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Chủ đề: Examples of Good and Bad Writing

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    Examples of Good and Bad Writing

    Examples of Good and Bad Writing

    Learning to write often works best by example. The following are excerpts from nine first-year student essays. Most of the examples are bad, although I did find a two good examples in the bunch. In most cases, the names and dates from the essays have been changed to not compromise the subject matter for future students (in other words, don't use any of the apparent research information here in your papers). I have tried to categorize the errors as best as I could. Errors or bad portions are usually bolded to help you identify them.

    Good Examples

    Smith was a religious, Christian man. His notion of monads included contextual references to God. He believed that God controls the harmony of life through these monads.

    The essay then goes on to discuss these monads in a Christian context. The discussion of religion would have been completely out of place, given the essay's topic. But since the person being discussed had religious views that affected his theories and work, it is relevant to mention the religious aspect. Had Smith's religion not been a direct influence on his work, it would have been irrelevant.

    Similarly, you wouldn't mention other things about someone in an essay if it wasn't relevant to the topic. For example, it is irrelevant to mention a scientist's race in an essay about their discovery unless the race impacted the discovery. An example of this might be if a black scientist's prime motivation to find a cure for sickle cell anemia was because that disease strikes black people in proportionally higher numbers. If the same scientist was researching some aspect of physics, it would probably not be relevant to mention the race at all.



    An introductory paragraph:

    On March 4, 1849, John Smith was born to Anna Bradcock Smith and James Smith. Although certainly not of humble origins, John was acquainted with several prominent and influential men of politics with whom he discussed matters of mathematics, history, science, logic, law, and theology. Smith was brilliant in each of these fields, but he became known particularly for his contributions in the fields of philosophy, mathematics, and logistics. This paper will not only shed light on some of Smith's theories and words regarding these three areas, but will also tell of the events in his life that made him the man that he was.

    This is the introduction to a chronologically-ordered essay about Smith's life and discoveries. As such, the choice to begin with his date of birth is a good one. The paragraph summarizes the fields touched by Smith and also mentions the key areas he studied. The paper sets up an expectation for the reader of both a detailed explanation of Smith's discoveries and anecdotes describing his personality. The sentence structure is grammatically sound and flows well.


    Bad Examples

    Bad Grammar
    In the late 1650's, Smith's mother returned to London, she then pulled him out of school with the intent to make him a farmer.
    1. Apostrophes indicate possessiveness or contractions, not plurality. The decade is the 1650s.
    2. The sentence is a run-on. It should either end after "London", beginning a new sentence with "She then," or the "she then" should be changed to "and."
    3. To make someone a farmer is to create a farmer for them. The writer meant: "to turn him into a farmer" or "to encourage him to be a farmer."

    This sentence is mispunctuated. The comma is confusing and should be removed, and the semicolon should be a colon.


    Awkward Wording
    Queen Esmerelda knighted Jones in 1705 to be given the title of Sir Joe Smith, which made him the first scientist to be so honored for his work (Bogus).
    1. The phrase "to be given" is awkward here. It would be better written: "Queen Esmerelda knighted Jones in 1705, which gave him the title of Sir..."
    2. Who else could be honoured for Smith's work other than Smith? It should say: "...which made him the first man to be honored for scientific work."

    Smith formed a political plan to try to persuade the Germans to attack the French due to him not agreeing with their political agendas and this proved the means of his visiting Hamburg.
    1. "Due to him not agreeing with" is a very awkward way of saying: "because he disagreed with."
    2. The second bolded part should be a separate sentence.
    3. "Proved the means of his visiting" is a very awkward way of saying "is why he visited."

    Mismatched Words, Phrases, and Pronouns
    Lastly, the inverse relationship between area and the tangent were never attained.
    "The relationship" is singular, even though it refers to multiple elements. Thus, the verb "were" should be singular as well, and changed to "was."


    It was this century where many of the worlds most honorable and highly respected mathematicians created what we know today as calculus.
    1. A century is not a place, it is a section of time. Say it is a "place where..." or a "time when..." In this case, "It was this century when..."
    2. Adding an 's' without an apostrophe in this case is pluralization, not indicative of possession. The student means "world's."

    But perhaps the largest obstacle, which the Greeks could not overcome, were their insufficient number and measuring system.

    "Were" is plural, but "obstacle" and "system" are singular. It should be "was."


    Tragically at the age of six, Smith's father died.
    This says that Smith's father died at the age of six. The writer means: "Tragically, when Smith was six years old his father died."


    Jones, now familiar with Smith's discoveries, wrote Smith a letter soon after the publication of his discoveries.
    After the publication of whose discoveries: Jones' or Smith's?


    Misused Words and Phrases
    Jones reasoned that if he could calculate the angles of the projected colour, a new law of refraction could be made.
    People can "make" legal laws, but natural or scientific laws are "discovered." To "make" a new law of refraction, Jones would have to alter physics.


    General Sloppiness
    In one day, John's attitude towards school changed for the better. A boy ranked just above him kicked him in the stomach. At the end of the day John challenged the boy to a fight. Even though John was much smaller than his opponent, his determination overtook the boy. Winning the fight was still not enough. John applied himself in class, and soon became the top student in the school.

    1. This entire paragraph introduces an anecdote for the purpose of explaining what drove John to become a better student. Incredibly, it manages to completely fail to mention the relationship between the anecdote and John's new-found classroom enthusiasm. The relationship is implied and the reader can guess that John wished to beat the boy in more than just a physical fight, and thus worked hard to outrank the boy in the classroom, but that is not stated.
    2. The paragraph is very choppy and the sentences do not flow well. Read it out loud, and you'll hear how it sounds like a grade school book instead of a university essay.

    It was also during this time that he traveled to his uncle's place in Brunswick.

    "Place" is colloquial. Use "home," "apartment," "residence" or other such appropriate word instead.


    Several Errors Combined
    Smith was born prematurely and was so small when he was born that they thought he might not live.
    1. Repeating that he was born is redundant.
    2. Who does "they" refer to? Doctors? Parents? Relatives? Townsfolk? It is a pronoun without an antecedent.

    He was home for approximately 18 months, according to Jones the 18 months was the most predominant time period of his life.
    1. This is a run-on sentence. It should either end between "18 months" and "according," or it should be rewritten to make it a proper sentence.
    2. "18 months" is repeated for no reason.
    3. "18 months" is plural, so it should be "18 months were" not "18 months was."
    4. "Predominant" means superior especially in power or numbers. Something cannot be "most superior." "Most" should be omitted.

    Lần sửa cuối bởi hoahamtieu, ngày 13-12-2011 lúc 09:53 AM.
    Let's share to be shared.

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