Parallelism

What does it mean?

The balance between two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses is called parallelism in grammar.

Why is it important?

In order for the reader to understand what you are trying to say, your sentence should fit together and match each other. Lack of parallelism also makes what is being said sound very awkward, which is never a good thing if you are trying to sound smart for an essay.

Remember: Poor parallelism will most likely translate to your writing coming across as uneducated which is never a good thing.

Fortunately, most people have been taught to use fairly good parallelism when speaking, which often shows in their writing. The trick however, is finding faulty parallelism as some mistakes are harder to notice than others.

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When to use parallelism:

  • When two things are joined by a conjunction
  • With lists or series
  • When comparing
  • When two things are joined by a linking verb

To help get a better picture of parallelism here are some examples:

We spent our Saturday eating junk food, playing video games and we swam.

This sentence has poor parallelism due to how the verb in the sentence do not have the same tense. A better sentence would be:

We spent our Saturday eating junk food, playing video games and swimming.

The verb tenses now agree with each other which means we can now all be happy.

You can apply to the job by filling out this form or apply by telephone.

This is an example where it may seem grammatically correct at first glance, but after a further look you may see that it is in fact not.

You can apply to the job by filling out this form or you can apply by telephone.

In this case, the word can is needed in order for the verb tenses to agree with each other.

A trick to use when revising writing to help with parallelism is to look at the case of the first verb in the sentence and check to see if all the other verbs in the sentence agree with its tense. This is a good way of making sure that there are no sentences that may sound seem correct at first.

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In Summary: Parallelism is important because it makes a piece of writing flow as it should. If there is a lack of parallelism, then the reader may get frustrated or even deem the piece of writing as having a lack of credibility.

Bibliography:

“GRAMMAR.” English Grammar – Parallelism Rules and Definitions. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

Simmons, Robin L. “Parallel Structure.” Grammar Bytes! :: Parallel Structure. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

 

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Word Choice

Everyone has experienced that moment where we are staring at a word document, digging deep in their minds searching for the RIGHT word. We have all been there! Word choice is present in every facet of our lives, whether it’s texting with friends or sending an email to your professor. Word choice always matters!

What is word choice? “Word choice refers to a writer’s selection of words as determined by a number of factors, including meaning (both denotative and connotative), specificity, level of diction, tone, and audience. Another term for word choice is diction. Word choice is an essential ingredient of style.” (writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/word-choice/)

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Key Elements:

  • Connotation and Denotation:
    • Connotation: The associated or secondary meaning of a word; the emotions a word evokes.
    • Example: A connotation of the word “home” may be “place of warmth and comfort.”
    • There can be negative connotation and positive connotation.
      • Illegal Alien: This has a very negative connotation, primarily because the words illegal and alien evoke negative feelings.
      • Undocumented Worker: This has a positive connotation because the term does not evoke any negative feelings.
    • The two terms above have the same meaning, yet evoke very different emotions.
    • Denotation : The literal or primary meaning of a word.
    • Example: The denotation of the word “home” is “the place where one lives permanently.”
      • Illegal Alien: Someone who is in the country illegally.
      • Undocumented Worker: Someone who is in the country illegally.

An interesting way to think about connotation and denotation is as a politician’s tool. Like a politician, you want to evoke certain emotions in your writing. A simple variation in word choice can have a vast impact on the emotions that the reader is feeling.

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  • Formality:
    • Formal vs. Informal: The formality of anything you say or write depends entirely upon your audience. If you are sending two emails of the same subject matter, one to your friend and one to your professor, these emails will look very different,
      • Formal: Formal english is commonly used in “serious” texts such as academic papers, official documents, etc.
      • Informal: Informal english is commonly used in conversation and other improvised means of communication.formal.png
  • Transition Words
    • Transition words are words that help you transition from one idea to another. They are easily the most under-appreciated element of word choice. The use of correct transition words can make the difference between an essay that flows very well, and an essay that is completely choppy and incoherent:
      • Examples: for example, for instance
      • Sequence: first, second, third, etc., next, then, following this, finally, consequently, subsequently, thus, therefore, hence
      • Addition: and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what’s more, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.)
      • Comparison: but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, although, in contrast, although this may be true
      • Summary or conclusion: in brief, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, thus, consequently
      • Emphasis: definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably
      • Time: immediately, thereafter, soon, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next.
  • Repetition vs. Redundancy
    • Repetition is a very necessary element of word choice. It is unavoidable that in an essay you will find yourself needing to use key terms several times throughout the essay, and sometimes replacing these key terms with a synonym will weaken the argument. When used correctly, repetition will emphasize the point you are trying to make and remind the reader that you are still making your argument. When repetition is used correctly, it leads to a cohesive, fresh essay.
    • Redundancy is the result of repetition used incorrectly. When used incorrectly it leads to redundancy. If you find yourself repeating nouns or adjectives, it sends the message that you are trying to make a point over and over again which highly weakens your argument. The reader may see this as not cohesive.

