In this series, we will attempt to provide general information that should apply to most graduate students, particularly in the United States and Canada. While there are some differences in terminology between the UK and the US, most everything else applies on both sides of the Atlantic.Read More
Filtering by Category: Grammar
Perhaps you received a graded paper with instructions not to use the passive voice, and are not entirely sure what that means. Oftentimes, professors – especially those in the humanities – prefer that students use active voice almost exclusively to passive. In short, active and passive voice have to do with the relationship between subject, action, and object in a sentence.
Both ways, the meaning of the sentence remains essentially the same, but the difference in emphasis can lead to slightly different interpretations.Read More
One of the most common errors that I mark on student papers is the comma splice, which happens when the writer joins two independent clauses – i.e., complete sentences – with only a comma. Like many writing errors, the comma splice was not a term I recognized before I started teaching English, and I often encounter limited recognition of the term outside of teaching circles. Not even my parents, who have worked as teachers, librarians, and editors, recognized the term when I mentioned it to them.
I suspect, though, that – much like pornography – they would recognize the offense when they saw it, as will many other educated readers.Read More
This one is actually simple: do not put two spaces after a period. In fact, I did not realize until recently that it was even a point of contention; but boy is it! So much so, that Berkeley Breathed used it in a series of Bloom County comics spoofing the 2016 election, in which Opus the Penguin tossed his hat into a ring notoriously overloaded with questionable candidates.Read More
“Who cares about grammar?” was a question that my sixteen-year-old self would have asked rhetorically, assuming the answer was obviously “nobody of any importance.” Those who cared about grammar were overly obsessed with rules and details for their own sake. As long as one got his or her ideas across clearly, what did it matter if they stuck to random, formal conventions?Read More