teaching with writing
Humorous Reminders of Common Writing Mistakes
A selection of advice from generations of Teaching Fellows
at Harvard University, edited by Gordon Silverstein
a few things to keep in mind when you write an essay:
run-on sentences they are hard to read.
use no double negatives.
- Use the
semicolon properly, always where it is appropriate; and never where
it is not.
the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it where it is not needed.
has to agree with their subjects.
- No sentence
carefully to see if you any words out.
commas, that are not necessary.
you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of
repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
- A writer
must not shift your point of view.
- Do not
overuse exclamation marks!!! (In fact, avoid them whenever possible!!!)
- And do
not start a sentence with a conjunction.
pronouns as closely as possible, especially in long sentences, as of
ten or more words, to their antecedents.
only between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
all adverbial forms correct.
carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
- It is
incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
- If any
word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
clear of incorrect verb forms that have snuck into the language.
the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
modernisms that sound flaky.
barbarisms: they impact too forcefully.
ever use repetitive redundancies.
should be careful to use singular pronouns with singular nouns in their
- If we've
told you once, we've told you a thousand times: avoid hyperbole.
avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
- Do not
string a large number of prepositional phrases together unless you are
walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
pick on the the correct idiom.
overuse of 'quotation' 'marks.'"
use more words than are necessary to get your point across: be concise.
check you're spelling. (Your spellchecker would only pick up one of
the two errors here.)
be avoided by the passive voice.
sentence a verb.
but not least, avoid cliches like the plague: seek viable alternatives.