Grammar: So much more than the wife of Gramper

Edited by Maggie 4/25

This blog post aims to explain some common grammar errors and illustrate how improving grammar improves the quality of writing.

Comma rules: “Let’s eat, Grandma!” or “Let’s eat Grandma!”?

When used properly, commas make sentences easier to read. When used improperly commas make sentences choppy, and, sometimes, confusing.

The first sentence is an example of a nicely-used comma which stands for a brief pause. The second sentence has a mistake in its first half: it’s missing a comma after “improperly”. Although the commas in the second half are technically acceptable, they do not have the same effect as the comma in the first sentence. The comma after “choppy” separates two elements in a list, and the commas surrounding “sometimes” serve to make that word parenthetical. Though all of these commas are grammatically correct, this does not mean it is always the right choice to use them. This is where commas become a matter of personal style. Both of the following sentences are improvements on the original:

When used improperly, commas make sentences choppy, and sometimes confusing.

When used improperly, commas make sentences choppy and sometimes confusing.

Surrounding the word “sometimes” with commas adds emphasis to the word. There’s nothing wrong with that mechanically, but it’s unnecessary to the sentence. Personally, I would go with the second version, which uses even fewer commas. Since there are only two adjectives in this list (“choppy” and “confusing”), the comma doesn’t clarify anything that isn’t obvious already.

Rhetorical effects of punctuation

Punctuation is often an afterthought, and changes to it made as last minute corrections. But punctuation is much more than stray marks; it’s essential to a sentence. Good punctuation creates emphasis and clarity. The following example is an excerpt from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”. We have removed all punctuation, aside from the ending period. As you read, note what seems to be the main point of the sentence? How could you tell? Which parts were easiest to read, and which hardest?

“The author has used an instinctive historical sense a part indeed of the ancient English temper and not unconnected with its reputed melancholy of which Beowulf is a supreme expression but he has used it with a poetical and not an historical object.”

While this quote is still readable, its focus is unclear. The main point is lost among the many clauses.  Here is the original version:

“The author has used an instinctive historical sensea part indeed of the ancient English temper (and not unconnected with its reputed melancholy), of which Beowulf is a supreme expression; but he has used it with a poetical and not an historical object.”

Now the sentence’s emphasis in clear: Tolkien contends that the author’s use of history was used for poetical effect rather than fact.  The em-dash and the parentheses make for clear breaks in the flow of the sentence, and the semi-colon prefaces additional information which makes the main point of the sentence.

Reading aloud is the best way to check the effectiveness of punctuation. This will help determine where pauses and stresses naturally occur.  An additional reader would also be helpful: s/he would is able describe what emphases s/he notices as a reader and what doesn’t seem as important.

Parallelism with verbs

While comma use is variable and depends somewhat on personal style, use of verb forms is much more cut and dry. Sloppy commas can make a sentence hard to understand, but incorrect verb forms can change its meaning entirely.
Parallelism is the use of the same verb tense throughout a sentence. It is essential in order to make a sequence of ideas understandable to the reader.Below is another quote from Tolkien’s “Monsters”. It has been modified to use several different verb tenses, instead of exhibiting paralleism.

“Beowulf is a half-baked native epic the development of which was killed by Latin learning; it is inspired by emulation of Virgil, and became a product of the education that came in with Christianity; feebly and incompetent as a narrative; the rules of narrative are cleverly observed in the manner of the learned epic; confusing product of a committee of muddle-headed and probably beer-bemused Anglo-Saxons. . .”

The differing tenses make this sentence hard to read. Though the absence of parallelism doesn’t necessary obscure Tolkien’s points, it make reading more of a struggle. Here is the original quotation:

“Beowulf is a half-baked native epic the development of which was killed by Latin learning; it was inspired by emulation of Virgil, and is a product of the education that came in with Christianity; it is feeble and incompetent as a narrative; the rules of narrative are cleverly observed in the manner of the learned epic; it is the confused product of a committee of muddle-headed and probably beer-bemused Anglo-Saxons. . .”

The original quote is easier to read, letting the reader find the examples in Tolkien’s argument easily. In the original essay, the list goes on for quite some time. Because the writing flows easily from one item to the next, the reader does not get bogged down in the information. The best way to make sure there is parallelism in a piece of writing is to reread, making sure the verb tenses are uniform. You might want to circle or underline all the verbs in a passage, then check to see if their tenses agree.

