ENGLISH PACKET 9-10 - Freeman School District

ENGLISH PACKET 9-10 - Freeman School District
 1 Freeman High School English Department Mission Statement The mission of the English Department at Freeman High School is to inspire an appreciation for the English language and its literatures while cultivating its effective use in creative expression and day‐to‐day life. This gives students opportunities to explore such subjects as British, American, and World literature; rhetoric, composition, and professional writing. •
The study of literature fosters creative and critical abilities, promotes multiculturalism and tolerance in a globalized world, and fosters understanding of cultural, historical, ethical, aesthetic, and linguistic forces that shape our lives. •
Effective writing makes social and professional engagement possible. The study of rhetoric, composition, literacy, and professional writing enhances facilities in writing, communication, and technology much valued by local communities, industry, and organizations. •
Creative writing merges an interest in literary studies with the art of writing, providing a hands‐on experience of literature, encouraging students to create literary texts in a variety of media and genres, and emphasizing the power of the individual to respond to human experience in a changing world. 2 Table of Contents Style: Smiley Face Tricks… pg 6 Sentence Openers… pg 7‐8 Wordiness… pg 9‐10 Active and Passive Voice… pg 11‐12 Instead of “Said” … pg 13 Essay : Types of Essays… pg 15‐16 6‐Trait Handouts 17‐24 Rubrics… pg 25‐32 6‐Trait Rubric… pg 25‐26 Persuasive/Argumentative Rubric … pg 27 Expository Rubric … pg 28 Personal Narrative Rubric … pg 29 Narrative Rubric … pg 30 Research Essay Rubric … pg 31 Research Presentation Rubric … pg 32 Formal Writing Guidelines… pg 33 Introductions … pg 34‐38 Conclusions… pg 39‐40 What is a thesis?? … pg 41 Literary Analysis Writing Guide… pg 42‐44 Plagiarism… pg 44 Persuasive/Argumentative Writing Tips… pg 45‐47 Fallacies… pg 48‐53 MLA Citation Style General Format… pg 45‐55 In‐text Citations… pg 56 Works Cited page… pg 57 Annotated Bibliography… pg 58‐59 Timed Writing… pg 60 3 Mechanics: Parts of Speech… pg 62‐64 Prepositions; Conjunctions; and Pronouns… pg 65‐66 Transition Words… pg 67 Run‐Ons, Comma Splices, & Fragments… pg 68‐70 Comma… pg 71‐74 Apostrophes… pg 75‐76 Semicolon, Colon, Parenthesis, Dash, and Italics… pg 77‐78 Quote Integration Summarize, paraphrase or quote… pg 79 Punctuation… pg 80‐81 Style… pg 82‐83 Commonly Mistaken Words… pg 84‐85 Literary Terms: A Dictionary of commonly used literary terms for writing and literature analysis… pg 87‐92 Literary Analysis Techniques: Levels of Questioning… pg 94 Scintillating Sentences & Quizzical Quotes… pg 95 Dialectical Journaling… pg 96‐98 TPFASTT… pg 99 DIDLS… pg 100‐105 SOAPSTone… pg 106 Literature Circles… pg 107‐109 4 Style Section
5 Smiley Face Tricks MAGIC THREE: Three items in a series, separated by commas that create a poetic rhythm or add support for a point,
especially when the items have their own modifiers.
“In those woods, I would spend hours 1listening to the wind rustle the leaves, 2climbing the trees and
spying on nesting birds, and 3giving the occasional wild growl to scare away any pink-flowered girls who
might be riding their bikes too close to my secret entrance.” (Todd, college freshman)
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: Non-literal comparisons add “spice” to writing and can help paint a more vivid picture for
the reader. Include examples of similes, metaphors, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, personification, symbolism, irony,
alliteration, assonance, etc.
“When we first moved into the house on Orchid Street, I didn’t like it. My room was hot, cramped, and
stuffy as a train in the middle of the Sahara. And the looming skeleton-like gray and white frame of
the place scared me.” (Teri, grade 7)
SPECIFIC DETAILS FOR EFFECT: Add vivid and specific information to your writing to clarify and create word
pictures. Use sensory details to help the reader visualize the person, place, thing, or idea that you are describing.
“It’s one of those experiences where you want to call a radio station and tell your problems to some guy
who calls himself Dr. Myke, but how isn’t more of a doctor than your pet hamster is, one of those
experiences where you want to read a sappy Harlequin novel and listen to Barry Manilow with a box
of bonbons as your best friends, one of those experiences where you wouldn’t be surprised if someone
came up to you and asked exactly what time yesterday you were born. Yeah, one of those.” (Ileana)
REPETITION FOR EFFECT: Repeat a symbol, sentence starter, important word, etc. to underline its importance.
The veranda is your way only shelter away from the sister in bed asleep, away from the brother that
plays in the tree house in the field, away from your chores that await you.” (Leslie)
EXPANDED MOMENT: Take a moment that you would ordinarily speed past, and develop it fully to make your
reader take notice.
“But no, I had to go to school. And as I said before, I had to listen to my math teacher preach about
numbers and letters and figures…I was tired of hearing her annoying voice lecture about ‘a=b divided by
x.’ I glared at the small black hands on the clock, silently threatening them to go faster. But they didn’t
listen, I caught myself wishing I were on white sand and looking down at almost transparent pale-blue
water with Josh at my side…I don’t belong in some dumb math class. I belong on the beach, where I can
soak my feet in caressing water and let the wind wander its way through my chestnut-colored hair and sip
Dr. Pepper all day long. “ (Shelly)
HUMOR: Whenever possible and appropriate, inject a little humor to keep your reader awake.
“He laughed? I’m nothing. I’m the rear end of nothing, and the devil himself smiled at me.” (Andrew)
HYPHENATED MODIFIERS: When you connect two adjectives or adverbs together with a hyphen, it lends an air of
originality and sophistication to your writing.
She’s got this blond hair, with dark highlights, parted in the middle, down past her shoulders, and straight
as a preacher. She’s got big green eyes that all guys admire and all girls envy, and this I’m-so-beautifuland-I-know-it body, you know, like every other super model.” (Ilena)
FULL-CIRCLE ENDING: When you include an image or phrase at the beginning of a piece of writing and then mention
it again at the end, it gives your piece a sense of closure.
“Hey you, with the green and neon-orange striped shoelaces, you who always pulled my old
frazzled white one in math. Hey you, who always added your versions of ‘art’ to my math problems
for Mrs. Caton’s class so that 9 x 7 = 64 turned out to be a train with Puffs of smoke and two boxcars and
made me get an 83 instead of a 93 since Mrs. C. doesn’t count locomotives as correct answers.”
“Now Justin still sits behind me in math with his neon-green and orange striped shoelaces and pulls
on my old white frazzled ones. He still draws zombies on my homework, but he hasn’t dumped
another pitcher of Kool-Aid on me - - not yet at least. Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering, his
first words when he opened his eyes were, ‘It was James Kenton who hid your clothes and made you
walk around in a chicken suit…I’m not that mean.” (Liz)
6 Varying Sentence Openers-Periodic Sentences
Participial phrase
Infinitive phrase
Adverb clause
Several adverbs
Amused, we allowed her to finish her wildly exaggerated tale.
Frantically, hundreds of ants scurries in all directions trying to
Hearing strange noises, we crept downstairs to investigate.
To prepare for a short-answer test, Ellen makes flash cards
Because the train was traveling so quickly, it vanished in seconds.
Quickly and smoothly, the swimmers dove into the pool.
Nevertheless, you are still required to complete four years of
Out of the sky came a mystery.
Each item below begins with a sentence model from literature that has an interesting sentence opener.
Combine the sentences that follow into a single sentence that matches the structure of the literature model.
You may omit words or change their forms as you combine sentence parts.
Conscience-stricken, Leo rose and brewed the tea.
Bernard Malamud, "The Magic Barrel"
Beth was satisfied.
Beth pushed her chair back from the dinner table and excused herself.
Example: Satisfied, Beth pushed her chair back from the dinner table.
1. Fumbling with both hands, he once more stuck the knife into the sheath.
Isak Dinesen, "The Ring"
The members of the band sounded as good as ever.
They were playing together for the first time in years.
2. In his room, he plays his guitar.
John Updike, "Son"
Nate paints watercolors.
He paints them in his mother's studio.
3. Creaking, jerking, jostling, gasping, the train filled the station.
Nadine Gordimer, "The Train from Rhodesia"
The tractor pushed against the heavy log.
The tractor was grinding, growling, whistling, and hiccupping.
7 4. Eyes narrowing, he thought for a few moments about what to do.
Jack Finney, "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"
The yacht headed out to open sea.
Sails were billowing.
5. Gaunt, bruised, and shaken, he stumbled back to his village.
Lame Deer, "The Vision Quest"
The dog was well-fed, energetic, and happy.
The dog headed outside to play.
6. Frightened, everyone in the village fled into the canes.
Paule Marshall, "To Da-duh, in Memoriam"
The bull was angered.
The bull charged the matador.
7. The staircase window having been boarded up, no light came down into the hall.
Elizabeth Bowen, "The Demon Lover"
The bicycle tire had been punctured.
Jasmine had to walk the bicycle home.
8. Patient, cold, and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats.
Dylan Thomas, "A Child's Christmas in Wales"
The producer accepted the Oscar for best picture.
She was wide-eyed, joyful, and proud.
Her head was lifted high.
9. Slowly, taking my time, I began the final ascent.
Arthur C. Clarke, "The Sentinel"
Leo ran toward the goal line.
He ran swiftly.
He was holding the football firmly in his arms.
8 Wordiness results from many sources. Many of us have learned to pad our writing with
all sorts of empty phrases to reach length requirements for academic writing. Wordiness also tends
to occur when we're struggling to clarify our ideas or when we're tired and not thinking clearly.
Regardless of the reason for padded writing, we can achieve concise writing if we incorporate
several strategies during the writing process and if we're aware of the individual patterns of
wordiness typical of our own writing.
Strategies for Eliminating Wordiness
You can eliminate wordiness in your writing if . . .
• You mark sections of your writing that you struggled to produce. If you had a hard time getting your ideas down on paper, chances are you included some "false starts" or filler phrases in your writing, something like the "ahems," "uhs," and "okays" that occur when we're speaking and formulating our ideas at the same time. This is natural. Don't worry about fillers when you're writing. But after you're done with your draft, pass through your paper once, focusing only on eliminating unnecessary language. Pay particular attention to sections you struggled to get out. • Before editing, give yourself a breather. Even if you just get yourself a cup of coffee or work on something else for a while, getting away from your paper will help give you the distance you'll need to see what language is needed and what's not. • Learn what wordiness patterns are typical of your writing. Most people tend to fall into two or three patterns of wordiness when they write. Learn what your patterns are, and edit with those patterns in mind. Patterns of Wordiness
As you read the following list, consider which patterns are typical of your writing:
• Omit the filler phrases "it is," "there is," and "there are" at the beginning of sentences; these often delay the sentence's true subject and verb. •
Wordy It is expensive to upgrade computer systems.
Concise Upgrading computer systems is expensive.
• Omit "this" from the beginning of a sentence by joining it to the preceding sentence with a comma. •
Wordy Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols. This has lessened the ozone layer's
Concise Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols, lessening the ozone layer's depletion.
• Change "which" or "that" constructions to an "‐ing" word. • Wordy The committee, which meets monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.
• Concise The committee, meeting monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.
• Omit "which" or "that" altogether when possible. • Wordy Because the fluid, which was brown and poisonous, was dumped into the river, the company
that was negligent had to shut down.
• Concise Because the brown, poisonous fluid was dumped into the river, the negligent company had
to shut down.
• Replace passive verbs with active verbs. In passive constructions, the subject of the sentence is being acted upon; in active constructions, the subject is the actor. •
Wordy Rain forests are being destroyed by uncontrolled logging.
Concise Uncontrolled logging is destroying rain forests.
• Change "is" or "was" when they occur alone to a strong verb. 9 •
Wordy A new fire curtain is necessary for the stage.
Concise The stage needs a new fire curtain.
• Replace "is," "are," "was," "were," or "have + an ‐ing word" to a simple present or past tense verb. •
Wordy The South African government was undergoing significant changes.
Concise The South African government underwent significant changes.
• Replace "should," "would," or "could" with strong verbs. • Wordy The environmental council could see several solutions.
• Concise The environmental council saw several solutions.
• Substitute strong verbs for "‐tion" and "‐sion" words whenever possible. •
Wordy I submitted an application for the job.
Concise I applied for the job.
• Replace prepositional phrases with one‐word modifiers when possible. Prepositional phrases, those little relationship words like "of," "from," "after," etc., tend to bring in a lot of "‐tion" and "‐sion" words too. • Wordy The President of the Student Senate was in charge of the lobbying against the merger at the
Minnesota Congress.
• Concise The Student Senate President oversaw lobbying the Minnesota Congress against the
• Use a colon after a statement preceding a sentence of explanation, and leave out the beginning of the next sentence •
Wordy The theater has three main technical areas. These areas are costumes, scenery, and
Concise The theater has three main technical areas: costumes, scenery, and lighting.
• Combine two closely related short sentences by omitting part of one. • Wordy The director is concerned about problems. Typical problems may occur with lighting, sound,
and props.
• Concise The director is concerned about typical problems with lighting, sound, and props.
10 Active and Passive Voice Active Voice In sentences written in active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb; the subject acts. In each example above, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb. Passive Voice In sentences written in passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed in the verb; the subject is acted upon. The agent performing the action may appear in a "by the . . ." phrase or may be omitted. (agent performing action has been omitted.) Choosing Active Voice In most nonscientific writing situations, active voice is preferable to passive for the majority of your sentences. Even in scientific writing, overuse of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused. Sentences in active voice are generally‐‐though not always‐‐ clearer and more direct than those in passive voice. passive (indirect) active (direct): 11 Sentences in active voice are also more concise than those in passive voice because fewer words are required to express action in active voice than in passive. passive (more wordy) active (more concise) Changing passive to active If you want to change a passive‐voice sentence to active voice, find the agent in a "by the..." phrase, or consider carefully who or what is performing the action expressed in the verb. Make that agent the subject of the sentence, and change the verb accordingly. Sometimes you will need to infer the agent from the surrounding sentences which provide context. Passive Voice Agent Changed to Active Voice most of the class agent not specified; most likely agents such as "the researchers" FIX THE PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIONS 1. Before the semester was over, the new nursing program had been approved by the Curriculum Committee and the Board of Trustees. 2. With five seconds left in the game, an illegal time‐out was called by one of the players. 3. The major points of the lesson were quickly learned by the class, but they were also quickly forgotten by them. 12 Instead of "Said"
When you want to
say that someone said something, try using one of these words...instead!
If you are unsure about what one of these words means, look it up in the dictionary.
pointed out
13 Essay Section
14 DEFINITIONS/PURPOSES FOR THE MODES OF WRITING Source: kimskorner4teachertalk.com
Modes of writing, forms of writing, types of writing, domains of writing. Whatever you want to call them, there are different categories for writing. Each mode has a specific purpose. There are five basic modes, descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive. These basic modes can then be broken down into subcategories. BASIC MODES: Creative Writing The primary purpose of creative writing is to entertain the reader. Descriptive Writing The primary purpose of descriptive writing is to describe a person, place, or event so that the topic can be clearly seen in the reader's mind. The writer must use vivid details that paint a picture for the reader. Expository Writing The primary purpose of expository writing is to provide information such as an explanation or directions. Narrative Writing The primary purpose of narrative writing is to describe an experience, event, or sequence of events in the form of a story. Persuasive Writing The primary purpose of persuasive writing is to give an opinion and try to influence the reader's way of thinking with supporting evidence. SUBCATEGORIES: Argumentative Writing This form of persuasive writing has a primary purpose of making a statement that the reader will disagree with, then supporting the statement with specific details that will convince the reader of the truth of the statement Business Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of communicating with others in the work place. Comparison and Contrast Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of showing the similarities and differences 15 between two subjects. Expressive Writing This form of creative writing has a primary purpose of sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings on the topic. Informative Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of providing information in a clear, concise manner. Literary Response This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of providing a personal reaction to a piece of literature. Personal Narrative Writing This form of narrative writing has a primary purpose of sharing an experience or event from the author's own life. Poetry This form of creative writing has a primary purpose of imaginatively reflecting on a subject, idea, or event. This is usually done in stanzas rather than paragraphs. Process Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of explaining the steps or procedure of something. Research Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of reporting new information that has been learned by studying available resources. Technical Writing This form of expository writing has a primary purpose of conveying technical information in a simple, no‐nonsense manner. 16 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 17 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 18 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 19 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 20 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 21 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 22 6­Trait Writing Handouts The building blocks of good writing: 23 6­Trait Writing Handouts Definitions of 6­Traits of Writing Ideas: The main message of the piece, the theme, with supporting details that enrich and develop that theme. Key Question: Did the writer stay focused and share original and fresh information or perspective about the topic? Organization: The internal structure, thread of central meaning, logical and sometimes intriguing pattern or sequence of the ideas. Key Question: Does the organizational structure enhance the ideas and make it easier to understand? Voice: The unique perspective of the writer evident in the piece through the use of compelling ideas, engaging language, and revealing details. Key Question: Would you keep reading this piece if it were longer? Word Choice: The use of rich, colorful, and precise language that moves and enlightens the reader. Key Question: Do the words and phrases create vivid pictures and linger in your mind? Sentence Fluency: The rhythm and flow of the language, the sound of word patterns, the way in which the writing plays to the ear, not just to the eye. Key Question: Can you FEEL the words and phrases flow together as you read it aloud? Conventions: The mechanical correctness of the piece; spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar usage, and paragraphing. Key Question: How much editing would have to be done to be ready to share with an outside source? A whole lot? Score in the 1‐2 range. A moderate amount? Score in the 3 range. Very little? Score in the 4‐5 range. 24 6‐Trait Writing Rubric Title of Essay_______________________ Intended Audience__________________________________________________ Purpose of Essay_____________________________________________ Ideas: The main message of the piece, the theme, with supporting details that enrich and develop that theme. Key Question: Did the writer stay focused and share original and fresh information or perspective about the topic? Personal Summary: Organization: The internal structure, thread of central meaning, logical and sometimes intriguing pattern or sequence of the ideas. Key Question: Does the organizational structure enhance the ideas and make it easier to understand? Personal Summary: Voice: The unique perspective of the writer evident in the piece through the use of compelling ideas, engaging language, and revealing details. Key Question: Would you keep reading this piece if it were longer? Personal Summary: 5This paper is clear and focused. It holds the 5The organizational structure of this 5The writer of this paper speaks reader's attention. Relevant anecdotes and details enrich the central theme. A. The topic is narrow and manageable B. Relevant, telling, quality details go beyond the obvious C. Ideas are crystal clear and supported with details D. Writing from knowledge or experience; ideas are fresh and original E. Reader's questions are anticipated and answered. F. Insightful topic paper enhances and showcases the central idea or theme of the paper; includes a catchy introduction and a satisfying conclusion. A. An inviting introduction draws the reader in; a satisfying conclusion leaves the reader with a sense of closure and resolution. B. Thoughtful transitions connect ideas. C. Sequencing is logical and effective. D. Pacing is well controlled. E. The title, if desired, is original. F. Organizational structure is appropriate for purpose and audience; paragraphing is effective. directly to the reader in a manner that is individual, compelling, engaging, and shows respect for the audience. A. Uses topic, details, and language to strongly connect with the audience. B. Purpose is reflected by content and arrangement of ideas. C. The writer takes a risk with revealing details. D. Expository or persuasive reflects understanding and commitment to topic. E. Narrative writing is honest, personal, and engaging. 3The writer is beginning to define the topic, 3The organizational structure is strong enough to move the reader through the text without too much confusion. A. The paper has a recognizable introduction and conclusion. B. Transitions sometimes work. C. Sequencing shows some logic, yet structure takes attention away from the content. D. Pacing is fairly well controlled. E. A title, if desired, is present. F. Organizational structure sometimes supports the main point or story line, with an attempt at paragraphing. 3The writer seems sincere, but not fully engaged or involved. The result is pleasant or even personable, but not compelling. A. Attempt to connect with audience is earnest but impersonal. B. Attempts to include content and arrangement of ideas to reflect purpose. C. Occasionally reveals personal details, but avoids risk. D. Expository or persuasive writing lacks consistent engagement with the topic. E. Narrative writing reflects limited individual perspective. 1The writing lacks a clear sense of direction. A. No real lead or conclusion present. B. Connections between ideas, if present, are confusing. C. Sequencing needs work. D. Pacing feels awkward. E. No title is present (if requested). F. Problems with organizational structure make it hard for the reader to get a grip on the main point or story line. Little or no evidence of paragraphing present. 1The writer seems uninvolved with the topic and the audience. A. Fails to connect with the audience. B. Purpose is unclear. C. Writing is risk free, with no sense of the writer. D. Expository or persuasive writing is mechanical, showing no engagement with the topic. E. Narrative writing lacks development of a point of view. even though development is still basic or general. A. The topic is broad B. Support is attempted C. Ideas are reasonably clear D. Writer has difficulty going from general observations about topic to specifics E. The reader is left with questions F. The writer generally stays on topic 1The paper has no clear sense of purpose or central theme. The reader must make inferences based on sketchy or missing details. A. The writer is still in search of a topic B. Information is limited or unclear or the length is not adequate for development C. The idea is a simple restatement or a simple answer to the question D. The writer has not begun to define the topic E. Everything seems as important as everything else F. The topic may be repetitious, disconnected, and contains too many random thoughts 25 6‐Trait Writing Rubric Word Choice: The use of rich, Sentence Fluency: The rhythm colorful, and precise language that and flow of the language, the sound of moves and enlightens the reader. Key word patterns, the way in which the Question: Do the words and phrases writing plays to the ear, not just to the create vivid pictures and linger in your eye. Key Question: Can you FEEL the mind? words and phrases flow together as you read it aloud? Conventions: The mechanical correctness of the piece; spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar usage, and paragraphing. Key Question: How much editing would have to be done to be ready to share with an outside source? Personal Summary: Personal Summary: Personal Summary: 5 Words convey the intended message 5 The writing has an easy flow, rhythm 5 The writer demonstrates a good grasp of in a precise, interesting, and natural way. A. Words are specific and accurate. B. Striking words and phrases create imagery. C. Natural, effective and appropriate language. D. Lively verbs, specific nouns and modifiers. E. Language enhances and clarifies meaning. F. Precision is obvious by choice of words and phrases. and cadence. Sentences are well constructed. A. Sentences enhance the meaning. B. Sentences vary in length as well as structure. C. Purposeful and varied sentence beginnings. D. Creative and appropriate connectives. E. The writing has cadence. standard writing conventions (e.g., spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar usage, paragraphing) A. Spelling is generally correct. B. Punctuation is accurate. C. Capitalization skills are present. D. Grammar and usage are correct. E. Paragraphing tends to be sound. F. The writer may manipulate and/or edit for stylistic effect; and it works! 3 The text hums along with a steady 3 The writer shows reasonable control beat, but tends to be more pleasant or businesslike than musical. A. Sentences get the job done in a routine fashion. B. Sentences are usually of similar length, yet constructed correctly. C. Sentence beginnings are sometimes varied. D. The reader sometimes has to hunt for connective clues. E. Parts of the text invite expressive oral reading; other parts may be stiff, awkward, choppy, or gangly. over a limited range of standard writing conventions A. Spelling is usually correct or reasonably phonetic on common words. B. End punctuation is usually correct. C. Most capitalized words are correct. D. Problems with grammar and usage are not serious. E. Paragraphing is attempted. F. Moderate, inconsistent editing (a little of this, a little of that). 3 The language is functional, even if it lacks much energy. A. Words are adequate and correct in a general sense. B. Familiar words and phrases communicate. C. Attempts at colorful language. D. Passive verbs, everyday nouns, mundane modifiers E. Language functions, with one or two fine moments. F. Occasionally, the words and phrases show refinement and precision 1 The writer struggles with a limited vocabulary A. Words are nonspecific or distracting. B. Many of the words don’t work. C. Language is used incorrectly. D. Limited vocabulary, misuse of parts of speech. E. Language is unimaginative and lifeless. F. Jargon or clichés, persistent redundancy. 1 The reader has to practice quite a bit in order to give this paper a fair interpretive reading. A. Sentences are choppy, incomplete, rambling, or awkward. Phrasing does not sound natural. B. No "sentence sense" present. C. Sentences begin the same way. D. Endless connectives, if any present. E. Writing does not invite expressive oral reading. 1 Errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, usage and grammar and/or paragraphing repeatedly distract the reader and make text difficult to read. A. Spelling errors are frequent. B. Punctuation missing or incorrect. C. Capitalization is random. D. Errors in grammar or usage are very noticeable. E. Paragraphing is missing. F. Little, if any, editing; the reader must read once to decode, then again for meaning. TOTAL ___________/30 26 Persuasive/Argumentation Rubric
Define the Problem
introduction engages
the reader and creates
interest. Contains a
clear explanation of
the problem.
