The Kiss of Death Errors

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1 If any of the following errors appear in your writing, it will receive the Kiss of Death. These are all major errors that are unacceptable in senior university level writing. Check your typed papers carefully before turning them in for grading because the kiss has consequences.if your paper comes back to you with a kiss on it, you must use this list to figure our what error you have made to determine where your marks were deducted. Receiving the Kiss of Death on your essay results in an automatic mark deduction. A) Whose or Who'ʹs? The Kiss of Death Errors Whose Whose is the possessive form of who (or, occasionally, which). It means "ʺbelonging to whom or which."ʺ Who s Who'ʹs is a contraction of who is or who has. Notice the apostrophe replacing the missing le<ers. Whose department do you work for? Who'ʹs coming to visit tomorrow? B) There or Their or They re? There Their They re A) Use there when referring to a place, whether concrete ("ʺover there by the building"ʺ) or more abstract ("ʺit must be difficult to live there"ʺ). B) Also use there with the verb BE (is, am, are, was, were) to indicate the existence of something, or to mention something for the first time. A) There is an antique store on Camden Avenue. The science textbooks are over there on the floor. There are many documents that are used in investigations. B) There is a picnic area over here, and a monster and a campground across the river. "ʺI see there are new flowers coming up in your garden."ʺ "ʺYes, they are the ones my grandmother gave me last year."ʺ Use their to indicate possession. It is a possessive adjective and indicates that a particular noun belongs to them. My friends have lost their tickets. Their things were strewn about the office haphazardly. Remember that they'ʹre is a contraction of the words they and are. It can never be used as a modifier, only as a subject (who or what does the action) and verb (the action itself). Hurry up! They'ʹre closing the mall at six tonight! I'ʹm glad that they'ʹre so nice to new students here.

2 C) Too or To? Too A) Too also has two uses. First, as a synonym for "ʺalso"ʺ B) Secondly, too means excessively when it precedes an adjective or adverb. A) Can I go too? He went to France too. I think that'ʹs Paul'ʹs book too. B) I'ʹm too tired. He'ʹs walking too quickly. I ate too much. To A) To has two functions. First, as a preposition, in which case it always precedes a noun. B) Secondly, to indicates an infinitive when it precedes a verb. A) I'ʹm going to the store. He went to Italy. This belongs to David. B) I need to study. We want to help. He'ʹs going to eat. D) Its or It s Its Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it. TEST: Its is the neutral version of his and her. Try plugging her into your sentence where you think its belongs. If the sentence still works grammatically (if not logically) then your word is indeed its. The dodo bird is known for its inability to fly. It s It'ʹs is a contraction for it is or it has. TEST: If you can replace it['ʹ]s in your sentence with it is or it has, then your word is it'ʹs; otherwise, your word is its. It'ʹs been good to know you. It'ʹs a bird! It'ʹs a plane! E) Then or Than Then Then is used either as a time marker or with a sequence of events. I took all of the exams in the morning, and then I spent the rest of the day catching up on sleep. Back then we knew what was expected of us. I bought apples from this orchard last summer, but I seem to remember paying more for them then. Than Unlike then, than is not related to time. Than is used in comparative statements. Another pair of words that I see misused far more often than not is than and then. He is taller than I am. Other than the interest on a small inheritance, he had no income.

3 F) Use of Second Person Writers should avoid using second person point of view. This means that the words you, your, you'ʹre, yours, and yourself are off limits. Using the word you is not grammatically incorrect, of course, but it is often stylistically incorrect because it may inappropriately limit or define the reading audience. In addition, using the word you makes a writing sample too informal. So how do we avoid using second person point of view? It depends on the situation, but these guidelines may help: 1. When giving directions or commands, try simply removing the word you, and then check to see whether the sentence still reads sensibly. Poor: First, you make sure the electricity is turned off at the breaker box. BeJer: First, make sure the electricity is turned off at the breaker box. 2. When giving directions or commands, sometimes it helps to apply a label to the person performing the action. Poor: First, you arrange your supplies: canvas, paint, and brushes. BeJer: First, artists should arrange their supplies: canvas, paint, and brushes. 3. Sometimes we use you when we really mean me or they. Poor: After you eat a spinach salad, you should always brush your teeth. BeJer: After I eat a spinach salad, I always brush my teeth. (This is still in first person, however.) Even BeJer: Because spinach has a tendency to get caught in between the teeth, it is always a good idea to brush after eating it. (This is wri<en in third person point of view.) G) Run- On Sentences and Comma Splices A sentence is a complete thought. A run- on sentence is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) are joined without appropriate punctuation or conjunction. A comma splice occurs when you use a comma to join two complete sentences without placing an appropriate joining word between them. The comma just isn'ʹt strong enough to do the job of making one grammatical sentence out of two. How can I recognize run- on sentences and comma splices? A run on sentence can be made up of two or more complete sentences which are not separated by appropriate punctuation. 1. Sometimes two complete thoughts are not separated by any punctuation at all. The yellow dress made her skin look pale she wore it anyway.

