Here's some "tongue in cheek" Grammar Advice and Dangling Modifiers

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The first thing you need to know about Writing is the general process.  Here it is:

 

Write - revise - write - revise - write - revise - write - revise - write - proof-read - edit

 

Know the difference between revision and proof-readingRevision refers to content.  Proof-reading refers to rules (punctuation, spelling, etc.)

Revision considers the paper as a whole and how it fits together.  Proof-reading considers one sentence at a time.

 

How to:  WRITE

Just start.  Type as fast as you can without regard to sentence structure or punctuation.  Get the ideas going.  You can edit later.  Ideas will emerge if you just keep writing.

How to:  REVISE

Read what you've written as if you didn't write it.  Does it make sense?  Read it aloud.  Are the arguments sound?  Does the paper flow from one point to another smoothly?  Are your statements properly supported?  Consider the paper (or section) as a whole and how it fits together.  If changes are necessary, rearrange paragraphs, add explanations or illustrations, take out unclear language.  Have someone else read what you've written (someone whose judgment you trust and who will offer constructive criticism) and point out areas that are confusing or unclear.

How to:  PROOF-READ

Make sure spell-check and grammar-check are turned on.  Address every green line and red line indicated.  Read each sentence aloud (very important).  If you stumble over a sentence or if something sounds weird, find out why and fix it.  Did you leave out a word (happens all the time!) or use a word incorrectly?  Keep an eye out for words that are used incorrectly.  Spell-check will not flag the difference between its and it's or among their, there, and they're.  Know your habits.  Do you often use than when you mean then?  Let someone else read it.  A pair of fresh eyes will often catch something you missed.

How to:  EDIT

Meticulously fix all of these details.  Use a dictionary.  Use a thesaurus.  Use your APA manual to bring into subjection every stray period and comma.  Remember:  details matter.

 

 

Writing Hints

 

Turn on your Spell Check and Grammar Check!

 

Google how to do that with your specific version and operating system

Now that you have Spell-check and Grammar-check enabled, be sure to right click on EVERY green line and make the necessary changes in grammar and on EVERY red line and make the necessary changes in spelling.

Note:  This does not eliminate the need for proof-reading.  For example, spell-check identifies only those words that are misspelled, not those that are used incorrectly, such as 'their' and 'there.'  Both words are spelled correctly, but in context, only one can be correct.

 

 

 

 

 

Scholarly Writing

Scholarly writing is different than other types of writing.

It doesn't have to be pompous (Ex: Have we to conclude we may communicate with whomever we please?)

It shouldn't be informal (Ex: So, we can just talk to whoever the hell we wanna talk to?)

Examples above from Geoffrey Pullum

 

 

Bresler, L. (1995). Ethnography, phenomenology and action research in music education. Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning, 6(3).

 

This is a good example of clear and concise writing.  The author refrains from flowery language, overly long sentences, and unsupported opinions.

 

 

Speaking of unsupported opinions, David Coleman (lead architect of the Common Core Standards) spoke about the ubiquitous use in the teaching of writing in English classrooms of "personal writing . . . the exposition of a personal opinion . . . the presentation of a personal matter."

The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a sh– about what you feel or what you think. What they instead care about is can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you’re saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me. It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.” That is rare. It is equally rare in college by the way.

So, in your pursuit of scholarly writing, keep that in mind!

 

Guide to grammar and writing

Quotes

Use a direct quote when:

1.  you cannot paraphrase without changing the meaning or intent of the author.

2.  you are quoting directly with the intent of analyzing or commenting on the statement.

3.  the words used by the author are particularly memorable, historical, or unique.

 

Use quotes sparingly

Paraphrase when you want to preserve meaning, but not wording.

Summarize when you need to condense or simplify.

 

All quotes in a paper should be explained within the paper.  Do not use quotes to introduce content unless your paper is about analyzing that quote!

 

Tense

  1. Use simple present tense to describe a general truth, an action that is happening now, or an action that occurs on a regular basis.  Implications of research results may be described in the present tense if those implications are meaningful in the present.  This study addresses the theory . . .  The results of the study suggest . . .

  2. Use simple past tense to describe an action that took place at a specific point in time:  The researcher discovered . . .   Generally speaking, research results need to be described in past tense because the research took place at a particular moment in the past:  Participants reported that their anxiety decreased under those conditions.

  3. Use future tense to describe an action that will take place in the future:  During the next year, I will distribute the surveys to the participants.

  4. Use present perfect tense to describe an action that began in the past and continues:  Researchers have shown . . .  Literature review data may be discussed in the present perfect tense because the results of the past research may still be pertinent today:  Researchers have shown a direct causal connection between . . .

  5. Use past perfect tense to describe an action that began in the past, continued for a time, but is no longer continuing:  Before the data was analyzed, scientists had believed . . .

