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As an English and writing tutor, I humbly confess that sometimes I mix up words. A couple that have tripped me up in the past are “epigram” and “epitaph.” What’s the difference? For the main definitions, let’s turn to my trusty sidekick, ep·i·gram –noun 1. any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed. ep·i·taph –noun 1. a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument about the person buried at that site. 2. a brief poem or other writing in praise of a deceased person. To remember the difference, think: “t” for “tomb” (epiTaph) or “ph” for “phantom” (epitaPH). Many authors, Jodi Picoult especially, like to use epigrams in their novels (an epiGRam is “good writing”). Since you probably spend more time reading popular fiction than wandering around graveyards, you’re more likely to come across an epigram. The subject of this blog is how to effectively use an epigram in your academic writing. We’ve all been faced... read more

Did "paraprosdokian" make you think, "Whaaaaa?" The word is not listed on or even in Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary. But have no fear; your WyzAnt tutor is here! This is Wikipedia’s definition: A paraprosdokian (from Greek meaning "beyond" and "expectation") is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists. My purpose in this blog is to highlight a dramatic example of paraprosdokian and to clarify the difference between a paradox and oxymoron. Here’s how I paraphrase the definitions from AP test prep books and dictionaries: A paradox is a truth stated in contradictory terms; a statement that should... read more

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