Conclusion:

ALWAYS be cognizant of word choice! It will either make or break an essay. Use connotations of a word to your advantage because they are useful strategy to evoke emotions in your reader (especially without them knowing.) Make sure you use appropriate formality. Be aware of your transition words, they add to the flow of an essay and make it incredibly cohesive when used correctly. Repetition is okay, as long as you are not being redundant.

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Sources:

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/word-choice/

http://www.antimoon.com/how/formal-informal-english.htm

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/2/66/

 

Modifiers: What are they and how do they help me?

When your sentences are feeling down or your statements are falling flat, you should add some modifiers!

Don’t just let your thought be: The hinge creaked.

Add some life to your sentence with modifiers and say,

The rusty hinges proclaimed their unhappiness as they creaked loudly.

See how that sentence almost jumps right out of the page? Probably not. At this point you probably already use modifiers without even thinking about them, but lets properly define them just to be sure we all understand. Modifiers are just:

  • adjectives,
  • adverbs,
  • adverb clauses,
  • infinitive phrases,
  • participle phrases,
  • prepositional phrases,
  • absolute phrases, and
  • adjective clauses.

Basically, they are anything that adds detail to your sentence. The above added to a pizzasentence correctly will make your descriptions lush and interesting.

The keyword there was correctly. If added incorrectly, your sentence might become confusing, or not make sense at all. Take this for example:

To ensure mistakes are not made in your sentence structure, make sure you are using your modifiers in the right place.

To fix the above example with the molten cheese disaster, all you need to do is see what you are applying the modifier to. You are not covered in cheese, the pizza is; so be sure to put the modifier next to the pizza and not you.

Pretty straightforward, right?

You can add modifiers in pretty easily. No need to re-write boring paragraphs, just add some modifier spice, and BAM! your paragraph is 10 times more interesting than before!

If you are not sure if a sentence needs one or not, just think “Is this boring?” or even “it’s not quite boring but just lacking detail.”If so, put some modifiers in.

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Modifiers are not just good for papers and writing assignments, they are also useful to spot common grammatical issues like a hot cup of coffee. Now I’m sure we all know that it’s the coffee and not the cup that’s hot, but it’s still bad grammar.

They can also improve your storytelling, for social occasions. Nobody wants to hear about that time you ran away from a dog, but that time you sprinted away from a rabid dog, vaulting over fences in your attempts to escape. Well, that might garner a lot more attention!

You might not recognize them, but modifiers are everywhere, your hidden friends who make that book you have to read bearable, or that scientific journal you have to read completely unbearable. Maybe next time you’re reading something, keep an eye out for modifiers. Or maybe if you are bored enough to be looking for modifiers in a text, they really didn’t do a great job on them.

Just remember, commas can save lives…

But the real heroes are modifiers.

Making your writing interesting since forever.

Works Cited

“Problems with Modifiers.” Grammarly Handbook | Problems with Modifiers Grammar Rules. Grammarly Inc, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

https://www.grammarly.com/handbook/sentences/modifiers/3/problems-with-modifiers/

Simmons, Robin L. “The Modifier.” Grammar Bytes! :: The Modifier. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

http://chompchomp.com/terms/modifier.htm

Sonali. “Using Pictorial Representations To Teach Rules Of Grammar, Punctuation, And Word Usage.” Busy Teacher. N.p., 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

http://busyteacher.org/14773-pictorial-representations-teach-grammar.html

Wasko, WriteAtHome.com Brian. “Crazy English Memes.” Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

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Conciseness

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The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. A common problem in writing is when people drag on their story. Everyone’s experienced a time when someone won’t stop talking about a something, and it goes on and on, and on and on, and you don’t know why they keep including certain details because it’s really just confusing you instead of helping you understand whatever they’re talking about. Well, you can think of each sentence as a story, and with each one you want to deliver it as efficiently as possible because you don’t want to be that annoying person. This can be accomplished by using the strongest words to delete and replace weaker words. Every word has a purpose and should be deliberately chosen by the writer.