Misplaced modifiers

A modifier is a word (typically a verb or an adjective) that changes the meaning of another word (typically a noun.) It is easy to misplace modifiers, which can make it difficult to determine the meaning of a sentence. Here is a sample sentence with some misplaced modifiers:

After the Civil War, Indian peoples continued to be seen as a hindrance to the expansion of American civilization by white people across the continent, but their focus shifted towards problem-solving.

There are many problems in this sentence. For example, when I say that “Indian peoples continued to be seen,” I use the passive voice. This choice makes “being seen” an activity done by the Indian peoples. In fact, it is “white people” who are the subject of this sentence, and the ones doing the seeing. But the phrase “white people” is so distant from “continued to be seen” that the reader might have troubling making the connection.

The following rewrite fixes the problem:

After the Civil War, white Americans continued to view Indian people as a hindrance to the expansion of American civilization across the continent, but their focus shifted towards problem-solving.

Not only does rearranging the misplaced modifiers dramatically improve the clarity of this sentence, it also just sounds nicer. As a matter of fact, making your writing grammatical and easy to understand and making your writing sound better are usually the same thing.

Natalie Berg and Jessica Palacios

Ed. by MLE 4/25

“How Do You Feel?” Bringing Elementary Techniques to College.

By: Caitlin and Tyle, Edited by Jessica

The hardest part of writing is often just getting started. Brainstorming, whether for critical essays or creative work, is a crucial first step; but it can often be difficult. While college instills in us a need to focus on organization, clarity, and argument (in prose), it doesn’t give us the tools to come up with ideas in the first place. Sometimes it is forgotten that a strong idea can help organization, clarity and argument of a work. In fact, the last time many of us were taught how to brainstorm was in elementary school. After that, it’s assumed we do it intuitively. While brainstorming may be intuitive for some of us some of the time, other times we can find ourselves reaching writer’s block. That’s when bringing it back to the elementary can be useful.

Now, you might be skeptical of the usefulness of a method taught to elementary school students. But as college students, we can often get too caught up in trying to decide on a unique, nuanced, and defensible thesis and this can hinder us from reaching new and interesting ideas. We could do well to take a hint from younger students and focus first on our feelings and then our complex thoughts. This shift in focus can help to ensure our voice comes through in our writing: instead of writing a boring essay about a common idea, we write from our own unique perspective on a text. This method is also less daunting than creating a thesis right away. Unlike a thesis, which may not automatically come to us, we all have some sort of instinctual reaction when we read something, even if it’s just that we find the text stupid or the argument ridiculous. These sorts of emotional responses to a text can help give us a lens through which to look back at the text and craft an argument. Focusing can give us fuel to make an argument, thereby helping us effectively brainstorm and overcome writer’s block.


The overarching idea of first asking, “how do you feel?” before asking, “what’s your argument?” can be put into practice through a few exercises. We focus on three main ways to execute this method – conversation, the popcorn game, and the cranium graph game – but there are surely other possibilities.

In the first method, a tutor (or anyone) has a conversation with the writer, asking him/her a series of questions designed to evoke the writer’s emotions and instincts. These can include:

“What made you angry in this text?”

“Is there anything in this text/argument that you’re cynical about?”

“What confused you?”

This conversation works particularly well in a peer-tutoring situation. Unlike when we students talk to our professor and sometimes feel the pressure to only express well-thought out and well-articulated ideas, we can feel more comfortable around fellow students to just express our initial reactions and feelings to a text.

The next two methods, the popcorn and the cranium graph games, we put into practice with our Tutoring Theory class here at Whitman. We presented our class with excerpts from this article about the recent changes made to the SAT. The excerpts we chose indicated the following changes: the essay will now be optional, there will be no penalty for wrong answers, there will be policies to help low-income students with preparing for the SATs and applying to college, students will have to justify their answers on the test, and each test will include a founding document such as the Declaration of Independence. The article also quoted the head of the College Board explaining the changes are part of an effort to align the SAT more with what students learn in high school (Lewin).

