Read Aloud

The comment “Read Aloud” can mean two things: 1) Your professor wants you to read a certain sentence that appears to be repetitious (in syllable and sound) on the page; and/or 2) Your professor wants you to read a whole paragraph aloud to yourself because the ideas on the page either don’t appear to flow or there is a grammar issue with a certain sentence; in this case, you haven’t constructed a complete sentence or a complete thought. Here’s an excerpt from a student’s essay. The explanations for this comment follows.

Sample Excerpt

The presence of Selden and who he represents, is not the only presence that interrupts Lily’s balance.  There are other instances where irony contributes to the downfall of Lily’s character; these instances represent society as a whole.

Figure 3:  Essay Excerpt on Selden, The House of Mirth

Problem

There is too much repetition of a certain syllable.

Revision Consideration

Selden’s presence interrupts Lily’s balance.

Explanation

1) In the first example, repetition is always distracting. No professor or no one person favors the same words or same syllables replicated more than at least two times in one sentence. To your professor and to another person you haven’t quite figured out how to express yourself in a different way.

Think about the person who uses profanity instead of using real words. This person doesn’t know how to use another word, so the only word that he knows will always be available is the profane word. He can readily find this word. He hears the word all the time from listening to other people.  In his mind, he probably thinks to himself that since the word is available and I have the mouth to use it, why not use it.  What’s wrong with doing this? The problem with this is expression is important. How you express yourself correlates to how well you present yourself; anyone who appears to approach you as if he or she is walking on eggshells is a direct reflection of a person who speaks softly so as not to disturb someone’s space.

Glean from this example what you can. Develop different ways of expressing yourself. Change words around. Use a word from a thesaurus that has the same effect in meaning you are trying to convey, but stay away from repetition. In the sample excerpt within the side bar, you see that another word is more appropriate and using this word doesn’t affect the meaning of the sentence and ideas entirely.

2) In the second example, there are times when students flood their papers with fragments and run-ons. The professor or writing tutor will have the student read the paper aloud as a way to show him or her that one of the sentences is incomplete. A well-constructed sentence represents an independent clause. When you read the sentence mentally or aloud to yourself, it is not easy to correct the problem; to you, the sentence still seems fine.  However, if your friend or the professor reads the sentence to you, then you will be able to hear where the thought is incomplete.

For example, what if I say, “When I go to the store,” what is the first thing you think?  The first thing you do, without thinking, is answer the question by asking, “What? What do you do?” To your friend, you say, “When you go to the store, you do what?  What do you do?”

Since grammar is taught, we have learned to say “what” when someone uses “when” to refer to a time in which something has occurred or will occur. We also use “what” in any context because we want to know what the thing is. In reference to a sentence of this paragraph, “Since grammar is taught,” if you heard this sentence, then you would ask “what.” However, if you just read it, it would still seem okay as it appears on the page.

The best way to correct the grammar in your paper is to read every sentence aloud or have someone else read the paper to you. Doing this will help you to recognize the errors in both sentence sense and grammar.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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