Introduction creates
interest and contains
some background
adequately explains
the problem, but may
lack detail.
Background details
are a random
collection of
information, unclear,
or not related to the
Thesis clearly states a
significant and
compelling position.
Thesis clearly states
the problem.
Thesis states the
Thesis and/or problem
is vague or unclear.
Body Paragraphs
Well developed main
points directly related
to the thesis.
Supporting examples
are concrete and
detailed. Elaboration
is logical, and well
thought out.
Main points are
related to the thesis,
but one may lack
details. Commentary
is present.
Three or more main
points are present.
Development of ideas
is poor. Elaboration is
not present.
opposing view
logically and clearly.
Refutation paragraph
acknowledges the
opposing view and
summarizes points.
Refutation missing or
Conclusion effectively
wraps up and goes
beyond restating the
Conclusion effectively
summarizes topics.
Conclusion does not
summarize main
Logical progression of
ideas with a clear
structure that
enhances the thesis.
Transitions are mature
and graceful.
Logical progression of
ideas. Transitions are
present equally
throughout essay.
Organization is clear.
Transitions are
No discernable
Transitions are not
Sentence flow, variety
Spelling, punctuation,
Writing is smooth,
skillful, and coherent.
Sentences are strong
and expressive with
varied structure.
Diction is consistent
and words well
chosen. Punctuation,
spelling, capitalization
are correct. No
Writing is clear and
sentences have varied
structure. Diction is
Punctuation, spelling,
capitalization are
generally correct, with
few errors. (1-2)
Writing is clear, but
sentences may lack
variety. Diction is
appropriate. A few
errors in punctuation,
spelling, capitalization.
Writing is confusing,
hard to follow.
Contains fragments
and/or run-on
Inappropriate diction.
Distracting errors in
punctuation, spelling,
TOTAL ___________/35 27 Expository Essay Rubric Extraordinary (4 pts)
Adequate (3 pts)
Competent (2 pts)
Unsatisfactory (1 pt)
and Thesis
Distinct tone;
unmistakable intent;
uniform specificity; stylish
opening; solid thesis
Clear tone; evident intent;
limited specificity;
effective opening;
confident thesis;
Restatement of prompt as
opening statement;
mechanical thesis
statement; some
specificity; limited
attempts at tone
Objective, dull tone;
vague or absent thesis;
general statements; lack
of specificity; lifeless,
ordinary language
Ideas and
Interesting; clear;
reasoned; sophisticated;
Thoughtful; mature;
reasoned; interesting;
Sound; limited in depth;
appropriate but
inadequately developed
Obvious; shallow;
unsound; inaccurate;
Accurate; forceful; rich in
detail; extensive;
convincing; specific
Thorough; persuasive;
specific; clear; complete
Appropriate; sufficient;
relevant; clear; mostly
Inappropriate; vague;
incomplete; general
Stylish transitions; unity;
coherence of sentences
and paragraphs; clear
focus; careful and subtle
organization subordinate
to meaning and ideas
Effective transitions;
coherent paragraphs;
unmistakable focus;
careful organization
subordinate to meaning
and ideas
Clear transitions; mostly
coherent paragraphs;
reasonable focus; ideas
subordinate to
organizational devices
Vague or unclear focus;
random, loose, choppy
structure; limited attempt
to organize
Syntax and
Varied sentence
beginnings and lengths;
command of stylistic
techniques; interesting,
original delivery; no
wasted words
Sentence variety; some
attempts at style; clear,
noteworthy delivery; few
wasted words
Effective sentence
structure; some variety;
some lapses in syntax;
Simplistic dull, ordinary
syntax and expression;
repetitious; fragments and
run-ons; wordy
Diction and
Rich, precise and effective
vocabulary; fresh and
intense language and
imagery; use of strong
action verbs; confident
active voice
Effective vocabulary;
accurate word use; use of
action verbs and active
Adequate vocabulary;
reliance on verbs of being
and passive voice;
thesaurusitis; some
problems with usage
Inappropriate or
immature vocabulary;
incorrect word choice;
word omissions; errors in
agreement; inconsistent
Stylishly and subtly
culminates by further
developing main idea;
effective specificity; leaves
a pleasing impression on
the reader
Returns to thesis and
summarizes main points
clearly; some specificity;
solid sense of finality
Ends effectively;
summarizes previously
stated materials; at least
briefly returns to thesis or
main idea
Fails to conclude; repeats
previously stated
information; adds nothing
new in many words
Command of voice
appropriate to audience
and topic; strong;
authoritative; authentic;
Clear; authentic;
appropriate to audience
and topic; confident;
Consistent but somewhat
uninteresting; basic and
Inconsistent; indefinite;
inappropriate to audience
and/or task
Error free
Mostly error free
Some bothersome errors
in spelling and
Mechanical errors which
interfere with
communication and/or
TOTAL ___________/36 28 Personal Narrative Essay Rubric 1
Personal Narrative Rubric
Stimulating Ideas
Focuses on a specific event or experience
Presents an engaging picture of the action and people involved
Contains specific details and dialogue
Makes readers want to know what happens next
Logical Organization
Includes a clear beginning that pulls readers into the essay
Presents ideas in an organized manner Uses transitions to link sentences and paragraphs Flows smoothly from one idea to the next Engaging Voice
Speaks knowledgably and/or enthusiastically
Shows that the writer is truly interested in the subject
Contains specific nouns, vivid verbs, and colorful modifiers
Sentence structure and variety
Spelling, punctuation, capitalization
Word choice and usage
TOTAL ___________/20
29 Narrative Essay Rubric Distinguished
(from the ELA
Engaging the
Engages the reader
with an interesting
introduction that
makes the reader
connect with the story
and the character.
Adequately engages
the reader.
Makes an attempt to Does not try to engage the
engage the reader
reader or establish the
but is not
context of the story.
of the plot and
Establishes a
situation, plot,
persona, point of
view, setting, conflict,
and resolution;
Develops complex
Provides an
Barely develops the
adequately developed plot and characters
plot, but not quite
are superficial.
good enough to rate
it as distinguished.
Characters are
The plot is difficult to
follow or understand and
requires further
development. Characters
show little to no
Creates an
structure that
balances and unifies
all narrative aspects
of the story.
Shows a clear
attempt at
organization that
comes close to
unifying the story;
digressions are rare.
Lacks focus and a
controlling idea;
digressions and/or
abrupt shifts in the
response may
interfere with
There is little or no
organization present;
frequent digressions
and/or abrupt shifts in the
response interfere with
Style and
The ideas are clearly
and effectively
developed; writing is
fluent and polished
with effective
Most ideas are clearly
expressed; writing is
generally fluent, with
some use of
Some ideas may not Many ideas are difficult to
be clearly
understand; fluency and
expressed; fluency
transitions are lacking.
and transitions may
be lacking.
Spelling and
mastery of the rules
of the English
Language including
punctuation, spelling,
and grammar.
Makes good attempt
to revise with only a
few errors in
punctuation, spelling,
Efforts to revise are
made but with many
errors in
spelling, grammar
Needs Improvement /
Shows little to no evidence
of proofreading, with many
punctuation, spelling,
TOTAL ___________/20
30 Research Essay Rubric Exceeds Standard -4
Meets Standard -3
Nearly Meets
Standard -2
Does Not Meet
Clearly and concisely
states the paper’s
purpose which is
engaging, and
thought provoking.
The introduction is
engaging, states the
main topic and
previews the
structure of the paper.
Each paragraph has
thoughtful supporting
detail sentences that
develop the main
Writer demonstrates
logical and subtle
sequencing of ideas
through welldeveloped
transitions are used to
enhance organization.
The conclusion is
engaging and restates
the thesis.
No errors in
capitalization and
spelling No errors
sentence structure
and word usage..
Clearly states the
paper’s purpose in a
single sentence.
States the paper’s
purpose in a single
Incomplete and/or
The introduction states
the main topic and
previews the structure
of the paper.
The introduction states
the main topic but
does not adequately
preview the structure
of the paper.
Each paragraph lacks
supporting detail
There is no clear
introduction or
main topic and the
structure of the
paper is missing.
Each paragraph
fails to develop the
main idea.
Absent, no
Paragraph development
present but not
Logical organization;
organization of ideas
not fully developed.
No evidence of
structure or
The conclusion restates
the thesis.
The conclusion does
not adequately restate
the thesis.
Many errors in
capitalization and
spelling. Many errors
in sentence structure
and word usage.
Incomplete and/or
All cited works, both
text and visual, are
done in the correct
format with no errors.
Some cited works, both
text and visual, are done
in the correct format.
Inconsistencies evident.
Few cited works, both
text and visual, are
done in the correct
Numerous and
distracting errors in
capitalization and
Numerous and
distracting errors in
sentence structure
and word usage.
Done in the correct
format with no errors.
Includes a minimum
of 5 major references.
Headings: Title,
Your Name,
Teacher’s Name,
Course Period, Date,
Neatly finished-no
errors (12 pt font,
Done in the correct
format with few errors.
. Includes 5 major
Done in the correct
format with some
errors. Includes 4
major references
Done in the correct
format with many
errors. Includes 3
major references
Evidence of four
Evidence of 3
Evidence of 2 or
of the Idea
Each paragraph has
sufficient supporting
detail sentences that
develop the main idea.
Almost no errors in
capitalization and
spelling. Almost no
errors in sentence
structure and word
Evidence 0
Absent, no
TOTAL ___________/36
31 Basic Research Presentation Rubric ____ 50 pts: Typed, double-spaced speech (organized by slides or speaker, depending on best fit for your presentation) ____20 pts: includes annotated works cited
____10 pts: 5-10 minutes
____10 pts: teaches class about your topic
____10 pts: explains what happened or what topic is
____10 pts: Explains how topic is related to the subject
____10 pts: All Group members spoke
____30 pts: Visual aid relevant to presentation info, and carries throughout presentation
____ 20 pts: 2 book references
____ 10 pts: 2 periodical references
____ 10 pts: 2 reputable, verifiable website references
____ 10 pts: all pictures and clip art cited
____/200pts Total grade
Minus 1 point for each English Error:
32 Formal Writing
What NOT To Do In Formal Writing!
No contractions--Do not use words such as: don’t, weren’t, can’t
o It is okay to use possessive pronouns. Don’t confuse the two different uses of apostrophes.
No abbreviations unless explained.
o This is okay: The United Nations (UN) did not support the forceful removal of Hussien.
On Monday, the UN discussed his poor leadership and failure to follow UN sanctions.
o This is NOT okay: The UN (United Nations) or … The UN did not support…
No vague words
o Remove these words from your writing vocabulary: get, got, put, go, going, said, stuff, things, goes,
putting, etc.
Remove the following phrases (or anything like them): “I think that,” “I
believe,” “I will tell you about,” “I thought,” “This paragraph is about”
o You are the writer – Of course, You THINK! If you didn’t think it, you wouldn’t write it!
Avoid using questions in your writing.
o This is usually by very young (3rd or 4th grade) or very advanced writers (12th graders or college.) You
only use questions IF you answer them in your essay; generally avoid them if possible.
No first or second person!
o “You” is second person…use only THIRD person in formal writing.
Write out numbers that are less than ten, or numbers that start a
o One, two, three, four, and so on are not hard to write. Spell them out! If a large number is starting a
sentence then you must spell it out completely. i.e. Two million, four hundred fifty two thousand, two
hundred eleven rabbits were found on the field.
Do not END a sentence with a preposition: above, about, to, from, etc.
Avoid using parentheses in your text.
o Parenthetical citations (in-text citations) are GREAT, WONDERFUL! They are what parentheses are
used for in formal papers.
o You can use parentheses to explain an abbreviation as shown above.
Correctly format and ATTACH your works cited page when in-text
citations are used.
33 Introductions
Why bother writing a good introduction? 1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work. A vague, disorganized, error‐filled, off‐the‐wall, or boring introduction will probably create a negative impression. On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and well‐written introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper. This impression is especially important when the audience you are trying to reach (your instructor) will be grading your work. 2. Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. It should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. It will also, ideally, give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper. 3. Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should capture your readers' interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper. Opening with a compelling story, a fascinating quotation, an interesting question, or a stirring example can get your readers to see why this topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an interesting intellectual conversation. Strategies for writing an effective introduction • Start by thinking about the question. Your entire essay will be a response to the assigned question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end. Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point. You will probably refer back to this question extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the question itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction. • Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn't necessarily true, and it isn't always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. You may find that you don't know what you are going to argue at the beginning of the writing process, and only through the experience of writing your paper do you discover your main argument. It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point, but wind up arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you've written most of the paper. • Don't be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. That's fine, but if you are one of those people, be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if necessary. • Open with an attention grabber. Sometimes, especially if the topic of your paper is somewhat dry or technical, opening with something catchy can help. Consider these options: 1. an intriguing example (for example, the mistress who initially teaches Douglass but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about slavery) 2. a provocative quotation (Douglass writes that "education and slavery were incompatible with each other") 3. a puzzling scenario (Frederick Douglass says of slaves that "[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!" Douglass clearly asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.) 4. a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote (for example, "Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School, students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and the rules that governed their lives. We didn't discuss education, however, until one student, Mary, 34 raised her hand and asked, 'But when did they go to school?' That modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.") 5. a thought‐provoking question (given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?) • Pay special attention to your first sentence. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and error‐free way. • Be straightforward and confident. Avoid statements like "In this paper, I will argue that Frederick Douglass valued education." While this sentence points toward your main argument, it isn't especially interesting. It might be more effective to say what you mean in a declarative sentence. It is much more convincing to tell us that "Frederick Douglass valued education" than to tell us that you are going to say that he did. Assert your main argument confidently. After all, you can't expect your reader to believe it if it doesn't sound like you believe it! Other Introduction Options: Suppose you are introducing a friend to your brother Joe. Would you say "Hey, Joe, this is Tina," and then walk away leaving them there together? Of course not! You would tell Joe a little about Tina's background: where she's from, where she went to school, where she works, and any other important information that will make Joe want to get to know Tina better, right? Well, introducing your paper to your reader is the exact same thing. You want the reader to want to know more about your paper. You want to get the reader interested in what you might have to say. An introduction should lead naturally into the rest of your paper and be appropriate to its subject and tone. Some suggestions for openings follow, but use judgment in applying them. Although beginning with an anecdote can be effective for some papers, don't force one where it doesn't belong. A story about your indecisive father is not the best way to begin a paper analyzing the character of Hamlet. • Use a relevant quotation from the work you are discussing. Example: “I am encompassed by a wall, high and hard and stone, with only my brainy nails to tear it down. And I cannot do it.” Kerewin Holmes, one of the main characters in Keri Hulme's novel The Bone People,” describes herself as both physically and emotionally alone in a tower she has built by the New Zealand Sea. Throughout the novel Hulme uses concrete images—the tower, muteness, physical beatings, the ocean—to suggest her characters' isolation from each other and the community around them. • Provide background or context for your thesis statement. Example: Until the second half of this century, Americans spent the country's natural resources freely. They mined for minerals, diverted rivers, replaced wilderness with cities and towns. In the process they cut down forests that had been in place for thousands of years. Now, as the twenty‐first century approaches, the reality that progress has its price is obvious to almost everyone. Only ten percent of old‐growth forests in the United States remain intact, with demand for wood products expected to grow by fifty percent in the next fifty years. The country is in danger of losing its forests altogether unless citizens pursue solutions from everyday recycling to using wood alternatives to actively supporting government regulations. • Ask a question that leads to your thesis statement. Example: Is the United States still a country where the middle class thrives? Strong evidence suggests that the traditional American view of a successful middle class is fading. At the very least, the prospects for someone who stands in the economic middle have significantly changed since the 1970s. Twenty‐five years ago middle‐class people expected to own their own homes in the suburbs and send their children to college. Today, for many people, these expectations have become more like distant dreams. Two factors—
a growing disparity in wages within the labor force and rising prices for real estate and goods—suggest that the middle class is a less comfortable place to be than it was for the previous generation. • Begin with a relevant anecdote that leads to your thesis statement. Example: Doug was the star in my high school senior class. He captained the football team, dated the best looking girls, charmed the teachers, and managed to get A's and B's seemingly without studying. When he headed off to a big Midwestern university, we weren't surprised. But when he was home again a year later on academic probation, many of us wondered what could have happened. Doug told me candidly that his year at the university was far removed from anything he'd experienced in high school. Quite simply, his small, noncompetitive high school classes hadn't prepared him for a large, impersonal university where the professors didn't know his name, let alone his role as a big man on campus. I believe programs to help students like Doug make the transition from high school to college could help reduce the high failure rate among college freshmen. 35 More Ideas for Writing Introductions The introduction is the first sentence of your essay and it plays the dual role of setting the theme of your essay
and engaging the reader. Create Mystery or Intrigue in your Introduction. It is not necessary or recommended
that your first sentence give away the subject matter. Raise questions in the minds of your reader to force them to
read on. Appeal to their senses and emotions to make them relate to your subject matter.
