Erwc grammar for expository writing
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ERWC Grammar for Expository Writing. 5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported. 5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported.

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ERWC Grammar for Expository Writing

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Erwc grammar for expository writing

ERWCGrammar for Expository Writing

5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported


5 3 making assertions that can be supported

5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Academic writers often make generalizations as they explain an issue and argue for their position. However, they do not want to alienate their audience by being too direct or assertive or by making claims that cannot be supported.

Too general: Law-enforcement professionals use racial profiling.

More defensible: In the 1990’s, law-enforcement professionals in many major cities often used racial profiling.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Defensible assertions often answer the following questions.

Who is doing something?

How often does it happen?

How likely is it?

Under what circumstances does it happen?

When does it happen?

Where does it happen?


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Writers use a variety of strategies to answer these questions.

Active verbs or passives with agents indicate who is doing the action.

Modals indicate that an assertion is possible or probable but not a fact.

Adverbs (words that modify verbs) or verbs themselves can indicate how often something happens; that a statement is not black-and-white but that there is room for doubt; or that it is true under some circumstances but not true under others.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Sometimes writers want to make the strongest assertion possible because they feel strongly that their position is the only possible one. In that case, they will not qualify their position, but they then must be careful to persuade their audience that their position is correct.

Intentionally strong assertion: Racial profiling is morally wrong under all circumstances.


5 3 strategies for making defensible assertions

5.3 Strategies for Making Defensible Assertions

Indicate who: Change passive verbs to active or specify the agent.

Passive: The arrests were made in order to combat gang activity.

Active: The police in Chicago made the arrests in order to combat gang activity.

Agent identified: The arrests were made by the police in Chicago in order to combat gang activity.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Indicate frequency: Use adverbs such as sometimes, always, often, usually, generally, rarely, or occasionally.

Too general: The laws were aimed at curbing gang activity.

More defensible: Sometimes laws were aimed at curbing gang activity.

Too general: The stops resulted in arrests.

More defensible: The stops rarely resulted in arrests.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Indicate probability: Use modals such as may, might, can, could; use adverbs such as possibly, probably, generally; or use nouns such as a possibility and a probability.

Too general: Police stops are in no way connected to the commission of a specific crime.

More defensible: Police stops may not be connected to the commission of a specific crime.

There is a possibility that police stops are not connected to the commission of a specific crime.

Too general: Innocent people are stopped, frisked, and harrassed.

More defensible: Innocent people can be stopped, frisked, and harassed. Possibly innocent people are stopped, frisked, and harassed.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Indicate uncertainty: Use verbs such as seem, appear, tend, or suggest.

Too general: The statistics show that police use racial profiling.

More defensible: The statistics seem to show that police use racial profiling.

Too general: Everybody is innocent.

More defensible: Virtually everybody is innocent.


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5.3 Making Assertions that can be Supported

Indicate quantity: Use quantifiers such as few, some, many, most, or virtually.

Too general: Arrests were made based on racial profiling.

More defensible: Many arrests were made based on racial profiling.

Too general: Everybody is innocent.

More defensible: Virtually everybody is innocent.


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