One method for making sentences more concise is to eliminate words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail.

Wordy:

I was working earlier with my co worker whose name is Joe.

Concise:

I worked earlier with Joe.

Wordy:

Tim was not really sure if he actually wanted to go to the basketball game that was in the evening.

Concise:

Tim was unsure if he wanted to go to the basketball game tonight.

Wordy:

Imagine in your mind people playing a game of soccer on a field where soccer is usually played normally.

Concise:

Imagine people playing a soccer game on a soccer field.

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After reading those examples you may be thinking that you already know this stuff. Well, some elements of concise writing aren’t as obvious. Changing passive verbs into active verbs is one method that can easily be overlooked.

Wordy:

A letter was sent by Jacob.

Concise:

Jacob sent a letter.

Wordy:

My work was proofread by a friend.

Concise:

A friend proofread my paper.

Another tactic is to change phrases into single words or adjectives.

Wordy:

The worker with motivation

Concise:

The motivated worker

Wordy:

The player with the best performance

Concise:

The best performing player

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Changing that, who, and which clauses into phrases or a word can also reduce wordiness.

Wordy:

The paper, which I submitted recently

Concise:

The recently submitted paper

Wordy:

All athletes who are interested in making the team must

Concise:

All athletes must

Some words are commonly used to replace phrases:

Because can replace:

  • the reason for
  • considering the fact that
  • this is why

When can replace:

  • on the occasion of
  • in a situation in which
  • under circumstances in which

Can can replace:

  • is able to
  • has the opportunity to
  • has the capacity for

May, might, and could can replace:

  • it is possible that
  • there is a chance that
  • it could happen that

Overall, being concise isn’t too complicated. If you find yourself getting confused when reading your writing then there’s a good chance you’re not being concise.

Here are the keys to success in conciseness:

  • Eliminate unnecessary words
  • Change passive verbs into active verbs
  • Change phrases into single words or adjectives
  • Changing that, who, and which clauses into a word or phrase

Sources

Weber, Ryan, and Nick Hurm. “Conciseness.” Purdue OWL: Conciseness, 27 Feb. 2013,

owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/572/01/.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is one of the most important concepts of the English language, and it is essential to make sure a sentence makes sense in terms of grammar. However, it is also one of the most common errors everyone make. (Whoops, I meant everyone makes!) Subject-verb agreement means the subject and the verb in a sentence must agree with each other in number and in person. In other words, the subject and the verb both must be singular or plural.

batmanIt is pretty simple to spot singular and plural subjects, which are also nouns. Most plural nouns end in an s.

  • vehicle (singular)
  • vehicles (plural)

But for verbs, adding an s doesn’t make them plural.

  • want
  • wants

Well, how can you tell which one is singular or plural?

  1. If the subject is singular and in third person, add an s to the base form of the verb. Examples: 
  • The doctor recommends exercising at least 30 minutes a day.
  • It looks like it is going to snow.
  1. If the subject is singular and in first/second person, use the base form of the verb. Examples: 
  • I make my own decisions.
  • You drive the van.
  1. If the subject is plural, use the base form of the verb. Examples: 
  • We play soccer in the backyard.
  • They eat dinner at a restaurant.

However, it is not always easy to see how many subjects are used in a sentence. Consider these two sentences:

  • The birthday boy, as well as his friends, is excited to go to the carnival.
  • The birthday boy and his friends are excited to go to the carnival.

In the first sentence, the phrase “as well as his friends” is not part of the subject, so a singular verb is used. In the second sentence, “the birthday boy and his friends” has two subjects, so a plural verb is used. Here’s another example:

  • The bouquet of roses smells pleasant.
  • The books on the bookshelf are gathering dust.

Similar to the examples shown previously, the verb agrees with the first subject, not with the noun that is in between the first subject and the verb.

Are there exceptions to the rule?

Of course! Different subjects can carry different meanings in certain cases, which can change the verb as singular or plural. Let’s take a look at several examples.

  • The doctor and scientist creates an effective cure for cancer.
  • Texting and driving has dangerous consequences.

In the first sentence, “the doctor and scientist” are the same person, so a singular verb is used. In the second sentence, “texting and driving” is a single activity, so a singular verb is used. These nouns are considered compound subjects. Some more examples:

  • Neither I nor my friends are going to the party.
  • Either my relatives or my family is meeting at the airport.

In this case, the verb agrees with the subject closest to it when using or or nor.

  • Everybody was shocked to discover the truth.
  • Even though many apply to Harvard, very few are accepted.

