Using a Style Guide Instead of a Website

By Adriana Santana

Picture this. You have one hour before your rhetorical analysis of Machiavelli’s The Prince is due. Your professor asks that you use direct quotations to support your original argument. Just as you’re preparing your reference page, the internet goes down, and you have no access to OWL Purdue or BibMe. Not only do you have no idea how to properly format your APA citations, but you also are unsure of whether “effect” or “affect” is grammatically correct in the sentence you’re constructing. It’s a college student’s worst nightmare, but it’s one that can be avoided.

The prospect of formal citation and correct grammar in academic papers can be daunting and overwhelming to any student. Our years in high school, where we dabbled some in MLA and basic grammar rules, did very little to prepare any of us for the day we would be thrust headfirst into a research paper that demanded precise citation and syntax. Not only is proper citation difficult, but all the AP English classes in the world could not prepare us for all the nuances and quirks of correct grammar in the English language. We can find ourselves lost and staring in frustration at the little green squiggle of doom in our Microsoft Word document; however, we are not all doomed to wander aimlessly and blindly around the confusing and winding landscape that is academic writing. There is hope out there. And in this case, hope takes form in grammar and style guides. Here are three common questions about style guides and some answers to give you some guidance.

  1. Why should I use a style guide and not a website?

Sure, it is a lot easier to hop on Google and look up the answers to our grammatical and formatting questions and concerns. But, what is easy is not always best. When reading about citation or grammar rules online, students are far less likely to comprehend and absorb the information versus reading the same information on printed pages (Crum, 2015; Ferro, 2015). This is because students often feel less connected with digital texts than they do with physical texts. Using a physical guide instead of a website also helps cut down on the distractions so often found on the internet and can help you remain productive and focused on the academic task at hand. Finally, sticking to the updated, official citation and grammar guides allows for your work to be more accurate. The formal MLA and APA guides are much more credible and reliable than going to a third-party citation website.

  1. How do I figure out which style guide to use?

Once you’ve decided to take the bold and courageous step to use a physical style guide, the next question becomes how to find the figurative needle in a confusing and voluminous haystack. The first thing you need to do is narrow down your search to find out exactly what you need to know. A style guide on sentence variety might not be helpful if you’re concerned about semicolon usage, so narrowing your search down will help ease your search and lower your stress levels. After you decide on what aspect of academic writing you want to focus on, it’s important to stick with credible guides. If what you need is a guide on APA formatting, then make sure to use the book published by the American Psychological Association. Other physical guides on APA formatting and citation may be easier to read and smaller than the official guide, but they may also be inaccurate or skip over needed information. Lastly, after obtaining an official style guide, it is vital to ensure that the guide you have is the most recent and updated edition. This is easier than it sounds: just flip to the publishing information on the first couple of pages of the book. There will always be a publishing year, so just check and ensure you have the guide with the most recent publishing year. Grammar, citation, and formatting rules are very fluid and malleable, so it is always better to double check that you have the latest printing.

  1. How do I use my style guide?

Now that you have your updated and official grammar/style guide, the final hurdle before the finish line of academic success is figuring out how to use it properly. First off, you’ll quickly find out that the table of contents is confusing and should be avoided to prevent headaches. Stick to using the index in the back of the guide, it will be much easier to find exactly what you’re looking for based on key words. If you own the book, it’s also great to mark it up with annotations, highlights, and notes to help deepen your understanding and enhance your learning of the complex material. If you find yourself citing the same thing often, make a bookmark for the page you so often turn to make your search process a lot quicker. If you don’t own the book, keep some scrap paper nearby to make any notes that will be helpful to you. All guides are full of examples, so use them to learn the material, and feel free to go ahead and practice the grammar/citation rules on your own.

Finally, if you still end up with citation questions or can’t get the hang of a style guide, come visit the University Writing Center! We have a number of citation guides available in our writing lab, and all of us consultants are happy to help you with your grammar and citation questions.

