learn the following
• • • •
to recognize different types of pronouns to identify and correct mismatched pronouns and antecedents as well as pronoun reference problems in written text; to avoid gender bias when using pronouns; to write text free of pronoun-antecedent and pronoun reference mistakes. Pronouns:
A pronoun refers to or stands in for a noun; the noun replaced by the pronoun is called the "antecedent" of the pronoun. There are many different types of pronouns used in many different situations: subject pronouns are pronouns used as the subject of a sentence. These include, I, you, he, she, it, we, what, who, and they. example: Janet and I had a great dinner last night. object pronouns are pronouns used as the target of a verb in a sentence, as in John gave me the book. Object pronouns include me, you him, her, it, us, whom, and them.
possessive pronouns are used to indicate a state of ownership by a subject referenced in the possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns are mine, yours, ours, theirs, his, hers; and when possessive pronouns are used before a noun to establish ownership, they take an adjective case: my, your, our, their, his, her example: I believe that is his book. No, its mine. demonstrative pronouns are used to refer to ideas or objects rather than people. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that, these, and those. example: Mediterranean dishes are good for your heart. These include pasta dishes, fresh fish and seafood dishes, and salads. indefinite pronouns are used to refer to an indefinite person, place, or thing, as in "anyone," or "some." There are many different indefinite pronouns, but here are a few of the most common: one, anybody, everybody, each, either, sombody, anyone, both, many, several, all, none. Note: sometimes "they" and "you" are used as indefinite pronouns. Be careful in academic writing with these pronouns, however, because they can create an unacceptable tone. For example, "You should always remember that heroes are made, not born," or "They say that Brittney Spears is crying out for help with her recent antics." acceptable form: Anyone can come to the event this evening. No invitation is required. relative pronouns are used to signal the beginning of a relative clause in the middle of a sentence. The relative pronoun stands in the for the noun antecedent, as in "The tan chihuahua is the dog that I want." Relative pronouns include which, who, whom, and that. interrogative pronouns are used to begin questions. The interrogative pronouns are who, which, what, whom. example: Who is up for game of football? Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Problems arise when the pronoun that is used in a sentence does not "agree" with its antecedent. "Agreement" means that the pronoun is consistent with the "person" "number" and "gender" of the antecedent. agreement in person: the pronoun and antecedent have the same subject. For example, if the antecedent is "Johnny, Gabe and I," then the pronoun must be we or us, as opposed to you, or they. For example, Johnny, Gabe, and I hauled three loads of trash from the fraternity to the dump yesterday. Next year, we will let someone else do the annual clean-up. agreement in number: the pronoun and antecedent must both be plural, or both singular. Confusion often arises with indefinite pronouns. For example, Somebody in the Women's Club will have to bring the pizza to the party tonight. She will be reimbursed for the pizza by the Club. 111
agreement in gender: the pronoun and antecedent, even when made to agree, should not promote a gender bias. Gender bias is often a problem in English because the English language has no genderneutral, third-person, personal pronoun. "One," an indefinite pronoun, can be used, but this pronoun can sound a bit formal. The best course of action is to avoid pronouns altogether, or to use a plural pronoun: wrong: A student can enroll in classes in a couple of ways: she/he can enroll online or in person at the administration building. . . better: Students can enroll in classes in a couple of ways: they can enroll online or in person at the administration building. . . also Ok: One can enroll in classes in a couple of ways: one can enroll online or in person at the administration building . . . or: Enroll in classes in one of two ways: online or in person at the administration building . . . or (as a last resort): A student can enroll in classes in a couple of ways: she or he can enroll online or in person at the administration building. . . For more on eliminating gender bias in writing, visit the module on shifts. Examples of Pronoun Antecedent Agreement: Take a look at the following sentences showing agreement problems and their corrections: error: Everybody correct: Everybody has faults. error: Every problem correct: Every problem has its solution. error: It is correct: It is you who is to blame. you has has that is shows their their to that . faults solution. blame. . .
error: In Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times, he correct: In Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times, Dickens shows that . . .
Note: Be careful when a noun is in possessive case, as in Dickens', because when a noun is in possessive case, it is considered an adjective, and so a pronoun cannot use it as an antecedent! Which or That? Students sometimes have trouble deciding whether to use "which" or "that" as a relative pronoun. Use "that when the relative clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence (when the clause is "restrictive"); use "which" when the relative clause is just a detail. For example, "Would you please pick up the flowers that I ordered today?" and "I watched Grey's Anatomy last night, which I really should not have done since I had so much work to do."
Pronoun Reference Problems Pronoun reference problems are very common in the work of developing writers. Experienced writers make pronoun reference mistakes, too, but they know to proofread their work to check for such mistakes. Pronoun reference mistakes usually occur between sentences, particularly when modifiers and clauses distance the antecedent from the pronoun, or when a sentence contains several nouns. Take a look at the following sentences with pronoun reference problems: error: If I took that bug out of her hair, do you think she would find it embarrassing? (What does it refer to? the bug? the action of taking the bug out of her hair?) correct: Do you think she would find my removing that bug from her hair embarrassing? error: When you live in a rural area, though, stores can be very far away, and it requires planning and much consolidation when it comes to making trips to town.(What does it refer to?) correct: When you live in a rural area, though, stores can be very far away, and going to the store requires planning and much consolidation. error: Children feel insignificant when their parents are too busy to spend time with them. This can cause them to withdraw into themselves and hinder other social relationships. (What does this refer to in the second sentence?) correct: Children feel insignificant when their parents are too busy to spend time with them. This feeling can cause them to withdraw into themselves and hinder other social relationships. Supply a pronoun to go in place of the underline. Make sure the pronoun is grammatically consistent with the antecedent and the rest of the sentence. 1. Every man who does wrong knows that _____ should suffer the penalty. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: he 2. What a charm there is about great mountains! How the purple haze loves to envelop ____ on their snowy summits! Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: them 3. Aesop's fables are still read, though _____ were written many hundred years ago. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: they 4. The more people know about plants and flowers the more ____ enjoy ____ Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: they them 5. Whatever you ask of me, I will do ____. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: it 6. You and ___ shall go. (I/me) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: I 7. You, Mary, and ___ have always been good friends. (I/me) Answer given: 113
Result: Incorrect Correct answer: I 8. He said that he saw you and ____ at the mall. (I/me) Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: me 9. Were both you and (I/me) invited? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: I 10. Everybody was invited except you and (I/me). Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: me In the following sentences, supply the missing word: "who" or "whom." Write your answer in the text box. 11. To _____ were you speaking? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: whom 12. _____ do you think I am? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: Who 13. _____ did you see at the party? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: Whom 14. _____ began the argument? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: Who 15. _____ do you think I met today? Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: Whom Join each of the following pairs of simple sentences by means of a relative pronoun (who, whom, which, that) so as to form complete sentences. Be careful to place each subordinate clause as near its anteccedent as possible. 16. Thomas Jefferson was an intimate friend of Washington's. He wrote the Declaration of Independence. Answer given: 17. The river is dangerous. It is full of floating ice. Answer given: 18. We reached the mountain top. From it we had a wonderful view. Answer given: 19. Spare the birds. They cheer us by their songs. Answer given: 20. The Swiss revere the name of William Tell. You have read of him. Answer given: Find the antecedent for the relative pronoun used in each sentence below. 21. Goodness is the only thing that never fails. Answer given: 114
Result: Incorrect Correct answer: thing 22. Time that is once lost is always lost. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: time 23. Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: chain 24. As he approached the village, Jack met a number of people, but none whom he knew. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: none Correct the pronoun antecedent error in each sentence or group of sentences below. 25. The administration is proud of their policies. Answer given: 26. Marcos or Pete will give us their help. Answer given: 27. Every person in the class made their complaints to me. Answer given: 28. Neither of the children ate their carrots. Answer given: 29. No one knows what the future has in store for them. Answer given: 30. She met each difficulty and danger, and overcame them by her great courage. Answer given: Subject-Verb Agreement
When people agree about something—a movie to see, what to have for dinner, what constitutes a good book, who to elect for president—they are in accord, or in "sync," on some level anyway. Conversely, when people do not agree, the individuals become aware of being at odds with others. In a sentence, the subjects of the sentence must agree with the verb in the sentence in both number (singular with singular; plural with plural, etc.) and in person (gender). Without this agreement, the reader gets conflicting messages, and stumbles over the text rather than gleaning your message. In this module we will cover the basic and the not so basic rules for creating sound subject-verb agreement. Objectives: By the end of this module, you should be able to:
write both simple and complex sentences showing agreement between subject and verbs proofread to find and correct errors in subject-verb agreement Agreement with Singular and Plural Subjects...
Most of the time, the correct subject/verb combination is easy for writers to figure out; a singular subject takes a singular verb form, and a plural subject takes a plural verb form, as in Kate dances well (not Kate dance well), or I hate okra (not I hates okra), and We enjoy soccer (not We enjoys soccer). However, certain sentence structures can lead to confusion about the actual subject of the sentence and cause a writer to choose an inapropriate verb form for that subject. This module covers these confusing situations, and provides helpful strategies for locating the subject and choosing the appropriate verb form. 115
Agreement When Words Come Between Subject and Verb... Watch out for modifying phrases that come between subject and verb! And especially be on the lookout for prepositional phrases, as the object of a preposition can easily be confused with the subject of the sentence. Consider the following sentences: The mountain bike with the red frame and the fat tires is the one I want. "Mountain bike" is the subject of the sentence, not "the red frame and the fat tires." These items are part of the prepositional phrase that begins with "with." The phrase is there to tell us more about the mountain bike; it does not make the subject plural. Another source of trouble is a modifying phrase beginning with together with, along with, in addition to, or as well as: The new oak tree, along with three bags of planting mix and a box of fertilizer, was delivered to my house this morning. Because the phrase is non-restrictive (or not necessary to the sentence), it is not part of the subject, and so should not be considered when deciding on the appropriate verb form for the sentence. Agreement When Subjects are Joined by "and," "or," "neither/nor," or "either/or" In most situations, subjects connected by "and" are going to be plural: David and Jesus are always late. Coffee and dessert were served in the living room. However, if the subjects joined by "and" refer to a single person, item or simultaneous action, the subject is singular: Spaghetti and meatballs is the only thing Mary ever orders when we go out to eat. Rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time is almost impossible to do. My best friend and confidante is always there for me when I need her. Subjects joined by or or by either/or or neither/nor may take singular or plural verbs depending on the form of the subject. If both subjects are plural, the verb will be plural; if both subjects are singular, the verb will be singular. If one subject is singular and the other is plural, the verb agrees with subject it is closest to, even if sometimes this structure feels counter-intuitive. An apple or a banana is a good afterschool snack. Neither the teacher nor the students know how to solve this math problem. Agreement With Indefinite Pronouns... Indefinite pronouns cause a lot of confusion. Some indefinite pronouns, such as all, any, none, most, and some, are confusing because they can be singular or plural depending on the nouns to which they refer; Some of us are going skiing this weekend. Some of the cake is still on the table. In the first example, "some" refers to individual persons, and so the verb is plural; in the second example "some" refers to an "uncountable" noun, "cake," and therefore, the verb is singular. To determine the 116
number for a verb used with these indefinite pronouns, check to see if the noun is "countable" (made of up of individual elements that can be counted), or "uncountable" (not countable by individual elements). Some indefinite pronouns are always singular: for example, anyone, anybody, anything, each, everyone, everybody, everything, nobody, nothing, somebody, someone, and something. Each of the new interns is assigned to work a twenty-four hour shift this week. Something is happening, but you don't know what it is. Everything is going wrong today. Some indefinite pronuns are always plural: for example, both, few, several, and many. Some sit around and wait for happiness; many go out and find it. Dorleen and Claire joined the volleyball team this semester, and both are going to be starting players. Agreement With Collective Nouns as Subjects... Usually, collective nouns will take a singular verb unless the writer wants to emphasize the individuals in a group: The group stands firm on this issue. At a Rolling Stones concert the crowd always sings along to "Satisfaction." The crew hope their grog won't run out before they reach port. Generally, it is better to name a plural subject rather than use a collective noun as a plural. Collective nouns used with a plural form of a verb tend to sound a bit awkward, as in the example above; "the crew members hope..." sounds a bit better. Agreement With "Which" "Who" and "That" as Subjects... When the relative pronouns "which," "who," and "that" are used in an adjective clause (relative clause), the verb in the clause should agree in number with the subject of the sentence (the antecedent for the pronoun). Trees that drop fruit will attract bugs, birds, squirrels and other small animals. The antecedent for the pronoun "that" is "trees," so the verb in the adjective clause "that drop fruit" should be plural. Dr. No is just one of the villains who have come up against James Bond. In this sentence, the antecedent for the pronoun "who" in the adjective phrase "who have come against James Bond," is "villains," and so the verb in the phrase should be plural. Oddjob is the only one of the villains who throws a razor-edged hat as a weapon. In this sentence, however, the antecedent is "one" (the phrase modifies "one" rather than "villains"), and so the verb is singular. Agreement When Subject-Verb Order is Inverted... Most of the time the subject comes before the verb, but occasionally, word order is inverted and the subject is delayed. When word order is inverted, it is easy to confuse a noun in an opening phrase with the true subject of the sentence. One signal of a delayed subject is the expletive "there" at the beginning of a sentence: 117
When your parents get home, there is going to be trouble over the broken vase. If Jenny and Mark won't listen, there is little I can do to help them. Word order is also inverted in questions. Often the subject appears between parts of a verb phrase, as in "Has she arrived yet?" The subject must match the first auxilliary verb (first verb form) in number. How many rides have you been on at Disneyland today? Are there going to be many people at the party tonight? Agreement When the Words are a Title... When a title of a book, film, building, institution, or work of art is the subject of a sentence, it should be treated as a singular subject, even when there is a plural subject in the title: The Twin Towers was an important New York City landmark. Terms of Endearment is a sad film. In addition, when a phrase is referred to in terms of the language itself, the phrase should be treated as singular subject: "Slowly I turned" is the key phrase in a famous vaudeville routine popularized by comedians Abbot and Costello. Agreement When the Verb is a Linking Verb... When linking two nouns with a linking verb, the number of the verb should correspond to the number of the subject and not the predicate nominative. Her dogs are her protection. Her protection is her dogs. Make the subject and the verb in each sentence below agree by writing the correct form of the verb provided (in PRESENT tense) in the text box. 1. Everyone
to in the class _____ the
find: video to be entertaining.
to of the options
be: _____ unacceptable.
All of the people at the party, with the exception of Tiffany, ______ it is a good idea.
Everyone, including the people of conservation-conscious California, ______ to do more to recycle.
reward: hard work.
to wind and fog _______
reduce: the mosquito problem.
to of the hotel rooms
be: _______ available.
to aunt as well as my
be: cousin _______ single.
to bottles of wine
be: ____ enough.
to of my brothers
live: ________ in Florida.
to of the cake
be: _____ gone.
to team ___ going to
be: play on Saturday.
In an earthquake furniture ______ around, so be sure to strap heavy objects down. 119
to time and enough money
make: _____ a great vacation!
to or Audrey ________
know: where to find him.
to dog with the white spots and the pointy
sleep: ears _________ all the time.
to testimony that she gave before the
be: court _____ unbelievable.
The president, as well as the cabinet members, ______ no time for sleep these days.
to president and the cabinet members ________
have: no time for sleep these days.
Make the subject and the verb in each sentence below agree by writing the correct form of the verb provided (in PRESENT tense) in the text box. 1. to find: Everyone in the Answer Result: Correct answer: finds 2. Each of Answer Result: Correct answer: was 3. class _____ the given: video to be entertaining. Incorrect to the options given: be: _____ unacceptable. Incorrect to feel:
All of the people at the party, with the exception of Tiffany, ______ it is a good idea. Answer given: 120
Result: Correct answer: feel 4. to need:
Everyone, including the people of conservation-conscious California, ______ to do more to recycle. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: needs 5. to reward: Success Answer Result: Correct answer: rewards 6. The wind and Answer Result: Correct answer: reduce 7. Neither of Answer Result: Correct answer: is 8. the ________ given: Incorrect to fog _______ given: reduce: the mosquito problem. Incorrect to hotel rooms given: be: be: _______ available. Incorrect to hard work.
My aunt as well as my cousin _______ single. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: is Feedback for this answer: the answer is "is" because the subject of the sentence is "my aunt." The phrase "as well as my cousin" should be treated as a modifier, additional information, but not as an addition to the subject. 9. to be: Two bottles Answer Result: Correct answer: are 10. Another of Answer Result: Correct answer: lives 11. Three-fourths Answer Result: Correct answer: is of my of wine given: live: brothers given: Incorrect to the given: Incorrect cake be: _____ gone. ________ in Florida. ____ enough. Incorrect to
12. The team Answer Result: Correct answer: is 13. Time Answer Result: Correct answer: passes 14. ___
to going to given:
be: play on Saturday. Incorrect
to _______ given: to
pass: quickly. Incorrect move:
In an earthquake furniture ______ around, so be sure to strap heavy objects down. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: moves 15. to make: Enough time and Answer Result: Correct answer: make 16. enough money given: _____ a great vacation! Incorrect to ________ given: Incorrect sleep: and the pointy given: ears _________ all the time. know: where to find him.
Jenny or Audrey Answer Result: Correct answer: knows 17. to The dog with the Answer Result: Correct answer: sleeps 18. The testimony Answer Result: Correct answer: is 19. white spots
Incorrect to she gave before the given: be: court _____ unbelievable. Incorrect to have:
The president, as well as the cabinet members, ______ no time for sleep these days. Answer given: Result: Incorrect Correct answer: has 20. to have: The president and Answer Result: Correct answer: have the cabinet members ________ given: no time for sleep these days.
Clear sentences Parallel Structure Lesson By the end of this unit, students should be able to do the following:
o o o o o
Recognize faulty parallels in their writing. Balance parallel items in a series using conjunctions Create parallel structure between phrases and clauses Use parallelism to create coherence and balance in writing Use the principles of parallel structure to organize an essay and develop a thesis
What is Parallel Structure? Parallelism means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more elements in the sentence have the same level of importance. A good writer uses parallelism to create clear and concise sentences, and also to reduce the work that the reader must do to understand the author's meaning. For example, Doris went shopping and bought a pair of high heels, a new CD and a new pair of glasses. Because each item on Doris' list is presented in the same form, the reader perceives that each item is of equal importance. If, on the other hand, the sentence were to read as follows, the reader would have difficulty following the writer's ideas: Doris went shopping and bought a pair of high heels, a new CD, and she found a new pair of glasses. Here, the balance is thrown off and the sentence becomes more difficult for the reader to process. Having parallel structure becomes even more significant when two or more ideas are to be presented as having equal importance; for example, Dorothy survived a tornado, crash-landed in a foreign land, travelled across a vast countryside, and defeated an evil witch. With parallel structure, the reader can quickly process information and see relationships between ideas. Strong writers use parallel structure to organize words, phrases, clauses, and even whole essays to guide readers through their ideas. 123
Revising to create parallel structure... An easy way to check for parallel structure in a piece of writing, whether that structure is between words, phrases, clauses, or paragraphs in an essay, is to think of the core idea in the structure as the trunk of a tree, and each parallel item as a branch off that trunk; once you find the trunk, follow the trunk line to each of the branches directly, checking to ensure that the trunk connects strongly (and correctly) to each branch as illustrated in the diagram below:
Parallel Words... All items in a series should have the same structure to help the reader quickly process information. If one element is an adjective, then all elements should be adjectives; if one element is a noun, then all elements should be nouns; if one element is a verb, then all elements should be verbs, and so forth. Take a look at the examples below: The film Some Like it Hot is funny, well-written, and daring for its time. (all parallel elements are adjectives) Some Like It Hot tells the story of two musicians, Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon), who are on the run from a Chicago gang after witnessing the Saint Valentine's Day massacre of 1929. (parallel elements are proper nouns) Broke, frightened, and desperate, Joe and Jerry disguise themselves as women and join an all-girl band headed to Florida. (parallel elements are adjectives, nouns, and verbs) It is important to note that one need not make all elements in a series exactly parallel; for instance, when all elements are nouns, some of the elements might also be accompanied by other words to complete an idea as in this example: Joe and Jerry both fall for "Sugar" Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe), the band's ukulele player and vocalist, and fight for her affection while maintaining their disguises. (adapted from Wikipedia.org) Note that only one of the parallel nouns ("vocalist" and "player") is accompanied by an adjective ("ukulele"—an adjective here because it modifies the noun "player")
When items in a series do not have the same form, the sentence will sound awkward and out of balance. The reader is forced to do much more work to figure out the author's meaning than is fair. Consider the following problematic sentences and their corrections:
Faulty Sugar is only interested in dating millionaires and security. Corrected: Sugar is only interested in dating millionaires and finding security.
Faulty Parallel: Joe comes up with a second disguise to get Sugar's attention: He wears a white sportscoat, a captain's cap, mimics Cary Grant, and claims to be the heir of Shell Oil. Corrected: Joe comes up with a second disguise to get Sugar's atttention: He wears a white sport-coat and captain's cap, mimics Cary Grant's accent, and claims to be the heir of Shell Oil. (In this version, each element begins with a verb. In the previous version, some elements began with verbs, while others began with nouns. Parallel structure is created by joining the first two wardrobe elements into a single element.) Parallel Phrases and Clauses... Phrases and clauses also need to be parallel if the sentence is to be logical, balanced, and easy to read. If one item in a series is a prepositional phrase, then every item should be prepositional phrase; if one item in a series is a verb phrase (beginning with an -ing or -ed verb), then every item in the series should be a verbal phrase; if one item is a relative clause, then every item should be a relative clause. Consider the following examples demonstrating good parallel structure: To escape the mob and to solve their financial problems, Joe and Jerry join an all-girl band. (parallel infinitive phrases) Director Billy Wilder filmed Some Like it Hot in black and white, not because he wanted to be artistic, but because a greenish tint in Lemmon's and Curtis' heavy make-up could not be hidden on color film. (parallel subordinate clauses) Marilyn Monroe had two big problems during filming: remembering her lines and hiding her pregnancy. (parallel verbal phrases) Common Trouble Spots... When revising your work, look out for these common sources of trouble with parallel structure: shifts in type of phrase or clause: Be sure to stay consistent with the types of phrases you use. Shifts in phrase type create confusion: Faulty She hates to study, to work, and going to school, but she loves partying. Corrected: She hates studying, working, and going to school, but she loves partying. appropriate use of prepositions, articles, and modifiers with each item in a series: Be very careful to ensure that the preposition, article, modifier, or auxialliary verb is appropriate to each item in a series; otherwise, the sentence will be illogical. The initial items are going to govern every item in the series, unless you write the appropriate item into each phrase: Faulty On her first day at work, Thelma wore a new dress, shoes, hat, and her favorite briefcase. Parallel: Parallel:
Corrected: On her first day at work, Thelma wore a new dress, shoes, and hat, and carried her favorite briefcase. Part 1
Using the topic below, write a short paragraph with good parallel structure in the space provided. Make a list of things you hate then transform the list into a short paragraph (or a couple of sentences). Answer given: Part 2 Combine each of the sets of sentences below into a single, concise sentence in which parallel elements appear in parallel structures. You will have to add, delete, change, adn rearrange words. There may be more than one possible answer. Robert A. Heinlein's classic Stranger in a Strange Land has captivating characters. Its plot is appealing. Answer given: The protagonist of the novel, Michael Valentine Smith, is classified as a human by birth. But he is also considered Martian becaues his birthplace was on Mars. Answer given: In the beginning of the novel, the protagonist kills people innocently. Earthly laws are not understood by him. Answer given: The protagonist continues on his quest to understand human behavior by reading all of the books he can. He then runs away with a traveling circus. Later in the novel he becomes a minister. Answer given: Gypsies are famous for their traditions of fortune-telling by reading Tarot cards, interpreting dreams, and they also look into crystal balls. Answer given: Palm readers examine lines on the palm, fingers and their lengths, and the prominence of the mounts. Answer given: Some critics of fortune-telling suggest that trained psychologiests could also notice personal traits such as nervousness, that someone was lonely, or cheerful, which would also let them make reasonable predictions about a client's future. Answer given: At the carnival, the gypsy shuffled the deck, cut the cards, and was laying out a selection of ten cards from which the client was supposed to choose three. Answer given:
Shifts A shift is a confusing change in person, verb tense, voice, mood, or number; it is kind of like wearing two different shoes. Your reader looks at your writing to be dressed one way, but elements of the sentence just don't fit. The key is consistency—of voice, verb tense, person, and mood, —and proofreading your writing to ensure that this consistency is maintained. In this module students will learn to . . . identify and correct shifts in verb tense, voice, mood, person, and number in their writing.
Shifts in Verb Tense A verb tense shift is a shift in time, for example, from present to past, or past to future tense. Sometimes such shifts make perfect sense, as when one describes an event that takes place before another event: At the first Fall concert, the choir will sing a few spirituals that they learned over the summer. But sometimes, writers slip up and shift tense when there should be no shift, as in the following sentence: Incorrect: The football team was good, Correct: The football team is good, and is still improving. and is still improving.
Incorrect: Last semester, I had more homework in math than I have in all my other classes combined. Correct: Last semester, I had more homework in math than in all my other classes combined. The way to avoid inappropriate shifts in verb tense is to visualize the actions described: Does one event really occur before another, or are they simultaneous? Apply this technique in the following sentences: Incorrect: The suit didn't fit me; it Correct: The suit doesn't fit me; it is too small. (the suit continues not to fit) is too small.
Incorrect: Though I admired her persistence, I cannot tolerate her bad sportsmanship. Correct: Though I admire her persistence, I cannot tolerate her bad sportsmanship. (I continue to admire her persistence) Incorrect: The wind died down and the waves roll gently. Correct: The wind died down and the waves rolled gently. (Inadequate transition provided. "And" suggests simultaneous actions) Incorrect: I liked him because he always says what Correct: I like him because he always says what he thinks. (I continue to like him) Shifts in Voice: Passive vs. Active Voice A sentence is said to be in active voice when the subject performing the action is emphasized: John visited the Smithsonian Institute on his last trip to Washington D.C. A sentence is in passive voice when the subject performing the action is de-emphasized: The Smithsonian Institute was visited by John on his last trip to Washington D.C. Most often writers use active voice in order to emphasize agency—a subject performing some action, and to make writing energetic. Occasionally, however, writers want to emphasize the object in a sentence rather than a subject's actions. Consider the emphasis in these active and passive sentences: Passive: The Active: Marla made the cake. cake was by be made a by democratic tasted by all Marla. government. humankind. he thinks.
Passive: Equality is encouraged Active: Democratic governments encourage equality.
Passive: The bitter cup of destiny must Active: All humankind must taste the bitter cup of destiny.
