For each of my online students, a hearty “hello” from your professor. Another hearty “Please pay attention to the feedback I spent hours giving you” request. It is very discouraging to spend hours on a beautiful afternoon typing feedback into your document, only to realize that you have totally ignored it.
Recently, I had a multi-complaining, last-minute Louie who resubmitted a document only a few minutes after I took it apart and offered suggestions on how to fix his sentence fragments and incorrect punctuation. Let’s go over a few things that can really jinx your document and thereby lower your grade.
The almighty sentence fragment sentence fragment is enjoying a great comeback these days. These are sentences that are missing subjects or verbs or something else that would make the sentence an actual sentence. Here are some examples:
Which means that I can. (Friend, this belongs to the sentence before it. It cannot stand alone, nor should it have to.)
In addition to that. (To what? You have left me hanging here. From the looks of things, these words belong to the next sentence.)
Incorrect punctuation is also quite popular. Students sometimes confuse commas and semi-colons, so let’s go over them. When you have an introductory phrase, you use a comma, such as in this sentence. A parenthetical expression, which is a word or words added to a sentence to add clarity, needs two commas. I have just given you an example of a parenthetical expression in my previous sentence.
Do not sprinkle your sentences with liberal amounts of semi-colons. Students frequently utilize a semi-colon where a comma is needed, thinking that the following sentence is correct: The rain; which falls in Spain; lands mostly on the plain. It is not right. Run as fast as you can away from the need to use semi-colons incorrectly.
Do not put commas in between the subject and the verb. A lot of students put commas after the word “is,” such as “The reason is, because I said so.” Nope. That sentence isn’t even written very well, and it does not need a comma at all.
Back to Louie before we end this blog posting. Louie received about 20 minutes of my time. The only thing he changed correctly on his document was putting his name on it. The rest of the feedback he either ignored or he misread in his eagerness to resubmit his document for grading. Too bad. A little more time might have resulted in his getting a better grade…..