INTERPRETING TEACHERS’ COMMENTS Symbols Used misspelling: sp omit / cut-out: [ ] add a comma: , wrong use of punctuation: P OR circled comma/period comma fault: cf comma splice: cs make upper/lower-case: M m something omitted / add: ^ not clear: ? paragraph / indentation: ---> ¢ or ¶ agreement error: agr ambiguous / clarify: ambig awkward: awk paragraph lacks coherence / clarify: coh dangling / squinting modifier: DM fragmentary sentence: frag bad grammar: gr weak passive voice: pass bad reference: ref run-on sentence: run-on / RO bad sentence / reconstruct: S wrong tense: tense transpose: tr cliché (omit / rework): trite recast / condense: wordy use the distinctive adverb form: adv error in comparison: comp error in diction: d wrong use of italics: ital error in parallel structure: // Explanations Misspelling: If you see a word circled or the symbol "sp" it means that you've misspelled a word. Look to the dictionary to correct it and, remember, don't rely solely on spell-check - it often makes mistakes and can't differentiate between words like "to," "too," and "two." Omit / Cut-out: A word crossed out often means that that particular word didn't fit into your piece. You might want to plug in a more appropriate word or phrase or just take it out all together. Add a Comma / other punctuation: When teachers evaluate writing they usually insert marks where they've been left out. This helps to add correct structure or flow to the sentence. Wrong use of punctuation: If a comma/period/semi-colon is circled or crossed out, or you see a "P," you've misused a punctuation mark. Insert the correct mark, whatever it may be. Comma Fault / Comma Splice: The symbols "cs" and "cf" indicate that a comma is where a period or semi-colon should be. Replace the comma with the right mark. Capitalization / Lower-case: If the first letter of a word is crossed out OR underlined three times, or you see symbols such as "cap", "c", or "l.c.", you should reverse the size of the first letter of the word (i.e. turning "matthew" into "Matthew"). Something Omitted / Add: A "^" symbol, with a teacher's writing above the line, is indicative of an omitted word or idea. The teacher's addition serves to enrich the ideas presented. Not Clear: When teachers are confused about something you've written, they might circle the confusing section and attach a "?" to it. Try to rework the idea to make it more straightforward and concise. Paragraph / Indentation: Symbols such as "-->" or "¢" indicate that you've failed to correctly indent your paragraph. They also may appear if a new idea should be turned into a new paragraph. Agreement error: The symbols "agr" and "agreement" are used for an error in agreement. You should change one or more words so that they match the rest of the sentence. Ambiguous/clarify: If something is ambiguous or needs clarification, the symbols used by teachers will be "ambig" or "unclear". Further explanation or clearer sentences should be made. Awkward: If the composition or wording of a sentence is awkward, symbols given will be "awk" or "awk phr" (awkward phrasing). This usually entails only a minor reorganization of a sentence. You may need to shorten and/or add a sentence. Dangling/Squinting modifier: If you have a dangling or squinting modifier (the -ing words tend to slip loose from the sentence and dangle) the symbol will be "DM". Here is an example: Faulty- Going home, the walk was slippery. Revised- Going home, I found the walk slippery. (Baker, 1981) Fragmentary sentence: If you have a fragmentary sentence, which doesn't express a complete thought, the symbol will be "frag" or "SF." This sentence should be lengthened or changed so that it does express a complete thought in a subject verb pair. Bad grammar: Incorrect or poor grammar is symbolized by "gr." The grammatical composition of the sentence needs to be altered to make it appropriate. Weak passive voice: A sentence with a weak passive voice will recieve the symbol "pass." Use of passive voice should be changed. Example - Faulty: If it rains an umbella is needed. Revised: One needs an umbrella if it rains. Bad Reference: A bad or incorrect reference is symbolized by "ref". You have made a bad reference and should correct this by taking the reference out or changing the theme of the sentence. Run-on sentence: If you see "ROS," you have written a run-on sentence. Correction usually entails breaking the phrase into more than one sentence or using appropriate punctuation (See use of ";" in Grammar Section). Bad Sentence: If you see "SS," a sentence can be reworded or reorganized to make the thought clearer. Wrong Tense: If you see the word "tense" written out, or the symbol "tns," you have utilized the wrong tense of one or more verbs. This is a simple correction that usually requires changing the tense of a verb, for instance past to present. Cliche: If you see the word "trite," you