Problems arise, however, when a writer shifts from active to passive or from passive to active voice within the same sentence: Incorrect: Patrick O'Brien writes exciting stories of life on board the tall sailing ships of the Royal navy in the early 19th century, and readers are captivated from beginning to end. 127
Correct: Patrick O'Brien writes exciting stories of life on board the tall sailing ships of the Royal navy in the early 19th century, captivating readers from beginning to end. Incorrect: Jake was running late this morning and had to run to get to his first class, where it was discovered that the teacher had cancelled class. Correct: Jake was running late this morning and had to run to get to his first class, where he discovered that the teacher had cancelled class. Shifts in Mood Mood in sentences is not like mood in people, who have emotional moods—joyful, melancholy, irritable, lazy, etc. In writing, there are two moods: indicative and subjunctive. A sentence in the indicative mood is a statement of fact, an assertion. A sentence in the subjunctive mood indicates that something is conditional, hypothetical, or doubtful. In a sentence in the subjunctive mood, therefore, it is very common to see an "if" clause. In addition, in the subjunctive mood, "I was" becomes "I were," and "It was" becomes "it were." Take a look at the following sentences in the subjunctive mood: If I were rich, I would buy a ranch far away from everybody. If it were not for you, I never would have made it this far. If they were not so kind, I would have been deeply embarrassed. It is not correct to write "If I was rich. . . or "If I was you . . . etc. These mistakes are considered shifts in mood. Shifts in Person There are three forms of narrative voice in writing: 1st person: "I" or "We" 2nd person: "You" or "You" (plural) 3rd person: "They," "He," "She," "One" "People" "Anyone" "Persons" etc. It is common for students to shift person in written sentences, because in everyday speech, such shifts are common, for example, Incorrect: I used to think school wasn't important, but as you get older, you get a lot wiser. Correct: I used to think school wasn't important, but as I get older, I am getting wiser. Incorrect: If one reads The Harry Potter books, they will discover that the books are far better than the films. Correct: If fans of the Harry Potter films would read the Harry Potter books, they would discover that the books are far better than the films. Incorrect: We had better arrive early because you never know Correct: We had better arrive early because we don't know what might happen. what might happen.
Note: In general, it is better to avoid "you" constructions altogether in academic writing. The personal "you" is a bit too informal and too direct for academic writing. Shifts in Number A shift from singular to plural, or vice versa is a definite no-no. These shifts confuse the reader and break the coherence and unity of your writing. One source of shifts in number is an indefinite pronoun such as "anyone" or "none" or "all, especially when these pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase such as "of us" or "of the students." 128
Incorrect: Anyone is capable of being the next manager because they have had excellent training. Correct: Anyone is capable of being the next manager because each of them has had excellent training. Incorrect: Every student Correct: All of the students are doing their best. is doing their best.
revise the verb tense shifts in the paragraph, unifying time as past or present. 1. The deck is crowded with people. In the distance I see the port. The sky is murky and the wind is blowing hard. The furious lightning tears the sky and the thunder roars. The masts of the ship were down. The tempestuous waves dash up on the side of the ship. Everybody was horror-stricken. The storm rages on furiously for about an hour. The storm was so bad that it is indescribable. When it quiets down a little the sailors look to see if the ship is damaged very badly. They find out that the prow of the ship is damaged. Answer given: Revise the following paragraph so that it is free of gender bias. 2. from How to Become a Successful Engineer, by Bernard Stuart. 1901. Almost any man with the ordinary capacity for instruction can be taught to do certain things. For some of these, however, he may exhibit a greater aptitude than for others; it is therefore saiad of such a man that he has a particular talent for such and such a trade. All men are not alike endowed with natural talent and ability, —some men possessing it in a very general way; other men only in one particular channel; while many other men may be said to possess scarcely any, and to all appearance, have evidently "nothing in them." Now, as we believe that every man endowed with reason at all has "something in him," however latent the talent may be, it becomes young men, or their parents for them, to set about discovering in what direction such talent lies. Answer given: 3. Write a paragraph about a time when you turned out to be wrong about someone or something, making sure your writing is free from shifts and does not contain any gender bias. Answer given: 4. Review the paragraph you just wrote for any instances of passive voice. Why did you choose to use or not use passive voice in your paragraph? Answer given: Disconnected Modifiers What is a modifier? A modifier is any word or phrase in a sentence that describes or “modifies” some other word in a sentence. Modifiers add descriptive information to a sentence and call the reader's attention to what the writer feels is important. In the sentence below, for example, we find several modifiers: Ann's favorite black handbag, the one she always carries, was stolen last night. "Ann's favorite black" is a cluster of adjectives describing the handbag (the possessive form of a proper name is an adjective because it describes a possession). "Always" is an adverb describing the verb "carries." And "last" is an adjective describing "night." The sentence also includes a descriptive appositive phrase: "the one she always carries." Most of the descriptive modifiers call the reader's attention to the handbag, letting readers know which one as well as how Ann felt about the bag. Without modifiers our sentences would be pretty bare. What is a disconnected modifier? Lets look at a few examples of sentences with disconnected modifiers: 129
To make sure there would be enough for everyone, three pizzas were ordered. Matt is coming with us to the movies along with Allison. The matador stared at the bull, the sweat pouring down his face. While waiting for the bus, there was a traffic accident right in front of me. Each sentence above has a similar problem: each sentence is unclear because of a problem with the connection between a modifier and the word the modifier is supposed to apply to. Such disconnects cause the reader to stumble a bit trying to follow the logic of the sentence, or worse, to get stuck, and to lose track of the overall meaning of the writer’s text. Revised to connect the modifiers to their logical subjects, these sentences are much easier to follow: To make sure there would be enough for everyone, Paul ordered three pizzas. Matt and Allison are coming with us to the movies. The sweat pouring down his face, the matador stared at the bull. While I was waiting for the bus, I saw a traffic accident right in front of me. How do problems with modifiers arise? Typically, disconnected modifiers happen because when writers put their ideas on paper or a computer screen, they are concerned with organizing their thoughts and developing their ideas rather than with correct grammatical expression of those ideas. And for this reason, even experienced writers make sentence mistakes. However, experienced writers assume that their prose is going to need to be revised for correctness and that revision is a necessary part of writing. They also know where to look for mistakes. Sentences written in passive voice can be a source of trouble, as can sentences with limiters like "only" and "sometimes," or sentences that begin with long modifiers. We will look at all of these scenarios next. How does one identify and correct a disconnected modifier? The first step in finding disconnected modifiers, as with finding most any sentence level mistake, is to be suspicious of your own writing. Don't assume that because you understand your ideas, your reader will, too. Instead, assume that faulty sentences are hidden there in the text, and that you will need to engage in a seek-and-destroy mission to find them out. Scan each sentence to locate the core of the sentence: i.e., the subject, the sentence verb(s), and any direct or indirect objects so that any modifiers in the sentence become easy to identify. Give it a try in the following sentence: Amanda wants to watch that new show on TV tonight. “Amanda” is the subject in this sentence; i.e., the one who performs the action of the sentence (Amanda “wants”). The sentence verb is “wants” (what the subject is doing). The direct object of the sentence is actually the whole phrase “to watch that new show on TV tonight.” Typically, modifiers in a sentence add information to one of the elements in the core sentence, calling attention to what the writer thinks is important or needs further description, though occasionally modifiers add information to other modifiers rather than to the core (see note below). In the sentence above, the writer calls our attention to what Amanda wants to watch by adding several modifiers: the adjectives that and new to modify "show," and the phrase on TV tonight, also to modify "show" (telling us when the show is on). (William Faulkner is renowned for layering modifiers in his sentences to produce great depth of meaning with little forward movement in the action of the story. Consider the following sentence: "Calico-coated, small-bodied, with delicate legs and pink faces in which their mis-matched eyes rolled wild and subdued, they huddled, gaudy motionless and alert, wild as deer, deadly as rattlesnakes, quiet as doves."
Misplaced modifiers Things go wrong when modifiers are not well connected to their subjects. One source of trouble is misplacement of a modifier. The rule is that modifiers should be placed next to the word they modify; the reader expects writers to follow the rule, and confusion results when modifiers are in another place in the sentence. Consider the above sentence with a modifier presented out of place: On TV tonight, Amanda wants to watch that new show. Not so clear, right? With placement of the modifier “on TV tonight” next to Amanda, it appears as if the writer is saying Amanda is on TV tonight. The modifier should be next to “new show” to make the sentence logical. Here are a few more examples of misplaced modifiers: Isaac went to the REM corrected: Isaac went in my car to the REM concert. concert in in the my mile car. race.
Rochelle almost beat everyone in the class corrected: Rochelle beat almost everyone in the class in the mile race. Dangling modifiers
Another problem with modifiers arises when the modifier refers to a subject that is not actually named in the sentence. Such modifiers are said to be “dangling” because like a dangling thread in a blanket, they are not woven into the fabric of the sentence. Take a look at the following example: When buying a new cell phone, many factors should be considered. The opening modifier "when buying a new cell phone" suggests a person as the subject (people buy cell phones); however, the subject of the modifier in this sentence is “many factors." That combination is not logical: factors do not buy cell phones. The sentence needs to be revised so that the modifier and the rest of the sentence fit together logically: corrected: When buying a new cell phone, consumers should consider many factors. Here are a few more examples of sentences with dangling modifiers and their possible solutions: My French improved dramatically by listening to the French language corrected: My French improved dramatically after I listened to the French language tapes. As you come across the bridge, there are two main towers corrected: As you come across the bridge, you pass under two main towers. Typical Trouble Spots
Use of passive voice can lead to modifier problems (as in the last example in the previous section). Watch out for shifts from active to passive voice between an opening modifier and the rest of the sentence. General transitional phrases like “in conclusion,” “in terms of,” “from what I can see,” “thus,” “regarding,” etc. are often used improperly. Make sure that the phrase actually modifies the word next to it; if not, get rid of the phrase (often these phrases are unnecessary anyway) and rewrite the sentence another way. For example, in the sentence “In terms of your letter, I don’t know when I will be coming to visit,” the introductory phrase points vaguely to a letter, and the rest of the sentence points to the writer’s thoughts about that letter. A better sentence, correcting this disconnect is “In response to your question about my coming to visit, I have to say that I am not sure when I can come.” The sentence is longer, but much more logical; the modifier implies a person who makes a response, and the subject of the sentence is a person. 131
Problems can arise with placement of limiting modifiers between subject and verb. Consider the ambiguity in the sentence below: Wrong: Maria only wants Right: Only Maria wants a salad. or Maria wants only a salad. Wrong: Justin occasionally likes to go to a really Right: Occasionally, Justin likes to go to a really expensive restaurant. a expensive salad. restaurant.
Long modifiers at the beginning or end of a sentence can be a source of trouble. Be sure to check the subject implied by the modifier against the actual subject the modifier refers to.
Rewrite each sentence below to correct any dangling or misplaced modifiers. 1. When a few years old, the family moved to Chatham. Dickens always remembered this time as the happiest days of his life. Answer given: 2. When a boy, Dickens' father was sent to prison for debt. Answer given: 3. Wash out your shirt with soap and cold water, then run it through the dryer. Out of the dryer, you will not even be able to tell that the stain was there. Answer given: 4. Approaching the town from the ocean, the first thing we see is the Patterson Diner. Answer given: 5. When tucked into bed, my fears went away. Answer given: 6. Going out through the front door, a busy scene meets our eyes. Answer given: 7. The ocean breeze chilled us through, after having been in the heat in the city just a few hours earlier. Answer given: 8. Passing through the different cities, Seattle is the most active. Answer given: 9. Last summer while spending a few weeks in Wyoming, the annual rodeo was held. Answer given: 10. When doing the same work, the salaries should be identical. Answer given: Rewrite the following paragraph, correcting any dangling or misplaced modifiers. You may prefer to copy and paste the paragraph into a word processor for editing and then paste the finished, revised paragraph into the text box. 11. We cut down some of the trees making a path through the woods and built our cabin in a clearing about one mile from the main road. The cabin is snug and sound. A rug adds to the warmth of the cabin and also deadens the sound when walking around the room. When sleeping at night, the breeze gently enters through the numerous open windows. When I wake up in the morning, I often lie in bed for an hour, till the sun is well above the horizon, doing nothing except enjoying the peace of the morning. After we rise and have coffee and eggs, so many striking things about the forest are seen that it is difficult to determine what to attend to. The birds sing somewhere deep in the forest. Our mule brays out in the pen. And paying attention to the sounds immediately inside the house, the kids laughing as they help their mother with the dishes are noticed for the first time. Answer given: Adapted from Lomer, Gerhard Richard. The Study and Practice of Writing English. Houghton Mifflin. 1914.
Sentence Variety Objectives: Our thoughts, and the mood behind our thoughts, can be quick and inspired, rambling and reflective, inquisitive and full of wonder, or terse and even irritable. To reflect this variety of thought, our sentences should also be varied. Using sentence structures effectively to reflect our thoughts and feelings takes practice and and appreciation of how form relates to perception. Take a look at the following passage by Nathanial Hawthorne from "Tanglewood Porch." Notice how he varies his sentences to create a distinctive mood: BENEATH the porch of the country-seat called Tanglewood, one fine autumnal morning, was assembled a merry party of little folks, with a tall youth in the midst of them. They had planned a nutting expedition, and were impatiently waiting for the mists to roll up the hill-slopes, and for the sun to pour the warmth of the Indian summer over the fields and pastures, and into the nooks of the many-colored woods. There was a prospect of as fine a day as ever gladdened the aspect of this beautiful and comfortable world. As yet, however, the morning mist filled up the whole length and breadth of the valley, above which, on a gently sloping eminence, the mansion stood. (Hawthorne) Hawthorne uses a variety of sentence forms in this paragraph— periodic and loose sentences, complex sentences, compound sentences. His thoughts ebb and flow, drawing the reader into the scene. In this module, students will learn to use the techniques below to create sentence variety in their writing, and to use sentence variety effectively to communicate their thoughts to a reader:
• • • • •
coordination and subordination cumulative sentences length transitional expressions colons & semicolons
Hawthorne, Nathanial. "Tanglewood Porch." A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. 1852. Coordination and Subordination Coordination: Coordination between clauses and between sentence verbs, for example with the coordinating conjunctions "and" and "so," allows writers to show thoughts or actions which follow one another, one by one. Notice how coordination is used in the following passage from Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, to show a quick succession of events: She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and of hearing that he was universally liked. When those dances were over she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind; Charlotte tried to console her. Subordination: 133
Allows writers to show the connections between thoughts and events, the twists and turns of cause and effect, general and specific versions of experience, or the relationships of events in time, for example. Take a look at the same passage from Pride and Prejudice used above, this time noticing the subordinating conjunctions Austen uses to show the way events and thoughts are interconnected: She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and of hearing that he was universally liked. When those dances were over she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind; Charlotte tried to console her. (Austen) Subordinate clauses tend to slow down the forward momentum of actions or a sequence of ideas. They ask a reader to reflect on an idea or even in greater depth before moving on. Consider the following description of breakfast preparations in Nathanial Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables, noticing how the subordinate clauses slow down the actions and elaborate on the scene: By way of contributing what grace she could, Phoebe gathered some roses and a few other flowers, possessing either scent or beauty, and arranged them in a glass pitcher, which, having long ago lost its handle, was so much the fitter for a flower-vase. The early sunshine--as fresh as that which peeped into Eve's bower, while she and Adam sat at breakfast there--came twinkling through the branches of the peartree, and fell quite across the table. All was now ready. There were chairs and plates for three. A chair and plate for Hepzibah,--the same for Phoebe,--but what other guest did her cousin look for? (Hawthorne) In addition to subordinate clauses, Hawthorne uses phrases to elaborate on the scene and slow the forward action; how to use phrases is discussed in the sections on periodic and loose sentences. How to Use Coordination and Subordination for Variety: For more information on writing sentences using coordination and subordination, please read the lesson in the Coordination & Subordination module. Austen, Jane. Pride and Hawthorne, Nathanial. The House of Seven Gables. 1851. Periodic Sentences: Sometimes writers want to create suspense in writing, or set the stage for an action to occur. Adding phrases and/or subordinate clauses to the front of a sentence allows us to create this effect. The reader looks forward to the fulfillment of an expectation, as in the following sentences: Without hesitating or looking back at his mom, Jason got on the bus. Shortly after Strong had quitted the room, and whilst Mr. Pen, greatly irate at his downfall in the waltz, which made him look ridiculous in the eyes of the nation, and by Miss Amory's behavior to him, which had still further insulted his dignity, was endeavoring to get some coolness of body and temper by looking out of the window towards the sea, which was sparkling in the distance, and murmuring in a wonderful calm,—whilst he was really trying to compose himself, and owning to himself, perhaps that he had acted in a very absurd and peevish manner during the night, —he felt a hand on his shoulder . . . (Thackeray) The second sentence is an extreme example, being about the length of a paragraph, but it is still correct grammar. The sentence begins with a series of subordinate clauses and phrases that create the background information—the frame of mind of the main character—for the action that will occur:f "he felt a hand on his shoulder." Use periodic sentences infrequently in your writing. They are rarely used in speech, as English speakers typically prefer the loose sentence style, and so periodic sentences stand out in your writing. 134 Prejudice. 1813.
How to Write a Periodic Sentence: Several techniques for creating modifiers are discussed in the next section on "Loose Sentences." These techniques are the same for modifiers used at the beginning of a sentence. Once you learn the techniques, you can decide on the most effective placement.
Thackeray, William Makepeace. The History of Pendennis. 1848. Loose Sentences Loose sentences are the opposite of periodic sentences: the main clause appears at the beginning of the sentence, and then modifying phrases and clauses are tacked onto the end of the sentence, causing the reader to refer back to the main point. Loose sentences are common in speech in English, and so in written texts, loose sentences are easy for readers to follow. Too many loose sentences in a row, however, can get boring, so as always, it is important to vary your patterns. Below are examples of loose sentences: I betook myself away, and wandered up and down, like an exorcised spirit that had been driven from its old haunts, after a mighty struggle. (Hawthorne, A Blithedale Romance) He was a brother of Mrs. Cowperwood's—Seneca Davis by name—solid, unctuous, five feet ten in height, with a big, round body, a round, smooth head rather bald, a clear, ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and what little hair he had of a sandy hue. He was exceedingly well dressed according to standards prevailing in those days, indulging in flowered waistcoats, long, light-colored frock-coats, and the invariable (for a fairly prosperous man) high hat. (Dreiser, The Financier) How to Create a Loose Sentence: idea 1: repeat a word that was mentioned in the main clause as the beginning of a modifying phrase. For example, She had a wonderful sense of humor, a humor that was a bit satirical and a bit dry at times, so that sometimes I would not get that she was telling a joke until a minute or two after she told it. idea 2: use a noun phrase to rename something discussed in the main clause and begin a modifier with this phrase. For example, We receive dozens of catalogs every week from companies like Pottery Barn, Garnet Hill, J.C. Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Hold Everything, etc.—any store that ever received a penny of our money. idea 3: use a verbal phrase. A verbal phrase includes a verb form—a verb ending in -ing or -ed that is not the sentence verb, for example, "running very fast" or "confused by the instructions." We use verbal phrases to indicate simultaneous actions. The sentence verb in the main clause declares the action of the sentence; verbal phrases add detail about what is happening during this action, for example, She walked out the front door, hoping that today would be a better day than yesterday. "Hoping" happens while she walks out the door. It is useful to note that "ing" verbals indicate an action that is being performed by the subject, and "ed" verbals indicate an action that happens to the subject. "Haunted," for example, suggests that some outside force is acting upon the subject, a memory, perhaps, as in the following sentence: Slowly, Gabe walked up to the front of the class to give his presentation, haunted by the memory of his last, humiliating speech when he forgot half the material.
idea 4: use a prepositional phrase. Prepositions such as "without," "with," "after," and "before" establish spatial, temporal, or logical relationships between ideas. For example, He walked out the front door without looking back. She believed in being honest above all else. We cleaned the house before picking up mom at the airport. idea 5: use a combination of phrases. Do not feel that you need to stop at one phrase if you have more to say. Just remember, however, that the more space you devote to a topic, the more you tell your reader that it is important. Here is an example of a loose sentence by Faulkner from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: [A writer] must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Notice that Faulkner uses a verbal phrase ("leaving . . . "), and the repetition of a key word ("truths . . . ") to begin a phrase. Also note that the repetition is of a key word in the first modifying phrase rather than the main clause. This technique is very effective for refining ideas.
Dreiser, Theodore. The Hawthorne, Nathanial. The Blithedale Romance. 1852 Vary Length & Style
Varying the length and style of sentences keeps readers awake. It is easy for readers get familiar with a sentence pattern, so familiar that they start falling asleep, as when one gets sleepy driving down an unvarying freeway late at night. One pattern in particular—the simple sentence presented with few (or no) modifying phrases—can get really boring, as in the following example: John woke up at 6:00 a.m. He remembered that today was the day of his big meeting. His mood took a turn for the worse. John dressed slowly. He ate breakfast without appetite. He went to work full of dread. Compare the above paragraph with the following one that uses a variety of sentence styles and sentence length: John woke at 6:00 a.m. Suddenly, he remembered that today was the day of his big meeting, the meeting that would decide if the company died or became successful beyond imagination. His mood took a turn for the worse. He dressed slowly and ate breakfast without any appetite. Hesitating at the door, his heart full of dread, he summoned his courage and went to work. The second paragraph ebbs and flows. The modifying phrases allow the author to add information that fills in the scene, either showing the subject's thoughts, providing background information, or suggesting simultaneous actions. And the short sentences, such as "John woke at 6:00 a.m." punctuate the sentence, as a drummer punctuates a drum rhythm. Use Transitional Expressions Transitional expressions signify the relation between ideas. They can also help writers vary the opening structures of sentences. Some useful transitional expressions are shown below. For more information, explore the module on subordination. Subordinating Conjunctions: 136
cause: because, as, since, so that concession: although, though, even though, as though condition: even though, though, although, provided that, as long as, if, even if, unless time: after, as soon as, as long as, before, whenever, while, as, when Sentence Adverbs: effect: consequently, exception: however, nevertheless, on the other hand, even though, despite, regardless addition: in addition, similarity: accordingly, indeed, similarly, in the same way, thus exemplification: for instance, for example, amplification: what is more, moreover summary: in sum, on the whole time: meanwhile, shortly, after all, afterward, eventually, consequently, first, second, firstly, in the first place Consider the way subordinating conjunctions and sentences adverbs break up the subject first pattern in the following paragraph: He looked at us, in the first place, with keen and somewhat guarded eyes, as if it were not his practice to vouchsafe any great warmth of greeting, except upon sure ground of observation. Soon, however, his look grew kindly and genial (not that it had ever been in the least degree repulsive, but only reserved), and Leutze allowed us to gaze at the cartoon of his great fresco, and talked about it unaffectedly, as only a man of true genius can speak of his own works. Meanwhile the noble design spoke for itself upon the wall. (Hawthorne, "Chiefly About War Matters")
Hawthorne, Nathanial. "Chiefly About War Matters by a Reasonable Man." Relocate the modifying phrase(s) in each sentence. For example, "The matador, hoping to end the fight quickly, stared at the bull," might become "Hoping to end the fight quickly, the matador stared at the bull." 1. The crowd hurries toward home along the streets, white with snow. Answer given: 2. Deep red through the fog, the sun sets. Answer given: 3. It is by his poetry that Milton is best known. Answer given: 4. His detractors, though outvoted, have not been silenced. Answer given: 5. Because she is loyal and brave, we admire Ariella. Answer given: Add a modifying phrase or subordinate clause to the beginning of each of the following 5 sentences. Use at least one prepositional phrase, one verbal phrase, and one subordinate clause. 6. Megan blacked out. Answer given: 7. The conversation ended. Answer given: 8. Jason took out the trash. Answer given: 9. Brian loved to sail. Answer given: 137
10. Dorothy dropped her iPod. Answer given: Add a modifying phrase or subordinate clause to the end of each of the following 5 sentences. Use at least one phrase beginning with the repetition of a key word from the main clause, one noun phrase renaming a subject or idea in the main clause, one verbal phrase, and one subordinate clause 11. She became angry. Answer given: 12. There was something else mingled with his pain. Answer given: 13. Our dreams do not really die. Answer given: 14. Fear can overcome the senses. Answer given: 15. The President spoke privately to the Vice President. Answer given: 7. Write a paragraph using good sentence variety on the following topic: Coping with Answer given: pain (or hardship, if you prefer).