 

References

Crum, M. (2015). Sorry, EBooks These 9 Studies Show Why Print is Better. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/print-ebooks-studies_n_6762674.html

Ferro, S. (2015). 5 Reasons Physical Books Might Be Better Than E-Books. Mental Floss. Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/69380/5-reasons-physical-books-might-be-better-e-books

 

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How to Choose a UWC Writing Consultant

By Pamela Hong

It’s Friday night, so you call your best friend and plan a night out downtown at the Eldorado Casino. You and your best friend spend some time catching up, laughing, and overall having a great night. You’re having a great time together, so you decide to play some roulette. You bet all your chips on RED 13 since your best friend suggested you do so. The dealer spins the wheel, and the ball lands on RED 13! You just won $100,000!

You realize your best friend was a major factor in your win. You chose to go out with your best friend because you both have a lot in common and you both work well together. This same kind of connection should be sought out when you are making an appointment at the Writing Center.

The consultant you choose should be compatible with what you want to achieve during the session. While all of our consultants are well-trained and equipped with resources to help you in all aspects and styles of writing, working with a consultant who has taken your classes or has felt your pain doing the very same assignments you’re working on creates a more comfortable and authentic collaboration.

Here’s how:

  1. Read the bios on the University Writing Center website (unr.edu/writing-center/meet-our-consultants)
    Every consultant has a short description of their standing, major(s) and minor(s), strengths in writing, and casual facts about what they do in their daily lives. Quickly skimming these blurbs, while looking at the availability that works for you on the appointment website (www.unr.mywconline.com), can help you decide which person you may be most successful working with. You can also search through consultant bios for someone who shares your major or hobbies.
  1. Use the UWC online’s scheduling system
    The Writing Center offers several schedules every semester to help accommodate your writing goals. We offer a number of different schedules, including ones for  graduate students and students in online core writing classes. Just go to the website to create an appointment and explore the drop-down menu of schedules to see if there are consultants specialized just for you.HERE’S A TIP: You can also see a consultants’ bio when you click on an available time slot to make an appointment on the “unr.mywconline.com” website.
  1. Ask our staff
    If you stop by to make an appointment in person, ask the front desk who they think you could benefit from working with the most. We know our peers’ strengths better than they may know themselves, so we can help you find your perfect match.
    Also, if you’re in an appointment already, ask your consultant who they suggest you should go to! Now that they’ve seen your writing objectives and know you a little bit better, they can give you specific suggestion as to who would help you best in a consultation for the next time you come in.
  1. If all else fails, any one of us can help you
    Again, we are all trained to accommodate any writer from all different types of majors. While having a Nursing major help you in CHS 211 would be ideal, any of our wonderful consultants can assist you thoroughly and fully.
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Negotiating Contracts as a Freelancer

By Edwin Tran

To many, freelancing is a dream with so many perks and benefits that it is unfathomable to think anything negative about it. Being a freelance writer means setting your own schedules, your own hours, your own pace, and a thousand other things that you specifically control. However, that also means it is only up to you to decide the more fundamental and basic things. Only you can decide how many contracts you take, which means only you can decide how much money you make, which means only you are responsible for whether or not you will be able to eat at the end of the week. The most crucial aspect in order to survive, whether doing freelance writing for side money or as a career, is to negotiate your contracts carefully.

The first question is where one might find some of these contracts. The age of the internet has led to an unprecedented rise in easy-to-access work. Many websites act as marketplaces for writers and employers. Some of these include Upwork, Toptal, Elance, and Freelancer.com. With this vast network of markets, it seems that there should be plenty of work around. However, obtaining work is much more difficult than it appears. Writing has simultaneously become one of the hardest and easiest areas to break into because of the high volume of writers and writing jobs. In other words, freelance writing has become an incredibly competitive battlefield.