After reading this, the class played the popcorn game. This game works well in a large group but it only really requires two participants. Before playing, participants read a text (or a portion of a text). Directly after reading it, so it’s fresh in their mind, everyone is invited to shout out one-word responses to the text. The shout outs should be immediate, gut reactions as opposed to crafted or thought out. There’s no order (everyone chimes in randomly like kernels popping) and no limit to the amount of times each person can speak. Occurring right after reading the text and with a minimal level of structure, this exercise helps writers to focus on their instinctual reactions to a text. This is an especially helpful tool if someone in the group writes down the responses. That way, the writer or writers writing on the text can look back on their instinctual reactions and draw on them to craft an argument that really reflects their view. Even without writing them down, the exercise can loosen you up to think of ideas. Some of the words people in our class shouted out were “well-intentioned,” “hopeful,” “unfair,” “useless,” “propaganda” and “cynical”. Each person’s response helped to fuel another response, either from that same person or from someone else. Sometimes people disagreed with another response, and sometimes they built off of it.

After this, we played the cranium graph game. The title can come across as a bit deceiving as to imagine only a floating head. Rather, the visual (as seen below) incorporates multiple elements: the mind, the heart and sensory details. The mind can be best categorized as ‘I think’ statements, the heart as ‘I feel’ statements and the sensory as ‘I smell’, ‘I see’, ‘I taste’, ‘I hear’ statements. Now, we know that human emotional/thought processes are much more complicated than this, and the grown-up inside of us may first see this as an exercise in reduction or simplification. More correctly, the cranium game is a practice in expansion, with an organizational quality that allows for distinction, differentiation, but also a chance to draw connections by weaving across different domains. Through this brainstorming technique, it can be witnessed how emotions influence thoughts, how thoughts solidify emotions, how sensory details can interweave or spring out of texts, or rather how this trinity of thought, emotion and sensory work can feed, fuel and craft an idea.

To better elucidate this structure, we will utilize examples that were made evident in our class which highlight each category. When students replied with sensorial reactions to the SAT article, they were asked to approach the article in an abstract manner. The image of the olive branch came up, and this image alone is fodder for crafting an idea or even a thesis that navigates issues of justice. To further investigate the olive branch one could bring in an emotional statement such as ‘cynical’. From this a metaphor and an argument is created; like the olive branch the SAT stands strong in its sincerity and just approaches to testing students, but is actually a money-driven enterprise. Thoughts can be brought in directly from the text, secondary sources or our own opinions to solidify or advance the idea.

cranium game

Now that we’ve seen how this method works in practice, it’s important to note that it doesn’t work in all situations and it doesn’t work for everyone. For people who tend to write about their feelings and opinions and have more difficulty finding evidence and making an academic, well-supported argument, these exercises might be counterproductive. It’s important to remember that a crucial part of using this method is transforming your feelings and sensory reactions into thoughts and arguments. As our class showed with the “olive branch”, it’s possible – and easier than you might think – to transform what seem to be random reactions and metaphors into a thesis or examples to support your thesis.

While it is often easy to blur feelings and thoughts, or mistake feelings for an argument, the cranium diagram is useful because it clearly distinguishes between thoughts, sensory reactions, and feelings. It can also be helpful to think of thoughts as things the author says/argues and feelings as your reaction to the text. “This author is annoying” is really a personal opinion, which you can put in the form of a feeling (“I find this author annoying”) and then search for a thought, which would focus on why the author is annoying – what did the author do/argue that annoyed you? Even if the distinctions and transitions from feelings to arguments might be difficult to make, especially for some people, the process of focusing on feelings can be useful even if just to break through writer’s block. Even if none of the words you say in the popcorn game directly translate into an argument or evidence for an argument, they loosen you up and may allow you to come up with ideas and an argument later on that you may not have reached if you were still stuck trying to find a perfect argument right away.

Overall, this method can work in college for creative writing and critical writing. You can use it on your own, with a friend or classmate or multiple other people, or with a peer tutor. Really, you just need to put yourself in a situation where you feel comfortable following your instincts and expressing your immediate reactions rather than feeling pressured to think of an argument right off the bat. Most importantly, this method shows that we can apply what we learned in elementary school to college. Using this method doesn’t lessen your sophistication as a writer. It just serves as a reminder that sometimes – often because you are a good and experienced writer – you should go with your instincts.