Coordination & Subordination Objectives: To learn appropriate and effective use of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions to combine sentences, phrases, and words. To learn how to revise paragraphs for coherence, rhythm, and movement by combining sentences using coordination and subordination. Coordination and coordinating conjunctions... Coordinating conjunctions allow us to connect independent clauses of the same level of importance in a single sentence and avoid paragraphs composed of many short, repetitive simple sentences. Seven different coordinating conjunctions allow us to create distinct relationships between clauses: and (the most common coordinating conjunction), is used to combine two similar ideas together: The mechanic fixed the broken tail-light, and he replaced the brakes, too. Note that the above sentence could also be written as a single clause by leaving out the pronoun "he" and using the coordinating conjunction "and" to connect, or coordinate, the two verbs in the sentence as follows "The mechanic fixed the broken tail-light and replaced the brakes, too." A coordinating conjunction can connect words, phrases, and clauses. but is used to join two contrasting ideas together: I thought my tail-light was broken, but it was simply disconnected from the plug. yet is similar to "but," in that it is used to join two contrasting ideas; however, "yet" is used instead of "but" to really emphasize a contrast: She finally booked a trip to Paris, France, yet she only plans to stay four days. or joins two alternative ideas together: We can go out to dinner with my parents, or we can go to the movies with Mike and Sumi. 138
nor joins two negative alternatives together: My boyfriend does not want to go out to dinner with my parents, nor does he want to go the movies with Mike and Sumi. so is used to join clauses in a cause and effect relationship, and is similar in meaning to the subordinating conjunction "hence." Both words indicate an effect or result of something. However, "hence" has a more formal tone and subordinates one idea to the other, while "so" is more casual in tone and maintains equal importance of the clauses. At the ticket counter, Manny discovered he had forgotten our concert tickets, so we had to miss half the show while we went home to get them. for is also used to join clauses in a cause and effect relationship and indicates a reason why something happens. Thus, "for" is similar in meaning to "because," "as," or "since." However, "because," usually suggests that the reason is the most important part of the idea: "I got rid of my television because it was destroying my brain cells." "As" and "since" are usually used to show that the reason why something happened is not as important as the main clause, or that the reason is well-known already: "As you have a television and I don't, how about I come to your house to watch the NBA playoffs?" "For" is usually used to indicate that the reason is an afterthought, an idea that emerges once the first idea is stated. I hated listening to her talk, for she spoke in a high nasal voice. She refuses to admit she hates her boss, for she dislikes conflict with anyone. Coordination creates rhythm and balance, and improves coherence in a writer's sentences. Compare the following paragraphs to see how coordination improves the writing: The realities of the land and its inhabitants obviously color the fiction of any area, but there is also a literary style that thrives on exaggeration. The exaggerations of the Texan comprise a distinct body of folk material, but nowhere has exaggeration been more artfully cultivated than in contemporary fiction. (Max Apple, from his Introduction to Southwest Fiction, 1980). Without coordination: The realities of the land obviously color the fiction of any area. The realities of the people color the fiction as well. There is also a literary style that thrives on exaggeration. The exaggerations of the Texan comprise a distinct body of folk material. Nowhere has exaggeration been more artfully cultivated than in contemporary fiction. Coordination in a series... Coordinating conjunctions are also used to connect items in a series. These items can be phrases or single words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs). In any series the items must be parallel, or coordinate (like) items. For example, Mark brought steak, lettuce, tomatoes, and charcoal to our bar-b-que. To surprise her mom, Nellie washed the dishes, took out the trash, and vacuumed the living room. Michelle liked to eat well but hated to exercise. Coordination shows that each item in a series is of equal importance and similar structure. Coordination also makes the writing easy to follow; having read the first one or two items in a series, a reader assumes the writer will follow the established pattern until the conclusion of the sentence. Notice how coordination makes the sentences below easy to follow: Whether the chase involves a car, a horse, a wife, or a fortune, the quest itself often sbustitutes in Southwestern literature for the close observation of manners that is characteristic of a more settled society. And in the following example, notice how coordination is used effectively throughout the paragraph to develop the main idea that Southwestern fiction has its own peculiar "rhythms and cadences" influenced by Spanish culture: 139
The story is told in repetitious rhythms and cadences that are peculiar to the area. There is a touch of the Southern in this rhythm but the Southwest is, on the whole, remarkably separate from the literary territory of the South. The South has the Civil War and slavery as its unique heritage; the Southwestern motif is distinctly Spanish. The Indian occupies the tragic center of Southwestern history and fiction, but it is the Spanish culture that marks the area with its particular regionalism. Spanish words are a part of Southwestern language; Mexican food is almost as pervasive as pizza and hamburgers. "Remember the Alamo" is still the ringing phrase of the Southwest, and school children in Texas celebrate the victory over Mexico on San Jacinto Day, but the Mexican culture has not been destroyed. . . .(Max Apple, from his Introduction to Southwest Fiction, 1980). Subordination... A subordinate clause depends upon another clause, the independent clause, to complete its meaning. For this reason, the subordinate clause is sometimes called a "dependent" clause. The subordinate clause is identifiable by the presence of a subordinating conjunction such as after, although, before, once, and whenever, although there are many more to choose from. Each subordinating conjunction establishes a specific relationship between the clauses, often with subtle and important distinction. In addition, a subordinate clause can create movement and style in a piece of writing by directing the reader's attention ahead in anticipation of the main clause, as in the following sentence: Once Simone finishes the final exam, she will join us at the graduation party A subordinate clause can also direct the reader's attention backwards, as in this sentence: I ate the Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken, extra crispy, for lunch, although my doctor recommends that I avoid fried food. This ebb and flow movement adds variety and emphasis, helping a writer get away from repetitive and boring sentences. Common subordinating conjunctions... Some common subordinating conjunctions are shown below and on the next few tabs, along a description of how they are used: Cause "Because," "as" and "since," can all be used to begin a clause giving the reason for something happening. However, subtle differences between these words should shape how you use them: "Because" should be used when the reason is the most important part of the sentence: I arrived late because I had a flat tire and had to call AAA to come and fix it. "As" and "since" are used when the reason has already been established: Since you don't like scary movies, then you probably shouldn't come with us to see Sawz. "So that" is used to indicate the effect or outcome of something: So that she wouldn't be late for work, she set her alarm clock for 6:00 a.m., giving her an extra half hour to get ready. 140
because, as, since
Subordinating conjunctions: concession and comparison...
Concession and Comparison "Though" is the most casual of these terms used to show contrast. Use "even though" when you want to show strong surprise (the word "even" adds emphasis and is used in combination with subordinators like "when," and "if") although, though, Even though the particular causes of global warming even though, as are not clear to me, I do understand the consequences. though "As though" is used to suggest that something is highly unlikely to happen, or should not even be considered reasonable. It is used in casual rather than formal writing: Gabriel asked me out last night, as though I had shown any interest in him at all. "As" is used to show similarities between things: as As sand falls through an hourglass, so fall the days of our lives. As a thesis is the controlling idea of an essay, a topic sentence is the controlling idea of a paragraph. "While"and "whereas" can both be used to show contrast, but not contradiction. For example, I have always liked the Rolling Stones, whereas T.J. only likes their old stuff. while, whereas While white wine is good with fish and chicken, red wine is better with meat. versus Though I like to go out to eat, I don't like to go to crowded restaurants. Subordinating conjunctions: condition
Condition even though, Each of these three subordinating conjunctions is used to though, indicate a contrasting condition. "Though" is the least although formal of the three. "Even though" means "despite that fact that" and is stronger than "though" and "although" in emphasizing a condition for something. 141
Even though I am exhausted, I have to study for my biology exam tonight. "Even if" points to particular conditions and means "whether or not." This subordinator is interesting in that it suggests a hypothetical situation as a condition. Even if you were rich, I would not go out with you. "As long as" is a slightly less formal version of "provided that." Both subordinators are used to indicate a condition provided that, for something happening: as long as As long as you pay your own way, you are welcome to come along. "Unless" is used to specify a negative condition; in other words, unless at the beginning of a clause describes a condition that would prevent something from happening. It is usually used with verbs in the present tense to discuss a future conditional: We will meet at the soccer field, unless it is raining. Unless you can provide an alibi for your actions at 10:15 last night, you are under arrest. Subordinating conjunctions: place and time
if, even if
Place where wherever Time "After refers to an event or action that occurs after another event or action has occured. (after "a," then "b"): after After you arrive in Hawaii, be sure and call to let me know you have arrived safely. After Angela took the ibuprofen, her head felt much better. "as long as" is used to emphasize a particular duration of time: As long as you live in this house, you will abide by my as soon as, as rules. long as "As soon as" is used to point to something that will happen upon the completion of something else: As soon as you finish your dinner, you may have desert. 142 "Where" identifies the place ...means no matter where: "Wherever we went, we could find a MacDonald's."
"Before" refers to an event or action that must occur before another event or action can take place. (before "a" happens, "b" must occur) Before you leave for Hawaii, you had better stop delivery on your newspaper. "Until" means up to the time, or until a certain event has taken place. You cannot watch television until you clean your room.
I didn't know who the bad guy was until the last scene of the movie. "Till" is similar to "until," though less formal. It is not often used in introductory clauses: Bush said today that we will stay in Iraq till the war is won. "Whenever," and also sometimes "if" and "when," is used to indicate a repeated occurence of something when certain conditions arise. For example,
When I am in Berkeley, I will be sure to visit you. Whenever I drink red wine, I get a headache. If I need advice, I will be sure and call you.
as, "While," "as," and "when" indicate that things are happening simultaneously. As I was printing out my notes for the meeting, my boss called to tell me the meeting was cancelled. "While" is used to emphasize long duration: While you were out celebrating, I was home cleaning the house. "As" and "when" are used to describe short events: The phone rang as I was on my way out the door. When you called, I was in the tub. We also use "as" to show that one thing is the consequence of another: As you get older, you get wiser. We often use "just" in combination with "when" and "as" to describe events happening simultaneously, or almost simultaneously: Just as she turned to yell at him for knocking her groceries out of her arms, he apologized profusely. 143
Note also that with "while" and "when," it is perfectly correct to leave out the subject and the "to be" verb form, as in the following sentences: While walking the dog, he listens to his iPod. Mrs. Thompson likes to knit when travelling on the train.
Assignment Write a paragraph or two answering each question below using coordination and subordination to connect ideas effectively and create good rhythm in your writing. Proofread your paragraphs before you press the "submit" button to ensure that you have used coordination and subordination to good advantage. Why are you in college? Answer given: What would you like to do after you finish school? Answer given: If you could go anywhere for summer vacation this year, where would you go and why? Answer given:
Paragraphs Creating Unified Paragraphs In this module, students will learn to create unified paragraphs having strong topic sentences and supporting details that clearly relate to and develop the topic sentence. Students will also learn to revise their work to improve paragraph unity. 144
What is a paragraph? Many beginning writers are not exactly sure what a paragraph should look like. They are unsure how long a paragraph should be, when one paragraph should end and the next one begin, and what logic controls the clustering of sentences together in a paragraph. In brief, a paragraph is the communication of a single assertion or thought, with enough detail or explanation to make that thought clear to a reader. A new paragraph begins when one thought is fully developed, and a new thought begins. Rules govern the organization and development of paragraphs and provide useful checkpoints for revision: Unity: All sentences in a paragraph must be unified around a central point or controlling idea. This controlling idea is usually declared in a topic sentence. Supporting sentences contribute information to help the reader see the validity of the controlling idea. Coherence: Sentences in a paragraph should progress logically to develop the controlling idea. Transitional expressions and patterns of development, such as comparison and contrast, help create coherence. Coherence must also be created between paragraphs to help the reader make the transition from one paragraph to the next. For further instruction on paragraph coherence, you may wish to complete the Paragraph Coherence Module. Completeness: (or development) Enough specific supporting detail should be provided in the paragraph to make the controlling idea convincing. Writers should select the type of details—description, narration, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, etc.—that best illustrates the controlling idea. For further instruction on paragraph development, you may wish to complete the Paragraph Development Module. Unity in descriptive and narrative paragraphs Creating unity in descriptive and narrative paragraphs can be difficult. In narrative paragraphs, or paragraphs in which a writer tells the story of events, it is easy to fall into the sequence trap, wherein the writer focuses on a "this, then this" structure without any real point or purpose other than moving through events. In a literature analysis essay, for example, it is easy to slip into plot summary, recounting the "this, then this" of the story being analyzed, instead of focusing on how aspects of the story support an interpretation. In descriptive paragraphs, the problem is similar: a writer may get caught up in describing aspects of something without having a sense of purpose. Take a look at an example of a narrative and a descriptive paragraph that need work for unity: a narrative paragraph that needs work for unity: As I enter my aunt and uncle’s house, I go into a small living room with a fireplace which almost always is vacant. However, in the adjacent family room, I frequently notice my aunt and uncle seated on one of their tan leather couches watching the news or Comedy Central. I also regularly find my cousins playing computer games, watching MTV, or viewing movies in the family room. The family’s Jack Russell Terrier, Peanut, often is perched on the couch begging for food or running around. A kitchen and large formal dining room are adjacent to the family room. Every night the family eats dinner at the round wooden kitchen table where I usually notice a lingering scent of vanilla candles. Like the living room, the dining room rarely is used. A small hallway connects the dining room to a laundry room and one car garage where I occasionally notice my aunt loading laundry into the washer or dryer. This paragraph lacks a controlling idea. The writer narrates his entry into his aunt and uncle's home, and describes what he observes there, but it is difficult to tell what we are to make of these observations. What should the reader pay attention to? What is important here? It is the writer's job to create clear direction. a descriptive paragraph that needs work for unity (the controlling idea is underlined): 145
The City of Novato has done little to preserve or even commemorate the old Novato Train Station. The building lies behind a chain-link fence with no warning signs or notices to discourage vandals or warn off curious children from trouble. The historical significance of this sight is immense and needs to be preserved for future generations. With the recent failure of “Measure R,” the train station is far from being rebuilt. Maybe if passenger train service were to be implemented on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad track lines, the train station would be refurbished, and have a museum added. In the table below, each supporting sentence is analyzed in detail for how it does (or does not) support the controlling idea of the paragraph. Sentence Unfortunately, the City of Novato has done little to preserve or even commemorate the old Novato Train Station. The building lies behind a chain-link fence with no warning signs or notices to discourage vandals or warn off curious children from trouble. Discussion Given the controlling idea as stated in the topic sentence, the reader would expect the rest of the paragraph to be about what (little) the City of Novato has done to preserve the old Novato train station; a description of the state of disrepair of the train station would also be appropriate. The first supporting sentence does support the main idea. The author describes the neglected site, and so meets the reader's expectations. This second supporting sentence, however, doesn't quite meet the expectations created by the topic sentence. The writer focuses on a rationale for why the City of Novato should preserve the site. The topic sentence does not really lead the reader to expect this content. Even though the idea here is closely related to the controlling idea of the paragraph this sentence does not belong in this paragraph. The writer may choose to write another paragraph about why the site should be preserved, or reshape the controlling idea here, but as is, the paragraph is not unified. Speculating about what might bring about change is probably a worthwhile thing to do in this essay. However, in this paragraph, this idea does not fit; it is beyond the scope of the controlling idea.
The historical significance of this sight is immense and needs to be preserved for future generations. With the recent failure of “Measure R,” the train station is far from being rebuilt.
Maybe if passenger train service were to be implemented on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad track lines, the train station would be refurbished, and have a museum added.
Practice this process of analyzing each and every sentence in a paragraph to help you identify sentences that break the unity of your own paragraphs. Now, take a look at a few strong, unified narrative and descriptive paragraphs. 146
a unified narrative paragraph: The home [my father] provided his family was not truly his. He had no time to be with his family, as Ward Cleaver did. Instead, my father found himself sleeping through the moments he was home. His home was a place he stored his stuff; a place he went when he wasn’t working. Eventually, the stress and strain of running two companies and trying to have a family caused him to sell the businesses and return to retail. The reduction in income caused the sale of my first home and initiated the cycle of unrest in my father. a unified descriptive paragraph: The train is like a small town on wheels. The cars are the city blocks; engines, lounge cars, sleeper cars, dining cars, and baggage cars. Everyone has an address, it is your seat or compartment number. The train has its own culture and rules. There is a hierarchy of staffing—just like a government. You learn behavior by experience—like don’t fool around with the ticket packet—let them do it. Fill out your meal card when you sit down in the dining car. Always tip. Figure out who you can ask for what. Find out what is free in your car (drinks, newspapers, pillows, towels, etc.) Wear shoes or lose a toe. And so forth. Assignment Use the techniques for creating good paragraph unity that you have learned in this module to write paragraphs on the topics below. You may choose to write the paragraphs on a word processor and then copy and paste your finished work into the text boxes below. 1. Write a unified descriptive paragraph about a local park, downtown street scene, or a scene at a local event, such as a farmer's market. Answer given: 2. Write a unified narrative paragraph about a time you turned out to be wrong about someone. Answer given: 1. Write a unified paragraph about the problems caused by giving kids cell phones before they are teenagers. Alternatively, you may choose to write a paragraph about why Spring Break should remain a part of the Spring semester schedule in college (assume you are writing to a school board that would like to do away with Spring Break). Answer given: The Expository Essay What is an Expository Essay? The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc. Please note: This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats. The structure of the expository essay is held together by the following: A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay. Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion. Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. 147
Body paragraphs that include evidential support. Each paragraph should be limited to the exposition of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. What is more, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal). Often times, students are required to write expository essays with little or no preparation; therefore, such essays do not typically allow for a great deal of statistical or factual evidence. A bit of creativity! Though creativity and artfulness are not always associated with essay writing, it is an art form nonetheless. Try not to get stuck on the formulaic nature of expository writing at the expense of writing something interesting. Remember, though you may not be crafting the next great novel, you are attempting to leave a lasting impression on the people evaluating your essay. A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided. It is at this point of the essay that students will inevitably begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize and come to a conclusion concerning the information presented in the body of the essay. A Complete Argument Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of the Great Depression and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the exposition in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the Depression. Therefore, the expository essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument. The Five-Paragraph Essay A common method for writing an expository essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of: 1. an introductory paragraph 2. three evidentiary body paragraphs 3. a conclusion Contributors:Jack Summary: Baker, Allen Brizee.
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. Note: The Modes of Discourse: Description, Narration, Exposition, Argumentation (EDNA) The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help. 148
Sample argumentative essay A few decades ago, many families had half a dozen or more children.Nowadays,more and more families are choosing to have only one or two children. Are smaller families better than larger ones? Why or why not? State your position and support it with specific reasons and examples. I grew up in a large family—I am the oldest of six—and I have many wonderful memories from my childhood. I am very close to most of my siblings and I treasure my relationships with them. But when I have my own family someday, it won’t be as big as the one I grew up in. As much as my large family was full of love, and as much as I learned about sharing, giving, and patience, I think having too many kids puts too much pressure on the parents, both in terms of time and money, and on the oldest children. When I think back on my childhood, I remember playing with my siblings or grandparents. I don’t remember spending a whole lot of time with my mother and father. They were always around, but they were always busy. My mother was always cooking, cleaning, nursing, changing a diaper, shopping, or taking someone to baseball practice, and my father was always working. He needed overtime whenever he could get it, and weekends were always full of projects around the house. Money was also a constant worry for my family. With so many children, our budget was always tight. Back-to-school shopping was always a stressful time; we all wanted the latest fashions, but we could only get a few things. My younger siblings lived in hand-me-downs. We shopped at bargain stores and often got clothes that we didn’t really like because they were on sale. Our house always needed repairs, and there was never enough money to keep up. Another problem with large families is that the older siblings always end up being babysitters. Like it or not (and most of the time I didn’t like it), I had to watch my younger brothers and sisters. At age six, I could change a diaper like a pro. I was getting my brothers and sisters dressed, giving them breakfast, helping them get ready for bed. I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t have a happy childhood. I most definitely did; I was loved as much as my parents could love me, and I had wonderful fun with my brothers and sisters. But I always wanted a little more time with Mom and Dad, and I often resented having so much responsibility. I wished my mom wasn’t always so tired and my dad didn’t have to work so much. Because I want to be there more for my kids, because I want them to be kids throughout their childhood, I plan to have a much smaller family.
The Descriptive Essay What is a Descriptive Essay? The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe an object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader). One might benefit from keeping in mind this simple maxim: If the reader is unable to clearly form an impression of the thing that you are describing, try, try again! Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay: Take time to brainstorm 149
If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot down some ideas before you begin describing it. For instance, if you choose pizza, you might start by writing down a few words: sauce, cheese, crust, pepperoni, sausage, spices, hot, melted, etc. Once you have written down some words, you can begin by compiling descriptive lists for each one. Use clear and concise language. This means that words are chosen carefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe. Choose vivid language. Why use ‘horse’ when you can choose ‘stallion’? Why not use ‘tempestuous’ instead of ‘violent’? Or why not ‘miserly’ in place of ‘cheap’? Such choices form a firmer image in the mind of the reader and often times offer nuanced meanings that serve better one’s purpose. Use your senses! Remember, if you are describing something, you need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. Explain how the thing smelled, felt, sounded, tasted, or looked. Embellish the moment with senses. What were you thinking?! If you can describe emotions or feelings related to your topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Many have felt crushing loss in their lives, or ecstatic joy, or mild complacency. Tap into this emotional reservoir in order to achieve your full descriptive potential. Leave the reader with a clear impression. One of your goals is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation in the reader. If your reader can walk away from the essay craving the very pizza you just described, you are on your way to writing effective descriptive essays. Be organized! It is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a descriptive essay. However, you must strive to present an organized and logical description if the reader is to come away from the essay with a cogent sense of what it is you are attempting to describe. Contributors:Jack Summary: Baker, Allen Brizee.
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. Note: The Modes of Discourse: Description, Narration, Exposition, Argumentation (EDNA) The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help. The Narrative Essay What is a Narrative Essay? When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing the student to express herself in a creative and, quite often, moving way. Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay: 150
If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story. This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion. When would a narrative essay not be written as a story? A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader. The essay should have a purpose. Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is not point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all? The essay should be written from a clear point of view. It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays often times manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective. Use clear and concise language throughout the essay. Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader. The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed. Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction. As always, be organized! Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead). Contributors:Jack Summary: Baker, Allen Brizee.
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. Note: The Modes of Discourse: Description, Narration, Exposition, Argumentation (EDNA) The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help. The Argumentative Essay What is an Argumentative Essay? The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic, collect, generate, and evaluate evidence, and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner. Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, 151
detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE. Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that s/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning. The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following: A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay. In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important (exigence) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay. Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion. Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section. Body paragraphs that include evidential support. Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis (warrant). However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date. Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal). The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic. A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided. It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and 152
logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work. A Complete Argument Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument. The Five-Paragraph Essay A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of 1) an introductory paragraph 2) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and 3) a conclusion. Longer Argumentative Essays Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment. İntroductions Opening Lines... The very first job before you in an essay is to capture your reader's interest and attention. Consider these openings lines from three different essays about Hawaii. Which lines do the best job of capturing your interest? The tropical islands of Hawaii are known for beautiful sandy beaches, tropical fruits, palm trees, perfect weather, a vast array of wildlife, and a mixture of cultures. Hawaii truly is a paradise. Imagine yourself lying on a white sand beach before a vast, sparkling sea, the sun warming your weightless body, no sound but the waves gently crashing against the shore and the soft rustling of the palm trees, the scent of the sea and of coconut oil tanning lotion floating on the breeze. This is the picture of a typical day in Hawaii. In the case of Hawaii, the travel brochures do not lie: Hawaii is paradise. More than 6 million people visit Hawaii each year. With so many tourists on such a small land mass, it would seem that any pleasures to be had at Hawaii's beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts would be spoiled by overcrowding. But this is not the case; it is still possible to experience paradise in Hawaii. The first introduction is the least interesting because it offers so many broad generalizations. Without a concrete image or idea, readers will rarely make a strong connection with the topic. The second introduction is far more effective at creating interest because of the numerous sensory and concrete details. Readers are asked to picture themselves in the scene, and so are called upon to engage deeply with the topic at hand. The third introduction is also effective because of the element of surprise: the author provides a concrete and interesting statistic about the level of tourism that suggests one conclusion, that Hawaii would be too crowded for a satisfying vacation, but then surprises the reader by suggesting that in spite of this problem, Hawaii can still be paradise. The reader is engaged by the promise of unexpected and surprising information in the essay to follow. 153
How do you go about writing an introduction that is going to get your reader's attention? To start, put yourself in the place of your reader. Ask yourself, under what conditions will my reader pick up this essay? Imagine your reader having a general interest in your topic, but also distractions, such as laundry needing to be done, or loud music next door, or kids arguing. You need to break through these distractions by providing a compelling reason to read. And since you know your own idea intimately, try to capture for your reader what drew you in and made you passionate about this topic. That said, there are a few specific strategies that you may adopt, shaping them to your own purposes: A short anecdote: Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Traveling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places." He was wrong. Hawaii is anything but indifferent. Relevant background material: Be careful here. Don't include background material that does not have a direct bearing on your topic. Broad generalities merely distract the reader and postpone what is really important in the essay (for example, "Since the beginning of time," or "Throughout American history") Hawaii has been a popular tourist destination since the 1920's. In the early days, tourists travelled to Hawaii aboard steamships to experience first hand the romantic beauty that had been popularized in Hawaiian songs of the teens. And by the 1940's, Hollywood films like "Waikiki Wedding" featuring scenes shot on location, drew thousands more tourists to the growing number of hotels along Waikiki Beach. Today, Hawaii is the number one American tourist destination. An interesting fact or statistic: This technique is used above. More than 6 million tourists visit Hawaii every year. A concession: Start with a commonly held belief or opinion, and then assert a new approach or direction for your essay. Although 6 million tourists visit Hawaii every year, it is possible to go to Hawaii and feel like you are way off the beaten path. A short narrative: This technique is also used above. Imagine yourself lying on a white sand beach before a vast, sparkling sea, the sun warming your weightless body, no sound but the waves gently crashing against the shore and the soft rustling of the palm trees, the scent of the sea and of coconut oil tanning lotion floating on the breeze. A question or several questions to be answered in the essay: Why would anyone want to spend their hard-earned money on a Hawaiian vacation? Definition of a key term in your essay: Avoid dictionary dictionary definitions! This method is over-used in the college essay. Try for a more extended definition that is keyed into your essay topic. Paradise for many of us in the 21st century is having freedom from care and worry, like the freedom Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall, and nothing to do but to enjoy the beauty and bounty of life and each other. Paradise can be found, if only temporarily, in a short trip to Hawaii. An analogy: 154
Some people desire a vacation to be like a non-stop rollercoaster ride, full of excitement with a new thrill around every turn, and little time to catch one's breath. Others prefer their vacations to be more like the ride on a ferris wheel, where the joy of the ride comes more from the scenery and new vistas, than from heart-pounding new experiences. Moving into your thesis... In addition to capturing the reader's interest and establishing the topic of your essay, the introduction should focus the reader's attention on what you will be arguing in the essay itself about your topic. The argument is typically captured in a single sentence we call the "thesis sentence." The diagram (right) helps illustrate the way an introduction should focus the reader's thought: The thesis as a promise... Once you have your thesis, examine it carefully for the language in your thesis statement because the language will determine what you can do in your essay from here on out. A thesis is a promise, or contract, between you and the reader. The reader takes in your words in the thesis and says, ok, show me. If you say, for example, "It is still possible to experience paradise in Hawaii," the reader will expect to be shown how one can experience paradise in Hawaii. If, on the other hand, your thesis is "Hawaii is a wonderful place for a family vacation," the reader will expect to be shown why Hawaii is a great place for families to take a vacation. Of course, you still have options for development with any thesis; for example, with this second thesis, you could compare Hawaii to other destinations as family vacation spots, showing why Hawaii is the better choice, and/or you could describe the many different activities for families on the Hawaiian Islands, but you could not include a discussion of why Hawaii is a paradise in this essay because such a discussion is outside the scope of the thesis. What not to do... ...Don't begin with a huge generalization like "Throughout history civilizations have grown and died." You will have to take too many steps to get from such a broad generalization to your specific argument. Instead, stay within your topic area, or within a theme tightly connected to your thesis. ...Don't over use rhetorical questions. Instructors don't much like them because they are a often a kind of cop out; instead of going the extra distance to figure out what the argument actually is, the writer settles on a focusing question; for example, "Why is their such an obesity epidemic in America?" The answer to this question makes a much stronger thesis: "The obesity epidemic in this country has several causes, but the worst is our fast-food culture." On the other hand a rhetorical question is actually a good focusing device for a draft. Some writers find a clear question keeps them focused as they are developing their ideas. If you like working with rhetorical questions to help you stay focused, be sure to turn that question into a statement in your final draft. ...Don't describe your writing or thinking process. Statements like "As I was exploring ideas for this topic," "I am no expert on ... but I will do the best I can," or "Words are not enough to really explain," detrract from your topic by redirecting the emphasis to you and your methods. ...Don't feel you must describe the structure of your essay in your thesis (unless your instructor requires such description). Some essays naturally fall into clear and equal divisions (e.g., "There are three good methods for strengthening the body after muscle injury"), but others do not (e.g., "Life without my husband was going to be difficult.") Assignment 1. Given the thesis below (or something similar), write an introduction using an interesting quote to draw the reader in. San Answer given: Francisco is 155 a great city.