Before moving forward, let us examine the average monetary rate of a freelance writer and what one should expect when negotiating contracts. Consider this list of freelance rates provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association (source: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php):

These rates are also consistent with those provided by WritersMarket, who identify seemingly exorbitant charges of $80/hour for certain types of copywriting and $70/hour for certain types of ghostwriting. Keep in mind that these are average rates, and it must be noted that the influx of online markets has created an entirely different situation for those just starting out. Many new writers are often abused for free work or are paid marginally. It is important to realize that while they may not be able to secure jobs with the rates presented above, freelancers should not have to deal with sub-par pay.

The question that emerges is how. The first step towards finding adequate work is to search through various websites (such as those mentioned above) to find jobs that seem engaging and appropriate for one’s skill level. In this early stage, it is important to build up a portfolio of projects and, for certain sites, to establish a high rating as a freelancer. As a result, finding the perfect job to highlight strengths is key. Once you have found a job that you believe to be perfect for your skills, the true negotiation begins. Many jobs will require a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this specific job and, more importantly, what skills and unique assets you would bring if accepted. Even if a cover letter is not required as per the directions of the job offer, you should attach one anyway. Your cover letter should be both professional and specific to the individual job. Many employers go through dozens of offers a day and finding a cover letter that specifically addresses some aspect of the job will go miles beyond cover letters that appear generic. Let us look at an example:

An appropriate and effective cover letter will take you a long way. It identifies that you have read the job description thoroughly and are actually interested in the work at hand. It might take a few applications, but it will eventually culminate in an offer letter.

Here is where contract negotiations begin. Sometimes, employers will provide a budget or an estimated amount of money an individual wishes to use, which writers will base negotiations off of. On some platforms, mainly Upwork, there may also be a bidding process, where freelancers will offer their own rate and the employer decides among those who applied for the job based off these rates. It is almost certain that new freelancers will be facing rather sparse payouts. Again, you want to focus on creating a solid portfolio and a high rating. During negotiations, aim for higher than minimum wage, but a lack of experience will be a major factor against getting higher payouts. Always negotiate these contracts with courtesy and be sure to work within the budgetary confinements of a potential employer. Be clear in highlighting your skills and experience in writing in order to establish a sense of legitimacy that can come into play when trying to aim for a slightly higher payout.

Ultimately, freelancing requires individuals to identify what they feel is appropriate compensation for their work. This is typically divided into hours, and it is important to ask oneself if the pay he or she receives is adequate for the work done in an hour. While the early period may be a difficult time and might have rather minimal payments, it is an important part in establishing oneself as a skilled writer. As more jobs come under your belt and your ratings go up, the higher the potential for bigger cuts. The same negotiation skills apply from job to job, the only difference is the baggage you come with. Each amount of experience adds an amount to your worth—always be sure to keep this in mind when freelancing. You are worth more than slave labor!

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Confusing, Complicated, Curious Words We All Mix-Up Sometimes: Part 3

By Ash Thoms

Let’s hope that this blog post lets you use some confusing words correctly.

“Let’s” is the contraction, or shortened form, of let us. Let’s go to class; we don’t want to be late (punctuality is cool)! “Lets” is the third-person present form of the verb “to let,” which means to not prevent or forbid. My roommate lets me eat her macaroni and cheese for dinner when she makes it (what an awesome roommate).

I hope as I flesh out these concepts that I also flush out your confusion surrounding some commonly misused words.

“Flesh out” means to add substance to something or make it fuller. I am in the process of fleshing out the plan for this weekend; I’ll let you know when the route for the road trip is set! “Flush out” is to cause something to leave its hiding place. I need to flush out the toxins in my body, so I’m going to do a juice cleanse (FYI: juice cleanses are not worth it, friends).

Maybe you need a break from this post? Maybe you feel as though I should pump the brakes and stop discussing all these confusing words? Lucky for you, we’re only half way through!

“Break,” as used above, is a noun meaning a pause in an activity. I need a break from this semester, despite it not even being half way over (true). “Break” can also be used as a verb, meaning to separate or cause to separate. As it turns out, I can break a metal ruler in half (not true). “Brake” is a device for slowing a moving vehicle. Could you PLEASE use your brakes? The way you drive is terrifying.

