Section Two


Chapter Three    

Writing Hint Five




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Writing Hint Five: It is allowable, even advisable, to enliven and expand your writing by bringing your personal observations and opinions into the mix.


But when you take that approach do not let your eagerness to express yourself push you over accepted boundaries. In other words, do not follow the lead of Facebook superstars who regale their followers as they share – or possibly over share - their viewpoints on virtually everything and anything.


The flamboyance that delights their supporters/ followers might not bode well for you if you try to replicate it in an academic paper. So, instead of attempting to emulate these self promoters, you should take a more measured approach as you follow the guidelines your instructor has set out for you. Often, when a paper is assigned, he/she will note the role your personal thoughts should play in your finished product.


Your instructor might, for example, say that you should only present your opinions in your concluding paragraph/ section. Keep these comments in mind. Do not offer your opinions when a mere recitation of the facts is more in line with expectations.


Also, do not simply say, I feel strongly this way or that way about a contentious subject. On the contrary, when expressing your opinions, you should be certain to note how you arrived at them. Were you influenced by a news report on the topic of your essay?


Did a comment a friend or family member made lead you along a certain path? No matter what the specifics, detail them in your paper, showing yourself to be a thoughtful individual who comes to hold a viewpoint only after surrounding yourself with an ongoing dialogue.


However, these strong suggestions beg an obvious question. Possibly, you are assigned to write a paper about a topic that you have never discussed with others, much less given any serious thoughts. How do you keep your writing vibrant by interspersing your personal opinions into it when you have not had a chance to develop them?


Well, you might begin by asking yourself some deceptively simple questions: Are you a visual learner who gains valuable knowledge simply by looking at pictures? Or, does reading about a topic or hearing somebody discuss its nuances help you to familiarize yourself with it?


Then, once you have determined which learning style – hearing about a topic, reading about it or watching a video about it - works best for you, bombard yourself with information that flows through that channel. Hopefully, this process will help you to reach some basic understandings about the subject at hand.


An example: Let’s say you have been assigned to write a paper about the Boomtowns that recently dotted North Dakota’s landscape as oil field workers flocked to them. And you know virtually nothing about these communities. How might you begin to familiarize yourself with them?


Well, you might start this process by determining that you are a visual learner who most easily assimilates information by looking at images. Once you have reached that conclusion, you might utilize pictures of North Dakota Boomtowns, such as the one below, to help you crystallize your thoughts about these communities. 


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Then, again you might determine that watching a video, being bombarded by both video and audio input, will help you form a more vivid impression of these communities. If that is the case, you might watch a short video you can access at this link  (“North Dakota Boomtown Struggles Trying to Keep Up with Demand”)


What impact did the images and/or the video have upon you? Did they get your thought processes working? Did they help you to visualize these towns even though you might not have even heard of them before you began this assignment? Did they help you determine if you would like to live in one of these communities?



Assignment One


This article lists steps that you might follow in writing what it labels an insight paper.


King, YaShekia. "How To Write an Insight Paper." synonym, Accessed 18 May, 2016.


You should work your way through the steps it outlines, gaining experience that should prove valuable when you attempt adding a personal touch to your research papers.

Step 1

Select a book you are currently reading or read in the recent past and that had a strong impact on you.

Step 2

Draft the introduction to your insight paper. In it, you should clearly delineate your thesis: What message is the author of this work trying to impart and why does her message warrant close attention?

Step 3

Outline two to three segments of the literary work you are reviewing that support your thesis.

Step 4

Write a conclusion for your insight paper. Reiterate your thesis, highlighting again what you consider to be this document’s major point.

Step 5 

Read over your insight paper, making sure each paragraph begins with a smooth transition. Look for errors in spelling, grammar, word usage and punctuation.

An example: Let’s say that you are writing your insight paper about A Separate Peace by John Knowles (New York: Scribner, 2003). You might begin your insight paper by making the following comments.


A Separate Peace seemingly merits close attention because it delivers a strong message, one that many people would prefer to avoid whenever and however possible. It makes clear the fact that somebody who appears to be in an extremely fortuitous position one moment might shortly thereafter suffer a serious reversal of fortune; their world might literally collapse around them. Life is fragile and good fortune is fleeing.


Here are some instances in which this novel forcefully delivers that message. Each of these segments depicts the tragic decline of a boarding school student, who is emulated for his athleticism but ends up dying shortly after being injured in a fall.


These comments would then be followed by excerpts from the novel.




Work on a research paper until you get to a certain point in your assignment, possibly after you have written 150 words. And then, take some time off to visit your favorite websites, go for a short walk or simply relax for a view minutes.


When you have had your fill of that excursion or have passed a predetermined time limit, go back to your writing. Did your time away from this assignment do you some good? Did you return to your writing with a welcomed freshness, catching errors – typos or repetitions - that might otherwise have slipped through your gaze? Did you find that your thoughts about the topic you are discussing in your paper have become more crystallized?


Chapter Four



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Grammar might seem like a puzzle far more complicated than you could ever hope to decipher. But you can probably do a better job of properly aligning your words than you ever imagined you could. It is just a matter of completing your due diligence, knowing what you want to say in your paper before you even begin putting words up on a computer monitor. If your thoughts are organized, your words will be organized; they will be grammatically correct, or at least headed in that direction.