2. Given the thesis below (or something similar), write an introduction using a short narrative or useful background material to draw the reader in. Relationships are a lot of work. Answer given: 3. Given the thesis below (or something similar), write a conclusion posing a question or challenging your reader to action. Remember to synthesize ideas in your essay (hypothetically, or as best you can, given that you did not actually write the essay). San Answer given: Francisco is a great city.
4. Given the thesis below (or something similar), write a conclusion in which you look to the future or provide an analogy. Remember to synthesize ideas in your essay (hypothetically, or as best you can, given that you did not actually write the essay). Relationships demand a lot of work. Thesis Development Discovering and Developing a thesis: Overview Love notes, essays for class, e-mail to friends, job-related documents, or the next Great American Novel... Whatever the writing task, identifying the purpose and audience is the first step in the writing process for most writers. Although they may experience the rest of that process in different ways, sooner or later, virtually all writers encounter these kinds of questions: What will I write about? How can I get past my “writer’s block”? What can I do when I’ve run out of things to say How should I organize my ideas? What’s the best way to get my point across? As writers gain experience in working through such questions, most come to recognize this activity as part of the process of finding and shaping their ideas—not as evidence that they can’t write. The truth is, even successful writers often use these kinds of questions as a strategy for guiding and evaluating their progress at various points in the writing process. By learning how to discover a topic worth writing about, how to gather ideas to write about, and how to focus on a central theme or thesis (a specific, significant idea), you’ll gain confidence in your ability to handle the writing tasks that come your way in college and in the rest of your life. Objectives By the end of this unit, you should be able to do the following:
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analyze writing assignments for meaning use prewriting techniques and other strategies to discover and shape a topic generate and revise thesis statements for effectiveness
Analyzing Writing Assignments for Meaning ... Most students write their first essays in response to an instructor's assignment. A typical assignment in an English class looks something like this: In his short story "A Rose for Emily," William Faulkner uses many techniques of characterization to paint a portrait of the title character. In a 1000 word essay, describe Emily's character. Support your thesis by discussing examples of Faulkner's characterization techniques, giving examples from the story. or We have read several essays on global warming by various scientists and global leaders. These authors have different takes on the severity of the problem, the causes, and the solutions. Where do you stand? Write an essay of 1500 words in which you define the problem of global warming and recommend solutions. Support your argument with evidence from the readings. After receiving assignments like these, students often worry about "what the teacher wants." Frankly, what the teacher most often wants is to hear what the student has learned, and how the student's thinking has evolved based on the reading. There is almost never a "right" answer a teacher is looking for in an essay; on the other hand, those students who have paid close attention to the ideas and language in the reading, and who pay close attention to the language of the assignment, will generally write better essays. Action verbs are key in writing assignments: what the instructor actually wants a student to do is carried in the verbs. In the above assignment on "A Rose for Emily," for example, the actions are "describe, "support," "discuss," and "give examples." In the second essay assignment, the instructor asks students to "take a stand," "define a problem" and "recommend solutions," as well as "support" the argument with evidence. Below are typical action verbs used in writing assignments and their definitions: describe narrate discuss support explain define compare contrast argue illustrate to represent by providing a picture (with language) to tell a story to consider or examine, to talk over to hold up to make something clear to make clear the meaning of a word or term to examine two or more objects (people, places, etc.) in terms of their likenesses to examine two or more objects (people, places, etc.) in terms of their differences to present reasons for or against something to make clear through examples, analogies
demonstrate to make clear through reasoning recommend to present as worthy of acceptance analyze synthesize to separate into constituent parts in order to determine the critical features of the whole to combine elements into a meaningful whole 157
to put to use
Take the time to reflect on the language in the assignment itself to determine what it is your instructor actually wants you to do. When the topic is up to you . . . Make sure that you understand how much freedom you really have. Write a tentative thesis on a piece of paper and run it by your instructor during office hours. Also be sure that your thesis is narrow enough or broad enough to develop in an essay that fits the instructor's word count requirement. Using Prewriting Techniques and Other Strategies to Discover and Shape a Topic... There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. —Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith It isn't easy to write an essay, whether you are a beginner or a professional writer. And one of the most difficult parts of writing is finding what you want to say. Given the "Rose for Emily" assignment above, you may have a pretty good sense at the outset of how Faulkner describes Emily, but little idea about what it all means. And so, you're stuck. But feeling stuck is a normal part of the writing process. There is even a term for a severe form of being stuck: writer's block. What can you do about it? There are several techniques for getting going, getting unstuck: freewriting, clustering, brainstorming, listing, etc. The point of all of the strategies, however, is the same: to let words flow freely on the assumption that out of this unpressured writing will come an idea. These prewriting techniques are described in detail below: brainstorming: Simply tossing around ideas, either in one's head, or in discussion with a friend, then jotting down a few key ideas that may be useful. Many writers use this technique for developing ideas, and often say that they end up jotting down their best ideas on gum wrappers and napkins, these ideas having arrived when they were just musing about things, rather than sitting down at a desk "to write." Try brainstorming about an assignment when you have nothing else to occupy your mind: in a waiting line, in traffic, on a long car ride. You may be surprised at the ideas you come up with. In a brief biography on her website , J. K. Rowling tells of how a long, boring train ride led her to develop the story of Harry Potter: I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn't have a functioning pen with me, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one. I think, now, that this was probably a good thing, because I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). (j.k.rowling.com) freewriting: Writing non-stop about whatever comes to mind, on the computer or on paper, until you find a groove and ideas start to flow. Freewriting is particularly effective in making writing seem more natural and familiar, and more connected to one's own voice. Plus, you may end up with some material that you can actually use in the essay itself. Focused freewriting is similar to freewriting, in that one writes non-stop, but the topic is defined. Focused freewriting is effective when one has a topic but is unsure about what one wants to say about that topic. clustering: Clustering emphasizes the relationships between ideas and is useful in exploring various angles on a topic. Given the assignment on global warming above, a student might use clustering to compare the readings on particular topics of discussion. After clustering, one ends up with categories of information on a particular topic. For students who are trying to decide the angle to take on a particular topic, clustering is quite useful. The search engine "clusty.com" will even cluster most any topic for you. 158
For example, a search on "bananas" brings up the following clusters—some of them useful, some of them a bit odd:
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children recipes plantains tropics plants film comedy
listing: is simply writing down key words and phrases on a topic, in an unordered list. It is a bit like shorthand freewriting and is quite useful to students having trouble putting pen to paper. Generating and Revising Thesis Statements for Effectiveness...
Generating a thesis statement: The first step in developing a thesis is defining a topic. As mentioned above, this topic may be defined for you by your instructor, or you may have the freedom to define a topic for yourself. Also important is the language of the assignment: if your instructor asks you to "describe," "illustrate," or "explain," your thesis should reflect this purpose. The next step is to decide what you will say about your topic, and the prewriting techniques described in the previous section will help you here. Many angles on a given topic are possible; finding one that works for you is just a matter of analyzing your evidence and your assignment, and determining where the truth, as you see it, lies. Take a look at the variety of angles on global warming that professional writers have come up with. Thesis statements are underlined: from "Undeniable Global Warming," Naomi Oreskes, Washington Post, December 26, 2004: Many people have the impression that there is significant scientific disagreement about global climate change. It's time to lay that misapprehension to rest. There is a scientific consensus on the fact that Earth's climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason. We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it.) from "Setting the Record Straight: Blame the sun?" Seattle Times, October 9, 2005: In the debate over global warming, at least one thing seems constant: the sun. But satellite measurements show that our local star dims and brightens slightly in concert with sunspot cycles, which range from nine to 14 years. Could such tiny fluctuations be responsible for changes in climate? from "Don't Believe the Hype: Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming," Richard S. Lindzen, WSJ.com, July 2, 2006. Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over.". . . That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a scientific community 159
that is debating all these issues and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place. Every good essay begins with an argument: something the author believes to be true and worth proving. A working thesis: You do not need to worry about finding the perfect langauge for your thesis before you begin writing your essay, nor do you need to write your introduction, which is really concerned with drawing the reader into the argument, and not with the specific content of the argument. Richard Lindzen, in drafting his article, "Don't believe the hype," may well have started with a working thesis like "Contrary to what Al Gore says, there has been no debate among scientists about global warming." And Naomi Oreskes, in drafting her article, may well have begun with "scientists do agree that global warming is occurring." A working thesis is not a perfectly refined piece of writing, ready to be read by a reader, but a statement of what you will argue in the essay. The key words should be there which focus your work, but don't worry too much about the exact sentence structure until you revise your essay.
Common Thesis Statement Problems: A solid thesis is the foundation of a good essay. Unfortunately, problems with a thesis lead to big problems in the essay: lack of focus, unity problems, development problems, and even sentence-level problems, because when a writer is unsure about direction, the content suffers on all levels. Some of the most common problems are described below: weak argument: When the argument is weak, the thesis focuses on a seemingly insignificant or minor point, one that does not need more than a paragraph of support: It was hard to call a ship home, but after living on the ship for three years, it became difficult to think of it as anything else. no argument: A thesis that states a topic without an angle on that topic is just information. A reader wonders what is the point? What does the writer want me to think about this situation? The qualities and the atmosphere of the two households can be very different based on various factors like age of kids, age of parents, and circumstances of the times they grew up in. multiple directions: The language of the thesis suggests that the writer will explore several topics, but the connection between these topics is not clear: TV families often confront issues such as gender, race and ethnic stereotypes but do not often reflect the lives and hardships of real American families. thesis as a question: Instructors frown on this strategy for beginning an essay. A much stronger tactic is to turn that question into a statement (though the question may work quite well as working thesis, helping you to focus on your reader's needs). But is the “American Dream” really such a dream? What does it really cost us to achieve that dream, and is that price worth it?
Revising Your Thesis: When your thesis lacks clarity. . . rewriting the sentence to include a subordinate clause might help (see our module on coordination/subordination for more detail, and a list of subordinating conjunctions). Subordinate clauses are attached to the main clause via a subordinating conjunction, and these 160
conjunctions identify specific relationships between ideas. Sometimes, the subordinator can give you a sense of what you want to do in the essay; for example, the subordinator "because" suggests the writer will be concerned with the causes for something; the subordinator "if" suggess the writer will be concerned with conditions for something happening. say one thing. . . If the thesis appears to be going in many directions, the reader will not be able to follow you (you probably won't stay focused as you write the essay either). Revise your thesis so that you are proving just one thing, and not three or four things. See if the content of your thesis might actually fit under a broader umbrella. Consider the revision of the problematic thesis below: original thesis: TV families often confront issues such as gender, race and ethnic stereotypes but do not often reflect the lives and hardships of real American families. revised thesis: Even though contemporary TV sitcoms try to be real by confronting social problems such as ethnic stereotyping and gender inequality, they do not reflect the real day to day problems American families face. In the revision, a common thread is found between the seemingly disparate topics of the original version: the topic becomes "how well TV sitcoms succeed at being real." The content of the essay will not need to be dramatically altered; it is the angle on the content that shifts—how the writer spins the content. don't draw a map for development unless your teacher requires it. A thesis that begins with a phrase like "In this essay I will argue," "I will first. . . and then. . . " or "I hope to show that," actually takes attention away from the argument itself and weakens your voice in the essay. Some instructors will ask for a map, however, particularly in the biological or social sciences. In these disciplines, essay structures are often pragmatic, designed so that information can be processed quickly; but in the humanities, and in writing for a popular audience, such as for a newspaper or magazine, a more subtle approach is called for. Fortunately, repairing these mapping statements is easy; for the most part, you can just cut them out. Argumentative essays
When Though May The Whose Where Who And
blithe to argument I armed with facts, and merry, Providence protect me from fool as adversary, mind to him a kingdom is reason lacks dominion, calls conviction prejudice prejudice —Phyllis McGinley
As much as we would have it be otherwise, our belief that something is true or right is not proof that it is right. All of us have had an encounter with a policy or practice that seems to go dead against what we know to be right. In such moments, we feel there is no justice in the universe, or no God to ensure that there is good in the world. Other human beings, however, do not necessarily see truth and righteousness as we do, and so we must argue, prove to others that our truths are valid truths. An argument is an attempt to convince others of a truth as we perceive it. Arugments in written form have been around since ancient Greece, and so today, we expect arguments to have particular features: a claim, 161
evidence to support a claim, a refutation of opposing arguments, and a conclusion. In this module, students will learn to construct a strong argument that has these features. Objectives: In this module students will learn to
• • • •
state a clear claim provide convincing evidence to support a claim refute opposing arguments write a strong conclusion
Developing Strong Thesis Statements The Thesis statement or main claim must be debatable An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people. Example of a non-debatable thesis statement: Pollution is bad for the environment. This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution means that something is bad or negative in some way. Further, all studies agree that pollution is a problem, they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is good. Example of a debatable thesis statement: At least twenty-five percent of the federal budget should be spent on limiting pollution. This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution. Another example of a debatable thesis statement: America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars. In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy. The thesis needs to be narrow Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right. Example of a thesis that is too broad: Drug use is detrimental to society. There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does 162
the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate. Example of a narrow or focused thesis: Illegal drug use is detrimental because it encourages gang violence. In this example the the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic. We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way: Narrowed debatable thesis 1: At least twenty-five percent of the federal budget should be spent on helping upgrade business to clean technologies, researching renewable energy sources, and planting more trees in order to control or eliminate pollution. This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution. Narrowed debatable thesis 2: America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars because it would allow most citizens to contribute to national efforts and care about the outcome. This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national antipollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus. Qualifiers such as "typically," "generally," "usually," or "on average" also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule. Types of Claims Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, in other words what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of you broader topic. Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example: What some people refer to as global warming is actually nothing more than normal, long-term cycles of climate change. Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example: The popularity of SUV's in America has caused pollution to increase. Claims about value: These are claims made about what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example: Global warming is the most pressing challenge facing the world today. Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example: Instead of drilling for oil in Alaska we should be focusing on ways to reduce oil consumption, such as researching renewable energy sources. Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge on the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to 163
utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper! Contributors:Stacy Summary: Using Research and Evidence What type of evidence should I use? There are two types of evidence: First hand research is research you have conducted yourself such as interviews, experiments, surveys, or personal experience and anecdotes. Second hand research is research you are getting from various texts that has been supplied and compiled by others such as books, periodicals, and websites. Regardless of what type of sources you use, they must be credible. In other words, your sources must be reliable, accurate, and trustworthy. How do I know if a source is credible? You can ask the following questions to determine if a source is credible: Who is the author? Credible sources are written by authors respected their fields of study. Responsible, credible authors will cite their sources so that you can check the accuracy of and support for what they've written. (This is also a good way to find more sources for your own research.) How recent is the source? The choice to seek recent sources depends on your topic. While sources on the American Civil War may be decades old and still contain accurate information, sources on information technologies, or other areas that are experiencing rapid changes, need to be much more current. What is the author's purpose? When deciding which sources to use, you should take the purpose or point of view of the author into consideration. Is the author presenting a neutral, objective view of a topic? Or is the author advocating one specific view of a topic? Who is funding the research or writing of this source? A source written from a particular point of view may be credible; however, you need to be careful that your sources don't limit your coverage of a topic to one side of a debate. What type of sources does your audience value? If you are writing for a professional or academic audience, they may value peer-reviewed journals as the most credible sources of information. If you are writing for a group of residents in your hometown, they might be more comfortable with mainstream sources, such as Time or Newsweek. A younger audience may be more accepting of information found on the Internet than an older audience might be. Be especially careful when evaluating Internet sources! Never use Web sites where an author cannot be determined, unless the site is associated with a reputable institution such as a respected university, a credible media outlet, government program or department, or well-known non-governmental organizations. Beware of using sites like Wikipedia, which are collaboratively developed by users. Because anyone can add or change content, the validity of information on such sites may not meet the standards for academic research. Contributors:Stacy Summary: Weida, Karl Stolley. Weida, Karl Stolley.
These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
Organizing Your Argument How can I effectively present my argument? Use an organizational structure that arranges the argument in a way that will make sense to the reader. The Toulmin Method of logic is a common and easy to use formula for organizing an argument. The basic format for the Toulmin Method is as follows: Claim: The overall thesis the writer will argue for. Data: Evidence gathered to support the claim. Warrant (also referred to as a bridge): Explanation of why or how the data supports the claim, the underlying assumption that connects your data to your claim. Backing (also referred to as the foundation): Additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant. Counterclaim: A claim that negates or disagrees with the thesis/claim. Rebuttal: Evidence that negates or disagrees with the counterclaim. Including a well thought out warrant or bridge is essential to writing a good argumentative essay or paper. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis they may not make a connection between the two or they may draw different conclusions. Don't avoid the opposing side of an argument. Instead, include the opposing side as a counterclaim. Find out what the other side is saying and respond to it within your own argument. This is important so that the audience is not swayed by weak, but unrefuted, arguments. Including counterclaims allows you to find common ground with more of your readers. It also makes you look more credible because you appear to be knowledgeable about the entirety of the debate rather than just being biased or uniformed. You may want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic. Example: Claim: Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution. Data1:Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air polluting activity. Warrant 1:Because cars are the largest source of private, as opposed to industry produced, air pollution switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution. Data 2: Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years. Warrant 2: Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that a decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels. Data 3: Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor. Warrant 3: This combination of technologies means that less pollution is produced. According to ineedtoknow.org "the hybrid engine of the Prius, made by Toyota, produces 90 percent fewer harmful emissions than a comparable gasoline engine." Counterclaim: Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages a culture of driving even if it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging use of mass transit systems. Rebuttal: While mass transit is an environmentally sound idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work; thus hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population. 165
These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing. Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion There are three types of rhetorical appeals, or persuasive strategies, used in arguments to support claims and respond to opposing arguments. A good argument will generally use a combination of all three appeals to make its case. Logos Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason. Logos often depends on the use of inductive or deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning takes a specific representative case or facts and then draws generalizations or conclusions from them. Inductive reasoning must be based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence. In other words, the facts you draw on must fairly represent the larger situation or population. Example: Fair trade agreements have raised the quality of life for coffee producers, so fair trade agreements could be used to help other farmers as well. In this example the specific case of fair trade agreements with coffee producers is being used as the starting point for the claim. Because these agreements have worked the author concludes that it could work for other farmers as well. Deductive reasoning begins with a generalization and then applies it to a specific case. The generalization you start with must have been based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence.Example: Genetically modified seeds have caused poverty, hunger, and a decline in bio-diversity everywhere they have been introduced, so there is no reason the same thing will not occur when genetically modified corn seeds are introduced in Mexico. In this example the author starts with a large claim, that genetically modified seeds have been problematic everywhere, and from this draws the more localized or specific conclusion that Mexico will be affected in the same way. Avoid Logical Fallacies These are some common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Also, watch out for these slips in other people's arguments. Slippery slope: This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,..., X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z. So, if we don't want Z to occur A must not be allowed to occur either. Example: If we ban Hummers because they are bad for the environment eventually the government will ban all cars, so we should not ban Hummers. In this example the author is equating banning Hummers with banning all cars, which is not the same thing. Hasty Generalization: This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example: Even though it's only the first day, I can tell this is going to be a boring course. In this example the author is basing their evaluation of the entire course on only one class, and on the first day which is notoriously boring and full of housekeeping tasks for most courses. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation the author must attend several classes, and possibly even examine the textbook, talk to the professor, or talk to others who have previously finished the course in order to have sufficient evidence to base a conclusion on. 166
Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This is a conclusion that assumes that if 'A' occurred after 'B' then 'B' must have caused 'A.' Example: I drank bottled water and now I am sick, so the water must have made me sick. In this example the author assumes that if one event chronologically follows another the first event must have caused the second. But the illness could have been caused by the burrito the night before, a flu bug that had been working on the body for days, or a chemical spill across campus. There is no reason, without more evidence, to assume the water caused the person to be sick. Genetic Fallacy: A conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example: The Volkswagen Beetle is an evil car because it was originally designed by Hitler's army. In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car. Begging the Claim: The conclusion that the writer should prove is validated within the claim. Example: Filthy and polluting coal should be banned. Arguing that coal pollutes the earth and thus should be banned would be logical. But the very conclusion that should be proved, that coal causes enough pollution to warrant banning its use, is already assumed in the claim by referring to it as "filthy and polluting." Circular Argument: This restates the argument rather than actually proving it. Example: George Bush is a good communicator because he speaks effectively. In this example the conclusion that Bush is a "good communicator" and the evidence used to prove it "he speaks effectively" are basically the same idea. Specific evidence such as using everyday language, breaking down complex problems, or illustrating his points with humorous stories would be needed to prove either half of the sentence. Either/or: This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. Example: We can either stop using cars or destroy the earth. In this example where two choices are presented as the only options, yet the author ignores a range of choices in between such as developing cleaner technology, car sharing systems for necessities and emergencies, or better community planning to discourage daily driving. Ad hominem: This is an attack on the character of a person rather than their opinions or arguments. Example: Green Peace's strategies aren't effective because they are all dirty, lazy hippies. In this example the author doesn't even name particular strategies Green Peace has suggested, much less evaluate those strategies on their merits. Instead, the author attacks the characters of the individuals in the group. Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand. Example: If you were a true American you would support the rights of people to choose whatever vehicle they want. In this example the author equates being a "true American," a concept that people want to be associated with, particularly in a time of war, with allowing people to buy any vehicle they want even though there is no inherent connection between the two.
Red Herring: This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example: The level of mercury in seafood may be unsafe, but what will fishers do to support their families. In this example the author switches the discussion away from the safety of the food and talks instead about an economic issue, the livelihood of those catching fish. While one issue may effect the other, it does not mean we should ignore possible safety issues because of possible economic consequences to a few individuals. Ethos Ethos or the ethical appeal is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer. There are many ways to establish good character and credibility as an author:
• • • • •
Use only credible, reliable sources to build your argument and cite those sources properly. Respect the reader by stating the opposing position accurately. Establish common ground with your audience. Most of the time, this can be done by acknowledging values and beliefs shared by those on both sides of the argument. If appropriate for the assignment, disclose why you are interested in this topic or what personal experiences you have had with the topic. Organize your argument in a logical, easy to follow manner. You can use the Toulmin method of logic or a simple pattern such as chronological order, most general to most detailed example, earliest to most recent example, etc. Proofread the argument. Too many careless grammar mistakes cast doubt on your character as a writer.
Pathos Pathos, or emotional appeal, appeals to an audience's needs, values, and emotional sensibilities. Argument emphasizes reason, but used properly there is often a place for emotion as well. Emotional appeals can use sources such as interviews and individual stories to paint a more legitimate and moving picture of reality or illuminate the truth. For example, telling the story of a single child who has been abused may make for a more persuasive argument than simply the number of children abused each year because it would give a human face to the numbers. Only use an emotional appeal if it truly supports the claim you are making, not as a way to distract from the real issues of debate. An argument should never use emotion to misrepresent the topic or frighten people.
Making a Claim A "claim" is like a thesis for an essay in that it is a promise to the reader about what will be supported or proved in the essay; however, a claim is usually a stronger and often more emotional proposition that a thesis in an expository essay. As Arlo Bates writes in Talks on Writing English (1894), "The difference between exposition and argument is the difference between peace and war." In an argument, the writer is 168
generally ready for disagreement, and writes to convince those who disagree to change their minds. Take a look at the following claims that set up argument essays: We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it. Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over.". . . That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place. In each of these essays, the author makes a strong and clear claim at the beginning of the essay. With this clarity established up front, the reader knows what to expect in the essay that will follow. Evidence In argument, evidence is key. Without solid support, well explained, the reader will never accept the writer's claim. Below are examples of the kinds of evidence that you might use to build a strong argument. Cite authority on a topic: quotations from experts used to back up (not replace) your points work very well. In using quotes and paraphrase effectively, you show that you have done your research and that you are able to distinguish expert from amateur authorities. Who you side with can go a long way to establishing the validity of your argument. Be very careful, however, not to hide behind these quotes. If you let others speak for you, you risk appearing unsure of yourself. Read the module on Working with Sources for more help with using sources in your writing. Cite statistics or research: Often solid research findings or statistics can complement a more theoretical argument. They work especially well as a complement to anecdotal or narrative examples to support an argument. Anecdotal evidence & Case Studies: Though case studies are not very effective if a study is the only evidence one has (not a large enough sample to be valid), such studies can be very effective in showing readers the way more abstract or general principles have an effect in the real world, on real lives. In an essay on Parkinson's Disease and the importance of stem cell research to find a cure, a student might write a case study of an individual with Parkinson's to show how devastating the disease is. Refuting Opposing Arguments If one fights a battle in an argument, however, great or small, there is an opposition that must be dealt with. It is not effective to write an argument without acknowledging opposing arguments and showing why those arguments are not valid. Otherwise, your opposition will come away from the essay with a lot of "Yes, but . . . " thoughts. A good way to handle opposing arguments is to look for what makes sense in the argument—find something you can agree with—and then find where the position falls apart, or fails to be substantial enough to support a particular position. Then, in your own writing you can discuss these arguments with phrases like "While . . . is true, there are many problems with this position," or "X would seem like the answer; however, . . . ," etc. Sometimes writers like to "do away with the opposition" right away after the opening paragraph and then get into the position that the writer wants the reader to adopt in the rest of the essay. Take a look at the following arguments for an against stem cell research. Note the way the authors respond to opposing arguments: Cal Thomas' article against stem cell research....is not particularly useful, because it does not deal with his fundamental belief that human personhood begins at conception. Similarly, articles by medical groups that promote stem cell research are not helpful, because they do not touch on their fundamental belief that embryos are not human persons. If there is to be any hope of resolving these issues, we must debate when 169
human personhood begins. If we can reach a near consensus on this, then abortion, in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research and other debates will neatly resolve themselves. (Religious Tolerance) "...it is ridiculous for people who have already decided that it is moral to kill babies in the womb to show some squeamishness about destroying human embryos in a petri dish. Hell, man, once you decide to become a child-killer, their ages no longer matter. Or the numbers. Damnation of your soul is completed with the first one." (Religious Tolerance) Audience It is very important to understand one's audience when making an argument, particular when the issue, such as abortion rights, stem cell research, genetically modified foods, immigration policies, is controversial. A writer needs to try and empathize with the reader, to understand the reader's biases and concerns, in order to know how to talk to the reader, and what it would be best to talk about. In addition, it is important to know the knowledge level of one's audience in order to not waste time defining terms the reader already knows, or conversely, to avoid using too many terms the reader does not understand. Tone is a factor as well with readers: Would the reader respond to a more lighthearted tone, a bit of humor, or a more serious, passionate angle. Would an objective, scholarly tone work best? The answer depends largely on who one is writing to. Logical Fallacies Logical fallacies are logical mistakes that fall into particular categories. It is useful to know what these fallacies are so that you can check your own work to ensure that it is free from logical fallacies, and also to check the arguments made by others for errors in logic. Below is a list of the most common logical fallacies. It might be useful to print these out and have them handy when checking your work. Ad Hominem: "against the man" or "against the person." Appeal to Authority: Suggests that because someone is an expert (or claims to be) on something, everything he has to say about anything, even a topic outside of the field of expertise, is true. Appeal to Emotion: This is an attempt to persuade by soliciting an emotional response such as pity or sympathy rather than evidence. For example, "Just look at this poor man. It is obvious he feels devastated by what he has done. Why should we punish him unfairly?" Bandwagon Appeal: Peer pressure. Since person A is doing it (believes it), we all should do it (believe it). Begging the Question: A fallacy in which the conclusion is claimed as being true in the premise: "God exists because the bible says he exists and the bible was written by God." False Dilemma: Occurs when two options are suggested, when others may be available: "Either we do away with the automobile now, or we die tomorrow." Hasty Generalization: occurs when a general conclusion is drawn from too small a sample: "Margaret is over eighty and she hates going to the movies now; I think old people, generally, don't like to go to the movies." Post Hoc: means "after this; therefore, because of this." In other words, it is the assumption becuase B follows A, B was caused by A. For example, "Brittney got sick right after eating at the Bon Thai; I will not be eating there anymore." 170
Slippery Slope Argument: Assumes that doing one thing will automatically lead to doing other things: "If you get a credit card, you are going to end up in debt!"