  6. Use future perfect tense to describe an action that is presently taking place and will continue into the future:  I will have been in school for five years before completing my degree.

 

Avoid casual writing, such as using first person, contractions, expressions ("slow as Christmas"), unsupported opinions, biased statements.

 

Do not personify (giving human characteristics to inanimate objects).  Example:  "This article shows . . ."

 

Use quotations and italics properly when referring to titles  Use this chart.

 

Use explicit language.  Be clear.  Avoid general terms, such as "good," "bad," and "ugly."  State specifically what you mean so the reader does not need to interpret.

 

 

 Phrases that show a high degree of confidence in sources or findings:
  • "great deal of support"
  • "overwhelming evidence"
  • "strong evidence"
  • "results of a definitive study"
  • "widely reported in the research literature"
  • "seldom disputed"
  • "seems very likely that"

Phrases that show a low degree of confidence in sources or findings:

  • "preliminary findings suggest"
  • "based on a pilot study"
  • "weak evidence to date"
  • "it appears that"
  • "suggests the possibility that"

 

 

Final Draft Checklist

 

 

Did you . . .

____  include a bibliography?

____  read the paper aloud to hear any mistakes? Don't skip this one even if you have read it silently 100 times.

____  run spell check and grammar check?

____  avoid contractions and abbreviations?

____  avoid using action verbs as inanimate objects: (“This article tells us little.”)?

____  put quotation marks outside periods and commas?

____  use italics for complete works and quotes for parts of works or short works?

____  use italics for foreign expressions not in standard use?

____  fix hanging “this” by adding a noun?

____  format long quotations (40 words or more) as block quotes?

____  inserted page numbers?

____  adhered to all style requirements? (APA or Chicago)

____  kept "I" (first person pronouns) to a minimum?

 

 



 

 

"Where I Spend Most of My Red Ink"

 

 

Use Wikipedia as a starting point for general information.  There is often a good bibliography included at the end of the article.  However, DO NOT cite Wikipedia as a reliable source because ANYONE can write ANYTHING in the Wikipedia format and you cannot count on its reliability.

Inconsistent use of verb tense - don't mix past tense with present tense, etc.  Pick one and stick to it.

 

Incorrect use of verb tense; for example, when verb tense agrees with a noun in a prepositional phrase, but not with the subject of the sentence

Example:  Neither of the two compositions is a symphony. ('compositions' is part of a prepositional phrase)

Here are some more examples: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01/

Faulty parallelism:  each idea in a series must match  Ex:  "The horses need to be groomed, watered, fed, and clean their stalls."  Revised:  The horses need to be groomed, watered, fed, and their stalls need to be cleaned."

 

Unclear pronoun reference:  be clear to what or to whom you are referring when using pronouns Example:  Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic development, he sometimes neglects it. (What exactly is he neglecting??)

 

Contractions - don't use them in a formal paper ;-) 

Commas - use them!!! (another reason to check those green lines!)  Here is a guide to commas and other punctuation marks:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/566/01/

 

Who vs. whom - if you can replace it with "he" or "she," then it should be "who"; "him" or "her" substitutes for "whom"

 

"Should" and "must" - If it is your opinion, back it up.  If it is someone else's idea, cite it.

 

Personification - avoid action verbs as inanimate objects: “This article tells us little.”  That article did not TELL you anything!

 

"Some say" or "It is said" phrases - who says??  In a formal paper, do not make such vague statements.

Homonyms (more specifically, 'homophones' - sound the same, spelled differently  Here are the most common errors:

 

 

 

 


 

Who Cares About Those Picky Details?

 

 

"The Orff method is founded on four principals."

A "principal" is an administrator at a school.  The correct spelling should have been "principle."  Now read that sentence from the point of view of a person judging your level of education and knowing what a "principal" is.  Oops!

 

 

 

ORFF METHOD

 

 

 

 

 

Although not all commas make such a crucial difference in meaning, here is an illustration of the necessity of the humble comma.  The following sentence is interpreted by means of punctuation in two very different ways.

 

Woman without her man is nothing

 

 

 

1.  Woman; without her, man is nothing.

 

2.  Woman, without her man, is nothing.

 

 

Misplaced modifiers

 

Need a good chuckle?  Check this link:

How to Write Good

"Witnesses described the thief as a six-foot-tall man with a mustache weighing 190 pounds."

Then there's this one

Come on, people - punctuation saves lives!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Let's eat Grandma!"

"Let's eat, Grandma!"

 

Details matter.  Your credibility is at stake here.

 

What if I had written this:

 

Your credibility is at steak here.

 

 

You could rightly have wondered whether

 

1. I am fit to be your teacher

2. I am a careless writer

3. my mind is on dinner

 

In any case, you were distracted from my message.


   
 



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