The goal of this blog post is to diffuse information among everyone who reads it. However, I hope it also defuses the tension that so many of us feel when thinking about these words.

“Diffuse” is a verb meaning to spread out over a large area or cause to spread widely among a group of people. When you cough, your germs diffuse widely throughout the area in which you are located. “Defuse” means to reduce the danger or tension in something. I had to defuse the tension between my roommate and my sister by doing the dirty dishes.

The end of this blog post is in sight! If you hold on for just a few more words, you’ll be able to exit this site and go back to your day-to-day life. Thankfully, there are no sources to cite at the end of this post, so we’ll be through even faster.

“Sight” means the power of seeing or a thing that can be seen. I saw the sun today after weeks of rain, and what a beautiful sight (it’s raining as I type this)! “Site” is either a website or an area of ground on which something of importance is built. The University Writing Center’s site is a magical piece of the internet. The ground-breaking ceremony for the construction site is later today! “Cite” means to quote something as justification of an argument. Everyone must cite their sources in academic writing (both a fact and an example).

Altogether, we’ve looked at quite the number of confusing words so far! Let’s all together take a deep breath and learn how to use one more pair of words.

“Altogether” means completely, totally, or taken as a whole. Altogether, it’s been a pretty decent week! “All together” means all in one place or group or all at once.  The crowd started running away from stadium all together, celebrating the victory.

Now it’s time to take a break from your computer and take in the sight of whatever is around you. Hopefully the confusion has been flushed out of your brain, the fear of using these words has been defused, and you are able to go forth and conquer your writing goals!

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External Strategies to Improve Writing

By Zoey Rosen

Whether you love writing, hate it, or fall somewhere in between, the task of writing can sometimes feel like an insurmountable chore. There have been times where I was so into the paper I was writing that the hours clicked away, and it wasn’t until it was dark outside that I realized that so much time had passed. Later that same week, I had logged 7 long hours into another assignment and was still on the first page. While we cannot always choose what and when to write, there are ways we can make writing less awful.

  1. Find some music that will not distract you but will, instead, help you gear up for the task ahead.
    • Music is a proven mood-booster. Playing something that helps you focus or makes you feel more creative could help you get over that initial mental block that comes with starting an assignment.
  2. Light a good smelling candle reserved for writing.
    • Sense memory is a powerful tool to utilize with writing. You may begin to associate the familiar scent with writing, which could get you into the mood of writing faster and more efficiently. Plus, candles smell awesome, so everyone wins.
  3. Schedule rewards into your writing process.
    • Sometimes the only motivation you need is knowing that you have a good snack coming after this paragraph. A few gummy bears or apple slices can give you short-term or long-term energy that will ultimately help keep you writing.
  4. Take a break!
    • Writing is arduous when you make it so! Get up, stretch out, and shift your focus to something new for a few minutes. You might get the idea that connects your entire paper together when you’re simply outside for a few breaths of fresh air.
  5. Talk with others about what you’re writing.
    • In every major, your classmates and friends will have to write. Even if they are writing a different paper, it will help to discuss your ideas together. Talking through your plan will help you see what steps you have left and acknowledge all that you’ve already completed. Your friends could also ask some questions you had not considered and help bring some clarity to the end product. You might just do the same for them too!

You can make the most out of writing, even when it isn’t the first thing you want to do. Being aware of your writing process is extremely beneficial and can tell you what methods work to overcome writer’s block. Good luck, and happy writing!

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Finding Your Style: The Reasoning Behind Common Citation Styles

By Ellen Israel

Deciding on a citation style can be overwhelming. There are so many to choose from, and to make things worse, each one comes with a complex set of rules and idiosyncrasies. It would be much easier if you could write without worrying about the format of your works cited page or about the placement of headings. Citation styles aren’t even that important — after all, they’re only used to prevent plagiarism, right?

Actually, it’s more complicated than that. With each citation style comes a unique culture suited to specific disciplines. Once you understand what these cultures require from a citation, picking one becomes much simpler.