Narrative Essays As a mode of expository writing, the narrative approach, more than any other, offers writers a chance to think and write about themselves. We all have experiences lodged in our memories which are worthy of sharing with readers. Yet sometimes they are so fused with other memories that a lot of the time spent in writing narrative is in the prewriting stage. In this stage, writers first need to select an incident worthy of writing about and, second, to find relevance in that incident. To do this, writers might ask themselves what about the incident provided new insights or awareness. Finally, writers must dredge up details which will make the incident real for readers. Principles of Writing Narrative Essays Once an incident is chosen, the writer should keep three principles in mind. 1. Remember to involve readers in the story. It is much more interesting to actually recreate an incident for readers than to simply tell about it. 2. Find a generalization which the story supports. This is the only way the writer's personal experience will take on meaning for readers. This generalization does not have to encompass humanity as a whole; it can concern the writer, men, women, or children of various ages and backgrounds. 3. Remember that although the main component of a narrative is the story, details must be carefully selected to support, explain, and enhance the story. Conventions of Narrative Essays In writing your narrative essay, keep the following conventions in mind.
• • •
Narratives are generally written in the first person, that is, using "I." However, third person ("he," "she," or "it") can also be used. Narratives rely on concrete, sensory details to convey their point. These details should create a unified, forceful effect, a dominant impression. More information on sensory details is available. Narratives, as stories, should include these story conventions: a plot, including setting and characters; a climax; and an ending. Comparison/Contrast Essays
Though there are many little, almost unnoticeable earthquakes that happen all the time, there are also major ones that destroy vast areas and take many lives. Two of them happened here, in the United States, very 171
close to each other. Both of them very destructive and had major impacts on society. These types of earthquakes are life changing, usually not for the better. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake are two of these majorly destructive earthquakes. Though these quakes are both very different, they also have many surprising similarities. First off, these earthquakes are similar in some ways that you may not have known. Both of these powerful earthquakes happened in California. This is because the fault line, on which both the earthquakes occurred, runs across different parts of California. The name of this fault line is the San Andreas Fault line. Most earthquakes in the United States tend to occur in California, and are caused by the San Andreas Fault line. The epicenter for both of these earthquakes was the Northern segment of the San Andreas Fault line. This segment runs from Hollister, through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Both of these even though caused major damage, lasted under a minute. Both of these earthquakes also had subsequent fires. The San Francisco earthquake and the Loma Prieta earthquake have may differences, along with the obvious ones like the date and location, there are also some not as well-know differences. Obviously, the dates are different, the San Francisco earthquake happened in 1906, and the Loma Prieta Earthquake happened in 1989. Even though they both happened on the same fault, their magnitudes are different. The San Francisco earthquake was around a 7.7- 8.25 magnitude, but the Loma Prieta earthquake was weaker, at about 7.1. Along with the strength of the earthquakes, the number of people killed was also different. In the San Francisco earthquake, over 3,000 people were killed and about 225,000 injured. In the Loma Prieta earthquake, only about 63 people were killed, and about 3,757 injured. Both earthquakes toppled buildings and houses, but the San Francisco earthquake might have taken a little less money to repair. It took 6.5 billion dollars to make repairs for the San Francisco quake, and around 7 billion dollars to repair the Loma Prieta quake. Both of these earthquakes are horrible disasters. They destroyed many houses, properties, buildings and lives. These were very life changing events to anyone that was in either one of them or that had family in them. It was very costly to pay for the repairs that were to be made due to the damage. But, there is also some good that came out of this. Now scientists have more education about how to build earthquake proof buildings and bridges. It taught people how to be prepared when there is a major earthquake; you can never be too prepared.
When you compare things, you show their similarities; when you contrast things, you show their differences. We can really understand only those things that are familiar to us or similar to things we already understand, so comparing and contrasting the unfamiliar with the familiar is one of the most important techniques for writing. You can, and probably do, use comparison and contrast to describe things, to define things, to analyze things, to make an argument -- to do, in fact, almost any kind of writing. When they are comparing and contrasting, for example, two ideas, like corsets and footbinding, most writers structure their essays one of four ways. 172
1. First compare, then contrast (or vice versa). 2. First do one idea, then do the other. 3. Write only about the comparable and contrastable elements of each idea. 4. Only compare or only contrast.
Comparison and Contrast Essays A comparison and contrast essay may discuss only similarities, only differences, but more often than not, both comparison and contrast is used. The essay may be organised in one of two patterns. Either is acceptable, but mixing patterns is not. Review the two patterns below carefully, noting the differences in structure that each presents. ►Pattern A: The Block Method. Present all the information about A, and then present parallel information about B. This pattern tends to work better for shorter papers, and those with few subtopics It can be used when you have three or more principal similarities or differences. First: All of A: Second: All of B: point 1 (plus support) point 1 (plus support) point 2 (plus support) point 2 (plus support) point 3 (plus support) point 3 (plus support) The danger built into Pattern A is that the writer can end up with two separate essays instead of one unified comparison and contrast essay. To insure unity, take note of the following guidelines: - Each subtopic in Part I must also be discussed in Part II. - Subtopics should be discussed in the same order in both parts. - Subtopics in Part II should generally include reminders of the point made about the same subtopic in Part I. ►Pattern B: The Point-by-Point Method. Present one point about A, and then go to the parallel point about B. Move to the next point, and do the same thing. This pattern tends to work better for long papers and those with many subtopics. Use this pattern when you have only two principal similarities or differences. First A: point 1 (plus support) Then B: point 1 (plus support) Then A: point 2 (plus support) Then B: point 2 (plus support) Then A: point 3 (plus support) Then B: point 3 (plus support) ►Guidelines for a Successful Comparison-Contrast Essay: - Choose items that are related in some way so they can be compared or contrasted. - Compare according to a single organized idea. - Choose a method of development that works well with your organizing idea. - Use specific and relevant examples for support. - Give equal treatment to both elements that you are discussing - Use transitional words or phrases to help the reader understand the similarities and differences in your subject. - Conclude your paper by restating your thesis, summarizing the main points, and give the reader the final ‘so what’ of the major similarities and/or differences that you discussed. ►Outlines of Sample Essays: 173
Thesis: Although dogs are often called man’s best friend, cats make more convenient pets. Block Method Outline: Part A Point 1: Cats can clean themselves. Point 2: Cats can exercise by themselves. Point 3: Cats do not require training. Part B Point 1: In contrast to cats, dogs need baths. Point 2: Unlike cats, dogs must be walked regularly. Point 3: Whereas cats need no training, dogs must be trained. Point-by-Point Method Outline: Point 1: Para. 1: Cats can clean themselves. Para. 2: In contrast to cats, dogs need baths. Point 2: Para. 3 Cats can exercise by themselves. Para. 4 Unlike cats, dogs must be walked regularly. Point 3: Para. 5 Cats do not require training. Para. 6 Whereas cats need no training, dogs must be trained. Note that the transitions used in each outline (in contrast to; unlike; whereas) emphasise the distinction being made between cats and dogs. For a more detailed list of transitions, see the Transition Signals handout in the Writing Centre.
First compare, then contrast (or vice versa). Writers using a comparison/contrast structure might begin by discussing the ways in which corsets are similar to footbinding, then they move to a description of the ways in which the two ideas are different. This method is probably the one used most commonly. I. II. III. IV. introduction Corsets and footbinding are similar. Corsets and footbinding are different. conclusion
A quick outline comparing and then contrasting corsets and footbinding shows one way that such a paper might be structured. This structure focuses on the comparison and contrast instead of on the two ideas (e.g., corsetry and footbinding) being compared and contrasted. 174
Clearly, the sequence is important. If you begin with the comparison, then the contrast will get emphasis - the logical movement is from thinking about similarities to thinking about differences. If you begin by contrasting the ideas (and then move toward a comparison), the similarities get emphasis. 1. First do one idea, then do the other. Writers might compare and contrast ideas by treating one idea thoroughly before taking up the second one. This method is probably the one most students try first, but many evolve past it into something more flexible. introduction similarities (or differences) differences (or similarities) conclusion A quick outline that treats first corsets and then footbinding shows one way that such a paper might be structured. A structure like this one seems more focused on the ideas being compared and contrasted than on the comparison and contrast itself. The similarities and differences between the ideas do not begin to emerge until the writer gets to the second idea. It is as if the writer is comparing and contrasting (for example) footbinding to corsetry, instead of corsetry and footbinding to each other. 2. Write only about the comparable and contrastable elements of each idea. Writers might compare and contrast ideas by taking important specific elements and looking at their similarities and differences. This method requires real control over your subject. introduction element #1 element #2 element #3 ... conclusion A quick outline that compares and contrasts only relevant aspects of corsets and footbinding shows one way that such a paper might be structured. A comparison/contrast essay like this one would probably focus only on those elements of the ideas that are explicitly comparable or contrasting. 3. Only compare or only contrast. It is always possible, of course, to write an essay that treats only the similarities or differences between ideas.
Writers who only compare two ideas sometimes briefly mention the contrast in the introduction and then move on so that they don't lead readers to think they can't make relevant distinctions. Writers who only contrast ideas sometimes briefly summarize similarities in the conclusion so they don't leave the impression that they are thinking in opposites.
Comparison/contrast is useful for more than an essay topic. Many teachers assign topics that ask writers to write an essay comparing and contrasting two or more ideas, but besides its value in organizing an essay, comparison/contrast is also useful as a technique
to structure a paragraph to work within other techniques or modes
to define a complex idea (by comparing to something similar and contrasting it with its opposite) to think about one thing in terms of another (like the present in terms of the past or the past in terms of the future or humans in terms of primates) to make an argument, first describing what people shouldn't do and then ending - with a bang! - with what they should.
Other, related concepts to think about and places to look Analogical and metaphorical language: like and as Using lists in your writing: parallelism An Overview of the Writing Process Developing an Introduction Conclusions Essay Organization: The Flow Chart Approach Paragraph Development When Do I Begin a New Paragraph Cohesion Brainstorming Focused Freewriting Invention Questions for Argument and Persuasion Invention Questions for Writing about Cause and Effect Invention Questions for Comparing and Contrasting The various rhetorical modes and types of writing Narrative Description Definition Process Description Reaction Papers 176
Abstract of a report or an article Summary of an article or a book Literary Essay Return to the discussion of how comparison and contrast can be used beyond structure for an essay. A quick outline of how a paper comparing and then contrasting corsets and footbinding might look. 1. Introduction 2. Corsets and footbinding are similar
o o o
Both practiced in the far past, through the 19th century, and into the 20th. Both restrict women's movement and impair health. Both practiced by women of all classes, though most people imagine tight-lacing and footbinding were limited to the upper class. To use Veblen's argument, both enhance man's value in the culture to be responsible for women who were too delicate to work. Both practiced by women on women. Women laced corsets; women bound feet.
3. Corsets and footbinding are different
Chinese culture is radically different from that of western Europe and America. Every Chinese woman so bound was deformed for life; only most extreme cases of tightlacing did permanent damage. Corsets trivialized by everybody since the end of the dress reform movement.
4. Conclusion Return to the discussion of comparison/contrast essays. A quick outline of how a paper treating one topic and then the other might look. 1. Introduction 2. Corsetry
o o o o o o
Practiced in Sumaria, Crete, millennia ago; focus in Western world. Corsetry not exactly the same as tight-lacing. Effects on health: tight-lacing vs stays. Henri II's queen: 15-inch waist with the help of the King's armorer. Dress Reform movement. 1880s and 1890s, when women were looking at the possibilities of real contributions to the political debate.
o o o
Earliest references. Survival rates and the effects on health. Our misconceptions about class -- women plowing fields in mud up to their ankles. 177
Any girl whose female relatives thought she might be able to marry up would bind her feet. Simone de Beauvior saw some; Life magazine's photos. When the government made it illegal. Also, how women whose feet had been bound couldn't really unbind.
4. Conclusion Return to the discussion of comparison/contrast essays. A quick outline of how a paper treating only comparable and contrasting elements might look. 1. Introduction 2. Restrictions on women's movements. 3. Effects on women's health. 4. Economic and cultural value of a helpless female to a powerful male. 5. Women's contributions to their own weakening. 6. Cultural movements against tight-lacing and footbinding. 7. Socio-economic class and tight-lacing and footbinding. 8. Lasting into 20th century. 9. Eastern and western cultures. 10. Extreme cases vs. most women. 11. Conclusion Narrative essays The Story of Dr. Mudd On the night of April 14, 1865—five days after the Civil War ended—President Abraham Lincoln was attending the theater in Washington, D.C. In the middle of the performance, an actor named John Wilkes Booth, seeking to avenge the defeat of the South, slipped into the presidential box and shot the president. Booth escaped the theater, but broke his leg when he leaped from the president’s box seat to the stage. Before anybody could stop him, he limped out the back door, mounted a waiting horse, and disappeared into the night with a fellow conspirator. Five hours later, at four o’clock in the morning, Booth and his companion arrived at the home of Samuel Mudd, a doctor living in southern Maryland. Dr. Mudd knew nothing about the assassination of the president. Acting as any doctor would with a stranger in distress, 178
he set the leg and persuaded the two travelers to stay in his house for the rest of the night. The next morning, Booth and his friend, using false names, paid the bill and departed. –PRETEST– 5 Because of this merciful act, Dr. Mudd was arrested, taken to Washington, and tried on the charge that he was a friend of Booth’s and therefore helped plan the assassination. Dr. Mudd insisted that he knew nothing of the plot. But the military courts, angry at the president’s death, sentenced the unfortunate doctor to life imprisonment. Dr. Mudd was imprisoned at Fort Jefferson, an island fortress about 120 miles west of the southern tip of Florida. As horrible and unjust as this punishment must have been, a greater plight lurked at Fort Jefferson. The warm, humid climate was a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Again and again, these pests spread yellow fever germs to prisoners and guards alike. When the fever struck, Dr. Mudd volunteered his services, because he was the only doctor on the island. He had to fight the disease, even after he was infected himself. In spite of the fact that the guards and other inmates called him “that Lincoln murderer,” and treated him very badly, he worked hard to fight the disease. Meanwhile, his wife was working heroically back in Washington for her husband’s cause. After a four-year struggle, she secured a pardon for him—for a crime he never committed. Dr. Mudd returned to Maryland to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Soon after Dr. Mudd’s release, Fort Jefferson was abandoned. Today, the one-time prison is accessible to visitors as part of Dry Tortugas National Park. Questions 4. What was the cause of Dr. Mudd’s conviction? a. He helped Booth assassinate Lincoln. b. He helped Booth get away. c. The military courts wanted someone to pay for Lincoln’s death. d. He lied to the military courts. 5. An alternative title for this passage might be a. Lincoln’s Assassination. b. Good Doc Gone Bad. c. A Prison Abandoned. d. An Unfair Trial for a Fair Man. 6. What sort of doctor was Dr. Mudd? 179
a. careless, sloppy b. generous, caring c. greedy, money-hungry d. cold-hearted, unfeeling 7. Dr. Mudd fought the yellow fever outbreak at Fort Jefferson because a. there was no one else to treat the sick prisoners. b. he thought it would help get him a pardon. c. he didn’t want to get sick himself. d. he was forced to by the prison warden. 8. Read this sentence from the essay. As horrible and unjust as this punishment must have been, a greater plight lurked at Fort Jefferson. ILLUSTRATION In order to develop the central theme of a paragraph, you have to expand the idea contained in the topic sentence. This can be done in a number of ways, depending on your purpose, the topic and the kind of reader you have in view. The different meihods of paragraph developme~lt can be considered in terms of two broad categories: i) those which stay strictly within the scope of the topic; e.g. illustration, description, definition, and cause and effect. ii) techniques which itlvolve a second topic: e.g. comparison and contrast: The method of development that you choose shou!cl be the one that will most effectively put across the point that you want to make, the point you have stated in your topic sentence. There are no rules about the kind of development to be adopted in any writing situation, although some topics lend themselves more readily to certain kin$ of development than they do to other kinds. It must be realized, however, that you can combine more than one technique in composing a paragraph. Let's first look at this illustration. I 1 Giving examples is one of the easiest ways of developing of topic. When a writer gives examples he helps the I reader to understand a rather difficult and abstract generalization which may be contained in the topic sentence. He is also able to persuade the reader that the generalization is correct'because there are examples to support it. Examples also add to the reader's interest. We often introduce examples of illustrations by using expressions like for example, for instance, an example, etc. Now look at the paragraph given under example 1 again. You will notice that this paragraph is developed mainly by adding examples, i.e. by the technique of illiustration. Let us analyse the paragraph. 1. Topic sentence: The vast majority of people, wherever they live and whatever their occupation, come in contact with animals in one way or another and have to deal with them. 2. Examples given to develop the paragraph: i) the hunter ii) the farmer iii) ihe fisherman iv) the city-dweller 3. Summing up: This is done by stating that there is a common bond between man and other creatures. Now, read example 3 given below. It is an example of the development of a paragraph by using the technique of illustration. Example 3 (Development of a paragraph by illustration) 180
All warm-blooded animals are incredibly helpless at first. Young birds and young bats must be taught to fly. Thousands'of yeung seals and young sea lions are drowned every year. They never learn to swim naturally, the mother has to take them out under her flipper and show them how birds sing without instruction, but they do not sing well unless they have had an opportunity of hearing older and more adept members of their species. Older harvest mice build better nests than beginners. It is said that the young elephant does not seem to know at first what his trunk is for; it gets in his way and seems more of a hindrance than a help until his parents show him what to do with it. Insects, indeed seem to start life completely equipped with all necessary reflexes, but even there the concept of "instinct" seems to require some modification, for they improve their talents with practice. Young spiders, for example, "begin by making quite primitive little webs, and only attain perfection in their art in course oftime"; and older spiders, if deprived of their spinnerets, will take to Development of hunting. Paragraphs (From Evans, B.ed) The Natural Hisrocl of Nonsense. Alfred A Knopf, Ir?c.) ! i - ! Glossary warm-blooded(adj.) :able to keep the temperature of the body rather high whetner the outside temperature is high or low in credible : to a degree that is difficult to believe I seal: a large fish-eating animal living mostly on cool seacoasts and floating ice sea lion: a type of seal found in the Pacific Ocean and having large ears flipper: a limp of certain large sea animals with a flat edge used for swimming adept (adj.): highly skilled hindrance (n): something that prevents an activity reflex: an action or movement of the body which happens by itself when one sees, hears or touches something. For example, you remove your finger on touching something hot. instinct: ways of behaviour which are not based on learning or thinking, but are there from birth; e.g., a bird flies by instinct. modification: change web: a net of thin threads spun by the spider spinneret: an organ of certain spiders which produces a silky thread used in spinning a web Check Your Progress 3 This exercise will help you to understand how the paragraph has been developed. I. What are the topic sentences in this paragraph? 2. Read the paragraph again and fill in the fo1lowi1,g columns in the manner shown here: Names of Animals Skills to be developed i) Young birds and bats learn to fly. ii) .................... ................ iii) .................... ................. iv ' ................. .................... v) .................... .................. vi> .................... .................. Ana!yse this paragraph. Base yourself on the analysis done for Example I in 10 lines. ................................................................................................................................................................. When you write a paragraph where you have to give examples to support your topic sentence, you should keep in mind that there should be enough examples to support your point; each example should be logically related to your main idea; 181
each example should be developed with interesting details;(Note that the writer of the paragraph above does not merely list the examples, but tells us in what way each of these animals is helpless, the results of' their helplessness and how they become self-sufficient.) the examples should represent a reasonable cross section of the group you are dealing with. 6.4 CAUSE AND EFFECT Besides using illustration to develop the topic of your paragraph you may in some cases need to use the technique of cause and effect. We often have occasions in our lives to ask "Why did it happen" or "What will happen if...?' and then try to find the cause or effect of an event. You may, for instance, want to know the cause of your poor grades, or of a bus accident, or the effects or consequence of taking drugs, of deforestation, etc. Cause Analysing the cause can be quite a complex task. For example, a daughter's rebelling against her father and leaving home may have an apparent immediate cause, but there may also be a chain of causes going back into the past. Thus, there are likely to be many causes, not just one. When you write, you can follow any of these patterns, You may discuss one or more causal connections between events. You may trace a chain of events in which A is the cause oPB, which is the cause of C, which causes D, and so on. The choice between one cause and several causes is often not a free option. Usually your topic will determine it. When you work with several causes or reasons, you face the problem of arranging them in a significant order. If the reasons follow a logical pattern, i.e. if the main event is caused by A, and A in turn by B, and B by C, the organization is predetermined. But sometimes the reasons or causes may be parallel, all contributing to the same result. Then, a good strategy is to begin with the least important cause and conclude with the most important. I When developing a topic which is supported by reasons or causes, remember to make it clear whether you are dealing with an immediate cause or an earlier cause, a direct cause or an indirect cause; to consider multiple causes; to account for all the links in the sequence of causes; and to write about all the causes or reasons with details. 11 Example 4 (Development of a paragraph by listing the causes) Hills, and mountains are slowly worn away over thousands of years by the process of erosion, Erosion takes place everywhere on Earth. There are several forces of erosion: glaciers which cany rocks weighing \ thousands of tons; frost which causes small cracks on rock sides; strong winds which wear away exposed rocks in desert;. By far the greatest cause of erosion, however, is the action of water on rocks. Water carries chemicals dissolved in it, that soften rocks. This softening is the first stage of erosion called weathering. Rainwater fallin: on hills runs into streams and rivers and these carry the weathered rock away. Millions of years in the future, your favourite hills will have been worn completely away by erosion. (Adapted from Geogrpl~yby Dougal Dixon, Franklin Watts in Science World) Glossary worn away: caused to disappear erosion: the action of wearing away 182
glaciers: masses of ice which move vely slowly down a nio~rntain valley frost: a white powdery substance formed on outside surfaces from very small drops of water when the temperature of air is below freezing point Analysis of the paragraph: I 1 . Topic sentence: "Hills and mountain are-slowly worn away over thousands of years by the process of erosion". / 2. a) Causes of Erosion: glaciers frost strong wilds water b) Process of erosion by water 3. Summing up: In a million years, even your favourite hills will be worn away by erosion. Check Your Progress 4 1 . You have just read and analysed a paragraph, which lists the causes of erosion. It follows a sequence where the less important causes are mentioned first, followed by the most important cause. Now, think of your own life. For instance, what were thp_ reasons which led you to join the IGNOU Computer Programme? Jot down your reasons. Effects Effects or consequences can be handled in much the same way as reasons or causes. But now the main idea is regarded as causing the consequences discussed in the rest c?f the paragraph. The paragraph may deal with only a single effect or refer to several effects. If several consequences are listed, one must be careful to distinguish between the major and the minor ones. Example 5 (Developing a paragraph by listing effect) An earthquake strikes without warning. Whtn it does, its power is immense. If it strikes a modern city, the damage it causes is as great as if it has struck a primitive village. Gas mains burst, explosions are caused and fires are started. Underground railways are wrecked, whole buildings collapse, dams burst. Bridges fall. Gaping caves appear in busy streets. If the quake strikes at sea, huge tidal waves sweep inland. If it strikes in mountain regions, avalanches roar down into the valleys. Consider the terrifying statistics from the past. In the year 1755: Lisbon, capital of Portugal--the city destroyed entirely and 450 killed: 1970: Peru --50,000 killed. (From Can We Stop Earthquakes? in World of Wonder) Glossary Development of Paragraphs warning : the act of giving earlier info~mationo f danger immense : very great gasmains: pipes bringing gas from the source of supply to, the houses and building gaping caves: wide openings or cracks tidal waves: very large ocean waves avalanches: large masses of snow and ice, sliding down a mountain side terrifying: filling with terror In earlier sections we analysed some of the paragraphs for you. The following exercise will help you understand the organization of the paragraph abcve. Fill in the blanks. Cause: The power of ............... (i) ...................... Main effect: The great ....................( ii) ................i t causes. On land 183
Effect; I 1 Gas mains burst Summing up: Reinforcing the idea of the damage caused by an earthquake by quoting statistics from the past and the present. Check Your Progress 6 1. In Check Your Progress 4 you noted the reasons foi joining the IGNOU Computers programra. Now write down what you think will be'the results. of consequences of your joining this program. Cause and Effect We have discussed a paragraph which gives reasons to support a topic, and a paragraph which deals with effects, Often however, cause and effect are more closely related, forming a chain where A gives rise to B. B to C and to C and so on. In such a link, B is both a consequence of A and the cause of C. The paragraph below illustrates such a chain. Example 6 (Paragraph developed by stating cause and effect) Without sunlight there could be no form of life as we know it and all man's basic needs can be ultimately traced back to the sun. In the first place, by its light and warmth the sun directly creates rhe necessary conditions for man's survival. Secondly the sun indirectly provides man with water, for the heat of the sun causes the damp air over the seas to rise and form clouds which cool at a high altitude and consequently fall as rain. One result of rainfall is the formation of lakes and rivers, from which man takes his water supply and which can be used for hydroelectric power. At the same time, rain, together with sunlight, enables plants to grow, and plants provide food for inan and also for animals, which are themselves another source of food for man. [from Anita Debska: IJpgrade your English, Oxford University Press.] Glossary ultimately: in the end survival: the fact of continuing to live high altitude: great height Check Your Progress 7 Development of Paragraphs in ~xample5 , the paragraph has been developed by stating the cause and the effect. By filling in the gaps below, you will be able to understand the organization of the paragraph. blain Cause Main Effect Indirect effect : ..... I1 .......... Effect Cause ....v . Cause Effect .. .... IX Effect the sun Man's .......................i. ... ................. Jtainfall Rainfall formatio..n. of ............ 111 ....... and ....... iv .................. 184
Lakes and rivers water and ................v. i ..................... Rain + .............v ii ....... ........................ Plants ............ viii.. ..................... ................. .x. ............................... ......... xi ..... for man and ........ xii ......... Check Your Progress 8 1. You have already noted the reasons for your joining the JGNOU Computers-programme and the effect it will have on your future career. Now write a paragraph of about 150 words combining both'the reasons and the consequences of your joining IGNOU. You Ir,ay find some of the following words/phrases useful in developing your paragraph: because (of) Resulting in Since Leading to on account of Causing thanks to Consequently With the result that 6.5 DEFINITION Often when we write, we need to explain what something is or means, especially if we feel that our readers may not be familiar with it. This generally happens when we use technical terns or when we want to give our own meaning to an ordinary word. The simplest way to define a term is by giving a synonym or by placing the word in a general class and then distinguishing it from others in that class. For example Term Class Ilifferentiation Widow surgeon a woman Whose husband has died a doctor Who performs medical operations Such definitions are rather formal in style and are generally found in dictionaries. The concept "bride" cannot be defined in such a manner, and for this purpose extended definitions are useful. Topic sentence, which relates to concepts such as "freedom", "democracy" etc. need the support of specific examples. In fact, both in our thinking and writing, we often require extended definitions. This is done by adding details like uses, component parts, examples, being similar to something else, being different from something else, and stating what it is not. Composition and Sopetimes a definition is used in the rnjdst of other forms of writing, and sometimes the definition itself Study Skills becomes the focus of a piece of writing. i Example 7 (Paragraph developed by definition) A map is a representation of anarea of land, sea, or sky. Maps have been used since the earliest civilisations, and explorers find that they are used in rather primitive societies at the present time by people who are accustomed to travelling. For example, Arctic explorers have obtained considerable help from maps of the coast lines showing settlements, drawn by Eskimo people. Occasionally maps show not only the roads, but pictures of other features. One of the earliest such maps dates from about 1400 B.C. It shows not only roads, but also lakes with fish, and a canal with crocodiles and a bridge over the canal. This is somewhat similar to 185