4 2. Sometimes a new thought is only separated by a comma and begins with a pronoun. (Comma Splice) Charles Dickens created the character of Oliver Twist, he also created Ebenezer Scrooge. 3. Sometimes a new thought is not separated by any punctuation and begins with "ʺhowever."ʺ Melanie forgot to do her assignment however the teacher gave her an extension. 4. Sometimes multiple thoughts are connected by conjunctions without proper punctuation. Bill is always out for himself and looking to improve his situation but he never cares about stepping on others as he climbs to the top. 5. Sometimes an idea is difficult to express and the thoughts come out in a confusing order. The employers rewarded their employees unlike today in many cases where the employer just doesn'ʹt care who he has working just as long as the company is making money. How can I correct run- ons and comma splices into proper sentences? There are a number of ways to accomplish this. 1. Separate the ideas into two sentences using a period. The yellow dress made her skin look pale. She wore it anyway. 2. Create a compound sentence by adding a conjunction (and, but, or, so, nor, for, yet) and a comma. The yellow dress made her skin look pale, but she wore it anyway. 3. Separate the two ideas with a semi- colon. Charles Dickens created the character of Oliver Twist; he also created Ebenezer Scrooge. 4. Create a complex sentence by adding a subordinating conjunction to one of the ideas (because, although, if, when, after, while, until, before, since, unless, etc.) + a comma. Because Bill is always out for himself and looking to improve his situation, he never cares about stepping on others as he climbs to the top. 5. Rethink the idea in the confusing sentence and write it clearly. Keep the idea but express it in a new sentence. In the past, employers rewarded their employees. In many cases today, however, employers don'ʹt care who is working for them, just as long as the company is making money. H) Sentence Fragments Complete sentences have a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb), and they express a complete thought. Sentence fragments often lack a subject or a predicate. Sometimes, they are dependent clauses that do not make sense on their own, and must therefore be a<ached to a main clause. Complete sentence: I dance. Sentence fragment: Although I dance. In order to determine if a sentence is a sentence fragment, ask yourself the following questions: 1. Who or what is performing the action? If you can answer this question, your have identified the subject.

5 2. What is the subject doing? If you can answer this question, you have identified the predicate. 3. Does the sentence present a complete thought? If not, the sentence is a sentence fragment, even if it contains both a subject and a predicate. For example: Because he believed that this film would make him a star. Subject: He Predicate: believed Complete thought: None. We do not know what happened as a result of his belief. So what makes a thought incomplete? It s a group of words that belong to a special class of words called subordinators or subordinating conjunctions. If you know something about subordinating conjunctions, you can probably eliminate 90% of your fragments. First, you need to know that subordinating conjunctions do three things: 1. join two sentences together 2. make one of the sentences dependent on the other for a complete thought (make one a dependent clause) 3. indicate a logical relationship Second, you need to recognize the subordinators when you see them. Here is a list of common subordinating conjunctions and the relationships they indicate: 1. Cause / Effect: because, since, so that 2. Comparison / Contrast: although, even though, though, whereas, while 3. Place & Manner: how, however, where, wherever 4. Possibility / Conditions: if, whether, unless 5. Relation: that, which, who 6. Time: after, as, before, since, when, whenever, while, until Third, you need to know that the subordinator (and the whole dependent clause) doesn t have to be at the beginning of the sentence. The dependent clause and the independent clause can switch places, but the whole clause moves as one big chunk. Look at how these clauses switched places in the sentence: Because his car was in the shop, John took the bus. John took the bus because his car was in the shop. Finally, you need to know that every dependent clause needs to be a<ached to an independent clause (remember, the independent clause can stand on its own). How do you find and fix your fragments? Remember the basics: subject, verb, and complete thought. If you can recognize those things, you re halfway there. Then, scan your sentences for subordinating conjunctions. If you find one, first identify the

