English Composition I
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• Every writer has their own unique style
• The way they put words together, the words that they use, all denote the individual
• At the same time, there are common rules of usage called grammar and syntax that need to be followed so the reader can understand
• Words placed in random order or spelled any which way only make sense to YOU
• Writing is a form of communication, and that communication is based on mutually agreed upon standards and conventions.
• Most writers WILL violate the rules of grammar at times
• Good writers are aware of this, and violate the rules because it HELPS their writing
• The adjustments and changes that you make to the standard rules need to come from knowledge, not ignorance.
• It’s okay to use “ain’t” as long as you understand what you are implying
• The more you read, the better you will spell
• Mis-Spelling often occurs in unfamiliar words
• Stay consistent in your verb tense
• Don’t switch between present and past unless there’s a specific reason in the essay
• As much as possible, use active voice
• Active voice uses direct, action verbs
I threw the ball at the car.
• Passive voice uses helping verbs and/or “be” verbs to weaken the action
The ball that hit the car was thrown by me.
I was the one who threw the ball at the car.
• Pronouns REPLACE nouns, but only really work if the reader understands WHO the pronoun refers to
Jack met Jill and her sister Jane. He called her on the phone last night.
• Always check your pronouns to make sure the reference is clear
• Avoid using vague pronouns like “it” as a subject. Try to have a clear subject
It is the best morning I’ve ever seen
I’ve never seen a better morning.
• Most writers put in too many commas, not too few
• Commas are a visual signal that something has been changed from “standard” sentence
I bought apples, oranges and bananas.
Going to the store, I saw a badger.
Unlike my sister, I have a life.
Joe, the barber’s son, is completely bald.
• You should be able to tell WHY the comma is there if not, drop it