Action Introduction
An Action Introduction takes the reader into the middle of an action sequence. By not building up to the story, it
forces the reader to read on to find out not only the significance of this moment in time, but what led up to and
followed it. It is perfect for short essays where space must be conserved or for narrative essays that begin with a
I promised God I would eat all my peas, but He didn’t care. A confused eleven-year-old girl, I sat and listened to
my father pace. With each heavy step echoing loudly throughout the silent house, my family’s anxiety and
anticipation mounted while awaiting news of my grandfather's health. My heart racing, I watched the clock,
amazed that time could crawl so slowly. Finally, the telephone interrupted the house’s solemn silence. I heard my
father repeating the words "yes, yes, of course." He then hung up the receiver and announced my grandfather's
death and cancer's victory.
This is the kind of introduction that will immediately intrigue your reader because it begins with a very unusual
declaration. The image of a little girl eating peas and hoping to acquire God’s help is charming while hinting at the
solemnity of the situation described.
Dialogue Introduction
Like the action introduction, the dialogue introduction brings the reader directly into the action, only this time in the
form of dialogue. If you are writing about an influential figure in your life, you can mention a quote from this person
that exemplifies the importance that he or she had on your life.
"You must stop seeing that Russian girl," I ordered my brother when he returned home last summer from the
University of Indianapolis. Echoing the prejudiced, ignorant sentiment that I had grown up with, I believed it was
wrong to become seriously involved with a person who does not follow the Hindu religion and is not a member of
the Indian race.
On the verge of losing consciousness, I asked myself: "Why am I doing this?" Why was I punishing my body? I
had no answer; my mind blanked out from exhaustion and terror. I had no time to second-guess myself with a
terrifying man leaning over my shoulder yelling: "You can break six minutes!" As flecks of spit flew from his mouth
and landed on the handle bar of the ergometer, I longed to be finished with my first Saturday rowing practice and
my first fifteen-hundred-meter "erg test."
The power of this introduction comes from its attention to detail. The question "Why am I doing this?" gains
support from every horrible detail: the exhaustion, the terrifying man, and the specks of spit flying from his mouth!
With such strong supporting evidence, the quotation takes on a life of its own. Your reader will find himself
thinking, "Why would anyone do that? I’d like to find out…"
Overarching Societal Statements
This can be very effective if the statement is unique, but can be detrimental if your statement is debatable or
unclear. Make sure that if you use this form of introduction that no member of the audience will take offense to it.
That is unless you are trying to stir an audience.
High school is a strange time. After three years of trying to develop an identity and friends in middle school,
students are expected to mature immediately on the first day of ninth grade.
To this day, the United States remains driven by the American Dream, and we often hear of immigrants who
come to this country to search for opportunities that their native countries lack. In these tales, immigrants succeed
through hard work, dedication, and a little luck. As idealistic as the story may seem, I have been fortunate enough
36 to experience its reality in the life of one very important man. His example has had great impact on my personal
expectations and goals, and the manner in which I approach my own life.
Personal Introduction
The Personal Introduction takes the reader directly into your mind. It says, "This is what it is like to be me.
At times, I think the world around me is crumbling to the ground, but it never does. Like most people, I face the
crunches of deadlines and endless demands on my time, but I have never encountered the type of adversity that
can crush people, that can drive people crazy, that can drive them to suicide.
I chuckle to myself every time I think about this. I am perceived as a mild-mannered, intelligent individual until I
mention that I am involved in riflery.
Did the first sentence of this introduction confuse you? This was no doubt its intention. By creating a little mystery
in the first sentence, the reader is forced to keep reading and keep wondering, "what is this kid’s secret?" until the
final word, which pops in the reader’s mind, sort of like a gunshot: "riflery."
Question Introduction
Many essays begin with a question. While this is an easy way to begin an essay, the audience may perceive it as
a "lazy introduction." No one wants to read an essay that begins with such tacky material as: "To be or not to be?"
or "Are you looking for an applicant who has drive and determination? Well, I’m your guy." If you are going to use
a question, make sure that it is an extremely compelling one and that your experiences provide answers.
Influence? Why is it that the people who influence us most influence us in ways that are not easily quantified?
Through her work with abused children, my mother has shown me the heroism of selfless dedication to a worthy
Quotation Introduction
Many writers are tempted to start their essay with a quote. You should try to resist this temptation, as most quotes
will look forced. Readers will be turned off if it is apparent that you searched through a book of famous quotes and
came up with a quote from some famous philosopher about whom you know nothing. The quotation introduction
is most effective when the quote you choose is unusual, funny, or obscure, not too long, and from those to whom
you are closest. Choose a quote with a meaning you plan to reveal to the reader as the essay progresses.
John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." I see
academics as a similar two-way interaction: in the classroom, I will do much more than take up valuable space.
Because of the broad range of experiences I have had, my knowledge of many subjects is thorough. These
experiences will help me perform well in any class, as I have learned how to use my time efficiently.
This is a risky quote with which to begin an essay. After all, it is difficult to imagine a more time-worn or oftrepeated statement. However, this introduction goes on to apply this quote in a relatively unique manner. The
contrast between such a standard quotation and such an interesting application will likely catch your reader’s
"Experience is what you receive when you don’t get what you want." I remembered my father’s words as I tried to
postpone the coming massacre. Just as during the fall of the Roman Empire, my allies became enemies and my
foes turned into partners. In fast and furious action with property changing hands again and again, I rested my
fate on the words of one man, hoping he would rescue me from this dangerous tailspin. Do these experts realize
the heartbreak they are inflicting on my young life? While the uncertainty of tomorrow’s attire is the most pressing
concern for many seventeen-year-olds, I must worry about much greater issues! It is August 31, the market is
down over 300 points and the value of my stock portfolio is falling fast.
Quoting a person with whom you enjoy a close relationship is generally preferable to quoting a famous source.
This passage’s strength comes from the brief, understated role that the quote plays. The short statement
introduces the rest of the paragraph and presents the fundamental point, and then the essay moves on to
examine specific details. This is the ideal role of a quotation.
37 Types of introductions to avoid: 1. The Dictionary Definition: Many papers begin "Webster's defines X as..." and then continue to discuss the topic. This type of introduction has become very stale with faculty who have seen it thousands of times. 2. The "Cinema scope" Intro: These often crop up in introductory history classes. Avoid sweeping panoramas such as "Throughout the march of history, one thing has been true..." or "Many novels have considered the ways in which good people become corrupted by money." 3. Cutting to the Chase too quickly: It is too easy to go too far while avoiding overly general introductions. Avoid jumping right into a thesis statement and do not try to cover every topic in the first paragraph. It is difficult to say how specific to be in an introduction, but consider the idea that this part of a paper provides "the lay of the land" for a reader who will then know why the paper is worth finishing. 4. Memorable Quotations: Some readers do not like papers to start with another's words. This overused strategy may be acceptable if a direct quotation sets the stage for what follows and its relevance is discussed in the introduction. 38 Conclusions
Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. While the body is often easier to write, it needs a frame around it. An introduction and conclusion frame your thoughts and bridge your ideas for the reader. Just as your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their own lives into the "place" of your analysis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down. Your conclusion is your chance to have the last word on the subject. The conclusion allows you to have the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper, to summarize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and to propel your reader to a new view of the subject. It is also your opportunity to make a good final impression and to end on a positive note. Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the prompt and allows you to consider broader issues, make new connections, and elaborate on the significance of your findings. Your conclusion should make your readers glad they read your paper. Your conclusion gives your reader something to take away that will help them see things differently or appreciate your topic in personally relevant ways. It can suggest broader implications that will not only interest your reader, but also enrich your reader's life in some way. It is your gift to the reader. Strategies for writing an effective conclusion 1. Answer the question "So What?": Show your readers why this paper was important. Show them that your paper was meaningful and useful. 2. Synthesize, don't summarize: Don't simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it. Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used were not random, but fit together. 3. Redirect your readers: Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your paper in the "real" world. If your introduction went from general to specific, make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally. 3. Create a new meaning: You don't have to give new information to create a new meaning. By demonstrating how your ideas work together, you can create a new picture. Often the sum of the paper is worth more than its parts. 4. Echoing the introduction: Echoing your introduction can be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full‐
circle. If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding. • Example Introduction From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventure Land. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old‐fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults. • Example Conclusion I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept in their parents' arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty‐year‐old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again. 5. Challenging the reader: By issuing a challenge to your readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and they may apply it to their own lives. • Example Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However, juries are part of America's attempt to be a free and just society. Thus, jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens. 39 6. Looking to the future: Looking to the future can emphasize the importance of your paper or redirect the readers' thought process. It may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more globally. • Example Without well‐qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings and equipment. If higher‐paying careers continue to attract the best and the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers, but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers. 7. Posing questions: Posing questions, either to your readers or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic, which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring your main ideas together to create a new meaning. • Example Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate's qualifications and positions on he issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God‐fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap? Strategies to avoid 1. Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as "in conclusion," "in summary," or "in closing." Although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as wooden and trite in writing. 2. Stating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion. 3. Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion. 4. Ending with a rephrased thesis statement without any substantive changes. 5. Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of an analytical paper. 6. Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper. Four kinds of ineffective conclusions 1. The "That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It" Conclusion. This conclusion just restates the thesis and is usually painfully short. It does not push the ideas forward. People write this kind of conclusion when they can't think of anything else to say. Example: In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery. 2. The "America the Beautiful"/"I Am Woman"/"We Shall Overcome" Conclusion. This kind of conclusion usually draws on emotion to make its appeal, but while this emotion and even sentimentality may be very heartfelt, it is usually out of character with the rest of an analytical paper. A more sophisticated commentary, rather than emotional praise, would be a more fitting tribute to the topic. Example Because of the efforts of fine Americans like Frederick Douglass, countless others have seen the shining beacon of light that is education. His example was a torch that lit the way for others. Frederick Douglass was truly an American hero. 3. The "Grab Bag" Conclusion. This kind of conclusion includes extra information that the writer found or thought of but couldn't integrate into the main paper. You may find it hard to leave out details that you discovered after hours of research and thought, but adding random facts and bits of evidence at the end of an otherwise‐well‐organized essay can just create confusion. Example: In addition to being an educational pioneer, Frederick Douglass provides an interesting case study for masculinity in the American South. He also offers historians an interesting glimpse into slave resistance when he confronts Covey, the overseer. His relationships with female relatives reveal the importance of family in the slave community. 40 What is a thesis? A thesis statement declares what you believe and what you intend
to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful research project and a
simple retelling of facts. A good tentative thesis will help you focus your search for information. But
don't rush! You must do a lot of background reading before you know enough about a subject to identify
key or essential questions. You may not know how you stand on an issue until you have examined the
evidence. You will likely begin your research with a working, preliminary or tentative thesis which you
will continue to refine until you are certain of where the evidence leads. The thesis statement is typically
located at the end of your opening paragraph. (The opening paragraph serves to set the context for the
Remember, your reader will be looking for your thesis. Make it clear, strong, and easy to find.
Attributes of a good thesis:
• It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A
strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present.
• It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
• It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing “everything about …”
Instead of music, think "American jazz in the 1930s" and your argument about it.
• It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. The evidence may lead
you to a conclusion you didn't think you'd reach. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
• It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.
• It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments
• It avoids vague language (like "it seems").
• It avoids the first person. ("I believe," "In my opinion")
• It should pass the So what? or Who cares? test (Would your most honest friend ask why he should care
or respond with "but everyone knows that"?) For instance, "people should avoid driving under the
influence of alcohol," would be unlikely to evoke any opposition.
Simple equations for a thesis might look something like this:
Specific topic + Attitude/Angle/Argument = Thesis
What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis
How do you know if you've got a solid tentative thesis?
Try these five tests:
• Does the thesis inspire a reasonable reader to ask, "How?" or Why?"
• Would a reasonable reader NOT respond with "Duh!" or "So what?" or "Gee, no kidding!" or "Who
• Does the thesis avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as "all" or "none" or "every"?
• Does the thesis lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis)?
• Can the thesis be adequately developed in the required length of the paper or project?
41 Guide to Literary Analysis Writing
INTRODUCTION: the first paragraph in your essay. It begins creatively in order to catch
your reader’s interest, provides essential background about the literary work, and prepares the reader for
your thesis. The introduction must include the author and title of the work as well as an explanation of
the theme to be discussed. The thesis goes in this paragraph usually at the end. Because the thesis
sometimes sounds tacked on, make special attempts to link it to the sentence that precedes it by building
on a key word or idea.
CREATIVE OPENING: the beginning sentences of the introduction that catches the reader’s interest.
Ways of beginning creatively include the following:
1) A meaningful piece of dialogue between two characters
Ex. “It is another thing. You [Frederic Henry] cannot know about it unless you have it.” “ Well,” I said. “If I ever get
it I will tell you [priest].” (Hemingway 72). With these words, the priest in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms
sends the hero, Frederic, in search of the ambiguous “it” in his life.
2) A meaningful quotation (from the work or another source)
Ex. “To be, or not to be, that is the question” {3.1.57}. This familiar statement expresses the young prince’s moral
dilemma in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
3) A universal idea.
Ex. The terrifying scenes a soldier experiences on the front probably follow him throughout his life—if
he manages to survive the war.
4) A rich, vivid description of the setting
Ex. Sleepy Maycomb, like other Southern towns, suffers considerably during the Great Depression.
Poverty reaches from the privileged families, like the Finches, to the Negroes and “white trash” Ewells,
who live on the outskirts of town. Harper Lee paints a vivid picture of life in this humid Alabama town
where tempers and bigotry explode into conflict.
5) An analogy or metaphor
Ex. Life is like a box of chocolates: we never know what we’re going to get. This element of uncertainty
plays a major role in many dramas. For example, in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet have no
idea what tragedies lie ahead when they fall so passionately and impetuously in love.
THESIS: a statement that provides the subject and overall opinion of your essay. For a literary
analysis your thesis should (1) relate to the theme of the work and (2) suggest how this theme is revealed
by the author. A good thesis may also suggest the organization of the paper.
Ex. Through Paul’s experience behind the lines, at a Russian prisoner of war camp, and
especially under bombardment in the trenches, Erich Maria Remarque realistically shows how
war dehumanizes a man.
Sometimes a thesis becomes too cumbersome to fit into one sentence. In such cases, you may express
the thesis as two sentences.
Ex. In a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens shows the process by which a wasted life can be
redeemed. Sidney Carton, through his love for Lucie Manette, is transformed from a hopeless,
bitter man into a hero whose life and death have meaning.
42 BODY: the support paragraphs of your essay. These paragraphs contain supporting examples
(evidence) and analysis/explanation (elaboration) for your topic sentences/support theses. Each
paragraph in the body includes (1) a topic sentence/claim, (2) integrated evidence and elaboration, and
(3) a concluding sentence. In its simplest form, each body paragraph is organized as follows:
1. topic sentence / claim
2. lead-in to evidence
3. evidence (evidence from text)
4. elaboration (2-3 sentences of explanation, elaboration, insight—tell us what the evidence proves)
5. transition and lead-in to next piece of evidence
6. evidence (evidence from text)
7. elaboration (2-3 sentences of explanation, elaboration, insight—tell us what the evidence proves)
8. concluding or clincher sentence
TOPIC SENTENCE/CLAIM: the first sentence of a body or support paragraph. It
identifies one aspect of the thesis and states a primary reason why the thesis is true.
Ex: The role of the beast represents evil inside of all humans, revealing the overpowering
immoral and wicked side of mankind.
Ex: Throughout the poem Poe uses references to Greek mythology to create the idea of death.
EVIDENCE: a specific example from the work used to provide evidence for your topic
sentence/claim. Evidence can be a combination of paraphrase and direct quotation from the work.
Ex: When Carlton and Darnay first meet at the tavern, Carlton tells him, “I care for no man on
this earth, and no man cares for me” (Dickens 105).
ELABORATION: your explanation and interpretation of the evidence. Elaboration tells the
reader what the author of the text means or how the evidence proves the topic sentence/support thesis.
Elaboration may include interpretation, analysis, argument, insight, and/or reflection. (Helpful hint: In
your body paragraph, you should have twice as much elaboration as evidence. In other words,
for every sentence of evidence, you should have at least two sentences of elaboration.)
Ex: Carlton makes this statement as if he were excusing his rude behavior to Darnay. Carton,
however, is only pretending to be polite, perhaps to amuse himself. With this seemingly off-thecuff remark, Carton reveals a deeper cynicism and his emotional isolation.
TRANSITIONS: words or phrases that connect or “hook” one idea to the next, both between
and within paragraphs. Transition devices include using connecting words as well as repeating key
words or using synonyms.
Ex: Another example… Finally, in the climax… Later in the story… In contrast to this
behavior…Not only…but also… Furthermore…
LEAD-IN: phrase or sentence that prepares the reader for evidence by introducing the speaker,
setting, and/or situation.
Ex. Later, however, when the confident Sidney Carton returns alone to his home, his alienation
and unhappiness become apparent: “Climbing into a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw
43 himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears”
(Dickens 211).
sentence of the body paragraph. It concludes the paragraph by tying the evidence and elaboration back
to the major thesis.
Ex. Thus, before Carton experiences love, he is able to convince himself that the world has no
CONLUSION: last paragraph in your essay. This paragraph should begin by echoing your
thesis without repeating the words verbatim. Then, the conclusion should broaden from the thesis
statements to answer the “so what?” question your reader may have after reading your essay. The
conclusion should do one or more of the following:
1. Reflect on how your essay topic relates to the book as a whole
2. Evaluate how successful the author is in achieving his or her goal or message
3. Give a personal statement about the topic
4. Make predictions
5. Connect back to your creative opening
6. Give your opinion of the novel’s value or significance
PLAGIARISM/ACADEMIC HONESTY: Plagiarism is the act of using another
person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source. You are plagiarizing if
you do the following:
1. Use someone else’s ideas or examples without giving credit
2. Use a slightly changed statement as your own, putting your own words here and there and not giving
3. Fail to use quotation marks around exact sentences, phrases, or even words that belong to another
Plagiarism in student writing is often unintentional. You have probably done a report or research paper
at some time in your education in which you chose a topic, checked out several sources, and copied
several sentences or paragraphs form each source. You might have been unaware that you were
committing plagiarism. However, as a high school student writing an essay or research paper, you must
be aware that anytime you use someone else’s thought, words, or phraseology without giving him or her
credit in your paper constitutes plagiarism. Your paper will be credible only if you thoroughly document
your sources.
44 Persuasive /Argumentative Writing
Goal: Share your view with a reader willing to consider it. You will express your view clearly and vigorously. In
the end you will help your reader see and understand one more view of reality. You are writing a persuasive piece
of writing in which you will state your opinion about a topic. In stating your opinion you are stating the truth as
you see it, but remember to keep your reader’s/audience’s point of view in mind as well. To persuade your reader
to see your viewpoint you need to learn how to organize a persuasive piece of writing.
I. Introduction
• Your opening statement must clearly state your position and the topic of the paper or set up your position that is
clearly stated later in your essay. You must evaluate your audience and argument to decide when you will clearly
state your position. Different arguments call for different writing structures. BUT, YOU MUST KNOW YOUR
• Do not start by saying that your view is ABSOLUTELY right and is the only way.
• It is probably best to state what you think your reader thinks--as best you can infer it.
• You do not need to state the other side to flatter your reader; you do this so that you show your audience that
you are a well-rounded individual who realizes there are (at least) two sides to every issue.
II. The Argument
• When trying to win over a reader who doesn’t share your view, you use argument. Not a loud disagreement.
• Three common types of argument: Editorial, thoughtful articles, and other persuasive statements.
• Argument is reasoning--Making statements that lead to a conclusion.
• To support your argument you need evidence – anything that demonstrates what you are trying to say.
Evidence includes: facts, statistics, expert opinions, illustrations and examples, reported evidence and
published research. Each piece of evidence must be cited correctly (in-text citations) and must be fully
cited on the Works Cited page.
III. How to write an argument- you prove your thesis!
• You assert the views you are going to defend.
• This is called a proposition or thesis of your argument or claim.
• It is a statement of what you believe.
IV. Types of argument
• Rational appeal (Logos)
Conventional method of reasoning.
Supplies the reader with figures, facts and other evidence.
• Emotional appeal (Pathos)
Writer may re-state what the reader already knows.
Appeal to the writers feeling.
45 o
Example: MLK Jr. did not share new information, but appealed to the emotional senses of the people.
• Ethical appeal (Ethos)
Impressing your reader that you are a well-informed person of goodwill, good sense and good moral
character, therefore believable.
You make a good appeal because you reason carefully, write well and have a lot of evidence to support
your view.
Quote respected authorities.
V. How to Reason
• The Claim: Statement that is proven by evidence which supports some aspect of your thesis. A claim MUST be
connected to your thesis.
• The Data: or evidence to prove something.
• The Warrant: the assumption or principle that connects the data to the claim. The discussion piece, which
clearly shows how, claims and date prove/support the thesis.
• A common flaw in many arguments is that the warrant is not clear.
• To be persuaded, a reader needs to understand your assumption and the thinking that follows from them.
• At the beginning of your essay clearly state the proposition or claim you are going to defend.
• The last sentence of your introductory paragraphs will be your THESIS. It is ONE very clear sentence that is
what you intend to focus your ENTIRE paper around. If it does not connect to your thesis, support your thesis it
does NOT go in the paper.