the modem maps of a state which show for each large town some feature of interest or the chief products of 'that town. (C.C. Wylie) Glossary representation: a picture civilisation: stage of human social development accustomed to: used to explore: one who travels in unknown in lands for the purpose of discovery Analysis of the Paragraph Definition: "A ]nap is a representation of an area of land, sea or sky." Generalisation: "Maps have been used ... who are accustomed to travelling." Example: Arctic explorers Generalisation: Occasionally maps show not only the roads, but pictures of other features Example: Maps of both ancient and modern times Check Your Progress 9 1. Use the sentences given beiow to write a paragraph on Mammals. The paragraph should be arranged in the following order: Definition Generalization by differentiation Examples (2 examples) 4 i Generalisation iI I You may make any changes in the language and introduce any connectives you feel are required to write a smoothly flowing passage. You will need, for example, to replace some of the nouns with pronouns and avoid unnecessary repetitions. I I I I i) Mammals differ from the other vertebrates in their system of reproduction. ii) The young mammals are protected within the mother's body I iii) After birth the young mammals are nourished with milk secreted by the milk glands of the mother. iv) A mammals is a warm-blooded vertebrate that has four limbs and a hairy skin. V) Mammals are an extremely varied group, ranging in size from the largest mammal, the blue Whale which is 150 tons, to shrews, which weigh only a few grams. Glossary vertebrates (n.): animals which have a backbone secreted: produced varied: of different kinds shrew: a very small mouse-like animal with a long pointed nose 6.6 COMPARISON AND CONTRAST So far we have been discussing ways of developing paragraphs which deal with only one topic. Sometimes a topic can be developed by showing how two things are alike or how they are different. In fact comparison and contrast are common devices in writing, mainly because we tend to think that way. Our decisions are often based on comparison and contrast. For instance, comparison and contrast dominate our thoughts when we decide to join a particular college or university, when we choose a career or a job, and even when we buy a particular brand of tooth paste. We often compare our teachers, our neighbors, the cities we have been to, the food served at different restaurants, and so on. Hence comparison and contrast are a continuous process in our 186
lives. We generally compare or contrast two items for three basic purpose: i) We wish to point out distinctions in order to give information about the two things. ii) We wish to clarify the unfamiliar by comparing it with the familiar. iii) We wish to show the superiority of one thing over another when we compare two cars, for example There are two ways of arranging information when comparing or contrasting things. One is to write down all the main points about one of the things to be compared or contrasted and then to take all the main points about the other. Personlthing I Personlthing 2 I Point 1 I The other way is to take each point in turn and to compare the two things in respect of each point like this: Personlthing I Personlthing 2 Point 1 - Point 1 7 Point 2 -b Point 2 Developruent of Paragraphs + Point 3 -b Point 3 Example 8 (Paragraph developed by comparison) The existence of a hierarchy helps to assure order and discipline, and these things are important among monkeys just as they are among humans. They permit, first, the making of quick decisions. Whenever.people are brought together, they will only be able to reach decisions quickly if some kind of hierarchy is established. Every jury needs its foreman; every cricket team needs a captain. The same is true of monkeys. Some animal in the group has to decide when the group shall move, which direction it shall follow, what action it shall take to avoid predators. Some forin of leadership is essential if action is to be taken quickly, and hierarchy has come into existence to avoid continual infighting which could be the consequence of total equality. (Adapted form "The Primates" by Eimerl, S. and De Vors, I, Time-life Series) Con~positiona nd, Glossary Study Skills hierarchy (n.): the organisation of a system into higher and lower ranks foreman: the leader of the 12 people (jury) appointed to decide whether a person on trial is guilty or not. predators: animals that live by killing and eating other animals infighting: fighting or disagreement within the group Analysis of the Paragraph Topic sentence: The existence of a hierarchy helps to assure order and discipline, and these things are important among monkeys just as they are among humans. Reason: Subject I : People Subject 2: Monkeys , Summing up: 'Sorne form of leadership is essential .... consequence of total equality. Check Your Progress 10 Write a paragraph on the following topic. The points to develop the paragraph are given below. You may ! develop these points and add any others that you wish. ! There are a lot of similarities between an infant and a very old person's dependence on others. Both are extremely dependent on others. Example 9 (Developing a paragraph by contrast) We live on the planet Earth, a ball of rock 12,750 km in diameter. Like all the planets the Earth rotates on its 187
axis and orbits the sun. But the earth is not alone. It has a companion on its travels - the moon - which orbits the Earth once a month. But the two worlds are very different. The Moon is a dead planet. It has no volcanoes or geological activity, it is airless, waterless and lifeless. The Earth, on the other hand, is lush and fertile. It supports millions of living things - plants, insects, birds, animals and human beings. The moon, on the other hand has fascinating erupting volcanoes since it has no atmosphere to protect it. Its surface is heated to 105 C during its day, and cools to - 155 C at night. In contrast, the Eaith is covered by an atmosphere, which we can breathe. and which also keeps the temperature quite constant. Glossary rotates: turns around a fixed point axis: an imaginary line around which a spinning body moves. orbits: goes round volcanoes: mountains with large openings at the top through which melting rock, steam, gases, etc, escape from time to tinie with great force from inside the earth. geological activity: activity which relates to the physical changes in the structure of the earth, especially relating to rock, soil, etc lush: thickly and healthily growing (especially plants) erupting: expleding and pouring out fire 4 Check Your Progress 11 Unlike Example 8. the paragraph in Example 9 has been organized by talking about the earth and contrasting it with the moon. This exercise is to help you analyse the paragraph. Analysis of the Paragraph: 1 . What is the topic sentence? 2. Fill in the gips in the following table to show the contrast between the moon and the earth. The moon Check Your Progress 12 The earth 1 ....................................... I 1 lush and fertile 1. Write a paragraph of your own contrasting the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. The first sentence and some points describing the two regions are given below. The expressions of contrast 1isted.here mzy also help you in developing the paragraph. 2 .................................... 3 airless, waterless and lifeless 4 .............................. 5 very hot during th'e day, very cold during the night First sentence: The northern and southern poles are different in many ways. .. 2 has volcanoes 3 ................................. 4 has atmosphere 5 ..................... .!.. ........ Northern (Arctic) region Southern (Antarctic) region Ice-covered sea surrounded huge continent-surrounded by ocean by land Varied climate climate less varied: cold throughout the year; More rainful less rainfall 188
Much plant life empty desert; . . . Exploited for trade no trade at all , .. Development of Paragraphs Expressions of contrast: different ti.om, can be distiiiguished from, but, yet, while, although, whereas, despite the fact that, on the other hand. LET US SUM UP In Unit 6 we have introduced you to the elements that go into the organisation of a good paragraph, such as the topic sentence and the development of the topic. We have also discussed different techniques of developing paragraphs, such as illustration, cause and effect, definition, and comparison a;ld contrast. You i should now be able to use these techniques in writing paragraphs on iifferent'topics. ! i b KEY woms Antarctic Arctic cause comparison contrast definition description , effect illustration the most southern part of the world the most northern part of the world something that produces an effect examining one thing against another to show the points of likeness or difference comparing two things or people to make the differences clear giving the meaning giving a picture in words a result giving examples paragraph a division of a written piece made up of one or more sentences topic a subject for talk, writing, etc.
39 The majority of grammar, punctuation, and capitalization mistakes are just a few dozen common ones. If you learn these common errors and how to avoid or correct them, your writing will greatly improve. Therefore, the focus of this chapter is on those errors that occur most frequently. No matter how original an idea you come up with, the inability to express yourself clearly and accurately through the written word will hinder the success of your essay. The rules of mechanics are complex; in fact, they sometimes confuse even professional writers. However, you do not need to become a strict grammarian in order to write well. 1-PARTS OF SPEECH Some parts of speech are more difficult than others. Following are the four most challenging ones as they pertain to your writing: pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions, with usage explanations and examples. A-PRONOUNS Pronouns refer back to or take the place of nouns. They should: 1. Agree in number A singular pronoun must be used for a singular noun. Incorrect: If the student passes this course, they will graduate. Correct: If the student passes this course, she will graduate. 2. Agree in person Do not switch back and forth in your writing from the first person (I) to the second (you) or third (he, she, they, it). First person pronouns: I, me, we, us Second: you Third: he, she, him, her, they, them Incorrect: When a person comes to class, you should have your homework ready. Correct: When a person comes to class, he/she should have his/her homework ready. 3. Be a specific reference to a noun It should be obvious to your reader to which noun the pronoun refers. Incorrect: Kim spends all his time reading and playing soccer, but it isn’t good for him. (What isn’t good for him? Reading, playing soccer, or both?) Correct: Kim spends all his time reading and playing soccer. Too much soccer isn’t good for him; he should play some basketball, too. Incorrect: It has been years since they spent money on new textbooks. Who is they? Correct: It has been years since the school board spent money on new textbooks. Incorrect: I went on the trip with Emily and Nancy, and we took her laptop. (Whose laptop?) Correct: I went on the trip with Emily and Nancy, and we took Nancy’s laptop. 41 B-ADJECTIVES Adjectives describe or modify nouns or pronouns. Adjectives add information by describing people, places, or things in a sentence. These words, more than any others, make your essay a unique piece. Use them to describe people, objects, and situations to make the reader understand your point of view and see things the way you have seen them. Too few adjectives will make a personal statement a boring play-byplay that doesn’t tell the reader anything about the writer. C-ADVERBS 190
Adverbs, which describe verbs, are easily spotted because most of them end in -ly, such as slowly, quickly, abruptly. However, the adverb that causes the most errors is not a typical-ly form. Well is commonly confused with its adjective counterpart, good. As an adjective, good is used to describe nouns. In the following sentence, good describes the noun pasta: The pasta ume last night was good. In the following sentence, good describes the verb played, which s incorrect: I played good in the basketball game. The correct word to use in such instances is the adverb well. Written correctly, the sentence would read, “I played well in the basketball game.” PREPOSITIONS Prepositions are connecting words that link a noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence. They are often used to show a relationship of space or time. Examples The box on your desk is your birthday present. The holiday that follows immediately after your birthday is Valentine’s Day. The first sentence uses the preposition on to describe the spatial relationship between the box and the desk. The second sentence uses the preposition after to describe the time relationship between holiday and birthday. On your desk and after your birthday are prepositional phrases. Common Prepositions aboard about above after among around at before behind below beneath beside between by except for from in inside into like of off on outside over to under up upon until with within 42 The two most common problems with prepositions are: 1. Using them unnecessarily Because it is so important in your essay to get to the point concisely, unnecessary prepositions should be avoided. Remember that when two or more prepositions are used together, chances are at least one is unnecessary. Poor form: I cleaned up under the kitchen cabinets. Good form: I cleaned under the kitchen cabinets. Poor form: She likes all sports except for soccer. Good form: She likes all sports except soccer. Poor form: They looked outside of the house for the lost cat. Good form: They looked outside the house for the lost cat. 2. Confusing prepositional phrases Certain words must always be followed by certain prepositions. These necessary prepositions are always used in combination with their respective supported words. Below are two examples of required prepositions—the preposition is in italics and the supported word is underlined. It is important to remember that they must always be used together: You must account for every item in your club’s budget. The meal consists of eight separate courses. Common prepositional phrases: account for agree upon angry with argue about compare to correspond with differ from different than identical to independent of interested in speak with Alternate Endings Of all the rules governing prepositions, none is more famous than: Never end a sentence with preposition!While this rule holds true for many situations, it is not an absolute. It is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition, especially in your essay, if it makes the sentence flow better. For example, in popular speech, it sounds much more natural to say “That’s all I can think of” than “That’s all of which I can think.” 191
The best technique for deciding to keep or remove prepositions at the end of sentences is to use your ear.What would the statement sound like if you kept—or dropped—the preposition? Does it sound like you, or does it sound like a college professor? Prepositions should not be used in an attempt to add importance or weight to your writing. Mechanics CHAPTER 4 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ 43 Many times short questions are ended in prepositions. Here are some acceptable and unacceptable examples. Note that the unacceptable sentences could be improved simply by dropping the preposition at the end. Good Form Does he have anything to worry about? What did you use to make it with? What is the report comprised of ? Poor Form Is the extra-credit project over with? Where is the stadium at? Where do you want to go to? • _ DANGLING PARTICIPLES AND MISPLACED MODIFIERS Dangling participles and misplaced modifiers, though sometimes difficult to recognize, are easily fixed by rearranging word order. A dangling participle is a phrase or clause with a verb ending in -ing that does not refer to the subject of the sentence it modifies. Since it is so critical that your reader understand your point easily and exactly, dangling modifiers (and indeed any ambiguous language) must be avoided. • Incorrect:While working on his English assignment,Tony’s computer crashed. (Was the computer working on the assignment?) • Correct: While Tony was working on his English assignment, his computer crashed. Note that correcting a dangling participle involves adding and/or rearranging the words in a sentence to make the meaning clear. • Incorrect:While practicing outside with the soccer team, the noisy construction job distracted Jim. Correct: While Jim was practicing outside with the soccer team, he was distracted by the noisy construction job. OR The noisy construction job distracted Jim while he was practicing outside with the soccer team. 44 A misplaced modifier is a word or phrase that describes something, but is in the wrong place in the sentence. It isn’t dangling; no extra words are needed; the modifier is just in the wrong place. The danger of misplaced modifiers, as with dangling modifiers, is that they confuse meaning. Incorrect: I had to have the cafeteria unlocked meeting with student government this morning. Did the cafeteria meet with student government? To say exactly what is meant, the modifying phrase “meeting with student government” should be moved to the beginning of the sentence. Correct: Meeting with student government this morning, I had to have the cafeteria unlocked. NOUN AND VERB AGREEMENT Nouns and verbs must agree in number, meaning a singular noun takes a singular verb, and a plural noun takes a plural verb. To achieve subject-verb agreement, first determine whether your subject is singular or plural, and then pair it with the correct verb form. Incorrect: Tim and Fran is a great couple. Correct: Tim and Fran are a great couple. (plural subject takes plural verb) 192
Incorrect: One of my friends are going to your school. Correct: One of my friends is going to yourt school. (singular subject takes singular verb) Agreement may be difficult to determine when the noun follows the verb.Common examples include sentences that begin with there is and there are, and here is and here are.When editing your work, remember to first determine whether your subject is singular or plural, and then match it to the correct verb. Incorrect: There is too many meetings scheduled on Tuesday morning. Correct:There are too many meetings scheduled on Tuesday morning. Incorrect: Here are the report you asked me to write. Correct: Here is the report you asked me to write. Mechanics CHAPTER 4 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ 45 NOUN AND VERB AGREEMENT CHECKLIST The more complex the sentence, the more difficult it is to determine noun/verb agreement. Here are some guidelines that may help you: ✔ If a compound, singular subject is connected by and, the verb must be plural. (Both the 10-speed and the hybrid are appropriate for the bike race.) ✔ If a compound, singular subject is connected by or or nor, the verb must be singular. (Neither the 10-speed nor the hybrid is appropriate for a trail race, however.) ✔ If one plural and one singular subject are connected by or or nor, the verb agrees with the closest subject. (Neither a fast bike nor perfect trails are going to help you to win if you do not train.) _ ACTIVE VERSUS PASSIVE VOICE The active voice is much more effective in conveying your personality through your essay. Not only is the active voice clearer and more direct, but it conveys your meaning more easily. In the active voice, you literally become the source, or cause, of the action. In the passive voice, the subject (most often you) is acted upon. Sentences written in the passive voice tend to be too wordy, or lack focus. For these reasons, it should be used only when necessary. The good news is that passive-voice errors are easy to omit from your writing. Compare these sentences: Active: My friend asked for another helping. Passive: Another helping was asked for by my friend. Active: I misplaced my wallet. Passive:My wallet was misplaced by me. Active: The administration has selected three finalists for the open position. Passive: Three finalists for the open position have been selected by the administration. Note the simplicity and directness of the first sentence in each pair.The second sentences, written in the passive voice, are clunky and noticeably longer. _ SENTENCE STRUCTURE A complete sentence requires a noun and verb, and expresses a fully developed thought. The two most common mistakes at the sentence level are extremes. Sentence fragments stop too quickly; they are phrases that are not whole thoughts.Run-on sentences don’t stop soon enough; they include two complete clauses or sentences. SENTENCE FRAGMENTS A sentence fragment is a group of words that, although punctuated as a sentence, does not express a complete thought. Fragments are often missing a subject or verb, and may be dependent clauses. Fragments also can be phrases or parts of other sentences. Examples At the zoo. Cried a lot. Can’t go to the store. When we finished the game. RUN-ON SENTENCES A run-on sentence is made up of two or more independent clauses or complete sentences 193
placed together into one sentence without proper punctuation. Examples We were hungry and John was tired so we had to stop at the first rest area that we saw. Kim studied hard for the test that’s why he got an A. Patty took flying lessons every Saturday so she couldn’t go to the picnic and she couldn’t go to the graduation party either but she has already signed up for another group of flying lessons because she likes it so much. Here are a few ways to correct run-on sentences. 1. Break up the run-on sentence into two or more complete sentences. 2. Use a comma and a conjunction (and, or, nor, for, so, but, yet) to set apart an independent clause. 3. Break up the sentence by inserting a semi colon between two clauses. 4. Use a dash to separate parts of the sentence. 5. Add a dependent clause (use words such as because, after, since, and while). 46 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ CHAPTER 4 Mechanics Mechanics CHAPTER 4 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ 47 _ VERB TENSE SHIFTS Unnecessary shifts from one tense to another sound unskilled, and may obscure meaning. For instance, when describing an event in the past, all verbs should be in the past tense. This seems like an obvious point, but tense shifts account for a large share of grammatical errors. Examples Incorrect: When we finished our lunch, we decide to take a walk. Correct: When we finished our lunch, we decided to take a walk. Incorrect: Last year the governor said he is campaigning for our candidate. Correct: Last year the governor said he would campaign for our candidate. OR Last year the governor said he was campaigning for our candidate. _ DOUBLE NEGATIVES The use of double negatives is unnecessary and incorrect. As with verb tense shifts, the use of two negatives (such as “I won’t never give up”) in a sentence sounds incompetent, and obscures meaning. Eliminate them from your writing. Incorrect:We hardly never see movies. Correct:We hardly ever see movies. Incorrect: There aren’t no tickets left. Correct: There aren’t any tickets left. Incorrect: Mary doesn’t like neither of those books. Correct: Mary doesn’t like either of those books. Incorrect: Vegans don’t eat dairy products nor meat. Correct: Vegans don’t eat dairy products or meat. TAKE NOTE There are more negatives than just the obvious no, not, never, neither, and nor. Remember that hardly and barely are negatives, too. If you are using those words, you have a negative, so you do not need to double up. 48 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ CHAPTER 4 Mechanics _ PUNCTUATION There are dozens of different punctuation marks in the English language; those covered in this section are the ones that present the most challenges to their users.While the information may seem simple, and has been taught to you numerous times during your education, it pays to review it.With proper punctuation your writing will be more polished and technically correct, and will convey your voice more directly. THE APOSTROPHE Apostrophes (’) are used to indicate ownership and to form contractions. Eight rules cover 194
all of the situations in which they may appear. 1. Add ’s to form the singular possessive, even when the noun ends in s: The school’s lunchroom needs to be cleaned. The drummer’s solo received a standing ovation. Mr. Perkins’s persuasive essay was very convincing. 2. A few plurals not ending in s also form the possessive by adding ’s: The children’s toys were found in every room of the house. The line for the women’s restroom was too long. Men’s shirts come in a variety of neck sizes. 3. Possessive plural nouns already ending in s need only the apostrophe added: The customers’ access codes are confidential. The students’ grades improved each semester. The flight attendants’ uniforms were blue and white. 4. Indefinite pronouns show ownership by the addition of ’s: Everyone’s hearts were in the right place. Somebody’s dog was barking all night. It was no one’s fault that we lost the game. 5. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes, even though some may end in s: Our car is up for sale. Your garden is beautiful. His handwriting is difficult to read. 6. Use an ’s to form the plurals of letters, figures, and numbers used as words, as well as certain expressions of time and money. The expressions of time and money do not indicate ownership in the usual sense: Mechanics CHAPTER 4 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ 49 She has a hard time pronouncing s’s. My street address contains three 5’s. He packed a week’s worth of clothing. The project was the result of a year’s worth of work. 7. Show possession in the last word when using names of organizations and businesses, in hyphenated words, and in joint ownership: Sam and Janet’s graduation was three months ago. I went to visit my great-grandfather’s alma mater. The Future Farmers of America’s meeting was moved to Monday. 8. Apostrophes form contractions by taking the place of the missing letter or number. Do not use contractions in highly formal written presentations. Poor form: We’re going out of town next week. Good form: We are going out of town next week. Poor form: She’s going to write the next proposal. Good form: She is going to write the next proposal. Poor form: My supervisor was in the class of ’89. Good form: My supervisor was in the class of 1989. ITS VERSUS IT’S Unlike most possessives, its does not contain an apostrophe. The word it’s is instead a contraction of the words it is. The second i is removed, and replaced by an apostrophe. When revising your writing, say the words it is when you come across it’s or its. If they make sense, you should be using the contraction. If they don’t, you need the possessive form, its, without an apostrophe. THE COMMA Correct usage of commas (,) is not as critical to the meaning of your sentences as it is with other punctuation marks.However, they can be used to convey your voice as they speed up or slow down the pace of your sentences. Consider the difference in tone of the following example: Sentence A: During my junior year, I attended a conference in Washington, 195
D.C., where student delegates from every state presented their ideas. 50 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ CHAPTER 4 Mechanics Sentence B: During my junior year I attended a conference in Washington, D.C. where student delegates from every state presented their ideas. Sentence A sounds more deliberate, giving a little more information with each clause. Sentence B reads quicker, conveying the information faster and with equal weight on each part. In addition to helping to convey your voice and personality, commas are often misused. There are two common errors that all college-bound students should be aware of: the comma splice, and the serial comma. Comma Splice A comma splice is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two complete sentences. It creates a run-on sentence. To correct a comma splice, you can either: ■ replace the comma with a period, forming two sentences ■ replace the comma with a semicolon ■ join the two clauses with a conjunction such as and, because, or so Comma splice: Our school received an award,we raised the most money for the local charity. Corrected sentence: Our school received an award. We raised the most money for the local charity. OR Our school received an award; we raised the most money for the local charity. OR Our school received an award because we raised the most money for the local charity. Serial Comma A serial comma is the one used last in a list of items, after the word and. For instance, in the following example, the comma after apples is the serial comma: At the store, I bought bananas, apples, and oranges. The lack of a serial comma can cause confusion. In the sentence, Cindy, Ann, and Sally were hired to work in the college counselor’s office, the message is straightforward. But if the serial comma is dropped, it could be understood as Cindy being told that Ann and Sally were hired. Cindy, Ann and Sally were hired to work in the college counselor’s office. Mechanics CHAPTER 4 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ 51 While its use has been debated for centuries, the serial comma clarifies the meaning of sentences. Therefore, you should use it consistently whenever writing a list. THE COLON Colons (:) appear at the end of a clause and can introduce: ■ A list when the clause before the colon can stand as a complete sentence on its own Incorrect: The classes he signed up for include: geometry, physics, American literature, and religion. Correct: He signed up for four classes: geometry, physics, American literature, and religion. ■ A restatement or elaboration of the previous clause Incorrect: Shari is a talented hairdresser: she is also the mother of two children. Correct: Shari is a talented hairdresser: she attends a seminar each month and has been a professional for over twenty years. Incorrect:My teacher wasn’t in class today: he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Correct:My teacher wasn’t in class today: he had to fly to Houston to present a paper. 196
Colons have the effect of sounding authoritative. They present information more confidently and forcefully than if the sentence were divided in two other types of punctuation marks. Consider the following: My teacher wasn’t in class today: he had to fly to Houston to present a paper. My teacher wasn’t in class today. He had to fly to Houston to present a paper. The first example,with the colon, has the tone that conveys,“I know why this happened, and I am going to tell you.” It sounds more authoritative. This can be effective in your essay, but because you never want to appear pompous, it should be used sparingly. THE SEMICOLON Semicolons (;) may be used in two ways: to separate independent clauses,and to separate the items in a list when those items contain commas. 52 HOW TO WRITE GREAT ESSAYS _ CHAPTER 4 Mechanics ■ Use semicolons to separate independent clauses. Case: Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses joined without a conjunction. Example: Four people worked on the project; only one received credit for it. Case: Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses that contain commas, even if the clauses are joined by a conjunction. Example: The strays were malnourished, dirty, and ill; but Liz had a weakness for kittens, so she adopted them all. Case: Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses that are connected with a conjunctive adverb that expresses a relationship between clauses. Example: Victoria was absent frequently; therefore, she received a low grade. ■ Use semicolons to separate items in a series that contain commas. Case: Use a semicolon to show which sets of items go together. Examples: The dates for our meetings are Monday, January 10; Tuesday, April 14;Monday, July 7; and Tuesday, October 11. She has lived in Omaha, Nebraska; Nutley, New Jersey; Amherst,Massachusetts; and Pensacola, Florida. _ CAPITALIZATION Capitalization is necessary both for specific words and to start sentences and quotes.However, many writers overuse it, and thus appear overly casual. There are just six occasions that require capitalization: 1. the first word of a sentence 2. proper nouns (names of people, places, and things) 3. the first word of a complete quotation, but not a partial quotation 4. the first, last, and any other important words of a title 5. languages 6. the pronoun I, and any contractions made with it _ FOR YOUR REVIEW ■ Pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions are the most challenging parts of speech, accounting for a majority of usage errors. Learn the common errors to eliminate them from your writing. ■ A dangling participle is a phrase or clause, using a verb ending in -ing that does not refer to the subject of the sentence it modifies. A misplaced modifier is a word or phrase that describes something, but is in the wrong place in the sentence. Both create ambiguity and can change the meaning of a sentence. ■ Nouns and verbs must agree in number, meaning a singular noun takes a singular verb, and a plural noun takes a plural verb. ■ The active voice is not only clearer and more direct, but it conveys your meaning more easily. Use it instead of the passive voice whenever possible. ■ Avoid the two most common mistakes at the sentence level: sentence fragments 197
and run-on sentences. Be certain each sentence contains one complete thought. ■ Be consistent with verb tenses. Do not shift from one tense to another unless it is necessary. ■ The use of double negatives is unnecessary and redundant. As with verb tense shifts, the use of two negatives (such as “I won’t never give up”) in a sentence sounds incompetent and can obscure meaning. ■ Proper punctuation makes your essay more polished and technically correct, and it helps to convey your voice. ■ There are six occasions that require capitalization. Using capitalization in any other way can make your writing appear too casual, or even sloppy.