Perhaps the most familiar citation style to college students is MLA (Modern Language Association). MLA is appropriate for the humanities as there is an emphasis on the use of quotes. To cite a quote in MLA, the format is usually (author page). This format makes the location of the quote clear and easy to find and accredits the quote appropriately. Recency does not matter in an MLA-cited source, so the date of publication is not included in the in-text citation. Whether you are quoting a sonnet from the 16th century or one of the best-selling novels of the year, what matters is that you sufficiently analyze the quote in relation to your claim.

APA (American Psychological Association) is another common citation style and is used more often in the social sciences. APA puts more emphasis on the date the source was published. In APA, the format for an in-text citation is generally (author, date). Unlike MLA, APA requires the date of publication in the citation because the recency of the source matters. This style is most often used for research and scientific papers, so you want to be sure that your ideas are backed up by the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. The more recent your source information is, the more legitimate your claims.

Chicago is used in the social sciences, humanities, and history. This style differs from both MLA and APA in that there are two ways sources can be cited. You can use either the Notes-Bibliography (NB) system or the Author-Date system (which is similar to MLA). In the NB system, superscript numbers are used in place of parenthetical citations, and the reference information is listed at the bottom of the page in footnotes. In Chicago, the strength of your argument is bolstered by the credibility of your sources. This is especially true for the NB system since all the reference information is visible on the page.

Next time you are confused about which citation style to use, try asking yourself about what kind of culture you are writing for: Does it pride the use of quotes and their analysis or does the recency of your source matter most of all? Does the strength of your argument depend on the credibility of your sources or your analysis of them? By asking yourself these questions, you may discover more about what kind of writing you have to do in addition to what citation style you need to use.

 

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Within Word Limits

By Bailey M. Gamberg

For some writers, a low word count limit means there is less work to complete. For others, this threshold impinges upon their ability to fully answer what a prompt is asking. A barrier like this can make the writer feel as though they don’t have enough space to fully address a prompt, explain a concept, or analyze a text. Cutting down your word count and making your writing more concise can be a daunting task, but most of the time you don’t have to cut out any major pieces of your argument. Below are some editing tips to help you eliminate extra words and fit your argument into a specified word limit.

1) Eliminate Redundant Words

Sometimes using adjectives and adverbs can help increase the quality of your writing, but when concision is the goal, they can often cause problems. For example, phrases such as “Past history has shown…” and “The armed shooter ran…” contain describing words that are repetitive. The reader already knows that history is in the past and that the shooter had a weapon. By combing through your work and looking at each word’s individual purpose, you can catch instances of unnecessary repetition like these.

2) Use Active Voice

Active and passive voices focus on the relationship between the subject, verb, and direct object within a sentence. Sentences in the passive voice are not grammatically incorrect or unintelligible, but they can be wordy. For example, the sentence “The hamburgers were eaten by Susan” isn’t technically wrong, but it is lengthy and awkward. “Susan ate the hamburgers” is a more concise, straightforward way of writing the same message using active voice. By putting the terms in order of subject-verb-direct object, you can eliminate excess words such as auxiliary verbs and prepositions.

3) Reduce the Introduction and Conclusion

Although it is important to not jump immediately into the body of the paper, introductions and conclusions are not meant to be the bulk of an assignment with a small word limit. Your reader—whether that be a professor or a scholarship committee—knows that you have a word limit and will be looking at how you support your argument in a limited amount of space. Introductions and conclusions shouldn’t be more than a handful of sentences each so that you have more room to get your point across.

The most important thing to remember is to not be intimidated by a word count limit. As long as you focus on the content of your argument and make your point clear, staying within the maximum word count is possible. Always feel free to come down to the Writing Center or book an e-consultation appointment if you need help!

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Why Wikipedia isn’t All Bad

By Shay Digenan

It’s probably nothing new to hear that Wikipedia is not the most reliable source on the internet. It’s been pounded into our brains since junior high, and I would venture to say, with the expansion of technology, first and second graders these days have begun to hear it already.