have used a cliched expression that makes the sentence sound tired.You might want to reword the sentence with more original words. Recast/Condense: If you see the word "wordy" next to a sentence, it means you have used unnecessary words. This usually entails changing the organization or omitting some words in the sentence. Wrong use of italics: If you see "ital" next to a sentence, you have utilized italics incorrectly. This usually entails adding or deleting italicized text. Error in parallel structure: If you have an error in parallel structure, the correction symbol used will be "//".In constructing English sentences, logically connected or equivalent parts need to be written in grammatically (or syntactically) equal ways (See "parallel structure" in Grammar Section). Example Incorrect: Solar cars will replace the traditional gas powered automobile because of cleanliness, they are quieter, and cheap. **This grammatically incorrect sentence contains a prepositional phrase, a clause, and an adjective in the dependent clause.** Correct: Solar cars will replace the traditional gas powered automobile because they are cleaner, quieter, and less expensive. The sentence above contains three units (comparative adjectives) that are grammatically equivalent GRAMMAR NOTES Subject Verb Agreement A subject and its verb must agree in number. Singular subjects must have singular verbs and plural subjects must have plural verbs. Example: The teacher talks. The dog barks. The teachers talk. The dogs bark. Singular subjects joined by or or nor take a singular verb. Example: After class either Jenny or Peter cleans the blackboard. Compound Subjects If a compound subject is joined with and, use a plural verb, even if one of the subjects is singular. When a compound antecedent is joined with and, use a plural pronoun. Example: Genevieve and Skippy are artists. When a singular subject and a plural subject are connected by or or nor, the verb must agree with the subject closer to the verb. Incorrect Example: Neither the students nor Mrs. Peterson understand the poem. Correction: Neither the students nor Mrs. Peterson understands the poem. Pronoun Antecedent Agreement If an antecedent is vague or absent from a sentence, the pronoun will not be correctly modified. Missing: In Los Angeles they produce a lot of movies. Correction: Los Angeles produces a lot of movies. Vague: Because Aram had never written poetry, he was afraid of it. (it refers to poetry, not writing poetry) Correction: Because Aram had never written poetry, he was afraid. Most often errors in pronoun antecedent agreement occur when there is an indefinite pronoun. Incorrect Example: A student often has trouble revising their papers. Correction: A student often has trouble revising his or her papers. Because the use of his or her appears awkward, writers may opt to pluralize the subject instead. Another Possible Solution: Students often have trouble revising their papers. Dangling Modifiers A dangling modifying is a modifying phrase or clause or clause which does not clearly modify a word in the sentence. When a modifying phrase is located at the beginning of a sentence, the phrase is followed by a comma. Directly after that comma should come the word that the phrase describes. Incorrect Example: To learn grammar, an understanding of syntax is needed. (This sentence implies that the "understanding" is learning.) Correction: To learn grammar, a student needs an understanding of syntax. To correct a dangling modifier, a writer should either rearrange the word order or add words to make the meaning more logical. Dangling: While playing the guitar, the strings snapped. Corrected:While playing the guitar, I felt the strings snap. Active and Passive Voice Students are often corrected by their teachers for writing in what is known as the passive voice. A verb is said to be in the passive voice when the subject is the recipient of an action or an action is performed upon the subject. Active: Pamela kept a diary of romantic escapades. Passive: A diary of romantic escapades was kept by Pamela. Though the passive voice is grammatically correct, it produces a less forceful communication of ideas than the active voice. Too many passive voice verbs usually produce an awkward effect. To make writing clearer and stronger, you should use passive voice verbs sparingly and only when required stylistically. Parallel Structure Parallel Structure is required when expressing coordinating ideas and compared or contrasted ideas. Parallel Structure groups ideas in the same grammatical form. For example, phrases are grouped with phrases, clauses are grouped with clauses, and verb tenses are uniform. Incorrect: Sophia enjoys shopping, to play the piano, and talking on the phone. Correction: Sophia enjoys shopping, playing the piano, and talking on the phone.
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