Paragraph Development Good paragraph development is a mark of a writer's investment in a topic. With the main idea established, the writer then explores the significance of that topic through one or more methods of development—reflection, explanation, exemplification, definition, etc.—taking a general concept and making it real. General statements, like "Volleyball is a great sport”, or Mediterranean cooking is healthy," become concrete and specific in the well-developed paragraph. The reader learns why the writer believes in an idea. In this module, students will learn techniques of good paragraph development, such as determining when and where more development is needed, and when to add more evidence versus greater depth of explanation or detail. What does a well-developed paragraph look like? A well-developed paragraph is a complete paragraph. It has a controlling idea, whether that idea is declared in a topic sentence in the beginning, middle, or end of the paragraph, or whether the idea is implied. Everything else in the paragraph is there to show the reader the validity and significance of that idea. To see the difference good development makes, just take a look at these example paragraphs, one welldeveloped and the other not so well-developed: At one time or another, everyone who has a car will inevitably use a parking lot. The features of most parking lots are not so different, yellow or white lines glowing on a background of blacktop. It isn’t like anyone would mistake a parking lot for anything else. Rows upon rows of boundaries for individual driving units lined up one after another. You would never look at a parking lot and think to yourself that maybe it is a park or a playground or an airstrip. A parking lot is a parking lot, a place where you drive your car in and drop it off for a stay while you go about your business; similar to the way a cowboy in the old west would tether his horse outside the saloon. The parking lot always has a prominent place right in front of an establishment and sometimes even surrounds the building. Most visitors to San Francisco will list Chinatown as a must-see “tourist” destination. When visiting the area they will be inundated with shops. They’ll probably notice the area is crowded and dirty. The tourist will eat lunch or dinner in one of several Chinese Cuisine restaurants. And more than likely the vacation photos will include a picture of them standing at entrance to China Town, below the traditional Chinese arch. The thoughtful detail in the first paragraph shows a much more engaged writer than the writer of the second paragraph. A seemingly empty topic, parking lots, is made interesting by details like "[a parking lot] is a place where you drive your car in and drop it off for a stay while you go about your business; similar to the way a cowboy in the old west would tether his horse outside the saloon." The author, Rich 198
Motherwell, helps readers re-see a familiar space in passages like this one where he gets readers to realize that we have always needed parking, even before people had cars! The author of the second paragraph, on the other hand, stays at the surface of the topic, providing cliché generalizations about what the tourist will find to do in Chinatown, San Francisco. As a result, readers are only reminded of what they already know; they learn nothing new, receive no insight, and no sense of a writer's mind and voice behind the words. A well-developed paragraph has a clear controlling idea, and detail that brings that idea to life. A welldeveloped paragraph also reflects the mind of the author who is engaged by the topic and who is concerned with communicating his or her own unique way of seeing to the reader. How much development is enough? How does a writer know when development is complete? A writer's decision about completeness will depend on the audience and on the controlling idea for the paragraph. In making decisions about development, a good writer asks, "How much does my audience know about this topic?" "Am I introducing new terms that will be unfamiliar to my audience? The audience will need to have unfamiliar terms defined and new concepts explained in enough detail so that the concepts become clear. And so, two paragraphs with identical arguments can have radically different development plans if the audiences are different: A paragraph discussing the ways massage therapy can help a person recover from muscle injuries will have one kind of development for patients, and another for massage therapy professionals. In addition, the controlling idea determines how much development is needed and how long the paragraph is going to be. Some ideas are complex and will need extensive explanation and/or exemplification; for example, the controlling idea "Democracy is the foundation of a good community" will need extensive explanation and exemplification to be a convincing point. But other ideas can be developed in a sentence or two, as in this example, "A Pie chart help us see where company money is going"; a quick break-down of the chart to explain distribution of funds is all that is really needed here. Some paragraphs are composed of only a single sentence, while some paragraphs are up to a page long. When trying to decide on length. Try and think like your reader. Ask yourself if a reader would benefit from hearing more about a particular point, or if there is already enough information to make the controlling idea seem valid and interesting. Examine every sentence to see if it might deserve further explanation or exemplification. General to Specific & Abstract to Concrete Development... A useful way to think about developing paragraphs is to think about levels of detail. A paragraph should include sentences at varying levels—the topic sentence or controlling idea being the most general or abstract, and supporting sentences having more specific and/or concrete development. S. I. Hayakawa, in his influential book Language in Thought and Action, talks about a "ladder of abstraction" as a tool for thinking about good communication. As Hayakawa points out, we need both abstract and concrete language for communication. Without abstractions and generalizations, we would have a hard time sharing ideas: for example, each of us has our own image of "dog" in our minds, one person may think of her Chihuahua, Bandit; another of his family's German Shepherd, Brutus; another individual may associate all dogs with the vicious Dachsund that bit his ankle. And so, we need the word "dog" in order to communicate and to find common ground, even if the word causes the particularities of Bandit, Brutus, and the biting Dachsund to drop away. With the word "dog," we can talk about dogs as companions, dogs as pack animals, dogs as descendents of wolves, etc., and we can agree on what dogs are generally like. On the other hand, if we stay at a general level, without ever getting specific or concrete, we risk leaving our communications wide open for interpretation. For example, a politican might (quite intentionally) say "If elected, I will increase health care benefits for seniors." Health care benefits is a phrase at a fairly high level of abstraction: it can refer to anything from coverage of hospital expenses, to coverage of prescription drugs, to co-pay expenses. Who knows what the politician is really thinking of in terms of concrete actions? Perhaps the candidate intends to increase Medi-care coverage for prescription drugs, or make emergency care free to everyone over 65; in the abstract statement, what the candidate is thinking is anyone's guess. The politician relies on such abstract statements, and an 199
unquestioning public, to win elections. In a written text, however, a reader will rarely accept a series of generalizations as text worth reading; a reader expects to get concrete information and a new perspective or new insight, and to hear a person's unique voice; and this voice comes out in the details rather than in the broad generalization. In an abstract statement, as Hayakawa points out, words should be "referable" to lower levels of abstraction. A good paragraph goes down the ladder of abstraction to provide these references. The figure to the right demonstrates how one might go down the ladder of abstraction and provide such references in a discussion of music. Now, take a look at a paragraph that goes down through all of the levels of abstraction above: As a teenager in the eighties, I was exposed to exciting new movements in rock music. 80's rock included real extremes: big-hair metal bands like Van Halen and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts arrived on the scene, doing great numbers like "Jump," and "Bad Reputation." And edgy, headbanging punk music took off with bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash pruducing amazing off-the-radio tracks like "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Anarchy in the U.K." and "Lost in the Supermarket." "New Wave" also emerged as a kind of toned down, radio-acceptable, synthesized version of punk music. Some of it was great, a more humorous and satirical version of punk. Everyone knew the words to "Burning Down the House," and "Psycho Killer," by the Talking Heads, and B52's songs like "Planet Clare," and "Rock Lobster," were played at every party. Yet there was some pretty bad new-wave music as well (at least I see that now, in hindsight) by "Haircut" bands like Flock of Seagulls ("I ran") and the Thompson Twins ("Lies"). To write well-developed paragraphs, think in terms of levels of detail. Students sometimes have the mistaken idea that to develop a paragraph they just need to keep adding more examples when what they really need is to take an existing idea to greater depth. 1. Write a paragraph that is complete and developed with concrete detail on the following topic: why cell phones are so popular
2. Write a paragraph that is complete and developed with concrete detail on the following topic: a holiday memory
Patterns of Development A pattern of development in writing refers to the particular strategy writers use to develop ideas. Whether you are aware of it or not, you already use patterns of development to express yourself. When you show someone how to make an omelette, or change a tire, you are using a pattern of development called "process analysis"; when you describe what your roomate looks like when she gets up in the morning you are using "description"; when you offer several reasons why you are late for an appointment, you are 200
using cause and effect; and when you tell the story of your first date, you are using narration. Learning to use these patterns of development in writing is not difficult: you will need to familiarize yourself with key transitional expressions that send a signal to the reader that a particular pattern is being used, and you will need to make conscious decisions about which strategies best develops your ideas. Objectives: By the end of this module students should be able to
Identify common patterns of development used in written works. Use common patterns of development effectively in their own writing.
Seven Types of ParagraphIn their pursuit of clear, concise writing, journalism Development students sometimes develop the habit of writing Annotated examples of narration,everything in short, choppy paragraphs that are exposition, definition,unrelated to one another. Reviewing any good high classification, description,school writing handbook will remind you that process analysis, andconsiderable thought has been given to how longer persuasion. paragraphs can be developed into well focused What follows is an (imaginary) article invented to illustrate many of the "modes of discourse"--the © 1999. May be used by teachers fortraditional methods by which writing is developed. In nonprofit educational use. May not besuccession, the following paragraphs are narration, reprinted elsewhere withoutexposition, definition, classification, description, process analysis, and persuasion. (The process permission. Available at: analysis paragraph has been broken into a bulleted http://www.longleaf.net/ggrow/ list, in typical "how to" style.) Contact. In most writing, these modes are mixed in natural combinations; for example, narration frequently includes description. The following paragraphs have been devised in an attempt to emphasize the characteristics of each mode of writing. The result is somewhat artificial--you would not normally write an article containing one each of seven types of paragraphs!--but I hope it is more memorable than a series of unrelated illustrations. by Gerald Grow, PhD Division of Journalism Florida A&M University presentations of single units of thought.
Around 2 a.m. something woke Charles Hanson up. He lay in the dark listening. Something felt wrong. Outside, crickets sang, tree-frogs chirruped. Across the distant forest floated two muffled hoots from a barred owl. It was too quiet. At home in New Jersey, the nights are filled with the busy, comforting sounds of traffic. You always have the comforting knowledge that other people are all around you. And light: At home he can read in bed by the glow of the streetlight. It was too quiet. And much too dark. Even starlight failed to penetrate the 80-foot canopy of trees the camper was parked beneath. It was the darkest dark he had ever seen. He felt for the flashlight beside his bunk. It was gone. He found where his pants were hanging and, as he felt the pockets for a box of matches, something rustled in the leaves right outside the window, inches from his face. He heard his wife, Wanda, hold her breath; she was awake, too. Then, whatever, was outside in the darkness also breathed, and the huge silence of the night seemed to come inside the camper, stifling them. It was then he decided to pack up and move to a motel. Comments on narration:
• • •
Normally chronological (though sometimes uses flashbacks) A sequential presentation of the events that add up to a story. A narrative differs from a mere listing of events. Narration usually contains characters, a setting, a conflict, and a resolution. Time and place and person are normally established. In this paragraph, the "story" components are: a protagonist (Hanson), a setting (the park), a goal (to camp), an obstacle (nature), a climax (his panic), and a resolution (leaving). Specific details always help a story, but so does interpretive language. You don't just lay the words on the page; you point them in the direction of a story. This narrative serves as the opening anecdote that illustrates the topic of the story
This family was a victim of a problem they could have avoided-a problem that, according to Florida park rangers, hundreds of visitors suffer each year. "Several times a month," ranger Rod Torres of O'Leno State Park said, "people get scared and leave the park in the middle of the night." Those people picked the wrong kind of park to visit. Not that there was anything wrong with the park: The hikers camped next to them loved the wild isolation of it. But it just wasn't the kind of place the couple from New Jersey had in mind when they decided to camp out on this trip through Florida. If they had known about the different kinds of parks in Florida, they might have stayed in a place they loved. Comments on exposition:
Exposition is explanatory writing Exposition can be an incidental part of a description or a narration, or it can be the heart of an article Aside from clarity, the key problem with exposition is credibility. What makes your explanation believable? Normally, writers solve this problem by citing authorities who have good credentials and good reason to be experts in the subject. This paragraph also happens to serve as the justifier or "nut graf" for the little article: the paragraph that, after an indirect opening, specifies the topic of the article, why it is important, and what is to come.
"Park" is difficult to define in Florida, because there are so many kinds of parks. Basically, a park is a place to go for outdoor recreation-to swim, picnic, hike, camp, walk the dog, play tennis, paddle your canoe, and, in some places take rides in miniature trains or swish down a waterslide. Florida has a rich variety of parks, ranging from acres of RVs ringed around recreation halls, to impenetrable mangrove wilderness. To make things more complicated, not all of them are called "parks," and even the ones called "parks" come in several varieties. Comments on definition:
Never define anything by the "according to Webster's" method. Meaning is found in the world, not in the dictionary. Bring the world into your story and use it to define your terms. Saying what something is NOT can help readers; but make a strong effort to say what it IS.
O'Leno is a good example of a state park in Florida. Surrounded by the tall, shaded woods of a beautiful hardwood forest, the Santa Fe River disappears in a large, slowly swirling, tree-lined pool. After appearing intermittently in scattered sinkholes, the river rises three miles downstream in a big boil, then continues on to meet the Suwannee and the sea. Nearby, stands of cypress mirror themselves in the still waters, walls of dense river swamp rise before you, sudden sinkholes open in the woodlands-rich with cool ferns and mosses. Farther from the river, expanses of longleaf pinelands stretch across rolling hills. In the midst of this lovely setting, you find 65 campsites, 18 rustic cabins, and a pavilion for group meetings. A diving platform marks a good place to swim in the soft, cool waters of the Santa Fe, and canoeing up this dark river is like traveling backwards in time in the direction of original Florida. Comments on description:
Description is not what you saw, but what readers need to see in order to imagine the scene, person, object, etc. Description requires you to record a series of detailed observations. Be especially careful to make real observations. The success of a description lies in the difference between what a reader can imagine and what you actually saw and recorded; from that gap arises a spark of engagement. Use sensory language. Go light on adjectives and adverbs. Look for ways to describe action. Pay special attention to the sound and rhythm of words; use these when you can. Think that your language is not so much describing a thing as describing a frame around the thing--a frame so vivid that your reader can pour his or her imagination into it and "see" the thing--even though you never showed it. Portray. Also evoke. The key problem in description is to avoid being static or flat. Adopt a strategy that makes your description into a little story: move from far to near, left to right, old to new, or, as in this example, down a river, to give your description a natural flow. Think of description as a little narrative in which the visual characteristics unfold in a natural, interesting, dramatic order. Think of what pieces readers need, in what order, to construct a scene. Try making the description a little dramatic revelation, like watching an actor put on a 210
Forest and river dominate O'Leno State Park. By contrast, Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area, near Fort Lauderdale, is dominated by the oily bodies of sun-worshippers who crowd into it every summer weekend. Where O'Leno gives you so much quiet you can hear the leaves whispering, Lloyd Beach is a place of boisterous activity. You can walk a few yards in O'Leno and pass beyond every sign of human civilization. When you walk at Lloyd Beach, you have to be careful to step over the picnic baskets, umbrellas, jam boxes, and browning bodies. At night, O'Leno wraps itself with the silence of crickets and owls. Lloyd Beach is busy with fishermen till well past midnight. If you want to fish near town, or dive into the busy bustle of an urban beach, Lloyd Beach is the place to go. But if you want to stand at the edge of civilization and look across time into an older natural world, O'Leno is the park to visit. Comments on comparison:
There is a helpful technique for writing a comparison. If you follow it, your comparisons will benefit. Before writing a comparison, draw up a chart and fill it in, to make certain you have all the elements necessary to write a comparison. As in the model below, list the two items being compared, and the criteria by which they will be compared. If you do not make such a chart, there is a chance you will have a hole in your comparison. O'Leno Lloyd Beach quiet noisy solitude busy crowds available river to swim Atlantic beach and canoe forest abundant, forest type beach fish and seabirds
Criteria noise people water resources natural features wildlife
Then choose whether to to "down the columns" or "across the rows" in writing your description. Either describe all of O'Leno and compare it to all of Lloyd Beach by working "down" columns two and three, or take the first category, "noise" and compare the two parks in terms of it, then the next category, and so on "across the rows." Once you commit to a "down" or "across" strategy, stick with it till the end of the comparison. 212
[Note: I couldn't think of a way to write the following paragraphs that followed naturally from the previous material. For the next paragraph, pretend you are reading an article on how to put up a particular brand of tent.] When you find the park you are looking for, you will need to make camp. One person can set up the FamilyProof Tent, though it is easier with two, yet almost impossible with three or more. Here's how:
First, clear a 9 by 9 foot area of snags, limbs, and anything that might pierce the bottom of the tent. Unfold the tent so that the corners of the waterproof bottom form a square. Peg down the corners of the bottom. Next, snAP Test, Together all four external tentpoles (they are held together by shock cords to ake sure you get the pieces matched up). Place a pole near each of the pegs. Thread each pole through the two loops leading toward the top of the tent. After you have all four poles in place, lift one of the poles. While holding the pole up, pull its guyrope tight and peg the guyrope down, so that the pole is held up by the guyrope and the pegs on opposing sides of the tent bottom. Lift the pole on the opposite side of the tent in the same way, but this time, fit it into the upper end of the standing pole before securing its guywire. Assemble the two remaining tent poles in a similar manner. Finally, unroll the front flAP Test, To form an awning. Prop up the awning with the two remaining poles and secure them with guyropes.
Now you are ready to move in. Comments on process analysis:
In describing how a process happens or how to perform a series of actions, always think of your readers: can they follow this? Analyze the process into a series of steps. Put the steps into sequence. Then isolate the steps: number then, use bullets, put them in separate paragraphs Use illustrations keyed to the steps when appropriate: people can often read diagrams better than they can read lists of steps Always 214 an outsider to read your process ask
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Before you go camping in Florida, plan ahead. Don't wind up in the wilds when you want to be near Disney World, and don't wind up on a concrete RV pad when you really want the forest primeval. Find out what parks are available, and what they are like. Get good information on what to expect, and what your options are. This can make all the difference in the quality of your vacation. Comments on persuasion:
This paragraph is but a small example of the kind of writing used widely in editorials and columns, and it uses a direct, exhortatory approach: Believe Me and Do It! This persuasive paragraph also serves as the ending to this little article and brings a sense of closure in the form of, "OK, now get up and act!" To persuade people to change their minds or take an action, more is needed than your opinion or sense of conviction. You need to supply them with the information, analysis, and context they need to form their own opinions, make their own judgments, and take action. Remember: Readers are interested in only one opinion--their own. If you can help them formulate and deepen that opinion, they will be glad they read your article.
Top Gerald Grow's Homepage at <http://www.longleaf.net/ggrow>
Description Subjective Description: Writers use descriptive paragraphs most often in fiction. Just think of lines like "It was a dark and stormy night," or "The mountains loomed above them." Description of time and place draws readers into other worlds and sets the stage where a story can unfold. Description of characters, their appearance, mannerisms, and utterances, helps us imagine what people are like, as in this description of Caroline Meeber by Theodore Dreiser in his novel Sister Carrie: Caroline, or Sister Carrie, as she had been half afffectionately termed by the family, was possessed of a mind rudimentary in its power of observation and analysis. Self-interest with her was high, but not strong. It was nevertheless, her guiding characteristic. Warm with the fancies of youth, pretty with the insipid 215
prettiness of the formative period, possessed of a figure promising eventual shapeliness and an eye alight with certain native intelligence, she was a fair example of the middle American class . . . " (Dreiser 1) In this type of description, the author is describing an impression of what is observed. What is described is subjective: the reader experiences the world as it appears to the author or the narrator in a story and learns what is important to the person recording the description. Objective Description: Description is also used in reportorial and scientific writing, or other writing in which the goal is to present an objective picture of an object or scene. In these writing situations, the writer attempts to stay away from emotional impressions or responses, and instead report what is seen, as a video camera records a scene, as in the following example: The Acer barbatum is a small to medium-sized, deciduous tree usually ranging from 15–25 m. (50–80 ft.) tall when mature. Bark is light gray and smooth on younger trees, becoming ridged and furrowed with age. Leaves are opposite and shallowly to deeply palmately lobed, with a few blunt teeth but no serrations. The leaf sinuses are rounded, unlike those of red maple (Acer rubrum) which are sharply Vshaped. Also, the sides of terminal leaf lobes are more or less parallel, while those of red maple are widest at the base, tapering to the tip. . . . (Sieberling) It is important to note that while being objective may be a writer's goal, getting past biases can be difficult. What a writer notices and chooses to describe as well as what a writer leaves out of a description is influenced by many factors: the purpose for writing, how the writer feels about the subject, the writer's age, ethnic and cultural background, cultural contexts for writing, and gender, too. Therefore, part of writing good objective description, is being aware of one's own biases. Writing Description: Whether your goal is to write objective or subjective description, your paragraph should have a clear controlling idea so that your reader knows what to do with your descriptive details. In subjective description, that controlling idea should be a dominant impression of a particular scene or person. Supporting details should help the reader understand the dominant impression. For example, "It was a gloomy morning," is an example of a dominant impression. Good supporting details could include "The morning air felt damp and cold. People huddled inside their coats." In an objective description, the controlling idea should identify the object, scene, or person to be described as objectively as possible and the descriptive details of the paragraph should add substance to the main point. Nothing should be included in the paragraph that does not support the controlling idea. In both subjective and objective description, organizing details around clear controlling ideas is essential. You may experience a scene or a person as a holistic impression; however, if your reader is to understand what your observations mean, the details must be organized in a meaningful way on the page. Narration A narrative is a story. As a method of development, storytelling can be very effective for the simple reason that people love to hear stories, and will tune in to a story when their eyes glaze over at other styles of writing. Even when your purpose is to write an essay that is primarily to inform, analyze or argue, a narrative paragraph can be effective at drawing the reader in and establishing your voice in the essay. For instance, at the beginning of an essay on the problems caused by excessive instant messaging by young teens, a writer might tell a brief story about the limited options she had for socializing outside of school in the 1970's to illustrate how substantially socializing patterns have changed.
Writing a Narrative Paragraph: Action Verbs and Transitional Expressions: A story takes place over a period of time and is built around people doing things—thinking, talking, running, etc. Therefore, narrative paragraphs are characterized by words that show action and words that show sequence. Consider the folllowing narrative paragraph from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, paying particular attention to the action verbs and transitional expressions to show sequence: I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By and by I begin to hear guns a good ways off. When I came in sight of the log store and the woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees and brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the forks of a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn't. For the most part, logical sequence of actions supplies the narrative sequence: "I took off. . . I heard guns . . . I worked along under the trees." By virtue of the linear arrangement of these sentences on the page, the reader assumes the actions take place in sequence. However, here and there, transitions are needed to emphasize important time relationships, as in the phrase "by and by." Below are some of the common transitional expressions used in narrative writing: meanwhile, eventually, soon, later, first, second, then, finally, also, besides, furthermore, moreover, in addition, too These phrases do call attention to themselves, so it is wise to use logic most of the time to show sequence. The Controlling Idea in Narrative Paragraphs: The controlling idea in a narrative paragraph presents some difficulty for developing writers in that they think of a story as a series of events without natural breaks. However, a controlling idea is important, even in a narrative paragraph, because it gives the reader information about what to do with the details that follow. In a narrative paragraph it is useful to think of paragraphs as scenes, and the controlling idea as a kind of wide angle shot on the scene. Further shots take the reader into the scene emphasizing details and actions that will take place in that scene. For example, in the previous paragraph from Huckleberry Finn, the controlling idea for the scene is "I took up the river road as hard as I could put." What follows is what happened when he took off and went up the river road—he hides in a tree from the men with guns. A new paragraph will begin when the scene changes, or when our attention is directed toward a new event —which in the case of Huckleberry Finn is the arrival of the men with guns. Concrete and Specific Detail: Descriptive details in a narrative paragraph are essential to a good story. Details help readers to connect to the world the author envisions. Good writers, therefore, spend a lot of time trying to find the right words for their meaning, choosing concrete and specific expressions, rather than abstract or general ones. Consider the difference between the general and specific, and abstract and concrete expressions below to see what a difference the right words can make: Specific / General blue hamster / pet banana squash / vegetable red and white umbrella with a broken spoke / rain gear Concrete / Abstract He kissed her and smiled into her eyes. / He loved her. 217
Her hands were shaking and she was afraid her knees would not support her. / She was scared. As the sun passed under the horizon, the sky turned hot pink and gold, and rays of brighter gold fanned across the sky into the high clouds above. / It was a beautiful sunset. The concrete and specific expressions get a reader's attention far more effectively than the abstract and general expressions do. A reader can imagine specific things far more readily than general concepts. Part of your revision process should included finding concrete and specific expressions for your ideas.
