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Tad-Bits Dr. Rearick’s Hang-ups. My Pet Peeves in Student Writing. In the Future if an employer tells you he or she does not like something. Don’t Do It!. But seriously, what I hope to encourage your writing is to make you. . . Precise in style Concise in meaning.

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Tad-Bits Dr. Rearick’s Hang-ups

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Tad-BitsDr. Rearick’s Hang-ups

My Pet Peeves in Student Writing

In the Future if an employer tells you he or she does not like something. . .

Don’t Do It!

  • But seriously, what I hope to encourage your

  • writing is to make you. . .

  • Precise in style

  • Concise in meaning

  • There is no such word as “alot.” It’s a lot.

  • When describing the past avoid the over use of “would.”

    • We would often have lunch by the sea and would go swimming afterwards.

    • We often had lunch by the sea and went swimming afterwards.

  • Avoid the “impersonal” or the “indefinite you.” Not only often wordy but also often inexact.

    • “When you get pregnant your ankles sometimes swell as much as your breasts.”

    • “Not me” says the male reader.

  • For the same reason do not use the “inclusive we.” Writers should not speak for readers.

    • “We know that God controls all that happens to us.” Do we?

  • Avoid absolute phrases, for example:

    • “Everybody knew everybody else.”

    • “Mom and Dad always argued about who was going to drive.”

  • Temper your writing:

    • Nearly everybody knew one another.”

    • “Mom and Dad often argued about who was going to drive.”

  • Save absolutes for absolutes.

    • “Death comes to everyone.”

    • “Spring always returns.”

  • Be as concrete as you can be before making general statements.

    • Another problem with words like always is that it often introduces an example which is vague because there are no particulars.

      • My friends are always there for me.

    • General points may begin a paragraph but use specific moments in time with details to prove that point.

  • 6.“Awesome” is not a universal adjective.

    • Mountains are awesome; the cosmos is awesome; God is awesome.

    • A mechanical pencil, no matter its level of excellence, is notawesome.

  • “Totally” is intensely overused. Students should limit its appearance in an essay to about once or maybe twice and be certain that it really fits the use.

    • “I am totally bored.”

    • “Dave is totally bummed”

    • “Leslie is totally overwhelmed by her schoolwork.

  • Instead use the wealth of the English language to find alternative words to get across one’s meaning:

    • “I am intensely bored.”

    • “David is really bummed.”

    • “Leslie is utterly overwhelmed by her schoolwork.”

  • The fact is that good writers don’t even use intensifiers: TRUST your WORDS!

Avoid phrases like “I feel,” “I think,” “I believe.”

  • If an opinion is in a paper and is not credited to someone else, the reader assumes that the feeling experienced. the position held, or the belief described belong to the writer without being overtly told so.

    • Thus, don’t write “I believe that Fall is the best season of all.

    • Instead, just write “Fall is the best season of all.”

“Being” is not the same as the verb “is.”

  • Tom is going to lead the team today. Jack being sick.” (FRAG!)

  • Either make the last phrase independent by using the verb “to be” or connect the sentence to the first independent clause with a comma.

When using “like” remember that this word is meant to compare two unlike things

  • Thus in what is called a simile the one thing is in most of its characteristics is different except for some specific qualities which the writer wants to emphasize.

    • Weak: One student of mine described his first days on campus this way: “It was like a major culture shock, very eye-opening.” It was not like

    • Better to write something like this: “It was a major culture shock, very eye-opening.”

  • Strong:A correct use of like might be something like this “He ran his class like a marine drill sergeant, disciplined, organized but with very little room for the special needs which might surface from individual to individual.”

Be careful how you use comparatives like “more” or the “er” form of an adverb.

  • Often students (probably because of the bad example of Madison Avenue) will use a comparative but forget to include with whom the subject is being compared.

    • “Dan is working harder this week.” (than who?)

    • “He has worked through people to make me feel so much more welcome.” (than where?)

As pretty as other styles may be, stay with “Times New Roman;” also keep your font size set at “14.”

  • Remember to use one inch margins on the top and bottom of your page and 1.25 for its left and right margins (MLA requires 1 inch).

  • Don’t forget to double space your text: Form matters!

  • Save your creativity in a writing class for the writing.

When describing a text (that means when writing about something you read for this class) use the present tense. Don't say this:

  • Dickens used comic commentary when he described Ralph Nickleby's awkward farewell to his niece: "The blessing seemed to stick in Mr.. Ralph Nickleby's throat, as if it were not used to the thoroughfare, and didn't know the way out" (Dickens 244).

Instead use the present tense:

  • Remember a written text is readable is still working, is still alive and should be described in present tense.

  • "Dickens uses. . .when he describes. . ." Keep in mind that any text

In your papers historical facts should be described in the past tense but events in text are still occurring:

  • Centuries ago Moses and the Israelis crossed the red sea.

  • In the book of Exodus Moses and the Israelis cross the red sea.

Paragraph Problems

When I see them my mind goes Warning! Warning!

  • No page of text should be presented with no paragraphs. Find the break. It is always there.

  • In dialogue each new speaker should be cued by a new paragraph. Thus the “he said she said” repetition of words can be avoided.

Do not begin a paragraph with a quote.

  • Quotes, especially in any research setting, always need to be introduced so that the reader knows what point you--the writer-- think the quote makes.

  • Instead of starting the paragraph with. . .

    • “Will our homes become such cozy entertainment providers we’ll never leave? I don’t think that will happen” (Gates 61).

  • Make what point you wish to emphasize in the paragraph clear in the introduction to the quote:

    • Gates dismisses concerns about computers enveloping of our spare time so much we won’t interact with others with a simple “I don’t think that will happen” (61).

  • Note: this quote does not answer the point. Gate’s reason is still needed.

  • Be certain to take quotes from the actual text, not from the blown up words used to break up a page of words. Think of those as graphics, not text.

  • Do not only say who wrote a quote; also include why that source should be recognized and where you, the researcher, found it.

  • In research papers be certain that all the information given is clearly connected with the main idea (the thesis) of your paper. Large chunks of information may fill up pages, but they do nothing to further your grade.

  • Remember that paragraphs are indicated in MLA by the indentation of five spaces (or one tab) not by a triple space and NEVER by both.

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