• For every point give evidence, facts, figures, examples, and/or expert opinions.
This does not mean the paragraph is full of evidence only. The data supports your discussion. Make sure
there is much more to the paragraphs than data/evidence. If your paragraph has no discussion, no
transitions between evidences you will FAIL the paper.
o Of course the evidences are cited correctly in your paper, and the full citation will be found on the Works
Cited page.
• Make sure statistics are up to date.
• Tackle the opposition at the end of your essay: reason with your opponents.
• In conclusion, briefly re-state your claims.
• You do need to have a conversation that states your position and what you want to happen.
• Do not forget other types if writing you have learned that will aid in your argument.
Descriptive writing, compare and contrast, narrative.
VII. Common mistakes
• Warrant, claim, and data do not support thesis.
46 • Oversimplification.
• Either/or reasoning: giving only two solutions.
• No conversation in the text…only data.
• Argument from doubtful or unidentifiable authority: “My Aunt Betty says…”
• Closing paragraph is very “5 paragraph essayish.”
• Argument against a person’s character: “Mayor Bob is sleeping with is secretary how can we listen to his pleas
for a new nursing home.”
• Arguing in a circle: “I am going to college because it is the right thing to do. Going to college is the right thing
to do because it is expected of me. I am going to college to do the right thing.”
• Do not feel you have to use all the evidence you collected. You will put your reader to sleep.
Use only the most powerful and persuasive bits of information.
Mistakes are also known as rhetorical fallacies.
47 What are fallacies?
Fallacies are defects that weaken arguments. By learning to look for them in your own and others' writing, you can strengthen
your ability to evaluate the arguments you make, read, and hear. It is important to realize two things about fallacies: First,
fallacious arguments are very, very common and can be quite persuasive, at least to the causal reader or listener. You can find
dozens of examples of fallacious reasoning in newspapers, advertisements, and other sources. Second, it is sometimes hard to
evaluate whether an argument is fallacious. An argument might be very weak, somewhat weak, somewhat strong, or very
strong. An argument that has several stages or parts might have some strong sections and some weak ones. The goal of this
handout, then, is not to teach you how to label arguments as fallacious or fallacy-free, but to help you look critically at your
own arguments and move them away from the "weak" and toward the "strong" end of the continuum.
So what do fallacies look like?
For each fallacy listed, there is a definition or explanation, an example, and a tip on how to avoid committing the fallacy in
your own arguments.
Hasty generalization
Definition: Making assumptions about a whole group or range of cases based on a sample that is inadequate (usually because
it is atypical or just too small). Stereotypes about people ("frat boys are drunkards," "grad students are nerdy," etc.) are a
common example of the principle underlying hasty generalization.
Example: "My roommate said her philosophy class was hard, and the one I'm in is hard, too. All philosophy classes must be
hard!" Two people's experiences are, in this case, not enough on which to base a conclusion.
Tip: Ask yourself what kind of "sample" you're using: Are you relying on the opinions or experiences of just a few people, or
your own experience in just a few situations? If so, consider whether you need more evidence, or perhaps a less sweeping
conclusion. (Notice that in the example, the more modest conclusion "Some philosophy classes are hard for some students"
would not be a hasty generalization.)
Missing the point
Definition: The premises of an argument do support a particular conclusion--but not the conclusion that the arguer actually
Example: "The seriousness of a punishment should match the seriousness of the crime. Right now, the punishment for drunk
driving may simply be a fine. But drunk driving is a very serious crime that can kill innocent people. So the death penalty
should be the punishment for drunk driving." The argument actually supports several conclusions-- "The punishment for
drunk driving should be very serious," in particular--but it doesn't support the claim that the death penalty, specifically, is
Tip: Separate your premises from your conclusion. Looking at the premises, ask yourself what conclusion an objective
person would reach after reading them. Looking at your conclusion, ask yourself what kind of evidence would be required to
support such a conclusion, and then see if you've actually given that evidence. Missing the point often occurs when a
sweeping or extreme conclusion is being drawn, so be especially careful if you know you're claiming something big.
Post hoc (also called false cause)
This fallacy gets its name from the Latin phrase "post hoc, ergo propter hoc," which translates as "after this, therefore
because of this."
Definition: Assuming that because B comes after A, A caused B. Of course, sometimes one event really does cause another
one that comes later--for example, if I register for a class, and my name later appears on the roll, it's true that the first event
caused the one that came later. But sometimes two events that seem related in time aren't really related as cause and event.
That is, correlation isn't the same thing as causation.
48 Examples: "President Jones raised taxes, and then the rate of violent crime went up. Jones is responsible for the rise in
crime." The increase in taxes might or might not be one factor in the rising crime rates, but the argument hasn't shown us that
one caused the other.
Tip: To avoid the post hoc fallacy, the arguer would need to give us some explanation of the process by which the tax
increase is supposed to have produced higher crime rates. And that's what you should do to avoid committing this fallacy: If
you say that A causes B, you should have something more to say about how A caused B than just that A came first and B
came later!
Slippery slope
Definition: The arguer claims that a sort of chain reaction, usually ending in some dire consequence, will take place, but
there's really not enough evidence for that assumption. The arguer asserts that if we take even one step onto the "slippery
slope," we will end up sliding all the way to the bottom; he or she assumes we can't stop halfway down the hill.
Example: "Animal experimentation reduces our respect for life. If we don't respect life, we are likely to be more and more
tolerant of violent acts like war and murder. Soon our society will become a battlefield in which everyone constantly fears for
their lives. It will be the end of civilization. To prevent this terrible consequence, we should make animal experimentation
illegal right now." Since animal experimentation has been legal for some time and civilization has not yet ended, it seems
particularly clear that this chain of events won't necessarily take place. Even if we believe that experimenting on animals
reduces respect for life, and loss of respect for life makes us more tolerant of violence, that may be the spot on the hillside at
which things stop--we may not slide all the way down to the end of civilization. And so, we have not yet been given
sufficient reason to accept the arguer's conclusion that we must make animal experimentation illegal right now.
Like post hoc, slippery slope can be a tricky fallacy to identify, since sometimes a chain of events really can be predicted to
follow from a certain action. Here's an example that doesn't seem fallacious: "If I fail my swim test, I won't be able to
graduate. If I don't graduate, I probably won't be able to get a good job, and I may very well end up doing temp work or
flipping burgers for the next year."
Tip: Check your argument for chains of consequences, where you say "if A, then B, and if B, then C," and so forth. Make
sure these chains are reasonable.
Weak analogy
Definition: Many arguments rely on an analogy between two or more objects, ideas, or situations. If the two things that are
being compared aren't really alike in the relevant respects, the analogy is a weak one, and the argument that relies on it
commits the fallacy of weak analogy.
Example: "Guns are like hammers--they're both tools with metal parts that could be used to kill someone. And yet it would
be ridiculous to restrict the purchase of hammers--so restrictions on purchasing guns are equally ridiculous." While guns and
hammers do share certain features, these features (having metal parts, being tools, and being potentially useful for violence)
are not the ones at stake in deciding whether to restrict guns. Rather, we restrict guns because they can easily be used to kill
large numbers of people at a distance. This is a feature hammers do not share--it'd be hard to kill a crowd with a hammer.
Thus, the analogy is weak, and so is the argument based on it.
If you think about it, you can make an analogy of some kind between almost any two things in the world: "My paper is like a
mud puddle because they both get bigger when it rains (I work more when I'm stuck inside) and they're both kind of murky."
So the mere fact that you draw an analogy between two things doesn't prove much, by itself.
Arguments by analogy are often used in discussing abortion--arguers frequently compare fetuses with adult human beings,
and then argue that treatment that would violate the rights of an adult human being also violates the rights of fetuses. Whether
these arguments are good or not depends on the strength of the analogy: do adult humans and fetuses share the property that
gives adult humans rights? If the property that matters is having a human genetic code or the potential for a life full of human
experiences, adult humans and fetuses do share that property, so the argument and the analogy are strong; if the property is
being self-aware, rational, or able to survive on one's own, adult humans and fetuses don't share it, and the analogy is weak.
Tip: Identify what properties are important to the claim you're making, and see whether the two things you're comparing both
share those properties.
49 Appeal to authority
Definition: Often we add strength to our arguments by referring to respected sources or authorities and explaining their
positions on the issues we're discussing. If, however, we try to get readers to agree with us simply by impressing them with a
famous name or by appealing to a supposed authority who really isn't much of an expert, we commit the fallacy of appeal to
Example: "We should abolish the death penalty. Many respected people, such as actor Guy Handsome, have publicly stated
their opposition to it." While Guy Handsome may be an authority on matters having to do with acting, there's no particular
reason why anyone should be moved by his political opinions--he is probably no more of an authority on the death penalty
than the person writing the paper.
Tip: There are two easy ways to avoid committing appeal to authority: First, make sure that the authorities you cite are
experts on the subject you're discussing. Second, rather than just saying "Dr. Authority believes x, so we should believe it,
too," try to explain the reasoning or evidence that the authority used to arrive at his or her opinion. That way, your readers
have more to go on than a person's reputation. It also helps to choose authorities who are perceived as fairly neutral or
reasonable, rather than people who will be perceived as biased.
Ad populum
Definition: The Latin name of this fallacy means "to the people." There are several versions of the ad populum fallacy, but
what they all have in common is that in them, the arguer takes advantage of the desire most people have to be liked and to fit
in with others and uses that desire to try to get the audience to accept his or her argument. One of the most common versions
is the bandwagon fallacy, in which the arguer tries to convince the audience to do or believe something because everyone else
(supposedly) does.
Example: "Gay marriages are just immoral. 70% of Americans think so!" While the opinion of most Americans might be
relevant in determining what laws we should have, it certainly doesn't determine what is moral or immoral: There was a time
where a substantial number of Americans were in favor of segregation, but their opinion was not evidence that segregation
was moral. The arguer is trying to get us to agree with the conclusion by appealing to our desire to fit in with other
Tip: Make sure that you aren't recommending that your audience believe your conclusion because everyone else believes it,
all the cool people believe it, people will like you better if you believe it, and so forth. Keep in mind that the popular opinion
is not always the right one!
Ad hominem and tu quoque
Definitions: Like the appeal to authority and ad populum fallacies, the ad hominem ("against the person") and tu quoque
("you, too!") fallacies focus our attention on people rather than on arguments or evidence. In both of these arguments, the
conclusion is usually "You shouldn't believe So-and-So's argument." The reason for not believing So-and-So is that So-andSo is either a bad person (ad hominem) or a hypocrite (tu quoque). In an ad hominem argument, the arguer attacks his or her
opponent instead of the opponent's argument.
Examples: "Andrea Dworkin has written several books arguing that pornography harms women. But Dworkin is an ugly,
bitter person, so you shouldn't listen to her." Dworkin's appearance and character, which the arguer has characterized so
ungenerously, have nothing to do with the strength of her V argument, so using them as evidence is fallacious.
In a tu quoque argument, the arguer points out that the opponent has actually done the thing he or she is arguing against, and
so the opponent's argument shouldn't be listened to. Here's an example: Imagine that your parents have explained to you why
you shouldn't smoke, and they've given a lot of good reasons--the damage to your health, the cost, and so forth. You reply, "I
won't accept your argument, because you used to smoke when you were my age. You did it, too!" The fact that your parents
have done the thing they are condemning has no bearing on the premises they put forward in their argument (smoking harms
your health and is very expensive), so your response is fallacious.
50 Tip: Be sure to stay focused on your opponents' reasoning, rather than on their personal character. (The exception to this is,
of course, if you are making an argument about someone's character--if your conclusion is "Bill Clinton is an untrustworthy
person," premises about his untrustworthy acts are relevant, not fallacious.)
Appeal to pity
Definition: The appeal to pity takes place when an arguer tries to get people to accept a conclusion by making them feel
sorry for someone.
Examples: "I know the exam is graded based on performance, but you should give me an A. My cat has been sick, my car
broke down, and I've had a cold, so it was really hard for me to study!" The conclusion here is "You should give me an A."
But the criteria for getting an A have to do with learning and applying the material from the course; the principle the arguer
wants us to accept (people who have a hard week deserve A's) is clearly unacceptable. The information the arguer has given
might feel relevant and might even get the audience to consider the conclusion--but the information isn't logically relevant,
and so the argument is fallacious. Here's another example: "It's wrong to tax corporations--think of all the money they give to
charity, and of the costs they already pay to run their businesses!"
Tip: Make sure that you aren't simply trying to get your audience to agree with you by making them feel sorry for someone.
Appeal to ignorance
Definition: In the appeal to ignorance, the arguer basically says, "Look, there's no conclusive evidence on the issue at hand.
Therefore, you should accept my conclusion on this issue."
Example: "People have been trying for centuries to prove that God exists. But no one has yet been able to prove it.
Therefore, God does not exist." Here's an opposing argument that commits the same fallacy: "People have been trying for
years to prove that God does not exist. But no one has yet been able to prove it. Therefore, God exists." In each case, the
arguer tries to use the lack of evidence as support for a positive claim about the truth of a conclusion. There is one situation in
which doing this is not fallacious: If qualified researchers have used well-thought-out methods to search for something for a
long time, they haven't found it, and it's the kind of thing people ought to be able to find, then the fact that they haven't found
it constitutes some evidence that it doesn't exist.
Tip: Look closely at arguments where you point out a lack of evidence and then draw a conclusion from that lack of
Straw man
Definition: One way of making our own arguments stronger is to anticipate and respond in advance to the arguments that an
opponent might make. In the straw man fallacy, the arguer sets up a wimpy version of the opponent's position and tries to
score points by knocking it down. But just as being able to knock down a straw man, or a scarecrow, isn't very impressive,
defeating a watered-down version of your opponents' argument isn't very impressive either.
Example: "Feminists want to ban all pornography and punish everyone who reads it! But such harsh measures are surely
inappropriate, so the feminists are wrong: porn and its readers should be left in peace." The feminist argument is made weak
by being overstated--in fact, most feminists do not propose an outright "ban" on porn or any punishment for those who
merely read it; often, they propose some restrictions on things like child porn, or propose to allow people who are hurt by
porn to sue publishers and producers, not readers, for damages. So the arguer hasn't really scored any points; he or she has
just committed a fallacy.
Tip: Be charitable to your opponents. State their arguments as strongly, accurately, and sympathetically as possible. If you
can knock down even the best version of an opponent's argument, then you've really accomplished something.
Red herring
Definition: Partway through an argument, the arguer goes off on a tangent, raising a side issue that distracts the audience
from what's really at stake. Often, the arguer never returns to the original issue.
51 Example: "Grading this exam on a curve would be the most fair thing to do. After all, classes go more smoothly when the
students and the professor are getting along well." Let's try our premise-conclusion outlining to see what's wrong with this
Premise: Classes go more smoothly when the students and the professor are getting along well.
Conclusion: Grading this exam on a curve would be the most fair thing to do.
When we lay it out this way, it's pretty obvious that the arguer went off on a tangent--the fact that something helps people get
along doesn't necessarily make it more fair; fairness and justice sometimes require us to do things that cause conflict. But the
audience may feel like the issue of teachers and students agreeing is important and be distracted from the fact that the arguer
has not given any evidence as to why a curve would be fair.
Tip: Try laying your premises and conclusion out in an outline-like form. How many issues do you see being raised in your
argument? Can you explain how each premise supports the conclusion?
False dichotomy
Definition: In false dichotomy, the arguer sets up the situation so it looks like there are only two choices. The arguer then
eliminates one of the choices, so it seems that we are left with only one option: the one the arguer wanted us to pick in the
first place. But often there are really many different options, not just two--and if we thought about them all, we might not be
so quick to pick the one the arguer recommends!
Example: "Caldwell Hall is in bad shape. Either we tear it down and put up a new building, or we continue to risk students'
safety. Obviously we shouldn't risk anyone's safety, so we must tear the building down." The argument neglects to mention
the possibility that we might repair the building or find some way to protect students from the risks in question--for example,
if only a few rooms are in bad shape, perhaps we shouldn't hold classes in those rooms.
Tip: Examine your own arguments: If you're saying that we have to choose between just two options, is that really so? Or are
there other alternatives you haven't mentioned? If there are other alternatives, don't just ignore them--explain why they, too,
should be ruled out. Although there's no formal name for it, assuming that there are only three options, four options, etc.
when really there are more is similar to false dichotomy and should also be avoided.
Begging the question
Definition: A complicated fallacy; it comes in several forms and can be harder to detect than many of the other fallacies
we've discussed. Basically, an argument that begs the question asks the reader to simply accept the conclusion without
providing real evidence; the argument either relies on a premise that says the same thing as the conclusion (which you might
hear referred to as "being circular" or "circular reasoning"), or simply ignores an important (but questionable) assumption that
the argument rests on. Sometimes people use the phrase "beg the question" as a sort of general criticism of arguments, to
mean that an arguer hasn't given very good reasons for a conclusion, but that's not the meaning we're going to discuss here.
Examples: "Active euthanasia is morally acceptable. It is a decent, ethical thing to help another human being escape
suffering through death." Let's lay this out in premise-conclusion form:
Premise: It is a decent, ethical thing to help another human being escape suffering through death.
Conclusion: Active euthanasia is morally acceptable.
If we "translate" the premise, we'll see that the arguer has really just said the same thing twice: "decent, ethical" means pretty
much the same thing as "morally acceptable," and "help another human being escape suffering through death" means "active
euthanasia." So the premise basically says, "active euthanasia is morally acceptable," just like the conclusion does! The
arguer hasn't yet given us any real reasons why euthanasia is acceptable; instead, she has left us asking "well, really, why do
you think active euthanasia is acceptable?" Her argument "begs" (that is, evades) the real question (think of "beg off").
Here's a second example of begging the question, in which a dubious premise which is needed to make the argument valid is
completely ignored: "Murder is morally wrong. So active euthanasia is morally wrong." The premise that gets left out is
52 "active euthanasia is murder." And that is a debatable premise--again, the argument "begs" or evades the question of whether
active euthanasia is murder by simply not stating the premise. The arguer is hoping we'll just focus on the uncontroversial
premise, "Murder is morally wrong," and not notice what is being assumed.
Tip: One way to try to avoid begging the question is to write out your premises and conclusion in a short, outline-like form.
See if you notice any gaps, any steps that are required to move from one premise to the next or from the premises to the
conclusion. Write down the statements that would fill those gaps. If the statements are controversial and you've just glossed
over them, you might be begging the question. Next, check to see whether any of your premises basically says the same thing
as the conclusion (but in other words). If so, you're begging the question. The moral of the story: You can't just assume or use
as uncontroversial evidence the very thing you're trying to prove.
Definition: Equivocation is sliding between two or more different meanings of a single word or phrase that is important to
the argument.
Example: "Giving money to charity is the right thing to do. So charities have a right to our money." The equivocation here is
on the word "right": "right" can mean both something that is correct or good (as in "I got the right answers on the test") and
something to which someone has a claim (as in "everyone has a right to life"). Sometimes an arguer will deliberately,
sneakily equivocate, often on words like "freedom," "justice," "rights," and so forth; other times, the equivocation is a
mistake or misunderstanding. Either way, it's important that you use the main terms of your argument consistently.
Tip: Identify the most important words and phrases in your argument and ask yourself whether they could have more than
one meaning. If they could, be sure you aren't slipping and sliding between those meanings.
So how do I find fallacies in my own writing?
Here are some general tips for finding fallacies in your own arguments:
Pretend you disagree with the conclusion you're defending. What parts of the argument would now seem fishy to
you? What parts would seem easiest to attack? Give special attention to strengthening those parts.
List your main points; under each one, list the evidence you have for it. Seeing your claims and evidence laid out
this way may make you realize that you have no good evidence for a particular claim, or it may help you look more
critically at the evidence you're using.
Learn which types of fallacies you're especially prone to, and be careful to check for them in your work. Some
writers make lots of appeals to authority; others are more likely to rely on weak analogies or set up straw men. Read
over some of your old papers to see if there's a particular kind of fallacy you need to watch out for.
Be aware that broad claims need more proof than narrow ones. Claims that use sweeping words like "all," "no,"
"none," "every," "always," "never," "no one," and "everyone" are sometimes appropriate--but they require a lot more
proof than less-sweeping claims that use words like "some," "many," "few," "sometimes," "usually," and so forth.
Double check your characterizations of others, especially your opponents, to be sure they are accurate and fair.
General Format
MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing. MLA style also provides
writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.
Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most
importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental
uncredited use of source material by other writers.
If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition).
Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2nd
edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing labs and reference libraries; it is also widely available in bookstores,
libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this handout for a list of helpful books and sites
about using MLA style.
Paper Format
The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter four of
the MLA Style Manual. Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style.
General Guidelines
Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper,
Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font like Times Roman. The font size should be 12 pt.
Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides. Indent the first line of a paragraph one half-inch (five
spaces or press tab once) from the left margin.
Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top
and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page.
Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
Use either italics or underlining throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely
necessary, providing emphasis.
If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page.
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper
Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date.
Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
Double space again and center the title. Don't underline your title or put it in quotation marks; write the title in
Title Case, not in all capital letters.
Use quotation marks and underlining or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your
text, e.g.,
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play
Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page
number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and
flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number
header on your first page. Always follow their guidelines.)
54 Here is a sample first page of an essay in MLA style:
A sample first page of an MLA-formatted paper.
Cite the Purdue OWL in MLA:
Entire Website
The Purdue OWL. 26 Aug. 2008. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. 23 April 2008
Individual Resources
Purdue OWL. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Online Writing Lab at Purdue. 10 May 2008. Purdue
University Writing Lab. 12 May 2008 <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/>.
55 In-Text Citations: The Basics
Guidelines for referring to the works of others in your text using MLA style is covered in chapter six of the MLA Handbook
and in chapter seven of the MLA Style Manual. Both books provide extensive examples, so it's a good idea to consult them if
you want to become even more familiar with MLA guidelines or if you have a particular reference question.
Basic In-Text Citation Rules
In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what's known as parenthetical citation.
Immediately following a quotation from a source or a paraphrase of a source's ideas, you place the author's name followed
by a space and the relevant page number(s).
Human beings have been described as "symbol-using animals" (Burke 3).
When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name. Place the title in
quotation marks if it's a short work, or italicize or underline it if it's a longer work.
Your in-text citation will correspond with an entry in your Works Cited page, which, for the Burke citation above, will look
something like this:
Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. Berkeley: U of
California P, 1966.
We'll learn how to make a Works Cited page in a bit, but right now it's important to know that parenthetical citations and
Works Cited pages allow readers to know which sources you consulted in writing your essay, so that they can either verify
your interpretation of the sources or use them in their own scholarly work.
Multiple Citations
To cite multiple sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations by a semi-colon:
...as has been discussed elsewhere (Burke 3; Dewey 21).
When Citation is not Needed
Common sense and ethics should determine your need for documenting sources. You do not need to give sources for
familiar proverbs, well-known quotations or common knowledge. Remember, this is a rhetorical choice, based on audience.
If you're writing for an expert audience of a scholarly journal, they'll have different expectations of what constitutes
common knowledge.
56 Works Cited Page: Basic Format
According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. Works Cited page preparation
and formatting is covered in chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook, and chapter 6 of the MLA Style Manual. All entries in the
Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text.
Basic Rules
Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research
paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page
number header as the rest of your paper.
Label the page Works Cited (do not underline the words Works Cited or put
them in quotation marks) and center
the words Works Cited at the top of
the page.
Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you
create a hanging indent.
List page numbers of sources efficiently, when needed. If you refer to a
journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250, list the page
numbers on your Works Cited page as 225-50.
If you're citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print
form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should provide
enough information so that the reader can locate the article either in its
original print form or retrieve it from the online database (if they have
57 Annotated Bibliographies
A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic.
Bibliographies are sometimes called "references" or "works cited" depending on the style format you are using. A
bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.
Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your
project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:
Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of
this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say?
The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.
Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare
with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal
of this source?
For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources.
Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this
source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research
project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you
should get specific guidelines from your instructor.
Why should I write an annotated bibliography?
To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just
collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read
each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level,
annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship
can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and
support a thesis. So a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current.
Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading
and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about,
and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.
To help other researchers: Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a
comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get
your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about
your topic.
The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific
The bibliographic information: Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher,
date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout or for MLA 2009 go
here. For APA, go here: APA handout.
58 The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary
significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing
summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each
source, you'll need more space.
You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of
how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.
Annotated Bibliography Samples
Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember
that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your
As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may
summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at
hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or
your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.
Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last
name is the only text that is flush left.
Sample MLA Annotation
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New
York: Anchor Books, 1995. Print.
Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and
failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book
are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from
perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing
exercises designed to be both productive and fun.
Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems
to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own
imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this
text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the
chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own
drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating
classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.
In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a
reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.
59 ABCD’s of Timed Writing A
ttack the Prompt: Circle any word that is a command. Circle the verbs. (1.5 Minutes) Circle any commands. B
rainstorm possible answers: (3‐5 minutes)
• Ideas come before thesis. • FORMULATE A THESIS BEFORE YOU START WRITING. • If you do this properly, your essay is practically written. C
reate an Outline (2‐3 minutes) Don’t fall in love with your pre‐write. AFTER YOU HAVE WRITTEN ESSAY D
etect any errors. REREAD YOUR ESSAY 60 Mechanics
Linking Verbs-express state or condition (to be verbs-am, is, are, was etc)
Appear, become, feel, grow, look, remain, seem, smell (YOU CAN
Helping Verbs/Verb Phrase- a verb that is added to the main verb to create a
verb phrase
1.SUBJECT-the part about which something is said
a. SIMPLE SUBJECT-the principal word or group of words in the subject
b. COMPOUND SUBJECT- consists of two or more subjects that are joined by a
2.PREDICATE-the part that says something about the subject
a. SIMPLE PREDICATE or Verb- principle word or group or words in the predicate is called the
simple predicate
62 b. COMPOUND PREDICATE- two or more verbs combined with a conjunction
3. COMPLEMENTS-words that complete the meaning of the sentence (one word or more in the
a. DIRECT OBJECT- receives the action of the verb-what or whom after verb
b. INDIRECT OBJECT- precedes the direct object-to whom or for whom the action was
of verb was done
c. OBJECTIVE COMPLIMENT- gives more information about the object
4. PREDICATE NOMINATIVES (NOUN)- a noun or pronoun complement that refers to the same
person or thing as the subject of the verb. IT FOLLOWS A LINKING VERB.
5. PREDICATE ADJECTIVE-an adjective complement that modifies the subject of the verb. IT
PHRASES-group of words not containing a verb and its subject-it is used as a single part
of speech
1. PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES-group of words beginning with a preposition and ending with a
noun or pronoun
-ADJECTIVE PHRASE-modifies noun or prounoun
-ADVERB PHRASE-modifies a verb or another adverb
2. PARTICIPLE –verb form that can be used as an adjective
-PARTICIPIAL PHRASE- contains a participle and any compliments or modifiers
3. GERUND- verb ending in ”ing” that is used as a noun
-GERUND PHRASE- gerund plus any complements
4. INFINITIVES- verb form, usually preceded by “to” that can be used as a noun or modifier
5. APPOSITIVES- noun or pronoun-often with modifiers-set beside another noun or pronoun to
explain or identify it.
-APPOSITIVE PHRASES-phrase which explains noun or pronoun
63 CLAUSES-A group of words containing a subject and
predicate and is used as part of a sentence.
1. INDEPENDENT CLAUSE-Clause that can stand alone- expresses a complete thought
2. SUBORDINATE CLAUSE (DEPENDENT CLAUSE)- do not express a complete thought and
cannot stand alone
a. ADJECTIVE CLAUSE- subordinate clause that modifies a noun or a pronoun
I. Relative Pronoun-who, whom, whose, which, that, where, when
b. NOUN CLAUSE- subordinate clause used as a noun (can be the subject of the
c. ADVERB CLAUSE- clause that modifies a verb
1.SIMPLE SENTENCE- 1 independent clause
2. COMPOUND SENTENCE- 2 or more independent clauses (2 subjects and 2 verbs)
3. COMPLEX SENTENCE- 1 independent clause and at least 1 subordinate clause
4. COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE- 2 independent clauses and at least 1 subordinate clause
OVER ABOVE BEYOND PAST ACROSS BUT (EXCEPT) SINCE* AFTER* BY THROUGH AGAINST CONCERNING THROUGHOUT ALONG DOWN TO AMID DURING TOWARD AMONG EXCEPT UNDER AROUND FOR UNDERNEATH AT FROM UNTIL* BEFORE* IN UNTO BEHIND INTO UP BELOW LIKE UPON BENEATH OF WITH BESIDE OFF WITHIN BESIDES ON WITHOUT *Also SubordinateConjunctions. The plane flew ____________________the clouds. COMMON CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBS Coordinating Conjunctions‐ Correlative Conjunctions‐ FANBOYS For And Nor But Or Yet So either…or not only…but (also) neither…nor whether…or both…and COMMON Subordinating Conjunctions AFTER* ALTHOUGH AS AS MUCH AS BECAUSE BEFORE* HOW ** IF IN ORDER THAT PROVIDED SINCE* THAN THAT THOUGH UNLESS UNTIL* WHEN** WHERE** WHILE *some words **can be used as *** That is may be used as adverbs often a relative prepositions pronoun COMMON CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBS accordingly, again, also, besides consequently, finally, furthermore, however, indeed, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, then, therefore, thus 65 PRONOUN LIST Doing it yourself Done to you Belonging to
our / ours
their / theirs
66 Transition Words & Phrases Sequence:
again, also, and, and then, besides, finally, first...second...third, furthermore, last,
moreover, next, still, too
after a bit, after a few days, after a while, afterward, as long as, as soon as, at last, at length, at
that time, before, earlier, immediately, in the meantime, in the past, lately, later, meanwhile,
now, presently, shortly, simultaneously, since, so far, soon, then, thereafter, until, when
again, also, in the same way, likewise, once more, similarly
although, but, despite, even though, however, in contrast, in spite of, instead, nevertheless,
nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the one hand...on the other hand, regardless,
still, though, yet
after all, even, for example, for instance, indeed, in fact, of course, specifically, such as, the
following example, to illustrate
Cause and Effect:
accordingly, as a result, because, consequently, for this purpose, hence, so, then, therefore,
thereupon, thus, to this end
above, adjacent to, below, beyond, closer to, elsewhere, far, farther on, here, near, nearby,
opposite to, there, to the left, to the right
although it is true that, granted that, I admit that, it may appear that, naturally, of course
Summary, Repetition, or Conclusion:
as a result, as has been noted, as I have said, as we have seen, as mentioned earlier, in any event,
in conclusion, in other words, in short, on the whole, therefore, to summarize
67 Run-ons
/Comma Splices / Fused Sentences
& Fragments
Run-ons, comma splices, and fused sentences are all names given to compound sentences
that are not punctuated correctly. The best way to avoid such errors is to punctuate
compound sentences correctly by using one or the other of these rules.
1. Join the two independent clauses with one of the coordinating conjunctions (and, but,
for, or, nor, so, yet), and use a comma before the connecting word.
_________________________, and _________________________.
He enjoys walking through the country, and he often goes backpacking on his
2. When you do not have a connecting word (or when you use a connecting word other
than and, but, for, or nor, so, or yet between the two independent clauses) use a
semicolon (;).
He often watched TV when there were only reruns; she preferred to read
__________________________; however,____________________.
He often watched TV when there were only reruns; however, she preferred to
read instead.
So, run-ons and fused sentences are terms describing two independent clauses which are
joined together with no connecting word or punctuation to separate the clauses.
Incorrect: They weren't dangerous criminals they were detectives in
Correct: They weren't dangerous criminals; they were detectives in disguise.
Incorrect: I didn't know which job I wanted I was too confused to decide.
Correct: I didn't know which job I wanted, and I was too confused to decide.
Sentence Fragments
68 Fragments are incomplete sentences. Usually, fragments are pieces of sentences that
have become disconnected from the main clause. One of the easiest ways to correct them
is to remove the period between the fragment and the main clause. Other kinds of
punctuation may be needed for the newly combined sentence.
Below are some examples with the fragments shown in bold. Punctuation and/or words
added to make corrections are underlined. Notice that the fragment is frequently a
dependent clause or long phrase that follows the main clause.
Fragment:Purdue offers many majors in engineering. Such as electrical, chemical,
and industrial engineering.
Possible Revision: Purdue offers many majors in engineering, such as electrical,
chemical, and industrial engineering.
Fragment: Coach Dietz exemplified this behavior by walking off the field in the middle of
a game. Leaving her team at a time when we needed her.
Possible Revision: Coach Dietz exemplified this behavior by walking off the field
in the middle of a game, leaving her team at a time when we needed her.
Fragment: I need to find a new roommate. Because the one I have now isn't
working out too well.
Possible Revision: I need to find a new roommate because the one I have now
isn't working out too well.
Fragment: The current city policy on housing is incomplete as it stands. Which is why
we believe the proposed amendments should be passed.
Possible Revision: Because the current city policy on housing is incomplete as it
stands, we believe the proposed amendments should be passed.
You may have noticed that newspaper and magazine journalists often use a dependent
clause as a separate sentence when it follows clearly from the preceding main clause, as
in the last example above. This is a conventional journalistic practice, often used for
emphasis. For academic writing and other more formal writing situations, however, you
should avoid such journalistic fragment sentences.
Some fragments are not clearly pieces of sentences that have been left unattached to the
main clause; they are written as main clauses but lack a subject or main verb.
Fragment: A story with deep thoughts and emotions.
Possible Revisions:
69 Direct Object: She told a story with deep thoughts and emotions.
Appositive: Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," a story with deep thoughts and
emotions, has impressed critics for decades.
Fragment: Toys of all kinds thrown everywhere.
Possible Revisions:
Complete verb: Toys of all kinds were thrown everywhere.
Direct object: They found toys of all kinds thrown everywhere.
Fragment: A record of accomplishment beginning when you were first hired.
Possible Revisions:
Direct object: I've noticed a record of accomplishment beginning when you were
first hired
Main verb: A record of accomplishment began when you were first hired.
Fragment: With the ultimate effect of all advertising is to sell the product.
Possible Revisions:
Remove preposition: The ultimate effect of all advertising is to sell the product.
Fragment: By paying too much attention to polls can make a political leader
unwilling to propose innovative policies.
Possible Revisions:
Remove preposition: Paying too much attention to polls can make a political leader
unwilling to propose innovative policies.
Fragment: For doing freelance work for a competitor got Phil fired.
Possible Revisions:
Remove preposition: Doing freelance work for a competitor got Phil fired.
Rearrange: Phil got fired for doing freelance work for a competitor.
These last three examples of fragments with no subjects are also known as mixed
constructions, that is, sentences constructed out of mixed parts. They start one way
(often with a long prepositional phrase) but end with a regular predicate. Usually the
object of the preposition (often a gerund, as in the last two examples) is intended as the
subject of the sentence, so removing the preposition at the beginning is usually the
easiest way to edit such errors.
70 COMMAS The comma is a valuable, useful punctuation device because it separates the structural elements of
sentences into manageable segments. The rules provided here are those found in traditional handbooks;
however, in certain rhetorical contexts and for specific purposes, these rules may be broken.
1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven
coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.
The game was over, but the crowd refused to leave.
The student explained her question, yet the instructor still didn't seem to understand.
Yesterday was her brother's birthday, so she took him out to dinner.
2. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main
a. Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include
after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while.
While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door.
Because her alarm clock was broken, she was late for class.
If you are ill, you ought to see a doctor.
When the snow stops falling, we'll shovel the driveway.
However, don't put a comma after the main clause when a dependent (subordinate) clause
follows it (except for cases of extreme contrast).
1. She was late for class, because her alarm clock was broken. (incorrect)
2. The cat scratched at the door, while I was eating. (incorrect)
3. She was still quite upset, although she had won the Oscar. (correct: extreme contrast)
b. Common introductory phrases that should be followed by a comma include participial and
infinitive phrases, absolute phrases, nonessential appositive phrases, and long prepositional
phrases (over four words).
Having finished the test, he left the room.
To get a seat, you'd better come early.
After the test but before lunch, I went jogging.
The sun radiating intense heat, we sought shelter in the cafe.
c. Common introductory words that should be followed by a comma include yes, however,
Well, perhaps he meant no harm.
Yes, the package should arrive tomorrow morning.
However, you may not be satisfied with the results.
3. Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are
not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the
pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.
Here are some clues to help you decide whether the sentence element is essential:
• If you leave out the clause, phrase, or word, does the sentence still make sense?
• Does the clause, phrase, or word interrupt the flow of words in the original sentence?
• If you move the element to a different position in the sentence, does the sentence still
make sense?
71 If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, then the element in question is
nonessential and should be set off with commas. Here are some example sentences with
nonessential elements:
Clause: That Tuesday, which happens to be my birthday, is the only day when I am available to
Phrase: This restaurant has an exciting atmosphere. The food, on the other hand, is rather
Word: I appreciate your hard work. In this case, however, you seem to have over-exerted
4. Do not use commas to set off essential elements of the sentence, such as clauses beginning with
that (relative clauses). That clauses after nouns are always essential. That clauses following a verb
expressing mental action are always essential.
That clauses after nouns:
The book that I borrowed from you is excellent.
The apples that fell out of the basket are bruised.
That clauses following a verb expressing mental action:
She believes that she will be able to earn an A.
He is dreaming that he can fly.
I contend that it was wrong to mislead her.
They wished that warm weather would finally arrive.
Examples of other essential elements (no commas):
Students who cheat only harm themselves.
The baby wearing a yellow jumpsuit is my niece.
The candidate who had the least money lost the election.
Examples of nonessential elements (set off by commas):
Fred, who often cheats, is just harming himself.
My niece, wearing a yellow jumpsuit, is playing in the living room.
The Green party candidate, who had the least money, lost the election.
Apples, which are my favorite fruit, are the main ingredient in this recipe.
Tom, the captain of the team, was injured in the game.
She was, however, too tired to make the trip.
Two hundred dollars, I think, is sufficient.
5. Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series.
The Constitution establishes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
The candidate promised to lower taxes, protect the environment, reduce crime, and end
The prosecutor argued that the defendant, who was at the scene of the crime, who had a strong
revenge motive, and who had access to the murder weapon, was guilty of homicide.
6. Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun. Be sure
never to add an extra comma between the final adjective and the noun itself or to use commas
with non-coordinate adjectives.
Coordinate adjectives are adjectives with equal ("co"-ordinate) status in describing the noun;
neither adjective is subordinate to the other. You can decide if two adjectives in a row are
coordinate by asking the following questions:
• Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written in reverse order?
• Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written with and between them?
72 If you answer yes to these questions, then the adjectives are coordinate and should be separated
by a comma. Here are some examples of coordinate and non-coordinate adjectives:
He was a difficult, stubborn child. (coordinate)
They lived in a white frame house. (non-coordinate)
She often wore a gray wool shawl. (non-coordinate)
Your cousin has an easy, happy smile. (coordinate) The 1) relentless, 2) powerful 3) summer
sun beat down on them. (1-2 are coordinate; 2-3 are non-coordinate.)
7. Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate elements or to
indicate a distinct pause or shift.
He was merely ignorant, not stupid.
The chimpanzee seemed reflective, almost human.
You're one of the senator's close friends, aren't you?
The speaker seemed innocent, even gullible.
8. Use commas to set off phrases at the end of the sentence that refer back to the beginning or
middle of the sentence. Such phrases are free modifiers that can be placed anywhere in the
sentence without causing confusion. (If the placement of the modifier causes confusion, then it is
not "free" and must remain "bound" to the word it modifies.)
1. Nancy waved enthusiastically at the docking ship, laughing joyously. (correct)
2a. Lisa waved at Nancy, laughing joyously. (incorrect: Who is laughing, Lisa or Nancy?)
2b. Laughing joyously, Lisa waved at Nancy. (correct)
2c. Lisa waved at Nancy, who was laughing joyously. (correct)
9. Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day),
addresses (except the street number and name), and titles in names.
Birmingham, Alabama, gets its name from Birmingham, England.
July 22, 1959, was a momentous day in his life.
Who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC?
Rachel B. Lake, MD, will be the principal speaker.
(When you use just the month and the year, no comma is necessary after the month or year: "The
average temperatures for July 1998 are the highest on record for that month.")
10. Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation.
John said without emotion, "I'll see you tomorrow."
"I was able," she answered, "to complete the assignment."
In 1848, Marx wrote, "Workers of the world, unite!"
11. Use commas wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading.
To George, Harrison had been a sort of idol.
Comma Abuse
Commas in the wrong places can break a sentence into illogical segments or confuse readers
with unnecessary and unexpected pauses.
12. Don't use a comma to separate the subject from the verb.
An eighteen-year old in California, is now considered an adult. (incorrect)
The most important attribute of a ball player, is quick reflex actions. (incorrect)
13. Don't put a comma between the two verbs or verb phrases in a compound predicate.
We laid out our music and snacks, and began to study. (incorrect)
I turned the corner, and ran smack into a patrol car. (incorrect)
14. Don't put a comma between the two nouns, noun phrases, or noun clauses in a compound
subject or compound object.
The music teacher from your high school, and the football coach from mine are married.
(incorrect: compound subject)
73 Jeff told me that the job was still available, and that the manager wanted to interview me.
(incorrect: compound object)
15. Don't put a comma after the main clause when a dependent (subordinate) clause follows it
(except for cases of extreme contrast).