The noun “everybody” in the first sentence is a singular noun, so a singular verb is used. The nouns “many” and “few” in the second sentence are considered to be plural nouns however, so plural verbs are used.

Remember: 

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Sources:

  • Lunsford, Andrea A., Paul Kei. Matsuda, and Christine M. Tardy. Easywriter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. Print.
  • “Subject Verb Agreement Definition, Examples.” Reading Worksheets Spelling Grammar Comprehension Lesson Plans. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2016.
  • “Subject-Verb Agreement.” Grammar and Punctuation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2016.

 

Articles

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Articles might seem like a very basic piece of grammar, but leave one out and your sentence can be made unclear. Articles show whether a specific noun or a nonspecific noun is being referred to.

The two types of articles are direct and indirect. The is a direct article because it is referring to a specific thing; a and an are indirect because they are general. For example:

  • Tell your friend to “go to house” and they could show up to any house anywhere.
  • Tell them to “go to the house” and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.
  • If you told your friend “go to house,” they might be confused why they’re hanging out with you. This is why knowing articles is crucial.

However, articles aren’t that simple. Throw in a vowel and things get changed. A is used before a word starting with a consonant and an is used before a word starting with a vowel. For example:

  • I want to eat a banana.
  • I want to eat an apple.

If the noun has an adjective in front of it, then the article goes before the adjective.

  • That is large cat.
  • That is an enormous spider.
  • That is the yellow dog.

There are also times that articles don’t work and shouldn’t be used. For example:

  • Articles are not needed when referring to sports:
    • I play the field hockey.
    • I play a field hockey.
    • I play field hockey.  
  • Articles are also not needed when referring to a language or subject:
    • I study the Latin.
    • I study a Latin.
    • I study Latin.
  • The is not needed in front of countries, territories, cities, towns, specific bodies of water, or mountain ranges:
    • I went to the Asia.
    • I went to Asia.  
    • I live in the Waltham.
    • I live in Waltham.  

Tips:

  • When using an article determine if you are using it for a specific noun or for a general noun.
  • Make sure that if it is a general noun that starts with AEIOU that you use an instead of a.

Sources:

 

Prepositions!

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Wow, what a great view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I sure would like to go to that mountain someday. I wonder what is beyond that mountain. That is a cool giraffe before Kilimanjaro.

Alright, enough about the mountain; can you guess why all those random words are bolded? It’s because they are prepositions!

One useful and easy way to think about how to use a preposition (a word in front of a noun that indicates location) is to picture a mountain and see if you can use a word to describe location relative to the mountain.

Examples: on, in, about, to, from, above, below, near….and the list goes on and on.

There is no set rule for using prepositions, but they can be useful for linking a part of a sentence to some noun. If you weren’t aware of what prepositions are or how they are used, then you have probably been unknowingly using them for years!

Just always remember if you are confused about prepositions or how to describe the location of something, think about the mountain! The mountain is your best friend!

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… No, not that mountain.

Prepositional Phrases generally look like: Preposition + (option modifier) + noun (or pronoun) Examples:

  • The man at work = preposition (at) + noun (work)
  • The crumbs below the counter = preposition (below) + optional modifier (the) + noun (counter)

Prepositional phrases in both of these examples were acting as adjectives. They answer the question “Which one(s)?” Which man? The one at work. Which crumbs? The ones under the counter.

Prepositional phrases acting as adverbs will describe such questions as: How? When? And Where? Examples:

  • Randy is still tired from the party last night.
  • Tituba begged the court for mercy before her trial.
  • How did Randy get tired? From the party.
  • When did Tituba beg the court for mercy? Before her trial.

A prepositional phrase will NEVER contain the subject of a sentence. Even if a noun in the prepositional phrase seems like the logical subject of a verb, it isn’t! Examples:

  • Both of the men flew to Chicago last Tuesday night.

Since the prepositional phrase, “of the men”, describes who flew to Chicago, it must be the subject of the sentence right? Wrong. “Both” is the subject to the verb “flew.” “Of the men” simply describes “both,”while “both” remains the subject.

  • George, along with his co-workers, was very happy to see the day end after a long, busy week.

The prepositional phrase “along with” tells that there is “more to come.” It may make you think that you have a plural subject, but it will remain in whatever tense the real subject (George) is. Restructuring the sentence may help to clarify as well:

  • Along with his co-workers, George was very happy to see the day end after a long, busy week.

While his co-workers are also happy, this sentence restructuring makes it clear that George is your subject as he is very happy. The co-workers in the sentence are added for further detail. See what I did there?

