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NO!!!!!. Things you will wish you had avoided. Contractions . In a formal essay, do not use contractions. Do not use “don’t” You cannot use “can’t” You should not use “shouldn’t” You will not regret avoiding “won’t”. First or Second Person Pronouns.

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NO!!!!!

Things you will wish you had avoided

contractions
Contractions

In a formal essay, do not use contractions.

Do not use “don’t”

You cannot use “can’t”

You should not use “shouldn’t”

You will not regret avoiding “won’t”

first or second person pronouns
First or Second Person Pronouns

In a formal essay about literature, avoid writing in the first or second person. This means avoiding words like:

  • I, me, myself, my, mine, we, us, our,
  • You, your, yourself
making announcements about the essay
Making Announcements About the Essay

DO NOT announce what your essay will do or has done. This is unnecessary and a little tacky. There is no need to tell me what the essay will do; just do it.

Ex:

  • “In this essay, I will show you. . .”
  • “In this essay, I will prove. . .”
  • “This essay will demonstrate that. . .”
  • “As stated in the previous paragraph”
  • As mentioned below
  • As I will explain in more detail later,
  • “As this essay has proven. . .”
tense shifting
Tense Shifting
  • Always discuss literature in the present tense and avoid shifting tenses, especially in the same sentence.

Ex:

  • (incorrect!) In Act III, Mary Warren caused a great deal of destruction when she succumbs to her fear of Abigail.
  • (correct) In Act III, Mary Warren causes a great deal of destruction when she succumbs to her fear of Abigail.
clich s
Clichés

Do not use clichés at all. They are anything BUT original and they cheapen your writing.

Ex:

  • blast from the past when all is said and done
  • best thing since sliced bread from bad to worse
  • business as usual woke up on the wrong side of the bed
  • Shoot the breeze tough as nails
  • Cool as a cucumber
  • Dead as a doornail
  • First things first
  • Good to the last drop
  • It’s not over until the fat lady sings
abbreviations
Abbreviations
  • Do not abbreviate anything in a formal essay. Rather, write the word out in its entirety or choose a more formal expression altogether.

Ex:

  • By the end of the play, Abigail has gone AWOL,
  • Mercy Lewis is MIA,
  • Parris’s reputation is no longer legit.,
  • Hale has done a 180,
  • and John Proctor is. . . well, all I can say is. . . RIP, JP.
passive voice
Passive Voice

Identify and eliminate all instances of passive voice. Passive voice muddles and bogs down your writing. Opt for active voice instead. In doing so, you will make your writing clear, direct, and highly “readable.”

personal notes to the reader
Personal Notes to the Reader
  • “Ms. Carter, I would like to take this opportunity to express how much I have enjoyed this particular assignment.
  • Ms. Carter, I am really sorry that this essay isn’t typed and that it is twelve days late. My printer was broken, my Uncle Eugene has been in the hospital, and my computer contracted a malignant virus. Thank you for understanding; I sincerely hope this will not affect my grade in any way!”
  • “a shout out to Ms. Carter as I use this vocabulary word that SHE taught me in the next sentence – acquisitive!!!!!”
  • Ms. Carter, I hope you have enjoyed reading my essay. I would appreciate an “A,” in that I am endeavoring to pull my grade up in your class.”