1. She was late for class, because her alarm clock was broken. (incorrect)
2. The cat scratched at the door, while I was eating. (incorrect)
3. She was still quite upset, although she had won the Oscar. (correct: extreme contrast)
74 The Apostrophe The apostrophe has three uses:
to form possessives of nouns
to show the omission of letters
to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters
Forming Possessives of Nouns
To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an "of the..." phrase. For example:
the boy's hat = the hat of the boy
three days' journey = journey of three days
If the noun after "of" is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, then no apostrophe is needed!
room of the hotel = hotel room
door of the car = car door
leg of the table = table leg
Once you've determined whether you need to make a possessive, follow these rules to create one.
add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s):
the owner's car
James's hat (James' hat is also acceptable. For plural, proper nouns that are possessive, use an apostrophe after the 's':
"The Eggles' presentation was good." The Eggles are a husband and wife consultant team.)
add 's to the plural forms that do not end in -s:
the children's game
the geese's honking
add ' to the end of plural nouns that end in -s:
houses' roofs
three friends' letters
add 's to the end of compound words:
my brother-in-law's money
add 's to the last noun to show joint possession of an object:
Todd and Anne's apartment
Showing omission of letters
Apostrophes are used in contractions. A contraction is a word (or set of numbers) in which one or more letters (or numbers)
have been omitted. The apostrophe shows this omission. Contractions are common in speaking and in informal writing. To
use an apostrophe to create a contraction, place an apostrophe where the omitted letter(s) would go. Here are some
examples: don't = do not he'll = he will who's = who is shouldn't = should not could've= could have (NOT
"could of"!) '60 = 1960
75 Forming plurals of lowercase letters
Apostrophes are used to form plurals of letters that appear in lowercase; here the rule appears to be more typographical
than grammatical, e.g. "three ps" versus "three p's." To form the plural of a lowercase letter, place 's after the letter. There
is no need for apostrophes indicating a plural on capitalized letters, numbers, and symbols (though keep in mind that some
editors, teachers, and professors still prefer them). Here are some examples:
p's and q's = a phrase taken from the early days of the printing press when letters were set in presses backwards so they
would appear on the printed page correctly. The expression was used commonly to mean, "Be careful, don't make a
mistake." Today, the term also indicates maintaining politeness, possibly from "mind your pleases and thankyous."
Nita's mother constantly stressed minding one's p's and q's.
three Macintosh G4s = three of the Macintosh model G4
There are two G4s currently used in the writing classroom.
many & s = many ampersands
That printed page has too many & s on it.
the 1960s = the years in decade from 1960 to 1969
The 1960s were a time of great social unrest.
Don't use apostrophes for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals.
Apostrophes should not be used with possessive pronouns because possessive pronouns already show possession — they
don't need an apostrophe. His, her, its, my, yours, ours are all possessive pronouns. Here are some examples:
wrong: his' book
correct: his book
wrong: The group made it's decision.
correct: The group made its decision.
(Note: Its and it's are not the same thing. It's is a contraction for "it is" and its is a possessive pronoun meaning "belonging
to it." It's raining out= it is raining out. A simple way to remember this rule is the fact that you don't use an apostrophe for
the possessive his or hers, so don't do it with its!)
wrong: a friend of yours'
correct: a friend of yours
wrong: She waited for three hours' to get her ticket.
correct: She waited for three hours to get her ticket.
Proofreading for apostrophes
A good time to proofread is when you have finished writing the paper. Try the following strategies to proofread for
If you tend to leave out apostrophes, check every word that ends in -s or -es to see if it needs an apostrophe.
If you put in too many apostrophes, check every apostrophe to see if you can justify it with a rule for using
76 Semicolon, Colon, Parenthesis, Dash, and Italics Punctuation marks are signals to your readers. In speaking, we can pause, stop, or change our
tone of voice. In writing, we use the following marks of punctuation to emphasize and clarify what
we mean.
Semicolon ; In addition to using a semicolon to join related independent clauses in compound
sentences, you can use a semicolon to separate items in a series if the elements of the series
already include commas.
Members of the band include Harold Rostein, clarinetist; Tony Aluppo, tuba player; and Lee
Jefferson, trumpeter.
Colon : Use a colon . . .
in the following situations:
for example:
after a complete statement in order to
introduce one or more directly related ideas,
such as a series of directions, a list, or a
quotation or other comment illustrating or
explaining the statement. Colons always
introduce a complete sentence or a list.
The daily newspaper contains four sections: news,
sports, entertainment, and classified ads.
in a business letter greeting.
Dear Ms. Winstead:
The strategies of corporatist industrial unionism
have proven ineffective: compromises and
concessions have left labor in a weakened position in
the new "flexible" economy.
Parentheses () Parentheses are occasionally and sparingly used for extra, nonessential material
included in a sentence. For example, dates, sources, or ideas that are subordinate or tangential to
the rest of the sentence are set apart in parentheses. Parentheses always appear in pairs.
Before arriving at the station, the old train (someone said it was a relic of frontier days) caught
Dash -- Use a dash (should be typed or handwritten with two hyphens connected with no spaces)
in the following situations:
for example:
to emphasize a point or to set off an
explanatory comment; but don't overuse
dashes, or they will lose their impact.
To some of you, my proposals may seem radical--even
In terms of public legitimation--that is, in terms of
garnering support from state legislators, parents,
donors, and university administrators--English
departments are primarily places where advanced
literacy is taught.
To signal an abrupt break in thought
He might—if I have anything to do with it—change his
for an appositive phrase that already
includes commas.
The boys--Jim, John, and Jeff--left the party early.
77 As you can see, dashes function in some ways like parentheses (used in pairs to set off a comment within a
larger sentence) and in some ways like colons (used to introduce material illustrating or emphasizing the
immediately preceding statement). But comments set off with a pair of dashes appear less subordinate to the
main sentence than do comments in parentheses. And material introduced after a single dash may be more
emphatic and may serve a greater variety of rhetorical purposes than material introduced with a colon.
Quotation Marks " "
Use quotation marks . . .
in the following situations:
for example:
to enclose direct quotations. Note that
He asked, "Will you be there?" "Yes," I answered, "I'll
commas and periods go inside the
look for you in the foyer."
closing quotation mark in conventional
American usage; colons and semicolons
go outside; and placement of question
and exclamation marks depends on the
to indicate words used ironically, with
reservations, or in some unusual way;
but don't overuse quotation marks in
this sense, or they will lose their
History is stained with blood spilled in the name of
Underlining and Italics
Underlining and italics are not really punctuation, but they are significant textual effects used
conventionally in a variety of situations. Before computerized word-processing was widely
available, writers would underline certain terms in handwritten or manually typed pages, and the
underlining would be replaced by italics in the published version. Since word processing today
allows many options for font faces and textual effects, it is generally recommended that you
choose either underlining or italics and use it consistently throughout a given document as needed.
Because academic papers are manuscripts and not final publications and because italics are not
always easily recognized with some fonts, many instructors prefer underlining over italics for
course papers. Whichever you choose, italics or underlining should be used . . .
in the following situations:
for example:
to indicate titles of complete or major
works such as magazines, books,
newspapers, academic journals, films,
television programs, long poems, plays
of three or more acts
Faulkner's last novel was The Reivers.
foreign words that are not commonly
used in English
Wearing blue jeans is de rigueur for most college
words or phrases that you wish to
The very founding principles of our nation are at stake!
The Simpsons offers hilarious parodies of American
culture and family life.
78 QUOTE INTEGRATION Summarize, Paraphrase, or Quote? That is the question. A summary is a relatively brief, objective account, in your own words, of the main ideas
in a source passage.
Summarize to:
• To condense the material. You may have to condense or to reduce the source material to draw out the
points that relate to your paper.
• To omit extras from the material. You may have to omit extra information from the source material to
focus on the author’s main points.
• To simplify the material. You may have to simplify the most important complex arguments, sentences,
or vocabulary in the source material.
A paraphrase is a restatement, in your own words, of a passage of text. Its structure
reflects the structure of the source passage. Paraphrases are sometimes the same length as
the source passage, sometimes shorter. In certain cases-- particularly if the source passage
is difficult to read--the paraphrase may be even longer than the original. . . . Keep in mind
that only an occasional word (but not whole phrases) from the original source appears in
the paraphrase, and that a paraphrase's sentence structure does not reflect that of the
Paraphrase to:
• To change the organization of ideas for emphasis. You may have to change the organization of ideas
in source material so that you can emphasize the points that are most related to your paper. You should
remember to be faithful to the meaning of the source.
• To simplify the material. You may have to simplify complex arguments, sentences, or vocabulary.
• To clarify the material. You may have to clarify technical passages or specialized information into
language that is appropriate for your audience.
A quotation uses the exact words of the original.
Use Quotes to:
1. Accuracy: You are unable to paraphrase or summarize the source material without changing the
author’s intent.
2. Authority: You may want to use a quote to lend expert authority for your assertion or to provide
source material for analysis.
3. Conciseness: Your attempts to paraphrase or summarize are awkward or much longer than the source
4. Unforgettable language: You believe that the words of the author are memorable or remarkable
because of their effectiveness or historical flavor. Additionally, the author may have used a unique
phrase or sentence, and you want to comment on words or phrases themselves.
Bell, Jim. Summarize, Paraphrase, or Quote. 2000. Learning Skills Center, UNBC. 12 Apr. 2004
Use and Integrate Sources: When to Quote, Paraphrase, ans Summarize. Academic Center, University of Houston Victoria. 12 Apr. 2004
79 Quote Integration-PUNCTUATION RULES •
Do not leave your quotes "naked." Make sure they are clearly connected to the
argument you are trying to make.
NO: After June's humiliating piano recital, Waverly adds insult to injury. "You aren't a genius like me"
(Tan 151).
YES: After June's humiliating piano recital, Waverly adds insult to injury by declaring, "You aren't a genius
like me" (Tan 151).
Use brackets ([ ]) and ellipses (. . .) to change verbs or other parts of the original
quotes when necessary. This technique is especially useful for maintaining present
tense in your paper. P.S. Know the difference between using (. . .) and (. . . .).
NO: Dwight is a bully who takes out his anger and insecurity on those who are weaker than he is. "This
made him furious; on the way back to the car he would kill anything he saw. He killed chipmunks,
squirrels, blue jays, and robins"(Wolff 171).
YES: Dwight is a bully who takes out his anger and insecurity on those who are weaker than he is. While
hunting, he boosts his ego by "kill[ing] anything he [sees]. He kill[s] chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, and
robins" (Wolff 171).
If you're quoting poetry, make sure you use a slash (/) to indicate where each line
ends. That way, you are staying true to the text, and the reader will know that you are
quoting poetry, instead of prose.
Ex.: When Duncan asks for an update on the battle, the captain describes the struggling armies as "two
spent swimmers that do cling together/And choke their art" (Macbeth 1.2.10-11).
At the end of the quote, use the QUO-PAR-PUNC Rule: Quotation marksParentheses-Punctuation (Special thanks to Sally Wallace of the Brentwood School for
teaching me this rule!). Within the parentheses, you usually write the author's last name
and the page number. If you are only quoting from one book throughout your paper,
then you only have to put the page number. If you are quoting Shakespeare, then you
need to cite the play, act, scene, and line numbers.
NO: When Waverly accuses her mother of showing off, Lindo's eyes turn "into dangerous black slits. She
ha[s] no words for [Waverly], just sharp silence. (Tan 102)"
YES: When Waverly accuses her mother of showing off, Lindo's eyes turn "into dangerous black slits. She
ha[s] no words for [Waverly], just sharp silence" (Tan 102).
Note: If a quote ends with a question mark or exclamation point, then put that punctuation
before the quotation marks, to make sure the intended emotion is retained.
Ex.: During their phone conversation, Toby's father tries to win Toby over by saying, "I've made some
mistakes . . . . We all have. But that's behind us. Right, Tober?" (211).
80 •
If there is a quote within the quote you are using, then use single quotation marks
to set off the inner quote.
Ex.: When Lena shows Ying-Ying around her new house, Ying-Ying complains that "the slant of the floor
makes her feel as if she is 'running down'" (Tan 163).
When your quote is longer than four lines, "block it off" from the rest of your
paragraph. In this case, you don't use quotation marks (except for lines of dialogue),
and the QUO-PAR-PUNC rule does not apply. (Note: Avoid using very long quotes-they sometimes bog the paper down.)
Ex.: Lady Macbeth calls on supernatural powers so that she can assist in Duncan's murder:
. . . Come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up th'access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose . . . . (Macbeth 1.5.47-53)
Lady Macbeth thus reveals the all-consuming nature of her ambition: she is even willing to give up her
identity as a woman to get what she wants. (And the paper goes on from there.)
THREE “I’s” WHEN INTEGRATING QUOTES: Introduce, Integrate, and Interpret. You start by
setting up (introducing) the quote (In the early part of the novel, Joe says…); next, you integrate the
quote by setting it off using a colon or a comma (see below for examples); finally, you interpret the
quote (When Joe says this, what he is really indicating is…). NEVER LET A QUOTE “SPEAK FOR
ITSELF.” Notice, “interpret” does not necessarily mean “restate” or “repeat”; “interpret” means to
explain the significance of the quote in regards to your paper. Also notice that you want to avoid using
phrases like “This quotes shows” or “In the previous quote.” The exception to the three “I” rule: a
hook does not need to be introduced, and a final thought does not need to be interpreted.
81 Integrating Quotations into Sentences‐STYLE There are at least four ways to integrate quotations.
1. Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a colon.
Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I
could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Example: Thoreau ends his essay with a metaphor: "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in."
This is an easy rule to remember: if you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, you need a colon after
the sentence. Be careful not to confuse a colon (:) with a semicolon (;). Using a comma in this situation will most
likely create a comma splice, one of the serious sentence-boundary errors.
2. Use an introductory or explanatory phrase, but not a complete sentence, separated from the quotation
with a comma.
Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods
when he says, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Example: Thoreau suggests the consequences of making ourselves slaves to progress when he says, "We do not
ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."
Example: According to Thoreau, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."
You should use a comma to separate your own words from the quotation when your introductory or explanatory
phrase ends with a verb such as "says," "said," "thinks," "believes," "pondered," "recalls," "questions," and "asks"
(and many more). You should also use a comma when you introduce a quotation with a phrase such as
"According to Thoreau."
3. Make the quotation a part of your own sentence without any punctuation between your own words and
the words you are quoting.
Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods
when he says that "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of
life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Example: Thoreau suggests the consequences of making ourselves slaves to progress when he says that "We do
not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."
Example: Thoreau argues that "shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous."
Example: According to Thoreau, people are too often "thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing
that falls on the rails."
Notice that the word "that" is used in three of the examples above, and when it is used as it is in the examples,
"that" replaces the comma which would be necessary without "that" in the sentence. You usually have a choice,
then, when you begin a sentence with a phrase such as "Thoreau says." You either can add a comma after "says"
(Thoreau says, "quotation") or you can add the word "that" with no comma (Thoreau says that "quotation.")
82 4. Use short quotations--only a few words--as part of your own sentence.
Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states that his retreat to the woods around Walden
Pond was motivated by his desire "to live deliberately" and to face only "the essential facts of life."
Example: Thoreau argues that people blindly accept "shams and delusions" as the "soundest truths," while
regarding reality as "fabulous."
Example: Although Thoreau "drink[s] at" the stream of Time, he can "detect how shallow it is."
When you integrate quotations in this way, you do not use any special punctuation. Instead, you should punctuate
the sentence just as you would if all of the words were your own. No punctuation is needed in the sentences above
in part because the sentences do not follow the pattern explained under number 1 and 2 above: there is not a
complete sentence in front of the quotations, and a word such as "says," "said," or "asks" does not appear directly
in front of the quoted words.
All of the methods above for integrating quotations are correct, but you should avoid relying too much on just one
method. You should instead use a variety of methods.
Notice the Punctuation!
Notice that there are only two punctuation marks that are used to introduce quotations: the comma and the colon
(:). Note that a semicolon (;) is not used to introduce quotations.
Notice as well the punctuation of the sentences above in relation to the quotations. If there are no parenthetical
citations in the sentences (no author's name and page number in parentheses), the commas and periods go inside
the final quotation mark ("like this."). For whatever reason, this is the way we do it in America. In England,
though, the commas and periods go outside of the final punctuation mark.
Semicolons and colons go outside of the final quotation mark ("like this";).
Question marks and exclamation points go outside of the final quotation mark if the punctuation mark is part of
your sentence--your question or your exclamation ("like this"?). Those marks go inside of the final quotation
mark if they are a part of the original--the writer's question or exclamation ("like this!").
The Proper Punctuation: Keeping in Simple Remembering just a few simple rules can help you use the correct
punctuation as you introduce quotations. There are some exceptions to the rules below, but they should help you
use the correct punctuation with quotations most of the time.
Rule 1: Complete sentence: "quotation." (If you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, use a
colon (:) just before the quotation.)
Rule 2: Someone says, "quotation." (If the word just before the quotation is a verb indicating someone
uttering the quoted words, use a comma. Examples include the words "says," "said," "states," "asks," and
"yells." But remember that there is no punctuation if the word "that" comes just before the quotation, as in
"the narrator says that.")
Rule 3: If Rules 1 and 2 do not apply, do not use any punctuation between your words and the quoted
And remember that a semicolon (;) never is used to introduce quotations.
These rules oversimplify the use of punctuation with quotations, but applying just these few rules should help you use the correct punctuation about 90 percent of time.
83 Commonly Mistaken Words COMMON WORDS THAT SOUND ALIKE Accept, Except • accept = verb meaning to receive or to agree: He accepted their praise graciously. • except = preposition meaning all but, other than: Everyone went to the game except Alyson. Affect, Effect • affect = verb meaning to influence: Will lack of sleep affect your game? • effect = noun meaning result or consequence: Will lack of sleep have an effect on your game? • effect = verb meaning to bring about, to accomplish: Our efforts have effected a major change in university policy. A memory‐help for affect and effect is is RAVEN: Remember, Affect is a Verb and Effect is a Noun. Advise, Advice advise = verb that means to recommend, suggest, or counsel: I advise you to be cautious. advice = noun that means an opinion or recommendation about what could or should be done: I'd like to ask for your advice on this matter. Conscious, Conscience • conscious = adjective meaning awake, perceiving: Despite a head injury, the patient remained conscious. • conscience = noun meaning the sense of obligation to be good: Chris wouldn't cheat because his conscience wouldn't let him. Its, It's • its = possessive adjective (possesive form of the pronoun it): The crab had an unusual growth on its shell. • it's = contraction for it is or it has (in a verb phrase): It's still raining; it's been raining for three days. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.) Lead, Led • lead = noun referring to a dense metallic element: The X‐ray technician wore a vest lined with lead. • led = past‐tense and past‐participle form of the verb to lead, meaning to guide or direct: The evidence led the jury to reach a unanimous decision. Than, Then •
Than used in comparison statements: He is richer than I. used in statements of preference: I would rather dance than eat. used to suggest quantities beyond a specified amount: Read more than the first paragraph. Then a time other than now: He was younger then. She will start her new job then. next in time, space, or order: First we must study; then we can play. suggesting a logical conclusion: If you've studied hard, then the exam should be no problem. Their, There, They're • Their = possessive pronoun: They got their books. • There = that place: My house is over there. (This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.) • They're = contraction for they are: They're making dinner. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.) We're, Where, Were • We're = contraction for we are: We're glad to help. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.) • Where = location: Where are you going? (This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.) • Were = a past tense form of the verb be: They were walking side by side. 84 Your, You're •
Your = possessive pronoun: Your shoes are untied. You're = contraction for you are: You're walking around with your shoes untied. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.) One Word or Two? All ready/already • all ready: used as an adjective to express complete preparedness • already: an adverb expressing time At last I was all ready to go, but everyone had already left. All right/alright • all right: used as an adjective or adverb; older and more formal spelling, more common in scientific & academic writing: Will you be all right on your own? • alright: Alternate spelling of all right; less frequent but used often in journalistic and business publications, and especially common in fictional dialogue: He does alright in school. All together/altogether • all together: an adverb meaning considered as a whole, summed up: All together, there were thirty‐two students at the museum. • altogether: an intensifying adverb meaning wholly, completely, entirely: His comment raises an altogether different problem. Anyone/any one • anyone: a pronoun meaning any person at all: Anyone who can solve this problem deserves an award. • any one: a paired adjective and noun meaning a specific item in a group; usually used with of: Any one of those papers could serve as an example. Note: There are similar distinctions in meaning for everyone and every one Anyway/any way • anyway: an adverb meaning in any case or nonetheless: He objected, but she went anyway. • any way: a paired adjective and noun meaning any particular course, direction, or manner: Any way we chose would lead to danger. Awhile/a while • awhile: an adverb meaning for a short time; some readers consider it nonstandard; usually needs no preposition: Won't you stay awhile? • a while: a paired article and noun meaning a period of time; usually used with for: We talked for a while, and then we said good night. Maybe/may be • maybe: an adverb meaning perhaps: Maybe we should wait until the rain stops. • may be: a form of the verb be: This may be our only chance to win the championship. 85 Literary Terms
86 Literary and Reading Terms Act A major unit of action in a drama or a play. Each act can be further divided into smaller sections called
Allegory A story in which people, things, and actions represent an idea or a generalization about life; allegories
often have a strong moral or lesson.
Alliteration When the beginnings of words start with the same consonant or vowel sounds in stressed syllables –
and the words are close together. Example: Toby teaches tiny tots in Toledo.
Allusion A reference to some striking incident in history or reference to a mythological character. Example: Cain
and Abel or Atlas.
