Sentence structure and wording is horrible
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25-08-2013, 06:49 PM
Thumbs Down Sentence structure and wording is horrible
So I've gotten back to school (and back on this forum apparently) from a long summer's break. Over this hell of a summer I've had to read 2 books, both of which I had to write a timed essay for.

The first timed essay was absolute shite and I was well aware of this while I was writing it. I couldn't form a decent sentence for the life of me (I still can barely make one while typing now). Apparently from my teacher's perspective, everyone did horrible, this means that we get to edit them at home, thank goodness.

The the following day came, and then the next, I was in class again. We had to do another timed essay, but this time I was very confident as I have read the book three times. Absolute shite again.

Even this story I've written is absolute shite, I just seem to blather on and on without any structure.

I was thinking that maybe it's because I had a long boring summer without writing anything, but that wouldn't be right because I spent a considerable amount of time debating people on the internet (and I seemed to do pretty well).

Any thoughts? I've had mental lapses similar to this one before, but this one is getting in the way of my school work.
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25-08-2013, 06:53 PM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
Is your native language english?

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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25-08-2013, 06:56 PM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
(25-08-2013 06:53 PM)Lightvader Wrote:  Is your native language english?

Yes.
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25-08-2013, 08:04 PM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
In my experience, it's all about practice.

Go back to the basics of sentence structure and grammar. Try to avoid writing the way people speak; that's what I'm seeing when I read your post.

For instance, "I've gotten back to school" is acceptable when you're talking to your buddies (us), but to write it for an English assignment would be like dragging your fingernails across a chalkboard. "I've returned to school" would be a more appropriate format and wording from your prof's perspective.

Also, pay close attention to the questions that are asked and make sure that your responses actually answer the questions or meet the objectives of your assignment.

. . . all the gods were stories we told the children to make them behave. ~ Thoros of Myr (Game of Thrones, Episode 3:06)
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25-08-2013, 09:00 PM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
It may seem like an odd question, but: Are you getting enough sleep?

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-Cody
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25-08-2013, 10:55 PM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
(25-08-2013 06:49 PM)UndercoverAtheist Wrote:  So I've gotten back to school (and back on this forum apparently) from a long summer's break. Over this hell of a summer I've had to read 2 books, both of which I had to write a timed essay for.

The first timed essay was absolute shite and I was well aware of this while I was writing it. I couldn't form a decent sentence for the life of me (I still can barely make one while typing now). Apparently from my teacher's perspective, everyone did horrible, this means that we get to edit them at home, thank goodness.

The the following day came, and then the next, I was in class again. We had to do another timed essay, but this time I was very confident as I have read the book three times. Absolute shite again.

Even this story I've written is absolute shite, I just seem to blather on and on without any structure.

I was thinking that maybe it's because I had a long boring summer without writing anything, but that wouldn't be right because I spent a considerable amount of time debating people on the internet (and I seemed to do pretty well).

Any thoughts? I've had mental lapses similar to this one before, but this one is getting in the way of my school work.

I'm assuming you have learned some basic argument and essay structure for writing papers. If you have not, then you need to do that first. Has your current teacher taught you this? Have previous ones? If the idea of essay structure is something you haven't thought about before, start by googling the term "essay structure". There are some good links, many from college writing classes or writing centers.

There are a number of essay strategies for formatting your argument--chronological, compare/contrast, spatial, persuasive, etc. Since this is a timed essay, you might want to focus on some of the simplest of formats like this basic 5 paragraph essay structure described here:
http://www.gc.maricopa.edu/English/essay/


Try the above linked essay structure for your in class essays to help organize your thoughts. It seems almost formulaic, and once you have it down, too simple. It is. But you'll be doing better than the rest of your class and you can try some other essay structures once you have a simple one down.

This 5 paragraph essay forces you to write an essay that only addresses three main points. Writing about too much is one of the most common mistakes people make. You only have a limited time in your in-class essay to make your point. Try to keep it simple. Saying too little is less bad than sounding incomprehensible. In order for your essay to be great, the three points you make have to be well reasoned and argued in your paragraphs.

One strategy you can use--I used this when first learning to write timed essays with structure but discontinued after getting the mechanics down--is to write out a simple diagram of your essay according to the structure you are using. Like this:


---------------
thesis (last sentence of intro paragraph): Creationists are poopy heads because they ignore scientific evidence, refuse to define evolution precisely, and Ray Comfort is a respected member of their ranks.

Intro paragraph one: Creationists ignore geological evidence for the age of the earth and the fossil records establishing evolution, an incredibly poopy headed thing to do.