So, prepositions are really nothing to be scared about. Just remember the rules I’ve taught you: picture the mountain, ponder on the questions being answered, and remember the prepositional phrase will never contain the subject!

 

Sources:

  • Simmons, Robin L. “The Preposition.” Grammar Bytes! ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.
  • https://www.facebook.com/BlogABookEtc. “GoT Finale.” Fay Simone. N.p., 03 Apr. 2016. Web. 07 Nov. 2016
  • “Tallest Mountain in Africa Mount Kilimanjaro.” What I Learned When RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

 

Did I Use This Right, “ ;) ”????

A guide to using semicolons

(And to answer that no, the proper use of a semicolon is not for a winky face.)

Do you have more than two, three, semicolons in that one page write up your professor made you write for history? If you answered yes chances are you don’t need to use a semicolon for some of those sentences.

So why does everyone do it? What’s the misconception?

semiThere it is! People often link sentences together because they believe they fit together. In reality, a semicolon is a subtle way of connecting closely related ideas when a style mark stronger than a comma is needed. By using semicolons effectively, you can make your writing sound more sophisticated. The clause following a semicolon often restates an idea expressed in the first clause; it sometimes expands on or presents a contrast to the first. (See what I did there?) Ok,maybe not. Here is another example:

Immigration acts were passed; newcomers had to provide, besides moral correctness and financial solvency, their ability to read.

–Mary Gordon, “ More Than Just a Shrine”

This semicolon gives the sentence an abrupt rhythm that suits the topic.

So is it that simple; is that really all there is to it?

Nope. In fact, I probably didn’t need to use a semicolon for the sentence above!.

Semicolon Rules and Conventions

Use a semicolon to:

 

  1. Link two independent clauses to connect closely related ideas. An independent clause is a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate, and it either stands alone or could stand alone. But be careful not to misuse it. Generally speaking, where you can use a comma instead of a semicolon you should.

Example: The math exam will be difficult and extensive; the exam will cover topics starting from section 1.2 to sections 3.8.

2. Link clauses connected by conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases to connect closely related ideas. (Conjunctive adverbs indicate a connection between 2 independent clauses in one sentence. Or they may link the ideas in 2 or more sentences. Or they may show relationships between ideas within an independent clause. Examples include also, however, otherwise, consequently, indeed, similarly, finally, likewise, then, furthermore, moreover, therefore, hence, nevertheless, nonetheless.)

Example: Bring any two items; however, sleeping bags and tents are in short supply.

3. Link lists where the items contain commas to avoid confusion between list items.

Example: I have been to Newcastle, Carlisle, and York in the North; Bristol, Exeter, and Portsmouth in the South; and Cromer, Norwich, and Lincoln in the East.

4. If there is no coordinating conjunction do not use a comma. Instead use a semicolon.

5. Do not use a semicolon where a comma does the job.

kidHere is my piece of advice to you. DO NOT OVERUSE THE SEMICOLON. It is a delicate tool that when overused takes away its significance. Generally speaking if you can
make it two sentences you should, but when they are closely related and make a killer sentence, go for it! By Using Semicolons Effectively, You Can Make Your Writing Sound More Sophisticated.

 

Sources: “Using Semicolons.” Grammar and Punctuation:. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

 

In Tense Verbs Are Intense

tense-llamaVerb tense can be a tricky, even seasoned writers can sometimes make mistakes with verb tense. A verb tense refers to a modification of a verb in order to make it clear where in time it happens, or happened (see what I do there? Crap! I mean “did.”)

Verb tense falls into three main categories: present or base form, past tense,future. Some examples:

  • Present: I ask
  • Past: I asked
  • Future: I will ask

Something to keep in mind is the participle, a modification of a verb that can be either used for past and present tense actions or as an adjective:

  • Past Participle: add “ed” or “d
  • Present Participle: add “ing”

There are also more complex verb tenses, often relying on set up words like has, am, and will in conjunction with modifications to the verb. These fall under Progressives, signifying an ongoing action, Perfects, which mean completed actions, and Perfect Progressives, which are somewhere in the middle:

  • Present Progressive: I am asking
  • Past Progressive: I was asking
  • Future Progressive: I will be asking
  • Present Perfect: I have asked
  • Past Perfect: I had asked
  • Future Perfect: I will have asked
  • Present Perfect Progressive: I have been asking
  • Past Perfect Progressive:I had been asking
  • Future Perfect Progressive: I will have been asking