Process Analysis A process analysis is a discussion of the steps one must take to achieve a particular end. Some process analysis writing is intended for an audience that needs to learn how to perform a process themselves, for example, fixing a bent bicycle wheel, quitting smoking, finding a good job. Other process analysis writing is informative rather than instructional; examples of this type include how to resolve the healthcare crisis, and how to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Some process analyses work on both levels, for example, a discussion about how to respond to global warming will probably be both instructional and informative: individuals can take many steps to control global warming, but other steps must be taken by corporations and governments as well; the reader reads such texts for understanding as well as instruction. Writing a Process Analysis Sequence: Typically, the steps in the process being described happen in sequence over time, and so are presented in chronological order. Process analysis paragraphs also depend on transitional expressions such as "first," "second," "then," and "finally," to indicate the sequence in which steps are to be taken. Audience: Audience awareness is extremely important in process analysis writing. The writer must have a clear sense of the audience in order to know what to include, what to leave out, how technical to be, and how formal or informal to be. Asking questions before beginning writing is key: What does my audience already know about this topic? Which key terms and concepts might they already be familiar with? Which terms will I need to define? Consider the difference in these two descriptions of how to build a web page: Example 1: Hello. My name is Joe and I'm going to give you a few simple lessons on how to make a Web Page. I must warn you though, this is for "all wet behinda ears" Newbies. If you're at all experienced at this sort of thing, you'll probably find this tutorial a bit of a yawner. You'll be happy to learn that it's really pretty simple. The basic idea is this... A web page is nothing more than a file, a HTML file to be exact. It's called HTML because web page documents have the file extension .html or .htm. HTML stands for Hyper Text Mark-up Language. (If you are unclear about this file extension stuff, then you really are newbie!! Take a quick detour for a few ramblings on the subject). (Barta) Example 2: 218
There are basically two ways to make a web page. The first way is to create the page(s) offline and then upload them to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) via FTP. The second way is to create your web page(s) online using a Telnet program by accessing your UNIX account, if you have one. If you are creating your web page(s) offline, do so in any text editing or word processing document. Make sure that when you save your document, you save it as a "text", "plain text" or "text only" document. Otherwise it will not be read properly by a web browser. Once you have created your page(s), you will need to contact your ISP about how to go about uploading them to your server. (Web Page) Both examples show how to build a web page, but the author of the second example assumes his audience has a great deal more starting knowledge on the topic than the author of the first example. The second author assumes the reader is familiar with terms like "FTP," "Telnet," and "server." The first author assumes his audience has no knowledge of key terms. In addition, the authors take different tones with the reader. The first author is very informal and friendly (even including a smiling cartoon of himself); the second author is formal and more detached. When writing your own process analysis paragraph, take the time to decide who you think your audience is going to be, and write for that audience. Division & Classification Division and classification are related methods for organizing objects or information. In division, we divide a general category of things into smaller subcategories. For example, "There are three main problems associated with living across from a highschool: noise, trash, and traffic congestion." In classification, we develop criteria for the items in a subcategory based on relationships between the items. Consider your favorite music store: the compact discs are organized into many subcategories such as country, rock, hip-hop, dance music, world music, classical, jazz, soundtracks, etc. We understand that Garth Brooks recordings will be in the country music category because we know that Garth Brooks' music shares certain characteristics with other music in the group: a guitar as the main instrument, a country twang in his vocals, themes of heartache, homesickness, country life, etc. Classification sometimes refers to a ranking system by which things or persons are evaluated. For example, a classification system is used in the military to rank officers, and hotels are ranked and classified according to quality, cleanliness, and other features. Neighborhoods are ranked by prospective home buyers according to criteria such as schools, crime rate, noise, etc. If you are asked to write a classification paragraph or essay, be sure to examine the writing prompt to see if your instructor is looking for you to develop a complete classification system that allows one to evaluate items according to specific criteria. Division and classification make it easy for individuals to locate what they are looking for, but these organizational methods are also useful for understanding complex problems or issues: For example, by dividing cancer into more than 100 different types, medical professionals are better able to analyze the disease; and by looking at different groups suffering from poverty—for example, the elderly, the sick, and those who are unable to find work—we are better able to combat the crisis. Using Division and Classification in Your Writing: To use division and classification successfullly, you must first have a strong sense of purpose. Without this sense of purpose, your system for dividing and/or classifying information may not meet your needs. For example, if you pack for a camping trip without taking the context of your trip in mind, you could end up with all the wrong things; you could have sleepwear suited for a warm bed rather than a cold forest floor, or uncomfortable street shoes to hike in rather than hiking boots. In writing an essay involving division and/or classification, knowing your goal is also important. For example, a student might write an essay about the problems created in society by the cell phone; for this student, dividing these problems into categories—cell phones as a social problem, and cell phones as a cause of accidents and physical 219
injury—will help the student develop a clear argument. Classifying cell phones according to size, price, convenience, and appearance would not be an effective system for this argument. Topic sentence in division and classification paragraphs: Typically, in the topic sentence of a division paragraph (or in the thesis of an essay that relies on division as the primary method of development) writers will use enumeration to prepare the reader for the content, as in "There are two main problems associated with . . . " or "We can proceed in one of three ways." In a classification paragraph, the topic sentence might also involve enumeration, but the emphasis is likely to be on the ranking of the different divisions, or the criteria that chacterize items in a group, for example, "Most states recognize two types of murder," or "Ponds have several characteristics that differentiate them from lakes." Checklist for division and classification paragraphs:
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Have you clearly identified your purpose for writing and using the division and / or classification techniques of development? Do the categories suit your topic sentence or thesis? Is each category distinct and separate from the other categories? Are you using parallel structure to create categories? That is, are the categories of the same kind and at the same level of generality? (See our module on Parallel Structure and the page on using coordination to outline an essay in the module on Coordination and Subordination for more information.) Illustration
You may associated the word "illustration" with images that accompany a story in a picture book; in illustrated books, the picture helps to illuminate or clarify the meaning in the text. Illustration also refers more generally to clarification through exemplification. Writers use examples to make a general idea clear—to illustrate an idea. The illustration may be one long, extended example, or it may be several short examples. It may be a story, an anecdote, a quotation, or a statistic. The key to a good illustration, however, no matter which form it takes, is that it sheds light on the general idea. Consider the following examples: I am surprised that Margot, who never lets her hair down, got so crazy last night. Yet as Einstein says, "Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish." Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. (Winston Churchill) I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas? (Jean Kerr) Using illustration in your writing: Once you have a clear sense of an idea you want to illustrate, you need to decide on the form of illustration you will use: A series of examples or statistical information can be persuasive, as in the following example, Modern humans are bacteria-killing machines. We assassinate microbes with hand soap, mouthwash and bathroom cleaners. It feels clean and right. 220
But some scientists say we're overdoing it. All this killing may actually cause diseases like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and even diabetes. The answer, they say, is counterintuitive: Feed patients bacteria. (Keim) In each paragraph, the main idea is developed through a list of concrete examples, making the idea clear and real. A single, long illustration allows you to get in depth and explore facets of an idea. This technique is useful if you are exploring a complex idea, as in the following illustration from an essay on e-voting. The writer uses the story of Bev Harris' discovery of easy vote database access to illustrate how hackable computer vote databases can be: In January 2003, voting activist Bev Harris was holed up in the basement of her three-story house in Renton, Washington, searching the Internet for an electronic voting machine manual, when she made a startling discovery. . . . "There was a lot of stuff that shouldn't have been there," Harris said. . . . . Harris discovered that she could enter the vote database using Microsoft Access -- a standard program often bundled with Microsoft Office -- and change votes without leaving a trace. Diebold hadn't password-protected the file or secured the audit log, so anyone with access to the tabulation program during an election -- Diebold employees, election staff or even hackers if the county server were connected to a phone line -- could change votes and alter the log to erase the evidence. "It was getting scarier and scarier," Harris said. "I was thinking we have an immense problem here that's much bigger than me." Over the past year, doubts about the accuracy and integrity of e-voting equipment have been growing, thanks to Harris' discovery. (Zetter) You may also choose to use quotations to illustrate an idea. This technique is useful when you are writing a literary analysis, or a biography. Consider this paragraph about Caeser Chavez from Wikipedia: Chávez was an ethical vegan and vocal advocate of animal rights. He stated, "I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings." He also said, "Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves." (Wikipedia) Definition In a definition paragraph, the writer's goal is to help the reader understand new terms or concepts, or to come to new understanding of terms they may be familiar with. Definition is very important in the sciences, where the terminology is extensive and discipline-specific. In defining scientific terms, a writer should be as objective as possible, and when impressions are essential, the writer should strive to use analogies and impressions that the reader can readily identify with. In the humanities, on the other hand, definitions can be more subjective. A writer may wish to define complex terms such as "heartache," "luck," or "democracy" in a personal way. Compare the following scientific definition with a highly subjective definition: Scientific Definition: Bacterial endocarditis occurs when bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia) lodge on abnormal heart valves or other damaged heart tissue. Certain bacteria normally live on parts of your body, such as the mouth and upper respiratory system, the intestinal and urinary tracts, and the skin. Some surgical and dental procedures cause a brief bacteremia. Bacteremia is common after many invasive procedures, but only certain bacteria commonly cause endocarditis. ("Bacterial") 221
Subjective Definition: . . . “[I]diot” is not a nice word to call somebody, and I find myself asking, as Mr. Welch did of Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Throughout my life, I have had to struggle to keep from thinking of myself in the limiting way that word implies. So, for the record, I would like it known that I am not an “idiot.” I am a person who suffers from idiocy. Nobody knows what it is like to deal with crippling bouts of idiocy while trying to lead a normal life. The last thing I need is for somebody to make it harder by pointing out what an “idiot” I am. (Frazer) The second paragraph is taken from an essay-length definition of "idiocy" by Ian Frazer. He goes on to give examples of his idiocy and then conclude that his idiocy is just not his fault. Writing Definitions: To write a definition paragraph (or essay), a writer must identify the term being defined, provide a basic or general definition, and then provide clear detail to support the definition. A definition can be developed in a number of ways. The method(s) you choose should be determined by the term you are defining. Below are some common methods of definition: By characteristics or features: Scientific definitions typically rely on this type of definition. Physical features as well as behaviors (as in animal or cell behavior) may be a part of this type of definition. By function: how something works, or what it does can be an important part of definition. By what it is not: Ironically, we can get a pretty good sense of what something is like, by learning what it is not, or what it is lacking. By what it is similar to: Comparison and analogy help us understand things that are unfamiliar to us. By example: Giving examples illustrating what the term means can be highly effective, as in the above definition of "idiocy." By its origins: Providing a history of what a term has meant can help us understand its current meaning. For example, the slang term "wimp" comes from the term "wimple," which refers to a head scarf women wore in mediaeval Europe. Exploring the evolution of the term could yield interesting insight into the connotations of the contemporary term. By its effect: Discussing what effects the subject produces is important with certain subjects or in certain contexts. For example, in an essay on global warming, a definition of CO2 emissions emphasizing the consequences of these emissions to the environment would be important. Cause & Effect A cause and effect development techniques are typically discussed together. However, in a particular paragraph, one or the other will be emphasized. A paragraph emphasizing the causes of something typically begins with an effect; the purpose of the paragraph is to explore how that effect came to be—to show what caused it. In a paragraph emphasizing the effects of something, a writer begins with a particular cause, then explores the consequences or effects of this cause. Look at the examples below: paragraph emphasizing causes: Several factors contributed to the instability of the economy today. paragraph emphasizing effect: Jack should never have quit his job, for now he is really in trouble.
Writing a cause & effect paragraph or essay: In a cause and/or effect paragraph, the writer needs to know which factor to emphasize: causes or effects, and why it is important to discuss a cause and effect relationship in the first place. It is not Ok to write "There are several causes and effects for . . . " A controlling idea like this merely establishes a fact; no purpose has been identified for discussing the cause and effect relationship. Using transition words to emphasize cause and effect relationships between ideas is useful. Words and phrases showing cause: because, since, is due to, is caused by Words and phrases showing consequence: as a result, consequently, therefore, it follows, then, for this reason, Analysis In an analysis paragraph, the goal is to understand a subject by examining its parts. For example, a writer might analyze the setting in a short story to better understand the theme of the story, or a student in an anthropology class might write an analysis of broken pottery shards found on the site of an 18th century dwelling to support conclusions about the wealth and status of the family who lived on the site, or a detective might write an analysis of evidence found at a crime scene to support a conclusion about the perpetrator of the crime. Take a look at the following example of an analysis of setting in the novel Hard Times. The author analyzes scenes from the text to support an interpretation of their significance in the larger context of the novel: In Hard Times, Charles Dickens suggests that everything in the sooty, dismal factory town, "Coketown," is severely workful and practical. Yet, there are moments when the city becomes fantastic and disorienting, the stuff of strange dreams: the lights of factories make the factories seem like fantastic fairy palaces, in the moonlight the steam-engines cast shadows on the walls which seem like the shadows of the Titans, mythological giants; the looms in the factories seem a forest, and the smoke from the chimneys is like coiled serpents, and, of course, the steam engines themselves, lumbering up and down are melancholy, mad elephants. The overall argument here is that Charles Dickens wants readers to see 19th century factory towns as strange, disorienting places. The writer presents several examples as evidence for this interpretation. Writing an Analysis Paragraph: Strong analysis depends on a clear sense of purpose, solid evidence, and careful explanation of the significance of the evidence. The first thing a writer must do in writing the analytical paragraph is develop a sense of confidence about what should be asserted about a subject. To get to this point of confidence takes hard work: rereading a text or examining a subject several times to become familiar with the contents, doing research, taking notes, and then deciding what the evidence suggests. Once a writer has developed an interpretation of or conclusion about a subject, evidence must be selected that best supports the interpretation or conclusion. Finally, the writer needs to present the evidence in an orderly way and provide enough explanation of the evidence for the reader to understand how it relates to and supports the writer's idea. Analogy Analogy can be highly effective for extended definitions because in analogy, one explains something that is difficult to understand through comparison with something that is more readily understood. For example, a complex experience like falling in love might be explained in a rose analogy. A rose blooms, it is delicate and beautiful, a rare beauty in nature; but it also has thorns, and eventually dies. Rather a cynical view of love in the end, if one chooses to emphasize the thorns of the rose. There are no perfect analogies; all analogies break down at some point; however, in spite of this fact, analogies are quite 223
useful. Consider Neil Postman's analogy between a certain kind of preachy television commercial and religious parables that "put forward a concept of sin, intimations of the way to redemption, and a vision of Heaven": The narrative structure of the Parable of the Ring around the Collar is, indeed, comfortably traditional. The story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A married couple is depicted in some relaxed setting—a restaurant, say—in which they are enjoying each other's company and generally having a wonderful time. But then a waitress approaches their table, notices that the man has a dirty collar, stares at it boldly, sneers with cold contempt, and announces to all within hearing the nature of his transgression. The man is humiliated and glares at his wife with scorn, for she is the source of his shame. She, in turn, assumes an expression of self-loathing mixed with a touch of self-pity. This is the parable's beginning: the presentation of the problem. The parable continues by showing the wife at home using a detergent that never fails to eliminate dirt around the collars of men's shirts. She proudly shows her husband what she is doing, and he forgives her with an adoring smile. This is the parable's middle: the solution of the problem. Finally, we are shown the couple in the restaurant once again, but this time they are free of the waitress's probing eyes and bitter social chastisement. This is the parable's end: the moral, the explication, the exegeses. From this, we should draw the proper conclusion. . . . As demonstrated in the Ring Parable, there is a path to redemption, but it can be entered only on two conditions. The first requires that you be open to advice or social criticism from those who are more enlightened. In the Ring parable, the waitress serves the function of counselor, although she is, to be sure, exacting and very close to unforgiving. In some parables, the adviser is rather more sarcastic than severe. But in lost parables, as for example in all sanitary napkin, mouthwash, shampoo, and aspirin commercials, the advisers are amiable and sympathetic, perhaps all too aware of their own vulnerability on other matters. The parable is highly useful in explaining the stress such television commercials cause the viewer. Writing an analogy: Writing analogy is one of the more difficult forms of writing, but it can also be a lot of fun. A good way to get started is to use the phrase (subject) is like . . . Search your brain for the features of your subject and see if you can think of other subjects that share these features. Take a look at the famous analogies below to see how the process works . . . Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery. —Andy Warhol No matter how much Bill Gates may claim otherwise, he missed the Internet, like a barreling freight train that he didn't hear or see coming. —Jim Clark Finally, when developing your analogy, make sure that there are no key features of the items being compared that are obviously incompatible, or the analogy won't work. As mentioned earlier, every analogy eventually breaks down, and that is to be expected, but key features of the items being compared should be present in both subjects. 1. Write a paragraph on the topic of your choice using narration to develop your idea. Answer given: 2. Write a paragraph on the topic of your choice using illustration to develop your idea. Answer given: 3. Write a paragraph on the topic of your choice using analogy to develop your idea. Answer given: Another important element of a good paragraph is unity. Every good paragraph has a unity, which means that only one main idea is discussed. For example, if your paragraph is about the advantages of owning a compact car, discuss only that. Do not discuss the disadvantages. Furthermore, it 224
is a good idea for beginning academic writer to discuss only one advantage, such as gas economy, in each paragraph. If you begin to discuss another advantage, start a new paragraph. Sometimes it is possible to discuss two or even three aspects of the same idea in one paragraph if they are closely related to each other. For example, you could discuss gas economy and low maintenance costs in the same paragraph because they are closely related, but you should not discuss both gas economy and easier parking in the same paragraph because they are not closely related. The second part of unity is that every supporting sentence must directly explain or prove the main idea that is stated in the topic sentence. Do not include any information that does not directly support the topic sentence. Sometimes students write supporting sentences that are "off the topic." These are called irrelevant sentences For example, if you are writing a paragraph about the high cost of college tuition, you could mention inflation' as a factor. However, if you write several sentences about inflation, you are getting off the topic, and your paragraph will not have unity, II. PRACTICE A. Study the three paragraphs that follow. All of them discuss the same topic in which paragraph has unity and which two do not? Which paragraph discusses more than one topic? Which paragraph has irrelevant sentences? Paragraph 1 The HIV/AIDS epidemic is still growing explosively in most parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe, HIV is spreading rapidly in countries that had almost no cases a few years ago. In China, there were an estimated 10,000 HIV-infected persons at the end of 1993, and this total grew ten-fold, to 100,000, by the end of 1995. In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic rages on." In Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, 10 percent of the women visiting postnatal clinics in urban areas are infected with HIV, and in some areas, the rate is 40 percent. Mothers can give the HIV, virus to their children during pregnancy and childbirth or when breast-feeding. The virus is also transmitted through blood and blood products. For example, drug users who share needles may become infected. The main method of transmission is, of course, unprotected sex, which accounts for 75 to 85 percent of infections. Paragraph 2 The HIV/AIDS epidemic is still growing explosively in most parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe, HIV is spreading rapidly in countries that had almost no cases a few years ago. In China, there were an estimated 10,000 HIV IV infected persons at the end of 1993, and this total grew ten-fold, to 100,000, by the end of 1995. In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic rages on. In Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, 10 percent of the women visiting postnatal clinics in urban areas are infected with HIV and in some areas, the rate is 40 percent. Around the world, HIV infection rates are skyrocketing among sex workers.' In Nairobi, Kenya, 80 percent of sex workers are infected, and in Vietnam, the rate of infection climbed from 9 percent to 38 percent between 1992 and 1995. These statistics illustrate with frightening clarity that HIV/AIDS is still a major health problem in most areas of the world. Paragraph 3 The HIV/AIDS epidemic is still growing explosively in most parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe, HIV is spreading rapidly in countries that had almost no cases a few years ago. In China, there were an estimated 10,000 HIV infected persons at the end of 1993, and this total grew ten-fold, to 100,000, by the end of 1995. There is evidence that in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, HIV infection rates are declining, at least among males. This is a result of a combination of prevention methods. In the countries of sub Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic rages on. In Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, 10 percent of the women visiting postnatal clinics in urban areas are infected with HIV, and in some areas, the rate is 40 percent. Although there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, new medicines are available that prolong the lives of people with HIV. 23 B. The following short essay has not been divided into paragraphs, but 225
it should contain six: an introductory paragraph, four body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. STEP 1 Read the entire essay once or twice. STEP 2 Decide where each new paragraph should begin- (Where does the author begin to discuss a different topic?) STEP 3 Underline the first sentence of each paragraph. Culture, Logic, and Rhetoric Logic, which is basis of rhetoric, comes from culture; it is not universal. Rhetoric, therefore, is not universal either but varies from culture to culture. The rhetorical system of one language is neither better nor worse than the rhetorical system of another language, but it is different. English logic and English rhetoric, which are based on Anglo-European cultural patterns, are linear - that is, a good English paragraph begins with a general statement of its content and then carefully develops that statement with a series of specific illustrations. A good English paragraph may also use just the reverse sequence: It may state a whole series of examples and then summarize those examples in a single statement at the end of the paragraph. In either case, however, the flow of ideas occurs in a straight line from the opening sentence to the last sentence. Furthermore, a well-structured English paragraph is never digressive. There is nothing that does not belong to the paragraph and nothing that does not support the topic sentence. A type of construction found in Arabic and Persian writing is very different. Whereas English writers use a linear sequence, Arabic and Persian writers tend to construct a paragraph in a parallel sequence using many coordinators such as and and but. In English, maturity of style is often judged by the degree of subordination rather than by the degree of coordination. Therefore, the Arabic and Persian styles of writing, with their emphasis on coordination, seem awkward and immature to an English reader. Some Asian writers, on the other hand, use an indirect approach. In this kind of writing, the topic is viewed from a variety of angles. The topic is never analyzed directly; it is referred to only indirectly. Again, such a development in an English paragraph is awkward and unnecessarily vogue to an English reader. Spanish rhetoric differs from English rhetoric in still another way. While the rules of English rhetoric require that every sentence in a paragraph relate directly to the central idea, a Spanish-speaking writer loves to fill a paragraph with interesting digressions. Although a Spanish paragraph may begin and end on the same topic, the writer often digresses into areas that are not directly related to the topic. Spanish rhetoric, therefore, does not follow the English rule of paragraph-unity. In summary, a student who has mastered the grammar of English may still write poor papers unless he/she has also mastered the rhetoric of English. Also, the student may have difficulty reading an essay written by the rules of English rhetoric unless he/she understands the "logical" differences from those of his/her own native tongue. C. Both of the following paragraphs break the rule of unity because they contain one -or more irrelevant sentences-sentences that do not directly support the topic sentence. STEP I Locate and underline the topic sentence of each paragraph. STEP 2 Find the irrelevant sentence(s) and cross them out. Paragraph I Adventure travel is the hot trend in the tourism industry. Ordinary people axe no longer content to spend their two weeks away from the office resting on a sunny beach in Hawaii. More and more often, they axe choosing to spend their vacations rafting down wild rivers, hiking through steamy rain forests, climbing the world's highest mountains, or traversing slippery glaciers. People of all ages axe choosing educational study tours for their vacations. Paragraph 2 Daredevil sports are also becoming popular. Young people especially are increasingly willing to risk life and limb while mountain biking, backcountry snowboarding, or high-speed skateboarding. Soccer is also becoming popular in the United States, where it was not well known until recently. One of the riskiest new sports is skysurfing, in which people jump out of airplanes with graphite boards attached to their feet. Skysurfing rivals skydiving and bungee jumping for the amount of thrills- and risk. D Both of the following paragraphs have not only two or more topics, but also irrelevant sentences. STEP I Decide where each paragraph should be divided into two or more paragraphs. 226
Underline the topic sentence of each. STEP 2 Find the irrelevant sentence(s) and cross them out. 24 Paragraph I Because the Internet makes the world a smaller place, the value of having a common language is greatly increased. The question is-which language? Because the Internet grew up in the United States, the largest percent, age of its content is now in English. Bill Gates, Microsoft's president, believes that English will remain valuable for a long time as a common language for international communication. His company spends $200 million a year translating software into other languages. He says, "Unless you read English passably well, you miss out on some of the Internet experience." Someday, software may be available to instantly translate both written and spoken language so well that the need for any common language could decline. That day is decades away, however, because flawless machine translation is a very tough problem. Software that does crude' translations already exists. It is useful if all you are trying to do is understand the general idea of something you see on your computer screen. However, if you are trying to negotiate a contract or discuss a scientific subject where details are important, machine translation is totally useless. Computer spelling checkers also exist for various languages. Paragraph 2 Even when you try to be polite, it's easy to do the wrong thing inadvertently in a new culture. For example, when someone offers you food or a beverage in America, accept it the first time it is offered. If you say "No, thank you" because it is polite to decline the first one or two offers in your culture, you could become very hungry and thirsty. An American thinks that "no" means "no" and will usually not offer again. American meals are usually more informal than meals in other countries, and the times of meals may be different. Although Americans are usually very direct in social matters, there are a few occasions when they are not. If an American says, "Please drop by sometime," he may or may not want you to visit him in his home. Your clue that this may not be a real invitation is the word "sometime.” In some areas of the United States, Americans do not expect you to visit them unless you have an invitation for a specific day and time. In other areas of the United States, however, "dropping by" is a friendly, neighborly gesture idioms are often difficult for newcomers to understand.
Teaching & Learning Centre Fact Sheets The University of New England
Paragraph types: Comparison and/or contrast
A comparison and/or contrast paragraph is required if you are asked to examine similarities and/or differences. Comparison focuses on similarities. Contrast focuses on differences. Topic Sentence identifies the topic and the intention to compare and/or contrast X and Y; comments on the degree of similarity or difference. Support Sentences describe and compare features.
Feature 1 — Describe X, describe Y — identify similarities and differences Feature 2 — Describe X, describe Y — identify similarities and differences. 227
Feature n — Describe X, describe Y — identify similarities and differences.
Describe X — features 1–n Describe Y — features 1–n Describe and discuss points of similarity and/or difference. Concluding Sentence summarises and interprets differences and similarities.
Useful transitional words and phrases
similar to, similarly, in the same way, like, equally, again, also, too
in contrast, on the other hand, different from, whereas, while, unlike, however, but Teaching & Learning Centre Fact Sheets The University of New England
Examples of questions requiring a compare and/or contrast paragraph
Compare and contrast the grain characteristics which determine quality in wheat and barley. What characteristics distinguish plants from animals? What is the difference between allopathy and homeopathy? Notice that the words compare and/or contrast do not always appear in the question.
Sample paragraph 1 (using Plan A) Sample paragraph 2 (using Plan B)
What is the difference between allopathy and homeopathy?
Allopathy and homeopathy are quite different. Allopathy is the treatment of disease of one kind by exciting a disease of another kind or in another part. It is sometimes incorrectly used as a name for orthodox medicine. Homeopathy, in contrast, is a system of medicine based on the treatment of a given disease by administering small quantities of a drug which produces the symptoms of that disease in a healthy person.
For more information and practice in paragraph types, see http://tlc.une.edu.au/interactive/workshops/writing/index.php