Intro paragraph two: Another poopy-headed thing Creationists do is they rely on nebulous terms such as micro-evolution and "kinds" in place of the more precise words of evolution and species, apparently in an attempt to intentionally confuse the debate.

Intro paragraph three: Ray Comfort is a creationist in good standing in the Creationist community, yet he achieves the epitome of poopy-headedness by comically citing bananas as an example of Creationism when bananas are in fact a perfect example of evolution.

conclusion:Creationists reach the pinnacle of poopy-headedness by constantly beclowning themselves in public through ignorance, obfuscation, and general buffoonery.
-----------------

The above took me about 5 minutes to jot down, most of that time thinking of the three points I wanted to make which supported my thesis that Creationists are poopy heads. Your outline basically is your essay, the rest now is just filling in the details. If you are short on time after laying out your essay like this in class, your intro paragraph can be the one sentence of your thesis statement. Practice this kind of outline until you can do it in just a few minutes, 5min to 10min at most.
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26-08-2013, 12:57 AM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
Excellent points here regarding overall structure and objectives. Don't overlook the basics, namely spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Some of the most reprehensible type of spelling error is homonym misuse. Common errors that are easily overlooked include:
it's/its
your/you're
whether/weather
except/accept
effect/affect
there/their/they're
to/too/two
Don't shoot yourself in the foot by making such an error.

By your writing in the OP, your grammar is mostly acceptable. Use proper, college-level phrasing and terminology as Scully mentioned. Use the correct part of speech as applicable, specifically, use an adverb when modifying a verb (e.g.: "everyone did horribly," not "horrible").

Nothing is more annoying than trying to decipher a sentence that lacks punctuation. It sounds elementary, but it's surprising how many adults lack basic punctuation skills. Seeing a noun pluralized by adding an apostrophe causes me physical pain; it is inexcusable.

Having these basic skills mastered are always critical. After all, you may be able to design a beautiful house, but if you still struggle to cut straight or pound a nail, it will look like shit.



(25-08-2013 10:55 PM)BryanS Wrote:  conclusion:Creationists reach the pinnacle of poopy-headedness by constantly beclowning themselves in public through ignorance, obfuscation, and general buffoonery.

Although you coined the term, I think "beclowning" is absolutely hilarious.

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26-08-2013, 08:37 AM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
(26-08-2013 12:57 AM)Jeffasaurus Wrote:  Excellent points here regarding overall structure and objectives. Don't overlook the basics, namely spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Some of the most reprehensible type of spelling error is homonym misuse. Common errors that are easily overlooked include:
it's/its
your/you're
whether/weather
except/accept
effect/affect
there/their/they're
to/too/two
Don't shoot yourself in the foot by making such an error.

By your writing in the OP, your grammar is mostly acceptable. Use proper, college-level phrasing and terminology as Scully mentioned. Use the correct part of speech as applicable, specifically, use an adverb when modifying a verb (e.g.: "everyone did horribly," not "horrible").

Nothing is more annoying than trying to decipher a sentence that lacks punctuation. It sounds elementary, but it's surprising how many adults lack basic punctuation skills. Seeing a noun pluralized by adding an apostrophe causes me physical pain; it is inexcusable.

Having these basic skills mastered are always critical. After all, you may be able to design a beautiful house, but if you still struggle to cut straight or pound a nail, it will look like shit.

::crushing on Jeffasaurus:: Blush

. . . all the gods were stories we told the children to make them behave. ~ Thoros of Myr (Game of Thrones, Episode 3:06)
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26-08-2013, 09:04 AM
RE: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
Was it pen and paper?

When I have to write pen and paper I'm absolutely terrible...

On the computer I can make multiple passes and revisions, I can re-order paragraphs, smooth out my sentences, etc. On the computer I can use the thesaurus and spellchecker to bolster my vocabulary and improve my writing.

On paper I get one shot, I frequently avoid large words that I'm not entirely confident spelling, my handwriting is terrible (just the act of writing legibly takes away from my concentration), it's harder to make passes and revisions even in pencil and almost impossible in pen....

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26-08-2013, 12:15 PM
Re: Sentence structure and wording is horrible
I like listening to people and to see how they communicate in speech. Then, I try to write as closely to that as possible. If you are trying to write like a writer, I think you will it more difficult to do and overly complex. Write like you talk. Listen to good speakers and try and incorporate how they communicate into your writing.

Read good speakers and see how their speech matches their text. (like hitchens)

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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