Works Cited

Lewin, Tamar. “A New SAT Seeks to Realign with Schoolwork.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 5 March 2014. Web. 7 Mar 2014.

Get with the beat: Sentence Rhythm

by Sam Chapman and Sierra Dickey

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”

Gary Provost

                                                The Rhythm of Sentences

I don’t believe sentence rhythm can be taught. I believe that any systematic attempt to teach sentence rhythm would instill a formula on something that must to develop naturally.

That said, I firmly believe that it can be tutored. Tutors, unlike teachers, can discuss the rhythm of specific sentences. Rather than drilling a formula, tutors can help articulate the importance of sentence rhythm as a device, what effects it has on the writing, and help the writer determine where his or her choices have been effective (or not so much). Below I will equip tutors with some ideas to keep in mind as they assess sentence rhythm with writers.

The ideas that I present in this post are about inter-sentence rhythm: how the long and languid sentences work in conjunction with the short and spicy. I do not address questions of rhythm within sentences.


1. Sentence rhythm is important. There is no arguing that. Take a look at the Provost quote above if you need convincing that boring or repetitive rhythm can absolutely murder a paper. Provost gives an extreme example, of course, but falling into a dull cadence has a way of drowning out whatever you’re attempting to convey.

2. Extremely complex sentences are fine, but stick to one per paragraph. You probably had that phase in your primary or secondary education where you were convinced that “good writing” meant “longer sentences.” You abused semicolons and tossed out commas like confetti. There is a use for long compound-complex sentences: they are best for conveying background information, for expounding on a point, or for guiding your reader’s attention towards a point you make in a shorter sentence. However, if the bulk of your content is wrapped up in m-dash paper and semicolon bows, you’ll discover much more of it gets lost in translation.

3. Short sentences focus the reader’s attention. It’s the best way to get a point across. The more a piece of information is distinct from what surrounds it, the more it draws the eye.

 4. Genre matters. Different genres will require different tricks of sentence rhythm. If you’re writing a science report, questions of lilt and cadence that might inform a piece of creative writing won’t matter as much. Your audience expects their information in a certain format, and that format depends on the genre you are writing in. A sentence that is perfect in one type of paper might be unacceptable in another—know your expectations.

 5. Avoid the cult! As of late, the cult of the sentence fragment has sprung up on the American literary scene. Sentence fragments are the new “thing.” Writers have started using them with abandon, usually to assert a brusk voice or make a punchy statement. In some genres like poetry, creative writing, and personal essays, sentence fragments are okay. But if your sentence fragment isn’t absolutely necessary to your piece, scrap it.

Just to be sure: What is a sentence fragment? A sentence fragment is simply an incomplete sentence. It misses one of three things: a subject, a verb, or a complete idea.

6. Some by-the-book examples. The book Rhetorical Grammar provides us with lots of exacting instruction for how to identify and employ the mechanics of rhythm. In Chapter 6, RG talks about how to create an effective rhythm within one sentence. The gist of this is: get the right focus. Your words should arrange themselves according to your ideas, and you should move words around in order to place stress on the right information. Often that means putting important words/concepts toward the end of the sentence, since that’s the part of the sentence that gets the most emphasis.

In Chapter 5 of Rhetorical Grammar, we learn about cohesion. Cohesive passages use sentence rhythm to their advantage. For RG, cohesion means effective use of the known-new contract. Fulfilling the known-new contract means your sentences begin with some piece of information or analysis that was established in the previous sentence, and then build on that “known” with some new information and analysis. [Just look at the first two sentences of this paragraph: the first one ends on “cohesion.” The next sentence starts with that same idea–“cohesive”–as its known, and then adds a new element, the advantageous use of sentence rhythm.] It’s almost as if you are playing call-and-response with yourself, setting something down and then responding to it with something new, this new thing also acting as a reverberation of what you just said. This is a great way to develop effective rhythm in your writing, as call-and-response chants are always rhythmic.

7. Some rhythmic examples. Here, we provide three passages with very different rhythms. Each of these passages is from a different genre of writing: literature, science, and news reportage. As you read them, you might ask yourself how sentence length and cadence combine to create an overall effect. How does it feel to read these sentences? How do the writers utilize sentence rhythm to grab your attention (or not) in each of these examples?