While Wikipedia can be a decent reference for finding out quick, easily-checkable facts, like when your favorite band toured their first album or how long Brad and Angelina were together, it should never be a go-to for a direct quote or paraphrase in an academic paper. Even though Wikipedia is not a viable source when writing academic content of substance and quality, it does provide one major advantage that too many people overlook—the references section at the bottom of each page. The references section often provides a plethora of sources that you might actually be able to use in an academic paper. Citations for Wikipedia articles can include basically anything, but it’s a great start in finding credible material that meets your academic needs.

Let’s take a look at the Wikipedia article about the 2012 election of the President of the United States (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2012), which has 163 items listed in the references section. Most of these sources are from news sources like the New York Times, CNN, USA Today, and local/state newspapers, which are acceptable sources for an academic paper. By starting at this Wikipedia article instead of Google, you can bypass a search that might have returned extraneous articles that simply contain references to this election, how it compares to 2016, etc.

A Wikipedia article doesn’t need to have 100+ references to be an excellent starting point on sources, though. The article on protein biosynthesis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_biosynthesis) is much shorter than the one on the 2012 election and has a grand total of 3 references. However, the first link takes the reader to a 9-page journal article published in Cell Reports that explains the entire scientific process and its contexts.

While at least Wikipedia acknowledges the obvious fallacy of being an encyclopedia that anyone can edit, the risk that one runs by relying solely on Wikipedia for credible information is too large to ignore (especially taking into consideration that your grade is on the line). It’s also not enough to rely solely on whatever sources Wikipedia provides. Use this same method of checking references for journal articles to add even more reputable sources to your paper and improve your knowledge of that particular subject.

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Toul-me About It: Using the Toulmin Method of Logic in Writing

By Emily K. Tudorache

Every university student has been told at one time or another that college is about developing new opinions. One way that we as students develop these new opinions is through argumentative writing. Professors are constantly asking us to make a claim and defend our honor for the sake of higher education. Organizing our thoughts into a coherent argument can be pretty daunting, but fortunately there is a way to potentially make it easier: the Toulmin Method of Logic.

Stephen Edleston Toulmin was a British philosopher who dedicated his life to the study of ethics and moral language. He developed the Toulmin Method as a way of organizing the individual aspects of persuasion into a web that would address the parts necessary to constructing a convincing argument (“Stephen Edleston Toulmin,” 2009). Although his method was designed to be a tool for analyzing and understanding the arguments of others, we can use it to develop an outline for a persuasive paper.

The Toulmin Method goes like this (featuring an example from Harry Potter, complete with spoilers):

  1. Claim

Here you identify the main claim of your argument, whether it is your thesis that encompasses the whole paper or a subclaim for a supporting paragraph. A clear and concise claim will make the rest of this process go smoothly and make generating the thesis and topic sentences easier.

For example, if my main point was to argue the negative effects of the horcrux inside Harry, one subclaim I could make would be that the Dursleys were awful to Harry as a result of being exposed to the horcrux for so many years.

  1. Reason

This is where you elaborate on the reasoning behind your claim. It should be an explanation of the logic you developed to reach the claim you’re making, not cited evidence from an outside source. Your own thoughts are important here.

A reason behind the subclaim about the Dursleys could be this: “Horcrux exposure can alter people’s moods, making them more irritable and cruel.”

  1. Evidence

Provide a piece of evidence that supports your reasoning. Now, this is where you bring in sufficient and reputable facts from an outside source. These can be statistics, quotes from experts, testimonies, and other forms of concrete evidence. In more personal narratives, it’s possible that these pieces may be an anecdote or memory.

My evidence for this example would be: “When Ron had to wear Slytherin’s locket in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he became resentful of Harry and lashed out at his friends, eventually causing him to leave the group.”

  1. Counterclaim

In this step, identify some possible arguments against your claim. The strongest arguments include acknowledging the “other side” and their views. By being able to recognize how others may see the issue and effectively argue against it, your own stance becomes harder to refute.

