Blog 2 for Friday…How to Avoid Remedial English

Posted: January 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, high school students, you understand that if you place into remedial English in college, you will be paying full-price for a class that you will receive no credits for? Here is a little diagnostic test to see if you will be placed in remedial classes. If you don’t know these rules, study them. Seriously. Otherwise, when you take the placement test, expect to be told that you need remedial classes.

Ok, ready, here we go. What is wrong with the following sentences?

1. Although remedial classes are great to have for new students; they should not have to pay for them because it is not their fault for having to take them.

ANSWER: Semicolon is used incorrectly
Only use a semicolon when what comes before and after it are both complete sentences.
“Although remedial classes are great to have for new students” is NOT a complete sentence
so use a comma instead of a semicolon

2. By the time a child has made it to high school, they should be ready to face the world.

ANSWER: Can’t find anything wrong? I know you are going to think I am being picky, but this is a rule that you are expected to know.
a child=singular they=plural
since “they” refers to “a child” the two words must both be singular or both be plural
Otherwise, your sentence contains an error.
Correct: By the time a child has made it to high school, he or she should be ready to face the world.
OR By the time children have made it to high school, they should be ready to face the world.

3. Americans should stand up an report child abuse to the police.

ANSWER: Never use “an” in place of “and.”
When sending a text message or a tweet to a friend, saying “I’m eating a sandwich an chips” is fine
When writing in college, always say “I’m eating a sandwich and chips.”

4. When I look at the high school diplomas, I’ll never forget the look on all of there faces.

ANSWER: There is used incorrectly. When referring to people, never use “there.”
How do you know if you should use “their” or “they’re?” They’re = they are
Does “I’ll never forget the look on all of they are faces” make sense?
No.
So use the other form. Correct: I’ll never forget the look on all of their faces.

5. Once students enter college, teachers are no longer asking where papers are or reminding you of when assignments are due.

ANSWER: Again, can’t find anything wrong? In formal writing, never use second person “you” unless you are writing a “how-to” or set of directions. I hope students are being taught this in high school, but if not, start practicing now.
Correct: Once students enter college, teachers are no longer asking where papers are or reminding them of when assignments are due.

There’s much more to know, but I hope I have helped with those 5 sentences (all sentences that were submitted to me by my remedial college students).

College takes the rules of grammar seriously, so please do yourselves a favor and learn them!

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