Note! By including these examples, we are not suggesting that all creative writing should sound like Zeitoun or that all journalism should sound like the Dallas Morning News article. We print these excerpts here to show a wide range of sentence rhythms and to emphasize that different genres can call for different kinds of sentences.

Creative: “Gonzales was easy to find. On the arrest report, he was identified as being an officer from Albuquerque, and he was still with that department in the fall of 2008. When he was reached by phone, he told his side of the story.”

Zeitoun, Dave Eggers


Scientific: “As champagne or sparkling wine is poured into a glass, the myriad of ascending bubbles collapse and radiate a multitude of tiny droplets above the free surface into the form of very characteristic and refreshing aerosols.”

–“Unraveling different chemical fingerprints between a champagne wine and its aerosols”, Cornell University


Journalistic: “Many of these retirees are living seasonally or year-round on boats, lured by the simplicity of life and lower cost of living. They are also searching for tranquillity, a place away from the fast pace and hectic life increasingly dominated, they say, by time pressures in an age of social media.”

–“Baby Boomers Savor Retirement Living on Boats in Mexico”, Dallas Morning News


8. Learn rhythm by practicing. The more you write, the closer you’ll get to that elusive “feel” for sentence rhythm. There’s no other way to get better. Or maybe there is! Reading writers whose rhythm attracts you is also paramount to developing personal rhythm. If you have talented and vetted people’s words running through your head all day, before you know it you will be mimicking them in your own writing.


For more on rhythm, check out Purdue OWL’s wise words about sentence variety.

Grammar rules and resources

Maggie Eismeier and John Masla

Tutors who speak English as their first language often don’t know how to verbalize English conventions as formal rules. It is often easy to tell when something is “off” in a sentence and much harder to explain why. Tutees who are native speakers of English tend to be more aware of when things “sound wrong,” since they have more experience with the English language. English language learners, on the other hand, are often more familiar with grammar rules than native speakers, but have less experience reading and writing in English. ELL students, who have likely learned English systematically, in a class, may want to know the rules and systems behind the intuitions a native speaker has, and these can be difficult for a tutor to supply.

Don’t worry about being able to explain every quirk of English, though: it’s not the tutor’s job to know all the rules of English grammar. In fact, it’s often more productive to work with a tutee to find a useful resource than to explain just one rule. We have talked with Lydia McDermott and with Jen Mouat (director of the LLC) about sharing resources among Writing Center tutors and ELL Fellows.

There are many useful online resources, including the Purdue Online Writing Lab ( and the University of Chicago Writing Program (  The Purdue OWL has lots of resources particularly for ELL students and tutors, and the Chicago site provides links to many other sites.

Looking for resources together is also a good way to establish a peer relationship with a tutee. Hearing a native English speaker say that they don’t understand why a certain rule works a certain way, or referring to resources to solve these problems, shows students that they don’t have to know every rule of English in order to be able to write well. Knowing when to refer to resources, and how to find them, is a valuable writing skill, and it’s important for students, whether native speakers or English language learners, to understand this. Working with a student to find and use grammar and language resources is useful not only because of the content learned, but also because it shows the student that it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes and to need help, and that this doesn’t constitute failure as a student or writer.

It’s a useful exercise to try to explain English grammar rules; it helps make us aware of our knowledge of English, as well as of the things we’re less knowledgeable about. Often explaining an idea to other is a very effective way to learn. If you’re working with a client who seems to know a rule that you don’t, you might try asking them to explain it: you’ll learn more about that aspect of usage or grammar, and they’ll solidify their understanding.

The aim of this post and presentation has been to highlight the usefulness of grammar resources in tutoring, and to point out some of those available to students and tutors and Whitman. As a tutor and native English speaker, you yourself are a language resource, but it’s important to understand that the tutor is not supposed to be an absolute authority on English. Working with a client to find resources helps both tutor and client to understand English rules better, and, more importantly, gives both a broader base to work from in the future.


Edited by Natalie Berg

Author’s Voice and Tutoring

Voice can be seen as an author expressing unique word choice, sentence structure, figure of speech, humor and rhythm. Because of this, voice can vary greatly from author to author. Some writers may have developed their voice subconsciously. Others may deliberately modify it in order to deliver a particular stylistic effect. However, can voice be applied to all forms of writing? We will explore this three different writing situations.

