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As I have tutored over time via instant messaging, certain problems come up again and again among the students that I have taught English writing to.   As I have corrected student essays over the past few years online, I have developed this set of advice for writers with less experience.  Much of this advice is influenced by Strunk & White's and Payne, so I don't claim much originality here.   General organizational advice for essays: 1. Don’t take the reader’s attention for granted. In the introduction, use attention-getting devices, such as a set of leading questions, interesting statistics, a famous quote from a famous person, a striking assertion or claim, etc. The following sentences in the first paragraph should narrow down the topic to the more specific point made in the thesis. 2. Always put the thesis statement, or main point to be proven or explained, at the end of the first paragraph. Aim to write it as a single sentence, not two... read more

What do we mean when we say that we are in or at a place? These two small words can be instrumental in helping us to reveal (and conceal) exactly where we are in the world and, crucially, how we feel about being there. Take the sentence, 'I'm at school'. Seemingly simple on the surface, but can't we say, 'I'm in school' too? So, if they both sound fine, why does 'I'm in/at classroom' sound bad? Lets look a little closer. In for buildings and rooms This is not a difficult one. If we use in, we are referring to the fact that we are in a place which has walls, a floor, and a ceiling. It can be a room, it can be a building, it can be a cardboard box at the side of the road. It depends on how much money your parents are investing in your education. The thing to remember is that, unlike at, we must use an article here to specify the space we are talking about. However, the days of a one-room village school are long gone and so it would be odd to hear ‘I’m in the school’... read more

So, we’ve explored the idea of in and at as ways to describe where we are and what we are doing there and found that it's a little bit more than just buildings and borders. In this post, we'll take a look at how using or omitting articles can help us to express how we feel about the places we are in. Before we begin, let's agree that articles are pretty much the most horrendous part of the English language, especially for Russian speakers. Rather than simple functional devices which can help us build more meaningful sentences, they seem to have more in common with capricious women, drunk on the power of being able to alter their surroundings with the merest flutter of an eyelash. To help us understand them better, I've compiled a series of examples to illustrate exactly how these devices operate. Omitting articles So, we already know that omitting articles is fine when we are talking in terms of our involvement in a process (I'm in school/court/), or our... read more

I recently reviewed a question someone had about strong verbs: is arranged a strong verb?   My answer was thus:    This is probably the wrong question to ask and strong is really a vague term in which to describe a verb - by strong, I assume you mean active. Typically we use active and passive to describe transitive and intransitive verbs. That is, verbs existing in a typical subject-verb-object relationship and that don't use auxiliary verbs as crutches. A transitive verb is one which is active. (Keep in mind, I'm simplifying that definition. There's more to a transitive verb than that). These are often stronger verbs. Many times they are violent. Active voice  has an agent, which is typically a subject, it has a "strong" verb, and it typically has an object. Here's a few sample sentences where active (transitive) verbs are used:   1. Sally hit Tom. 2. Bill shot the dog. 3. I sent a message to my grandmother. Those... read more

Never have I ever done a tutoring job like this before.  I am looking forward to partaking in this website and venture as a side job because it seems like a reasonable way to generate income on the side without stressing yourself out. I'm looking forward to teaching kids and passing on my knowledge of subjects through tips and tricks to make their learning easier, like it did for myself.  Most of all, I can't wait to see the results from my students when they receive their grades or start to perform better at the sports I coach them in.

For parents  -- and tutors looking for tips -- I am interested in speaking with you about your tutoring needs, or plans. I live conveniently, in Newton Centre, and have worked with many high school students in the greater Boston area. My students (and their parents)  are very enthusiastic about my special technique. The methods I use include some of the following: reading for speed, reading for context, skimming, customized exercises, quizzes designed by me, alternative study styles, and more.    My students have shown dramatic improvement on the SAT and ACT, as well as in English class, and in their ability to communicate well in writing. This is a skill that will carry them through many college assignments, and I teach my students to edit their own writing.   After evaluating each student's reading and writing level, I adapt my curriculum to account for their weakest areas.  The topics we may cover include analytical writing, composition,... read more

I have a MA in Medieval Studies/Classical and Medieval Latin and a BA in Classics and English. I also hold a certification in advanced Latin from the University of Toronto's Centre for Mediaeval Studies. I have six years of experience working as a tutor, helping students with Latin and English grammar and vocabulary, as well as working with them to improve their research, writing, and analytical skills. I find tutoring to be greatly rewarding and enjoy nothing more than seeing my students excel in subjects they once struggled with. I look forward to working with new students this summer and beyond!

       Book, books... Table, tables... Phone, phones... Day, days... So... life, lifes, right? Nope! The plural of life is lives. And, isn't the plural of sheep sheeps? Nope! The plural of sheep is sheep. It's the same word.      Have you ever wondered how to handle all of the rules and exceptions to rules in the English language? Here is an introduction (a beginning) to understanding the rules about plural nouns. Hopefully, it will make figuring out how to change that word less of a guessing game and more of a skill. '   Plurals What is a plural noun? A plural noun is a person, place, or thing of which there is more than one. Example: If there is more than one phone, they are called phones. When should I make a noun plural? Make a noun plural when there is more than one of what that noun represents How do I make a noun plural? Usually,... read more

Many times, I have had people ask me, "Why did you major in English? What exactly can you do with that, other than become a teacher?" These questions infuriated me in the past, because I worked very hard to obtain my degree, and I feel passionate about speaking correctly and succinctly. However, many people do not understand how important writing and speaking well are to their overall success. When you are addressing someone, and you speak informally, know and understand that they are taking notice, and that you are being judged; this is not just for professional reasons. In every aspect of our lives, how we speak and how we write are determinants as to how we will be perceived. Being cognizant of writing well will serve you best in the long run, because how you write and how you speak are conducive. If you speak grammatically incorrect, you will, inherently, write that way as well.

There're many aspects of English that are puzzling even to native English speakers. I'd like to take this time to attempt to clear up a few of the more common errors I see.     Your/you're. Your is possessive. For instance, is that YOUR car? Or: YOUR dog is weird, Charlie Brown. You're is a contraction of YOU ARE. This is evident by the "re", which is the ending of the contracted word "are". Examples: YOU'RE going to do well if you learn these concepts. Then/than Than is used only for comparatives (comparing two or more things or people). Ex: George is taller than Sam. I'd rather eat Burger King than McDonald's. Then is used to talk about the order in which something was done. This becomes clearer with examples. Ex: Sam ate dinner at his friend's house, then went home. Fred ate salad then soup. To/too/two Too means also or as well. It also means excessively. Ex: I like The... read more

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