Analogy A point-by-point comparison between two dissimilar things in order to clarify the less familiar of the
Anecdote A brief account of an interesting incident or event that usually is intended to entertain or to make a
point. A short summary of a humorous event used to make a point.
Antagonist The person or thing opposing the protagonist or hero of the story. When this is a person, he or she is
usually called the villain.
Antithesis An opposition, or contrast, of ideas. Example: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times..."
Aphorism A short statement that expresses a general observation about life in a clever or pointed way. –
“Sometimes the human heart is the only clock in the world that keeps true time”-“Keeping Time”
Apostrophe The direct address of the absent or dead as if they were present, or the inanimate as if it were animate
e.g. when Juliet talks to dead Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
Archetype An image, character or pattern of circumstance that recurs throughout literature and thought
consistently enough to be considered universal --wise grandparent, generous thief, innocent maiden.
Aside An author directly addresses the audience but is not supposed to be heard by other actors on the stage.
Assonance A repetition of vowel sounds. e.g. How now brown cow.
Author’s perspective An author’s beliefs and attitudes as expressed by his or her writing.
Author’s purpose His or her reason for creating a particular work.
Autobiography An author’s account or story of his own life.
Biases An inclination for or against a person, place, idea, or thing that inhibits impartial judgment
Biography The story of a person’s life written by another person.
Caricature A picture or imitation of a person's features or mannerisms exaggerated in a comic or absurd way.
Cause and effect Two events are related as cause and effect when one event brings about, or causes, the other.
The event that happens first is the cause; the one that follows is the effect.
Character A person or an animal in a story, play, poem, or other work of literature.
Character sketch A short piece of writing that reveals or shows something important about a person or fictional
Characterization A representation of a person’s attributes or peculiarities, appearance, personality.
• Direct: The writer states directly what the character is like. Example: Rita was small and fragile looking,
but she had immense courage and independence.
• Indirect:
1) The writer gives the actual speech of the character. Example: “I’m afraid but I’ll do it anyway!” said Rita.
2) The writer reveals what the character is thinking or feeling. Example: As the cold water of the lake wrapped
around her legs, Rita trembled at the memory of last summer’s accident.
3) The writer tells about the character’s actions. Example: With determined effort, Rita managed to get the
rowboat into the lake and clamber aboard.
4) The writer tells how other people respond to the character. Example: Polly watched from the shore, knowing it
was impossible to stop Rita once she had decided to do something. “She is so stubborn!” Polly thought.
Chronological order The order in which events happen in time.
Classic An enduring work of literature that continues to be read long after it was written.
Cliché Any expression used so often that its freshness and clarity have worn off e.g. “tip of the iceberg.”
Climax The high point of the story. It is the point that brings about the solution (or decides that there will not be a
solution). The conflict builds and becomes worse up to this point. After the climax, the problem will usually,
though not always, be solved. The climax comes near the end of the story.
Comedy A dramatic work that is light and often humorous in tone. It usually ends with a happy resolution.
87 Comparison The process of identifying similarities. Comparisons are used to make ideas and details clearer to
the reader.
Conflict The colliding or clashing of thoughts, feelings, actions, or persons: the problems or complications in the
story. All stories have conflicts. There are five basic types of conflict:
• Character vs. Character: One character in a story has a problem with one or more of the other characters
• Character vs. Society: A character has a conflict or problem
with some element of society – the school, the law, the accepted way of doing things, etc.
• Character vs. Self: A character has trouble deciding what to doin a particular situation.
• Character vs. Nature: A character has a problem with some natural happening: a snowstorm, an avalanche, the
bitter cold, or any of the other elements of nature
• Character vs. Fate (God): A character has to battle what seems to be an uncontrollable problem. Whenever the
problem seems to be a strange or unbelievable coincidence, fate can be considered as the cause of the conflict
Connotation All the emotions or feelings a word can arouse, such as the positive or good feeling associated with
the word love.
Consonance The repetition of consonant sounds within a line of verse or a sentence of prose. Not limited to the
initial letter of a word. e.g. “such a tide as seems asleep.”
Contrast The process of pointing out differences between things.
Conventions Widely accepted rules for grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
Denotation The dictionary meaning of a word.
Denouement The final outcome or resolution of a play or story.
Description Writing that helps the reader to picture scenes, events, and characters.
Dialect A form of language that is spoken in a particular place or by a particular group of people.
Dialogue Consists of the conversations characters have with one another. Dialogue has two main functions:
1) It tells a lot about the characters’ personalities.
2) It moves the plot, or action, along.
Diction An author's choice of words based on their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.
• Archaic words are those that are old fashioned and no longer
sound natural when used. Example: "I believe thee not".
• Colloquialism: An expression that is usually accepted in informal situations and certain locations. Example:
"He really grinds my beans".
• Jargon: Specialized language used by a specific group, such as those who use computers. Example: override,
interface, and download.
• Profanity: Language that shows disrespect for someone or something regarded as holy or sacred.
• Slang: The informal language used by a particular group of people among themselves. It is also used in fiction
to lend color and feelings. Example: awesome, chill, no way - way.
• Vulgarity: Language that is generally considered crude, gross, and, at times, offensive.
Didactic Literature instructs or presents a moral or religious statement.
Drama The form of literature known as plays; but drama also refers to the type of serious play that is often
concerned with the leading character’s relationship to society rather than with some tragic flaw within his
Dramatic monologue A literary work (or a part of a literary work) in which a character is speaking about him or
herself as if another person were present. The words of the speaker reveal something important about his or her
Dynamic Character A character who undergoes adaptation, change, or growth--Pinocchio
Empathy Putting yourself in someone else's place and imagining how that person must
Epic A long narrative poem about the adventures of a hero whose actions reflect the ideals and values of a nation
or a group.
Epigram A brief, witty saying or poem often dealing with its subject in a satirical manner.
Epiphany A sudden moment of understanding that causes a character to change or act in a certain way.
Epitaph A short poem or verse written in memory of someone.
Epithet A word or phrase used in place of a person's name and is characteristic of that person. Example: Material
Girl, Alexander the Great, Ms. Know-It-All.
88 Essay A piece of prose which expresses an individual’s point of view; usually, it is a series of closely related
paragraphs which combine to make a complete piece of writing.
Exaggeration An extreme overstatement of an idea. It is often used for purposes of emphasis or humor.
Exposition The beginning of the story where:
• The audience usually meets the characters
• The time and place (setting) are told
• The conflict (the problem in the story that needs to be solved) is introduced
• This portion helps the reader understand the background or situation in which the story is set.
Extended metaphor A figure of speech that compares two essentially unlike things at some length. It may
introduce a series of metaphors representing different aspects of a situation.
Fable A short fictional narrative that teaches a lesson. It usually includes animals that talk and act like people.
Fact A statement that can be proved.
Falling action All that happens after the climax. This is the action which works out the decision arrived at during
the climax. The resolution (denouement) follows.
Fantasy A work of literature that contains at least one fantastic or unreal element.
Farce Literature based on a humorous and improbable plot.
Fiction Prose writing that tells an imaginary story. The writer of a fictional work might invent all the events and
characters in it or might base parts of the story on real people or events.
Figurative language Writers use figurative language – expressions that are not literally true – to create original
Figure of Speech A literary device used to create a special effect or feeling by making some type of interesting
and creative comparison. Examples: Antithesis, Hyperbole, Metaphor, Metonymy, Personification, Simile,
Understatement, etc.
Flashback Returning to an earlier time in the story for the purpose of making something in the present clearer.
Flat Character A character who is simple, two dimensional, and shallow. Readers do not feel like they get to
KNOW a flat character. e.g. the mother in Little Red Riding Hood.
Foil Someone who serves as a contrast or challenge to another character.
Foreshadowing A suggestion of what is to come later in the work by giving hints and clues.
Genre Used to define form or type of literature. The novel, the essay, and poem are examples of the many genre
or forms of literature.
Gothic novel A type of fiction that is characterized by gloomy castles, ghosts, and supernatural happenings creating mysterious and sometimes frightening story.
Historical fiction Contemporary fiction that is set in the past.
Horror fiction Contains mysterious and often supernatural events to create terror.
Hubris Derived from the Greek word hybris, means "excessive pride." In Greek tragedy, hubris is often viewed
as the flaw that leads to the downfall of the tragic hero.
Hyperbole A figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or for humorous effect. Example: "I
have seen this river so wide it had only one bank."
Idiom An expression whose meaning is different from the sum of the meanings of its individual words.
Imagery Used to describe the words or phrases, which bring forth a certain picture or image in the mind of the
reader. It is the sensory language and the metaphors that the writer uses to create the atmosphere.
Impressionism The recording of events and situations as they have been impressed upon the mind.
Inference A logical guess based on evidence. Readers, by combining the information the writer provides with
what they know from their own experience, can figure out more than the words say.
Irony A contrast between what is expected and what actually exists.
Jargon Specialized language of a trade, profession, or group.
Legend A story handed down from the past about a specific person.
Litotes A form of understatement that is achieved by saying the opposite of what you mean e.g. calling a fat
child-- “skinny” or a slow one-- “speedy.”
Local color The use of language and details that are common in a certain region of the country. (Regional dialect)
Main idea A central idea that a writer wishes to express. It could be the central idea of an entire work or a topic
sentence of a paragraph.
Malapropism A type of pun, or play on words, that results when two words become jumbled in the speaker's
mind. The term comes from a character in Sheridan's comedy, The Rivals. The character, Mrs. Malaprop, is
constantly mixing up her words.
89 Melodrama An exaggerated form of drama (soap operas) characterized by heavy use of romance, suspense, and
Memoir A specific type of autobiography. A memoir does not cover the author’s entire life.
Metaphor A comparison of two things that have some quality in common. A metaphor does not contain the
words of comparison – like or as. Example: "A green plant is a machine that runs on solar energy."
Metaphor A comparison between two things that have something in common without using like, as or resembles
the dog had “a stick of a leg”-“Moco Limping”
Meter The more or less regular pattern of accented and unaccented syllables in poetry.
Metonymy Substituting one word for another related word. Example: The White House has decided to create
more public service jobs. (White House is substituted for president.)
Mood The feeling a piece of literature arouses in the reader: happy, sad, etc.
Moral A lesson or value that the author is trying to get across to the reader.
Motif A term for an often-repeated idea or theme in literature.
Motivation Why characters behave in a certain way. You can track motivation with because sentences.
Myth A traditional story that attempts to justify a certain practice or believe or to explain a natural phenomenon.
Narration Writing that relates an event or a series of events.
Narrative Writing that tells a story. The events can be real or imagined.
Narrator The person who is telling the story.
Naturalism An extreme form of realism in which the author tries to show the relation of a person to the
environment or surroundings. Often, the author finds it necessary to show the ugly or raw side of that relationship.
Nonfiction Writing that tells about real people, places, and events.
Novel A term that covers a wide range of prose materials, which have two common characteristics: they are
fictional and lengthy.
Novella A prose work longer than the standard short story, but shorter and less complex than a full-length novel.
Onomatopoeia The formation or use of words such as buzz that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or
actions they refer to. -moo, drip, clang, choo choo.
Opinion A statement that reflects a writer’s belief, but which cannot be supported by proof or evidence.
Organization Writing that has an inviting lead, purposeful sequencing and no dream ending.
Outlining A general description covering the main points of a subject with headings & subheadings
Oxymoron A combination of contradictory terms as in “jumbo shrimp.”
Parable A short descriptive story that illustrates a particular belief or moral.
Paradox A statement that seems contrary to common sense, yet may, in fact be true. Example: "The coach
considered this a good loss."
Parallel Structure The repeating of phrases and sentences that are syntactically similar.
Paraphrasing The restatement of a text by readers in their own words or in another form.
Parody A form of literature that intentionally uses comic effect to mock a literary work or style.
Pathetic fallacy: A form of personification giving human traits to nature. Example: cruel sea, howling wind.
Pathos A Greek root meaning suffering or passion. It usually describes the part in a play or story that is intended
to elicit pity or sorrow from the audience or reader.
Personification A literary device in which the author elevates an animal, object, or idea to the level of human
such that it takes on the characteristics of a human personality. Example: “The rock stubbornly refused to move.”
Persuasion Meant to sway readers’ feelings, beliefs, or actions.
Picaresque novel A work of fiction consisting of a lengthy string of loosely connected events. It usually features
the adventures of a rogue living by his or her wits.
Plot The sequence of events that happen in a story. There are five basic parts to a
plot :
• Exposition
• Rising Action
• Climax
• Falling Action
• Resolution
Poetic justice A term that describes a character "getting what he deserves" in the end, especially if what he
deserves is punishment. The purest form of poetic justice is when one character plots against another but ends up
being caught in his or her own trap.
90 Poetic License A poet or other professional writer is allowed to break conventional rules of grammar, spelling,
form, or citation to make rhyme or meter or general effect better --Dr. Seuss
Poetry A type of literature in which ideas and feelings are expressed in compact, imaginative, and often musical
Point of view The vantage point from which the story is being told.
• First-person point of view: The story is told by one of the
• Third-person point of view: The story is told by someone outside of the story. There are three kinds of third
person p.o.v.:
o Omniscient- allows the narrator to relate the thoughts and feelings of all the characters
o Limited omniscient- allows the narrator to relate the thoughts and feelings of only one character
o Camera (objective) view- seeing and recording the action from a neutral or unemotional point of view
Primary source A firsthand account of an event. Primary sources include: diaries, journals, letters, speeches, news
stories, photographs, and pieces of art.
Propaganda One sided persuasion, materials spread abroad by advocates of a doctrine.
Prose An ordinary form of spoken and written language. It is the language that lacks the special features of
Protagonist The main character or hero of the story.
Pseudonym A pen name or false name. The name a writer uses in place of his or her given name.
Pun A word or phrase that is used to suggest more than one possible meaning.
Quest A main character seeking to find something or achieve a goal. In the process, this character encounters and
overcomes a series of obstacles, returning wiser and more experienced.
Realism Literature that attempts to represent life as it really is.
Realistic fiction Imaginative writing set in the real, modern world.
Renaissance Means "rebirth," is the period of history following the Middle Ages. This period began late in the
14th century and continued through the 15th and 16th centuries. The term now applies to any period in time in
which intellectual and artistic interest is revived or reborn.
Repetition A technique in which a sound, word, phrase, or line is repeated for effect or emphasis.
Resolution Sometimes called the “denouement.” It ties up the story. It is most often the final solution to the
conflict. It is also what happens as a result of the solution.
Rhetorical Question A question asked for effect which neither requires a reply nor wants a reply. - When it is past bed time and a parent asks, “Isn’t it past your bed time?”
Rhetorical Techniques The tools used in effective or persuasive language --contrast, repetition, paradox,
understatement, sarcasm, and rhetorical questions.
Rhyme Repetition of sounds at the end of words e.g. “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I
Rising Action The part of a drama that follows the event that gives rise to the conflict & precedes the climax.
Romanticism A literary movement with an emphasis on the imagination and emotions.
Sarcasm Use of praise to mock someone or something.
Satire A literary technique in which ideas or customs are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society.
Scene In a play, a scene is a section presenting events that occur in one place at one time.
Science fiction Is prose writing in which a writer explores unexpected possibilities of the past or future by using
scientific data and theories as well as his or her imagination.
Secondary source Presents information compiled from or based on other sources.
Sensory details Words and phrases that help readers see, hear, taste, feel, or smell what the author is describing.
Sentence Fluency Sentences have varied length and beginnings, they are easy to read aloud.
Setting The place and time that a literary or dramatic work takes place.
Short story A brief work of fiction that can generally be read in one sitting. Usually contains one major conflict
and at least one main character.
Simile A comparison of two unlike things in which a word of comparison (like or as) is used. Example: She eats
like a bird.
Slang Non-standard vocabulary, figures of speech marked by spontaneity and raciness.
Slapstick A form of low comedy that often includes exaggerated, sometimes violent action. The "pie in the face"
routine is a classic piece of slapstick.
91 Soliloquy A speech delivered by a character when he or she is alone on stage. It is as though the character is
thinking out loud.
Stage Is the level and raised platform on which entertainers usually perform.
Stage directions In the script of a play, the stage directions are the instructions to the actors, director, and stage
Static Character A character who undergoes no change e.g. Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird
Stereotype A broad generalization or an oversimplified view that disregards individual differences. These can
lead to unfair judgments of people on the basis of ethnic background or physical appearance.
Stream of consciousness A style of writing in which the thoughts and feelings of the writer are recorded as they
Style How the author uses words, phrases, and sentences to form his or her ideas. Style is also thought of as the
qualities and characteristics that distinguish one writer's work from the work of others.
Surprise ending An unexpected twist in the plot at the end of a story.
Suspense A feeling of growing tension and excitement.
Symbol A concrete object used to represent and idea. Example: A black object usually symbolizes death or
Syntax The arrangement – the ordering, grouping, placement – of words within a sentence and sentences within a
Theme The statement about life a particular story is trying to get across to the reader. A theme is a message about
life or human nature that is communicated by a literary work.
Tone The overall feeling, or effect, created by a writer's use of words. This feeling may be serious, humorous, or
Tragedy A literary work in which the hero is destroyed by some flaw within his character and/or by forces he
cannot control.
Tragic Hero A character that experiences an inner struggle because of some flaw within his character. That
struggle ends in the defeat of the hero.
Transcendentalism A philosophy that requires human beings to go beyond (transcend) reason in their search for
truth. It assumes that an individual can arrive at the basic truths of life through spiritual insight if he or she takes
the time to think seriously about them.
Understatement A way of emphasizing an idea by talking about it in a restrained manner. Example: "Aunt Polly
is prejudiced against snakes." (She was terrified of them.)
Voice An author’s or a narrator’s voice is his or her distinctive style or manner of expression.
Word Choice Vivid images created with just the right words and phrases.