You may notice that, in this case, “ask” is modified in only a few ways into its participles: “ask” “asked” and “asking” (when writing 3rd Person Verbs, you will use “asks” instead of “ask”). Most verbs use this system of modification; however, there are many irregular verbs that can be tricky. There are too many to list them all, but here are some examples with Base Form⇒ Past Tense ⇒ Past Participle:

  • arise⇒ arose⇒ arisen
  • be⇒ was/were⇒ been
  • become⇒ became⇒ become
  • break⇒ broke⇒ broken
  • choose ⇒ chose ⇒ chosen
  • cost⇒ cost⇒ cost
  • do⇒ did⇒ done
  • draw⇒ drew⇒ drawn
  • drink⇒ drank⇒ drunk
  • eat⇒ ate⇒ eaten
  • Fall ⇒ fell ⇒ fallen
  • fly⇒ flew⇒ flown
  • Get ⇒ got⇒ gotten/got
  • grow⇒ grew ⇒ grown
  • hide⇒ hid ⇒ hidden
  • hit⇒ hit⇒ hit
  • know⇒ knew ⇒ knowngosling
  • lay⇒ laid ⇒ laid
  • Lie ⇒ lay ⇒ lain
  • make⇒ made⇒ made
  • pay⇒ paid ⇒ paid
  • put⇒ put ⇒ put
  • read⇒ read ⇒ read
  • ride⇒ rode ⇒ ridden
  • say⇒ said⇒ said
  • see⇒ saw⇒ seen
  • shake⇒ shook⇒ shaken
  • take⇒ took⇒ taken
  • wear⇒ wore⇒ worn
  • Write ⇒ wrote ⇒ written

It is important to keep all verb tense in order in order for sentences to make sense:

  • I went to the bank, then I am going to eat. ⇐ WRONG, mixed tense
  • I am going to the bank, then I am going to eat. ⇐ RIGHT
  • I went to the bank, then I ate. ⇐ RIGHT
  • I went to the bank, now I am going to eat. ⇐ RIGHT, “now” sets up tense change

Hopefully, you can make your verbs the correct tense without getting too tense.

Sources

Transitions

Peanut butter, caramel, marshmallow, what do these things have in common. They are all delicious treats, that also can be used to hold things together. As much as I would like to write about my favorite snacks, instead i’m going to talk about the glue that holds writing together… Transitions!

Without transitions holding together ideas and topics, your argument can seem “jumpy” and lacking connection. No one wants that. If you want your writing to be smooth and easy to follow, you need to use transitions.

Now the key question is, what exactly are transitions? They range from paragraphs, to phrases, to sentences, to simply just a few words. What’s most important is that they get the reader from point A to point B in the clearest way possible.

Examples:

  • I have been to many countries. For example, I have been to Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Spain.
    • Using “For example” lets the reader know that the next point you’re going to bring up is related to the previous point in that they are examples.
  • Tim was late. As a result, we could not go to the concert.
    • “As a result” is used to connect the next idea of missing the concert, with Tim being late.

If you take out these transitions, the sentences still make sense, but they sound choppy and separated. Also these transitions help the reader know where the writer is going next. It’s like saying “Hey, another idea is coming that’s related to what I just said!”, or “Now I’m going to give an exception.” Instead of yelling at your audience that another idea is coming, you can use transition words to get this point across. Transitions lead the reader from one idea to another.

Another important thing to understand about transitions, is how long they should be.

Transitions to connect sections: This should be used for longer essays and writing. You should add a paragraph in between the sections that summarizes what you just said, along with referencing its relevance to the next section.

Transitions to connect paragraphs and sentences: These can be short phrases that summarize and connect the past paragraph to what is going to be discussed in the next, or simply a few words that do the same.

Some simple transition words are:

  • However
  • For example
  • Similarly
  • In other words
  • As a consequence
  • Although

These can start a paragraph or a new sentence, and should be used when you are going from one point to another.

robot.pngDoes your essay seem choppy, and when you read it out loud you kind of sound like a robot? If so you may need to add TRANSITIONS.

A trick you can use to help make your writing smoother would be to summarize each paragraph into one word or a phrase, and make sure that it relates to the analysis as a whole.

Here are some more examples of properly used transitions:

  • James is not feeling well. Therefore, he will not be here today.
  • He was late to class again. In other words, he didn’t wake up on time.
  • Math was hard for me in high school. Likewise, it is hard in college.
  • Although the book is difficult to read, it is very interesting.

See, no robot sounds like this.

Source: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/transitions/