Creative Writing Voice

Some authors, such as J.D. Salinger, write through personas in order to make the thoughts of the main character more accessible to the reader. The Catcher in the Rye, for instance, would lose much of its hold on the reader if it was written in the third person rather than through Holden Caulfield’s voice.

Other authors, such as George Saunders use the third person to create extreme tension in their writing. In his short story “93990,” Saunders portrays the events through the voice of a scientist writing a lab report to a haunting effect. The story opens with this:

“A ten-day acute toxicity study was conducted using twenty male cynomolgus monkeys ranging in weight from 25 to 40 kg. These animals were divided into four groups of five monkeys each. Each of the four groups received a daily intravenous dose of Borazadine, delivered at a concentration of either 100, 250, 500, or 10,000 mg/kg/day.Within the high-dose group (10,000 mg/kg/day) effects were immediate and catastrophic, resulting in death within 20 mins of dosing for all but one of the five animals.”

The detached narrator makes the story extremely haunting, and questions about the experiment left unanswered keep the reader captivated. In this case Saunders uses a lack of voice intentionally to give his story a cold mood. The key similarity between Salinger, whose novel relies on the voice of its main character, and Saunders, is that both authors are highly aware of voice. Saunders intentionally chose to remove voice from his work. Authors whose stories lack voice unintentionally probably leave readers uninterested in pursuing more of their work.

Academic Essay Voice

It is fair to say that an author’s voice should be present in a creative writing piece. What about academic papers? We asked Professor Davidson to give her thoughts on the matter.

Davidson’s Response

“Well, it’s not really a yes or no answer.  When a student adopts an artificially “academic” voice in their writing, it often leads to obscurity and over-generalization.  But, unless you have a fairly formal speaking style, you wouldn’t want to write it in the same way you’d explain your thoughts verbally, as that can sound too colloquial.  A balance works best.  Some judicious use of the first person is appropriate, so long as the paper doesn’t end being more about you than your subject matter.  On the whole, your goal is not literary flourishes but, rather, clarity and communication, however you best achieve that.”

Davidson gives a good response. Research writing involves a balance between interjecting one’s voice versus incorporating an academic voice. Some senior Sociology theses were composed as part personal narrative and part academic paper to utilize the sociological imagination. The methodology, literature review, and results sections are kept academic where the introduction and conclusion were written as a personal narrative.

Also, it is best to elucidate claims through poignant word choice rather than obfuscate them through academic jargon. We’ve done exercises on replacing passive voice with active voice, but writers are also tripped up by trying to be too verbose. As a rule of thumb, it is better to chose a topic that you are passionate about than to try to conceal your lack of passion with elevated word choice. Often the most interesting papers and papers full of voice come from writers who are passionate about their subject. Your voice will come to the paper through your interesting take on a subject. The reader should be compelled by your ideas, not just your adjectives.

Scientific Writing Voice

Lab Reports should be seen as a professional endeavor. It is often suggested that lab reports  should be composed as if they were to be published in a scientific journal. Reports are often written in the active voice in order to concisely state findings. The results and methodology are in past tense; theory is in the present tense. This does not leave room for the author’s voice. Since scientific writing is geared towards producing results, the author is not given room to give his or her voice.

Example: (Discussion Section from an Organic Chemistry Lab Report)

“Using a different catalyst aside from the sulfuric acid could have also prevented formation of the dehydrated form of 1-butanol. The removal of water (formed during the reaction) via DOWEX or molecular sieves could have yielded a better product purity. In addition to this, washing the organic layer multiple times could have removed more of the carboxylic acid present. Finally, using other forms of esterification could give better product yields.

Conclusion: What to Teach the Tutee

It is important to spend time with the tutee and highlight the importance of voice. Voice is something that most people do not give enough thought to. It is key to composing a creative writing piece since the voice of the author is what gives life to the medium. Research writing needs to incorporate both a professional tone, but tamed with the voice of the author in order to avoid “literary flourishes” and “over-generalization.” Scientific Writing needs to be straight and to the point in order to illuminate the results of the research .  It is important for the tutee to know these distinctions to be better prepared for assignments.


Professor Roberta Davidson – Whitman College