92 Literary Analysis
93 3 LEVELS OF QUESTIONING Level I: Recall The answer is in the text. There is nothing implied, the answer is right or wrong. Recalling facts leads to analysis or inference based on facts. What were Cinderella's slippers made out of? How did Cinderella get to the ball? Level II: Analysis/Inference Derive logical conclusions based on facts (premises). Analysis includes asking “how” or “why” based on study of text. Read between the lines, look for the hidden meaning. Conclusions should be understood but not directly expressed. Why does Cinderella's stepmother care whether or not she goes to the ball? Why did everything turn back the way it was except the glass slipper? Why don't the step sisters like Cinderella? Level III: Synthesis (THEME QUESTIONS) Go beyond the text and inquire into the value, importance and application of the information presented. Apply inferences to “THE BIG PICTURE.” Does a woman's salvation always lie with a man? What does it mean to live happily ever after? Does good always overcome evil? 94 Scintillating Sentences A sentence/passage that: o
YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU THINK OTHERS IN THE CLASS WILL NOT UNDERSTAND BOGGLES YOUR MIND FOR ANY REASON (IT MAY HAVE MULTIPLE LEVELS OF UNDERSTANDING) Include your reflections regarding the significance of the quote or questions you have about the quote. All quotes should relate back to the purpose of the piece. REMEMBER…MOVE BEYOND THE OBVIOUS AND LOOK FOR THE COMPLEXITY. Example of Scintillating Sentences/Quizzical Quote response for “Ambush” by Time O’Brien “I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy; I did not ponder issues of morality or politics or military duty.” Pg. 1223 The repetition of “I did not” at the beginning of successive clauses emphasizes the idea that the narrator’s actions were automatic and that expected emotions regarding why you would kill someone—hate, duty, or the fact that he was an enemy—were not the narrator’s reasons for killing the Vietnamese man. Simply put, he killed him out of base wartime instinct and terror. This repetition as well as omission of conjunctions artfully accentuates the narrator’s conflicted emotions in later years regarding whether or not the choice to kill the man was moral or even justified. “I had already pulled the pin on the grenade. I had come up to a crouch. It was entirely automatic.”pg. 1223 Vs. “The brush was thick and I had to lob it high, not aiming, and I remember the grenade seeming to freeze above me for an instant , as if a camera had clicked, and I remember ducking down and holding my breath and seeing little wisps of fog rise from the earth. “ pg. 1223 The first sentences are short and choppy to emphasize the seemingly instinctual rush of events. He repeats “I had” at the beginning of the sentences as well which creates a jerky urgent feel. The second sentence, which is clearly longer than typical sentences, creates a “slow‐motion” effect. The effect is heightened by statements that the grenade seemed to “freeze above [him].” I’m a bit confused by the simile “as if a camera clicked.” Did this insinuate the flash of action? Was it purposefully used to add to the “freezing” of time effect? This slowing of time emphasized in his sentence length and figurative language emphasizes this moment, literal moment, that has plagued the narrator’s thoughts throughout the later years. 95 Dialectical (Double Entry) Journal Entries
A dialectical journal represents a method of having a conversation with a work of literature. It is a type of double‐entry note‐taking where students write notes that dialogue with one another, thereby developing critical reading and reflective questioning. Your journal should be set up on your own paper like the model below. Remember that page numbers should be included in the left‐hand column. Journal entries may take several forms or focus on various aspects of your reading. Observations may be questions about material not understood; comments to explain a statement; facts to remember for later; comments on interesting diction, imagery, characters, or literary devices; definitions of vocabulary; questions regarding what may be a flaw in the writer’s logic; an assertion about a character, or other interesting aspects of the novel and the writer’s craft. In addition to the above, the following guidelines may prove helpful. Model The following page models a sample journal. Entries are based on responses to the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. Passage/Notes Page Rainsford hears gunshot 15 Observations Right? Direction of Ship‐Trap Island? Whitney mentioned in the 1st sentence. How far—sound par. 1 carrying on water? very “heavy” darkness 15 par. 1 Rainsford cannot see, climbs on rail, knocks pipe from hand, over reaches, falls in “blood warm” Caribbean. 15 Where were they going? “Blood‐warm” scarier than just “warm.” Rainsford: “straight flight was futile” 25 Smart—he realized he could not just run…he would be caught or trapped. Thinking like a hunter, he must trick Zaroff. “I have played the fox; now I must play the cat of the fable.” 25 Impenetrable Does anyone hear “short hoarse” cry? Seems par. 2 confident, balanced. Clever—He has been clever like the fox by leading Zaroff in circles; now he needs sleep. Therefore, he mimics the actions of a cat and climbs in the tree to think. He pulls on his knowledge of animals and stories to try to survive. 96 Journal Guidelines •
Take the time to write down anything in relation to the text. If you are intrigued by certain statements or if you’re attracted to characters or issues or problems, write your response. Try to take at least five minutes to write when you’ve finished an assignment or when you’ve put your book down for a break. You may want to write something that strikes you then. Make sure that you include page numbers. •
Make connections with your own experience. What does the reading make you think of? Does it remind you of anything or anyone? •
Make connections with other texts or concepts or events. Do you see any similarities between this text (concept, events) and other texts (concepts, events)? Does it bring to mind other related issues? •
Ask yourself questions about the text. What perplexes you about a particular passage? Try beginning, “I wonder why…” or “I’m having trouble understanding how…” or “It perplexes me that…” or “I was surprised when…” •
Try agreeing with the writer. Write down the supporting ideas. Try arguing with the writer. On what points, or about what issues, do you disagree? Think of your journal as a place to carry on a dialogue with the writer or with the text in which you actually speak with him or her. Ask questions; have the writer respond. What happens when you imagine yourself in his/her shoes? •
Write down striking words, images, phrases, or details. Speculate about them. Why did the author choose them? What do they add to the story? Why did you notice them? Copy words from the text into your journal and respond to them. On the first reading you might put checks in the margin of your novel where the passages intrigue you; on the second reading, choose the most interesting ideas, then write about them. •
Describe the author’s point of view. How does the author’s attitude shape the way the writer presents the material? Note: These guidelines do not include every possible type of response for a dialectical journal, but they, along with those described under “Journal Entries” above, provide ample suggestions. 97 Journal Grading Sheet •
Detailed, meaningful passages, plot and quote selections Thoughtful interpretation and elaboration about the text; Avoids clichés. Includes comments about literary elements such as diction, imagery, syntax, and how these elements contribute to the meaning of the text. Makes insightful personal connections and asks thought‐provoking, insightful questions Coverage of text is complete and thorough Journal is neat, organized and professional looking; student has followed directions in the organization of journal 8 •
Less detailed, but good plot and quote selections Some intelligent elaboration; addresses some thematic connections Includes some literary elements, but less on how they contribute to the meaning
Some personal connection; asks pertinent questions Adequately addresses all parts of reading assignment Journal is neat and readable; student has followed directions in the organization of journal 6 •
5or less Few good details from the text Most of the elaboration is vague, unsupported, or plot summary/paraphrase Some listing of literary elements; virtually no discussion on meaning Limited personal connection; asks few, or obvious questions Addresses most of the reading assignment, but is not very long or thorough Journal is relatively neat, but may be difficult to read. Student has not followed all directions in journal organization: loose‐leaf, no columns, not in separate notebook, etc. •
Hardly any good details from the text All notes are plot summary or paraphrase Few literary elements, virtually no discussion on meaning Limited personal connections, no good questions Limited coverage of the text: way too short Did not follow directions in organizing journal; difficult to read or follow 98 Using TPFASTT for Analysis of Poetry T
What do the words of the title suggest to you? What denotations are presented
in the title? What connotations or associations do the words posses?
Translate the poem in your own words. What is the poem about?
What meaning does the poem have beyond the literal meaning? Fill in the
chart below.
Rhyme & Rhythm
Speaker’s Point of View
Figurative Language
Other Devices
(apostrophe, sound
devices, irony,
oxymoron, paradox,
pun, sarcasm,
What is the speaker’s attitude? How does the speaker feel about himself, about
others, and about the subject? What is the author’s attitude? How does the
author feel about the speaker, about other characters, about the subject, and
the reader?
Where do the shifts in tone, setting, voice, etc. occur? Look for time and place,
keywords, punctuation, stanza divisions, changes in length or rhyme, and
sentence structure. What is the purpose of each shift? How do they contribute
to effect and meaning?
Reanalyze the title on an interpretive level. What part does the title play in the
overall interpretation of the poem?
List the subjects and the abstract ideas in the poem. Then determine the
overall theme. The theme must be written in a complete sentence.
Poetry, ideally, should be read aloud! If you can’t read it aloud, make sure to listen to yourself reciting the poem. Pronounce
each word, pause at breaks, and pay attention to punctuation.
99 DIDLS: The Key to TONE
Diction - the connotation of the word choice
What words does the author choose? Consider his/her word choice compared to another. Why did
the author choose that particular word? What are the connotations of that word choice?
Images (figurative language) - vivid appeals to understanding through
the senses
What images does the author use? What does he/she focus on in a sensory (sight, touch, taste,
smell, etc.) way? What types of figurative language does the author use? The kinds of images the
author puts in or leaves out reflect his/her style. Are they vibrant? Prominent? Plain? NOTE:
Images differ from detail in the degree to which they appeal to the senses.
Details - facts that are included or those that are omitted
What details are does the author choose to include? What do they imply? What does the author
choose to exclude? What are the connotations of their choice of details? PLEASE NOTE: Details are
facts. They differ from images in that they don't have a strong sensory appeal.
Language - the overall use of language, such as formal, clinical, jargon
What is the overall impression of the language the author uses? Does it reflect education? A
particular profession? Intelligence? Is it plain? Ornate? Simple? Clear? Figurative? Poetic? Make
sure you don't skip this step.
Syntax (Sentence Structure) - how structure affects the reader's
What are the sentences like? Are they simple with one or two clauses? Do they have multiple
phrases? Are they choppy? Flowing? What emotional impression do they leave? If we are talking
about poetry, what is the meter? Is there a rhyme scheme?
Laugh: guffaw, chuckle, titter, giggle, cackle, snicker, roar
Self-confident: proud, conceited, egotistical, stuck-up, haughty, smug, condescending
House: home, hut, shack, mansion, cabin, home, residence
Old: mature, experienced, antique, relic, senior, ancient
Fat: obese, plump, corpulent, portly, porky, burly, husky, full-figured
-Words can be monosyllabic (one syllable in length) or polysyllabic (more than one
syllable in length). The higher the ratio of polysyllabic words, the more difficult the
100 -Words can be colloquial (slang), informal (conversational), formal (literary) or oldfashioned.
-Words can be denotative (containing an exact meaning, e.g., dress) or connotative
(containing suggested meaning, e.g., gown)
-Words can be concrete (specific) or abstract (general or conceptual).
The use of vivid descriptions or figures of speech that appeal to sensory experiences helps to
create the author's tone.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. (restrained)
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king. (somber, candid)
He clasps the crag with crooked hands. (dramatic)
Love sets you going like a fat gold watch. (fanciful)
Smiling, the boy fell dead. (shocking)
Metaphors- comparison of two unlike things
Similes- comparison of two unlike things using “like” or “as”
Extended Metaphors- metaphors that continue past one line
Symbol- an object, person, etc that represents something beyond itself
Imagery- words that refer to the five senses (smell, taste, see, hear, touch)
Personification- giving inanimate objects or ideas human qualities
Allegory- a story or vignette that, like a metaphor, has both a literal and figurative
Oxymoron- a phrase that seems self-contradictory “an eloquent silence, jumbo shrimp”
Paradox- an idea that is self-contradictory, yet under scrutiny makes sense.
Understatement- understated
Hyperbole- overstated or exaggerated
Details are most commonly the facts given by the author or speaker as support for the attitude or
The speaker's perspective shapes what details are given and which are not.
Some terms to describe language:
ual, specific, particular
des to; suggestive
ryday, common
-off, removed, separated
ressive of emotions
c, melodious, romantic
ct, accurate, decisive
batim, precise
ving as illustration
demic, conventional
eous, deformed
ksy, homey, native, rustic
arent, word for word
itanical, righteous
-witted, undiscerning
ar, obvious
ellectual, academic
sionate, luscious
ar, intelligible
o, colloquialism
resentative, metaphorical
Like word choice, the language of a passage has control over tone.
Consider language to be the entire body of words used in a text, not simply isolated bits of diction.
For example, an invitation to a wedding might use formal language, while a biology text would use
scientific and clinical language.
• When I told Dad that I had goofed the exam, he blew his top. (slang)
• I had him on the ropes in the fourth and if one of my short rights had connected, he'd have gone
down for the count. (jargon)
• A close examination and correlation of the most reliable current economic indexes justifies the
conclusion that the next year will witness a continuation of the present, upward market trend.
(pompous, pedantic)
Rhetorical Devices -- The use of language that creates a literary effect – enhance and
Rhetorical Question
food for thought; create satire/sarcasm; pose dilemma
substituting a milder or less offensive sounding word(s)
universal commends, sayings, proverbs – convey major point
also called refrain; repeated word, sentence or phrase
main point said in another way
Either verbal or situational – good for revealing attitude
refers to something universally known
a statement that can be true and false at the same time
Does the sentence length fit the subject matter?
Why is the sentence length effective?
What variety of sentence lengths are present?
Sentence beginnings – Variety or Pattern?
Arrangement of ideas in sentences
A SIMPLE SENTENCE contains one independent clause: ex: “The singer bowed to her
adoring audience.”
A COMPOUND SENTENCE contains two independent clauses and is joined by a
coordinating conjunction or by a semicolon: e.g. “The singer bowed to the audience, but
she sang no encores.”
A COMPLEX SENTENCE contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate
(dependent) clauses: e.g. “Because the singer was tired, she went straight to bed after
the concert.”
A COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE contains two or more independent clauses and one
or more subordinate (dependent) clauses: e.g. “The singer bowed while the audience
applauded, but she sang no encores.”
A LOOSE SENTENCE makes complete sense if brought to a close before the actual
ending: e.g. “We reached Edmonton that morning after a turbulent flight and some
exciting experiences, tired but exhilarated, full of stories to tell our friends and
neighbors.” The sentence could end before the modifying phrases without losing its
A PERIODIC SENTENCE makes sense fully only when the end of the sentence is
reached. The modifying phrases come first. “That morning, after a turbulent flight and
some exciting experiences, we reached Edmonton.”
BALANCED SENTENCE: the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their
likeness of structure, meaning, or length: e.g., “He maketh me to lie down in green
pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters”
PARALLEL STURCTURE (parallelism): refers to a grammatical or structural similarity
between sentences or parts of a sentence. It involves an arrangement of words, phrases,
sentences, and paragraphs so that elements of equal importance are equally developed
and similarly phrased. “He loved swimming, running, and playing tennis.”
NATURAL ORDER OF A SENTENCE: involves constructing a sentence so the subject
comes before the predicate. “Oranges grow in California”
103 INVERTED ORDER OF A SENTENCE: involves constructing a sentence so the subject
comes before the predicate. “In California grow the oranges” This is a device in which
typical sentence patterns are reversed to create an emphatic or rhythmic effect.
JUXTAPOSITION (THINK OF CONTRAST): a poetic and rhetorical device in which
normally unassociated or contrasting ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one
another, often creating an effect of surprise or wit. “The dark, dingy, repulsive killer
skipped through the bright, colorful tulips.”
REPITITION: is a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once to
enhance rhythm and create emphasis. “…government of the people, by the people, for
the people, shall not perish from the earth”
RHETORICAL QUESTION: a question that requires no answer. It is used to draw
attention to the point and is generally stronger than a direct statement: “If Mr. Ferchoff is
always fair, as you have said, why did he refuse to listen to Mrs. Baldwin’s arguments?”
RHETORICAL FRAGMENT: a sentence fragment used deliberately for a persuasive
purpose or to create a desired effect: “Something to consider.”
How a sentence is constructed affects what the audience takes from the piece.
Parallel syntax (similarly styled phrases and sentences) can create interconnected emotions,
feelings and ideas.
Short sentences are punchy, intense, and can create emphasis. Long sentences can be
distancing, reflective and more abstract.
Short sentences are often emphatic, passionate or flippant, whereas longer sentences
suggest greater thought.
Sentence structure affects tone.
Good authors are rarely monotone. A speaker's attitude can shift on a topic, or an author might
have one attitude toward the audience and another toward the subject. The following are some
clues to watch for shifts in tone:
• key words (but, yet, nevertheless, however, although)
• punctuation (dashes, periods, colons)
• paragraph divisions
• changes in sentence length
• sharp contrasts in diction
TONE: Tone is defined as the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject and the audience.
Understanding tone in prose and poetry can be challenging because the reader doesn't have voice
inflection to obscure or to carry meaning. Thus, an appreciation of word choice, details, imagery,
and language all contribute to the understanding of tone. To misinterpret tone is to misinterpret
104 A list of tone words is one practical method of providing a basic "tone vocabulary." An enriched
vocabulary enables you to use more specific and subtle descriptions of an attitude they discover in
a text. Here is a short list of simple but helpful "tone words":
105 Name: ________________________________________________ Period: _________
SOAPSTone­­Critical Analysis of the Rhetorical Situation
S: What is the SUBJECT? The general topic, content, and ideas contained in the text. That is, what is this piece about? You should be able to state the subject in a few words or a short phrase. For example, is this piece about the sadness of aging, the glories of nature, or the need for abolition? Aging, nature and abolition are not subjects, but topics. There is a distinction. O: What is the OCCASION? The time and place of the piece; the current situation which gave rise to the writing or speech. It is particularly important that you understand the context that encouraged the writing or speaking to happen. This includes historical information. An occasion may be impromptu, or a writer or speaker may be commissioned to deliver a piece for a particular occasion. For example, a writer may pen an editorial prior to congress taking an important vote, Dr. King wrote a speech particularly for the March on Washington, and Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible during the time of the HUAC hearings and the blacklist. A: Who is the AUDIENCE? The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. The audience may be one person, a small group, or a large group. People tend to write or speak for a particular audience, not for just anyone. What qualities do the audience members have in common? Are they of a particular age, class, occupation or ethnicity? Do they share certain beliefs or values? P: What is the PURPOSE? The reason behind the text. What does the speaker, writer, or filmmaker want the audience to do, feel, say or choose? In literature, we call this the theme of the piece. S: What is the author’s STYLE? (Strategic and unique use of language) The individuality of the author. Given the choice of many different options in regards to diction, syntax, figurative language (i.e. allusions), rhetorical strategies etc., which does the author choose to use and what effect does the author’s selections have on the piece. S: Who is the SPEAKER? The voice that tells the story. In nonfiction, what do we know about the writer’s life and views that shape this text? In fiction or poetry, one may often mistakenly believe that the author and narrator of a piece are the same. Sometimes people fail to realize that the author may choose to tell the story from any number of different points of view. We may think that what the speaker believes is what the author believes. This misconception creates problems for some students as they try to unravel meaning. What can you tell about the speaker (not the author) from the text? T: What is the TONE? Attitude towards a subject conveyed by the speaker. What choice of words and use of rhetorical devices let you know the speaker’s tone? Is the tone light‐hearted or deadly serious? Mischievous or ironic? The tone informs us as to the speaker’s true point of view. 106 Name: ________________________________________________ Period: _________
Your job for our next meeting is to be the
Discussion Director
Your job is to develop a list of questions and lead your group in a discussion about this part of the book. Don’t
worry about the small details here: your task is to help people talk over the BIG IDEAS of the reading and share
their reactions. Usually, the best discussion questions come from your own thoughts, feelings, and concerns as you
read, which you can list on a piece of paper, during or after your reading. Use the levels of questioning guide (see
page 94) to help you develop your questions.
For your meeting, you need to write 2 recall questions, and 8 analysis and synthesis questions (any combo of
the two, but at least 1 of each type).
Part of your job is to politely keep everyone in the group focused and on-task!
Your job for our next meeting is to be the
Connection Kid
Your job is to find connections between the book your group is reading and the real world. This means connecting
the reading to your own life, to happenings at school or in the community, to similar events at other times or places,
or to other people or problems that you are reminded of. You might also see connections between this book and other
writings (books, poems, stories, etc.) on the same or different topics, or by the same author. THERE ARE NO
WRONG ANSWERS HERE. Whatever the reading connects you with is worth sharing! These will be done in a
double-entry journal (see page 96) format. Response paragraphs must be a minimum of 6 sentences long.
You need a minimum of ONE connection per chapter, and at least FOUR entries total.
Your sheet needs to be set up as follows:
Quote (page#, paragraph #)
“Only I never saw another butterfly./ That butterfly was the last one. / Butterflies don’t live in here,/ in the ghetto.” (I Never Saw Another Butterfly, 39) Connection to/response/reflection on quote
This reminds me of Night when Elie hears his friend play the violin while they are all in the shack. Elie talks about how it was so beautiful to listen to even in the midst of the torture of their being evacuated from the Concentration Camp. I think the butterfly is like that music. It is so beautiful and unexpected. In another situation, he might not even have noticed the butterfly. But in Terezin, there are so few beautiful things that he has to hold onto it when he sees it, letting it linger in his memory to help him through the horrors. 107 Your job for the next meeting is to be the
Illustrious Illustrator
Your job is to draw some kind of artwork related to the reading. It can be a sketch, cartoon, diagram,
collage, flow chart, diorama, sculpture, or stick figure scene—anything hand-created! You may not use clip art for
this assignment, as it must be created by you! You can create artwork of something that is discussed specifically in
the reading, or of something that the reading reminded you of, or an illustration that conveys any idea or feeling you
got from the reading. Any kind of drawing or graphic is okay—you can even label things with words, if that helps.
Make your drawing large, on a plain white sheet of paper without making any comments. On the reverse side of
your artwork, write a paragraph that explains what you drew, where it came from in the selection, and why you
chose that image to capture (because it was the easiest is not an acceptable explanation). Let the people in the group
make comments on what they think your picture means or represents. After everyone else has a say, you get the last
word! Tell them what your picture means, where it came from, and what it represents to you.
You need a total of THREE illustrations, and at least ONE per chapter.
Your Job for the next meeting is to be the
Vocab Driver
Your job is to be on the lookout for especially important words in today’s reading. If you find words that are
puzzling, unfamiliar, interesting, funny-sounding, etc., write them down on paper as soon as you come across them
including their page number and paragraph number. You may also come across words that stand out in the reading:
words that are repeated a lot, used in an unusual way, or key to the meaning of the reading. Make note of these words
on your sheet also and be ready to point them out in the group. After you finish reading the selection, get a dictionary
and write the definition of each word based on the context in which they were used. When it is your turn to present
your information, help fellow group members find them by telling them on what page and in which paragraph they are
Your sheet must be set up in a graph as follows:
Page # and ¶#
Importance (why did I choose this
108 Your job for our next meeting is to be the
Summary Specialist
Your job is to prepare a brief summary or conclusion of today’s reading. This is a kind of “chapter” or
“section” summary of what was read for this meeting. The other members of your group will be counting on you to
give a quick (1 or 2 minutes max!) statement that conveys the “gist”, the key points, the main highlights, or in other
words, the ESSENCE of today’s reading. Remember, that you are focusing on the big details, not the small minutia.
Please use the format below, where you will write the key points (actions, events, themes) followed by a paragraph
summarizing what happened in your chapter. Do not combine chapters into one summary!
You must do a separate summary for each chapter you read for the literature circle meeting.
Key points (main events or details from the chapter):
Summary (paragraph that gives an overview of what happened in the chapter):
Your job for our next meeting is to be the
Passage Finder
Your job is to locate a few special sections in the reading that you connect with, that you will read aloud to your
group. The idea is to help people remember some interesting, powerful, funny, puzzling, or otherwise important
sections of the reading. You decide which passages or paragraphs are worth hearing, and then jot down plans on
paper for how they should be shared. You should practice reading the passages aloud to yourself, including dialog,
so that you can interject emotion, feeling, meaning, and accent. Remember to vary your reading speed as necessary.
Make sure to have the page number and paragraph handy! Possible reasons for picking a passage include, but are not
limited to: Important, informative, surprising, funny, confusing, controversial, well-written, thought-provoking,
loved the character/event, hated the character/event, etc.
You need to have a minimum of ONE passage per chapter with at least four passages total prepared to share.
Each passage needs to have the quote written out, and a paragraph explaining what each passage is about and
why you choose to share it.
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