This review of grammar basics – punctuation marks, parts of speech, noun/ verb agreement, the first, second and third person perspective - should provide you with some valuable guidelines.

Punctuation Marks


Comma (,)


Commas have many different uses. They might be used to separate the items in a list.

An example: She had boxes, bags and containers.


Or, they might serve to set off a portion of a sentence that supplies information but is not necessarily essential to the meaning of that sentence.

An example: Bob, who is my next door neighbor, gave a lecture at my school.


Semi-Colon (;)

The semi-colon is used when joining together two connected sentences each of which has a noun and a verb.

An example:That store is rather expensive; a skirt can cost as much as $350.

 Colon  (:)

 Colons serve to mark the beginning of a list.

 An example: I will bring these things to the picnic: plates, napkins, salad.

 Apostrophe (’)

The apostrophe, sometimes called an inverted comma, signifies posssession or ownership. 


An example:That was Bob’s book.

 Quotation Marks (“….”)

Quotation marks are used as a means of attributing a comment or statement to somebody.

An example: Dr. Joe Smith said, “This research produced some very important results.”  ("Punctuation - Signs and Symbols")


A consideration: Prevent punctuation from becoming more of a frustration or a stressor than might be necessary by using it as sparingly as possible. Short crisp sentences often say more than do longer or more entangled ones.

 Parts of Speech

Nouns and Verbs

To stand as a complete sentence, words that are strung together must have a minimum of at least two parts: the subject (a noun) and the predicate (a verb). The subject is the person or thing that takes some action in the sentence; the verb, meanwhile, describes the action the subject undertakes.


An example: “Joan runs” is a complete sentence, even though it contains nothing but a noun – “Joan” – and a verb – “runs.”



A pronoun serve as replacements, or stand-ins, for a noun.

An example: In this sentence – You should tell Mary what she needs to bring to the meeting - the word “she” is a pronoun, a stand-in for “Mary.”




An adjective is a word that describes a noun.

An example: In this sentence - Pretty flowers filled the room - the word “pretty” is an adjective that describes the word “flowers.”




Adverbs are used to modify every part of speech - a verb, adjective, clause, or another adverb – except nouns and pronouns which are modified by adjectives.


An example: In this sentence - She ran quickly down the hill - the word “quickly” is an adverb that describes the speed with which she ran down the hill.




Prepositions draw links between nouns or pronouns and other words within a sentence; these words are called “objects.” Most typically, these links involve either temporal (time) or space considerations.


An example: In this sentence - The girl sat on a chair - the word “on” is a preposition that describes the relationship between the girl and the chair.




conjunction joins words or groups of words.


An example: In the sentence - She got up and went to the store - the word “and” is a conjunction that links “got up” and “went to the store.” (“English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know”)


       First, Second and Third Person Perspective


First person perspective



When she works from this perspective, a writer makes herself or a group to which she belongs the focus of her words. Some people maintain that while this more personalized approach can convey a strong message, it can become too much of a good thing when it is employed in an academic paper.


These sentences exemplify the first person perspective


I have researched that question. (first person singular)



We carefully studied that matter. (first person plural) 


 Second Person Perspective



When she works from the second person perspective, a writer makes her readers the focus of her words. So, she might utilize it extensively when she is asking them to take action. In English, “you” is utilized for both the second person singular and the second person plural.



An example: The sentence, “You did a good job with that assignment,” would be worded in the exact same way whether a writer is referring to one person or to a group of people. 

Third Person Perspective

The third person perspective places the focus of an essay on somebody who is distanced from both the reader and the person doing the writing. The writer comments on this individual’s actions without ever becoming actively involved in them or asking the reader to become involved in them. There is considerable thought that this more impersonalized perspective grants a professional sheen to an essay. 

These sentences exemplify the third person perspective.  

John Jones composed this piece of music. (third person singular) 


Those scientists have studied this issue extensively. (third person plural)



Noun/ Verb Agreement


Noun/ verb agreement remains an essential aspect of professional writing. Singular nouns must be used in conjunction with singular verbs. And plural nouns should be paired with plural verbs. Usually, it is easy to ensure that these guidelines are met. You simply add an "s" to a singular noun and subtract an "s" from a singular verb. An example: The boy skips across the lawn. (singular) The boys skip across the lawn. (plural)

However, some nouns do not make it all that easy for you. You cannot transition them from singular to plural by simply adding an “s” to them; they are irregular in that regard. You can down load a list of guidelines that can be used when transitioning irregular nouns from their singular to their plural form at this linkAnd a reference sheet you can download at this link lists some commonly-used irregular nouns. 



As the case with nouns, some verbs are irregular. You cannot change them from their singular form to their plural form simply by removing an s; they follow their own rules.  A reference sheet you can download at this link lists some common irregular verbs.






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 Look at this picture and then write a few sentences indicating what you see in this image. Your comments should contain a comma, semicolon, colon and apostrophe. What is this family doing? How might their facial expressions be described?