6 whole chunk of the dependent clause (the subject and verb that go with the subordinator), and then make sure they re a<ached to an independent clause. John took the bus. (independent clause) Because his car was in the shop. (Dependent clause all by itself. Uh oh! Fragment!) John took the bus because his car was in the shop. (Hooray! It s fixed!) I) Contractions Contractions are usually considered informal constructions. In primary and secondary school, we use contractions to help us to model oral language or speech more closely in our writing. Such approaches help us to learn language more efficiently and much more quickly. However, the trend in professional, technical, and university writing continues to be to avoid contractions. Particular contractions can cause confusion. Since the aim of university writing is usually one of establishing clarity and consistency, then avoiding contractions becomes a good thing. EX: It'ʹs may mean two different things: It is It has (as in: It'ʹs raining) (as in: It'ʹs been a while since we'ʹve talked...) Moreover, particular contractions are more closely related to slang. EX: Ain'ʹt (which often stands for isn'ʹt or aren'ʹt) J) Floating Quotations (Don t float the quote!) How do you deal with quotations when writing an essay? More specifically, how do you signal the use of a quotation, and how do you integrate the quotation effectively into a sentence? Never just drop a quotation into a paragraph. It always requires an introduction, and it is important that you make a smooth progression from your own words to those of another source. WRONG: T.S. Eliot, in his "ʺTalent and the Individual,"ʺ uses gender- specific language. "ʺNo poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists"ʺ (Eliot 29). In the above example, the reader is not prepared for the quote and will most certainly be confused as a result. Instead, use signal phrases when incorporating a quote. These are phrases that introduce the quote and give your readers a context for the quote that explains why it is included in the paper. Signal phrases also make the quote fit in more naturally.

7 Reminders for proper quotation insertion: 1. Whenever you insert a quotation into your paragraphs ensure it matches the tense of the rest of your essay. If you have to change the word to make this fit, put it in [square] brackets. For instance if the word is sat and you need to change it to the present tense, it would be [sit]. Also, if you need to add words to the quotation to make it flow smoothly in your sentence, you need to put those additional words in square brackets as well. 2. Use active verbs in signal phrases. acknowledges comments emphasizes reasons adds concedes endorses refutes admits confirms illustrates rejects agrees contends implies reports argues declares insists responds asserts demonstrates maintains shows believes denies notes states claims describes points out suggests compares disputes observes summarizes 3. You must show where you found the quotation. To do this, put the author s last name in brackets, followed by a space and the number of the page from which the quotation comes. Then the punctuation that ends the quotation goes AFTER the citation. It is called a Parenthetical Citation. Remember: questions marks and exclamation marks also belong after the citation. As she remembers his illness she thinks, Worry parches the mouth, it s always been that way (MacFarlane 194). 4. When the signal phrase consists of a few explaining words, and the quotation is a complete sentence itself: a. Separate the signal phrase from the quotation with a comma b. Begin the quotation with a capital le<er c. Ensure the punctuation at the end of the quotation comes after the citation. As she remembers his illness she thinks, Worry parches the mouth, it s always been that way (MacFarlane 194). 5. When the signal phrase is a complete sentence, and the quotation is a complete sentence: a. End the signal phrase with a period. b. Begin the quotation with a capital le<er c. End the quotation with punctuation after the citation. The mother sits at home waiting to hear news from the hospital and criticizes herself for what she believes to be her failures. [I] should have praised him more when he was younger, criticized him less, helped him to have a be<er self- image. [I know] that now. Maybe then he d have

8 excelled at something school, sports, drama wouldn t have needed to booze to make him feel important (MacFarlane 193). 6. When the signal phrase is part of a sentence and the quotation is also part of a sentence, they complete the whole thought together: a. Do not separate the signal phrase from the quotation with a comma. Let the two parts blend together. b. Do not begin the quotation with a capital le<er since it is simply completing your sentence and cannot stand by itself. c. End the quotation with punctuation after the citation. As the mother sits at home waiting to hear news from the hospital, she believes that she should have praised him more when he was younger, criticized him less, helped him to have a be<er self- image (MacFarlane 193). 7. If the quotation you are inserting is four (4) lines or longer you must follow the following format. Indent twice (Make sure it is different than the indent you use to indicate the start a new paragraph!). Do not use quotation indicators! Also continue to double space. When you get to the end of the quotation simply put the proper punctuation and then cite the quotation with the name of the author and page number inside the brackets. Remember to have a signal phrase. End the signal phrase with a colon (:). Ex. Then she continues with the description of how she wants to help her son but is, in fact, ineffectual: With every illness ran a high fever. When he was a baby and she held him in her arms in the rocking chair all night she wished she could absorb the heat from his body into her own. Wished him cool - well again - sleeping in his crib with the white quilt tucked around him. When he was three or four, the fevers made him delirious, made him babble nonsense, reach to pluck imaginary balloons from the air. (Macfarlane 194) Note: Be careful with long quotations. Only use a quotation that helps you to prove a point. Avoid using long quotations just to help you meet essay length requirements.

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