One counterclaim against our little fan theory points out that Professor McGonagall stated at the beginning of the first book that the Dursleys were already bad people, so there’s no way to determine that their behavior was a result of being exposed to the horcrux in Harry.

  1. Rebuttal

Address your opponent’s counterclaim by respectfully providing the evidence and reasoning you have against it. Pointing out a counterclaim and not providing a rebuttal makes your own argument weaker, so this part is critical to fortifying your stance against the opposition.

A respectful rebuttal to the counterclaim may sound like this: “It’s true Professor McGonagall did find the Dursleys distasteful, but this does not totally explain their behavior. Although Petunia is shown to have disliked her sister’s magical qualities, evidence is given throughout the books to support the notion that Petunia did care for her sister, so it’s unlikely she would severely abuse her nephew—who was only a young child—simply out of spite.”

There you have it—the five basic steps of building an argument using the Toulmin Method of Logic. You may repeat this process as many times as is necessary to construct an argumentative essay of the proper length or complexity. Now go forth, student, and show the world—or maybe just your philosophy professor—your freshly honed argumentative skills.

References

Stephen Edleston Toulmin. (2009). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stephen-Edelston-Toulmin.

 

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Confusing, Complicated, Curious Words We All Mix-Up Sometimes: Part 2!

By Ash Thoms

I would advise you to heed the advice in this blog post.

“Advice” is a noun indicating a recommendation from a person who is usually in a place of authority. For example, you gave me some great advice on how to get through my classes this semester. “Advise” is a verb which means to offer suggestions about the best course of action. My mother advised me to go to bed before two in the morning. When we advise someone on something, we are giving them a piece of advice.

The bare ideas of this post are easy to understand, although the confusing words create issues for many. If you bear with me, I’ll try to give you as clear of a description as I possibly can.

“Bare” means basic or simple in the context of the sentence above. The bare essentials of my outline are ready to be expanded into a full essay. It can also mean uncovered or not clothed. My bare hands are freezing in this cold winter weather. “Bear” as a verb means to tolerate or be patient with. Please bear with my thought process, as it can get a little confusing. As a verb it can also mean to support or carry. Let me bear the weight of your anxiety so you can get through this week. Finally, bear as a noun is an animal that you really don’t want to mess with. Look out behind youthere’s a bear!

I want to ensure that you have a clear idea of what these words mean after this blog post is over. After all, this post is the only way I can insure you against the perils of misusing words in your writing!

“Ensure” means to make certain that something will occur. I ensure my success in my economics class by regularly attending class meetings and doing my homework. “Insure” means to protect someone or something against a possible contingency. I am insured against theft and fire damage in my new house through my renter’s insurance.

I don’t mean to be coarse in trying to clarify the use of these words. I sincerely hope this post doesn’t come across as such. At least the course of this blog post is nearly at its end.

“Coarse” in the above sentence means a rude manner of speech or a rude person. You’re being quite coarse today, Mr. Buttons! It can also mean a rough texture or grain. This fabric is quite coarse, and I don’t really enjoy the feeling of it. “Course” refers to the route or direction of an object. We’re off course—get us back where we belong ASAP! A course is also another word for a class. If you can take a course with Professor Professorson, you should do it. Course can also be used as a verb to mean moving without obstruction. The water is coursing through the streets today as the flood continues (#NVFLOOD17).

I hope this blog post has complemented your already vast amount of knowledge. And yes, saying you already have a vast amount of knowledge is quite the compliment.

“Complement” can be either a noun or a verb. As a noun, it means a thing that completes. Graham crackers are the perfect complement to marshmallows and chocolate (now I want s’mores). As a verb, it means to add to something in a way that improves it. A good book complements a rainy day. “Compliment” can also be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it is an expression of praise or admiration. I got the best compliment about my hair today! As a verb it means to politely congratulate or praise someone for something. I compliment people on their sense of style all the time.

Hopefully the advice given in this post has been useful and put you on the course towards using these words correctly! This blog complements the original post about confusing words quite well, and hopefully ensures your success in using these words in your writing!

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