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Have you ever had your writing edited and a sentence marked “fragment”? What does that mean? How do I fix it?   To start, a sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate (sometimes called a verb phrase). Subject: the agent in the sentence. This is the word or phrase that is doing the action. Predicate: the verb phrase in the sentence. Sometimes this is just one... read more

Blogs

Do you know that "OWL" is an acronym for online writing lab? My favorite research writing source is the Purdue OWL. This site can answer many if not all of your writing questions from A to Z. I frequently recommend that my students use it. In fact, when we start our research segment of a writing course, I show students how to navigate to and through it.   This site is... read more

Blogs

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said,... read more

Blogs

Editing and proofreading are two distinct tasks in the writing process and should not be confused.   Editing is the ongoing process by which you review draft copies of your writing to improve the delivery of its communication. It focuses primarily on the content. You begin your first edit by looking at the development of your ideas, asking yourself if the arguments and examples you... read more

Blogs

One of the most common grammatical errors I see in the writing of students of all levels is the lack of agreement of adjectives and verbs when "each" is the subject of the sentence.   For example: "Each of the cats are calico."   This sentence is incorrect because the subject is "each," not "the cats."   Therefore,... read more

Blogs

One of the most common problems I see in my students' writing is their use of evidence.  What constitutes good evidence?  What is a good source?    The first thing I tell all of my students is that Wikipedia is never an acceptable source.  Why not?  Wikipedia is written and edited by a variety of people who may or may not have expertise in the topic about... read more

Blogs

Your writing should be internally consistent in the way in which it refers to people.    For example: "One should never leave your door unlocked when you're not at home."   This sentence is awkward to read because the pronouns are inconsistent: the author uses "one" and "you" to refer to the same abstract person.    This... read more

Blogs

While it is occasionally acceptable to use the passive voice for rhetorical purposes, in general grammar experts frown upon this style as being inappropriate in formal essays.    How do you know if you are using the passive voice?    Here's a simple example:   "The road was crossed by the chicken."  This construction uses the... read more

Blogs

When I visit the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, or any museum, I always see people walking around with sketch pads creating studies of the works of the great masters.  Artists look at art.  Musicians listen to music.  In the same manner, it is vital for writers to read.  Now, you can decide for yourself who you want to study.  By all means read J.K. Rowling, or Stephen... read more

Blogs

I have worked in graduate admissions in higher education for over 10 years, and during this time, I have read a lot of personal statements – some good and some not-so-good. So, what qualities help to make a good personal statement that will help a student gain admission into the program of his or her choice? While admissions committees do consider a variety of factors in their decisions,... read more

Blogs

Working with a student taking a college level writing course, I remembered an old axiom - challenge your professor. The student, a good writer already, wanted help in direction with a persuasive paper. The topic was a current headline in science: the possible dangers of genetically altered food. She was well versed in the pros and cons of the topic, but was having difficulty choosing sides in... read more

Blogs

An English teacher of mine once taught us that there are only two ways to build any sentence you want to write: you can either say what something is, or you can say what it does. That’s it. The English language has at least a quarter of a million words to work with, and you can still reduce any statement to one of these options.   There is comfort in that simplicity when you... read more

Blogs

Students have a wonderful opportunity to show admissions officers who they really are, by using the college essay to stand out from the crowd. In my experience, if you find a topic that you care about, and you write an essay that speaks from your heart, you will have a successful application experience. Admissions officers have to read dozens of applications per day in the 'busy season'. If you... read more

Blogs

Take a look at the following list of words:  is, are, was, were, be, being, been.  These words often make writing weak and confusing.  Want to create superior writing?  Get rid of them.  Now, that may sound crazy, as they stand among the most common words in the English language.  That's because they serve as hallmarks of common, average writing.  To... read more

Blogs

Essay writing can be challenging for young writers.  I have written hundreds of essays.  It's always been a pleasure to receive a grade of A on an essay; however, it is even more enjoyable to receive a direct deposit for a winning scholarship essay!  Yes, it can make all the difference when funding your own education.  There are thousands of scholarship opportunities and most... read more

Lessons

What Is Plagiarism? Written by tutor Colin D. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “plagiarism” as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” While this is a fairly clear description of the unethical act of plagiarism, it’s actually somewhat mild, given the plagiarism’s etymology. Taken from the Latin “plagiarius,” which translates to “kidnapper,”... read more

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