Paper 1: “The Old Man” In this paper I can see that this student uses simple sentences very well. This student uses a simple sentence to get right to the point, and it’s working well for this student. The student’s introduction sentence was simple, yet it caught my attention. “Sand, beach, and water are what surrounded the old man.” This sentence gives a great description and I personally think it’s a great introduction.
This student seems to want to experiment with complex sentences, and I think this student is ready to experiment. “He is a quiet person who keeps to himself; he does not have much but still lives fine, and is caring to other people.” In this sentence we can already see that the student already knows how to use a semicolon. This student linked two independent clauses together with a semicolon. However, even though this student linked two in depended clauses together they used a comma in the second independent clause where it was not needed. “He does not have much but still lives fine, and is caring to other people.” In that sentence the student used a comma to separate an independent clause from a dependent clause, which is grammar mistake. A comma cannot be used to separate an independent clause from a dependent clause; therefore the comma is not needed.
I can see the student is ready to experiment with complex sentences, but perhaps the student needs more tips on how to do this. In the sentence “The old man is a person who does not talk to very many people but he does have the boy” there needs to be a comma. There are two independent clauses in that sentence, but it is missing a comma. “The old man is a person who does not talk to very many people, but he does have the boy.” When the comma is incorporated you can clearly see two independent clauses separated by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. A reason why this student might have not put the comma there is because this student perhaps wasn’t taught the rules of a comma. This student might need a refresher on when a comma needs to be used.
This student also uses a lot of simple sentences (which I personally like) but they might be over using simple sentences. They already have a general knowledge on how to use a semicolon, so they can combine sentences with a semicolon to produce a complex sentence. “The boy keeps the old man company and helps him fish. This comes to show that you do not need much but a friend.” These two sentences are simple sentences that have the same general idea, and they could easily be combined. To experiment with complex sentences perhaps it can be re-written as, “The boy keeps the old man company and helps him fish; this comes to show that you do not need much but a friend.” This student perhaps is playing it safe by using simple sentences because of the fear that they might get penalized for incorrect grammar.
This student is also having troubles with run-on sentences. “The old man keeps to himself, he is quiet.” The student might not know what a run-on sentence is, nor how to fix it. A run on sentence is when two or more independent clauses are connected without appropriate grammar. Perhaps this student doesn’t know much about grammar and doesn’t know that they can use grammar to fix it. This student can be taught about dashes. “The old man keeps to himself—he is quiet.” The dash can be used to emphasize that the old man keeps to himself by being quiet.
Paper 2: Far from a Safe Heaven: A Character Analysis of Of Mice and Men
This student uses a lot of simple sentence that I personally like, and they do a great job of them. However, this student uses simple sentences, but they also over use them. Many ideas can be combined to become a complex sentence.
This student encounters many simple sentences that have the same idea and can be combined, but they don’t. Perhaps this student has a fear that it will be marked as incorrect if they experiment with complex sentences. The student’s first two sentences are an example of simple sentences that can be combined to make a complex sentence. “Even a poor ranch hand can still live to see his dream. This is shown in the book Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck.” These two simple sentences can be combined to form a complex sentence. These sentences show the same idea and would be stronger if they were combined. “Even a poor ranch hand can still live to see his dream; this is shown in the book Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck.” This student will perform better in academic writing with more in depth tutorials on how and where to use semicolons.
This student also seems to use a lot of commas in their writing. It seems like this student relies heavily on commas because they are not yet aware that there are other forms of punctuation that can replace commas. “His dream, Curley and the other angry ranch hands, and his relationship with Lennie bring George’s changes.” This student added additional information, which was; “Curley and the other angry ranch hands” this student could have easily replaced these commas with dashes. Dashes can be used as parenthetical dashes to include additional information. The sentence with dashes would read something like, “His dream—Curley and the other angry ranch hands—and his relationship with Lennie bring George’s changes.” With the parenthetical dashes, the commas are replaced and the additional information is included without interrupting the flow of the sentence.
This student also needs assistance perfecting commas. This student uses commas very well, but there are some cases where a comma is included when it is not necessary. “But saving this money is very hard for George, because of the fact that he is having trouble with Lennie.” The possible reason why this student might include a comma before because is because maybe they think it is supposed to be there, when that is not the case. A comma cannot be used to separate an independent clause from a dependent clause. In this case “But saving this money is very hard for George” is the independent clause and “because of the fact that he is having trouble with Lennie” is the dependent clause. Removing the commas reconnects the independent clause and the dependent clause.
Paper 3: Decisions, Decisions: The Catcher In The Rye
This student is really good at using simple sentences, but they use them in excess. I personally like simple sentences because they are short and to the point, but when they use them in abundance it gets that choppy sound.
Simple sentences may be a problem here, although the grammar is correct, there needs to be more than simple sentences. Complex sentences will increase the flow of their writing. “The character Holden had to go through that experience. The way he went through didn’t seem easy.” These sentences sound a bit choppy with the periods, yet they seem to be talking about the same thing. The reason why the student is probably doing sentences is because they probably don’t know they can use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses together that have the same idea. With a semicolon the sentence would read. “The character Holden had to go through that experience; the way he went through didn’t seem easy.” With a semicolon, the student would have constructed a complex sentence and would have made it less choppy-sounding.
This student relies a lot of comments a lot on commas, and this student seems to be a bit hesitant on experimenting with grammar. This student wrote, “In the story he claims that he isn’t very strong, physically and mentally.” Although the grammar is correct, this student could experiment and benefit from playing around with different forms of grammar. This student perhaps is scared of experimenting with grammar and getting it wrong, or simply just doesn’t know what else can be used to replace commas. In this case the student can use dashed. “In the story he claims that he isn’t very strong—physically and mentally.” Using the dash here replaces the comma that is usually being excessively used. The dash also adds emphasis on what he isn’t very strong in.
One of the last things that need to be touched up on in this paper is comma splice. This student uses a comma without a coordinating conjunction. The student wrote, “Before he goes home to tell his parents the bad news, he decides to go to a few places, stay in a few motels.” The student must not be using a coordinating conjunction after a comma because the student probably doesn’t even know what a comma splice is. A comma splice is when a comma is the only thing connecting two independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction. The student needs to remember his coordinating conjunctions which are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS). With a coordinating conjunction the sentence would read as “Before he goes home to tell his parents the bad news, he decides to go to a few places, and stay in a few motels.” With the coordinating conjunction in place, the comma splice is avoided and it adds more flow to the sentence itself.
Set Analysis: What I see across the set of papers is the lack of use of dashes and semicolons. These students seem like they don’t know that they can use dashes or semicolons. Dashes and semicolons can be used to eliminate run-on sentences (which were a problem to some) and to combine simple sentences to make a complex sentence. Each student used simple sentences in excess and with appropriate grammar such as semicolons; they can be combined for increased flow and more variation on sentence structure.