Must Be a Sentence

According to the standards of the Modern Language Association (MLA), you “must construct a clear, grammatically correct sentence that allows you to introduce or incorporate a quotation with complete accuracy” (109).

Below is a sample excerpt where the student incorporates a quote without ensuring that the sentences before the quote and the quote itself represent a complete grammatical unit.

Sample Excerpt

Although Realists often portray themselves as being free of idealism, they still embrace the concept of accepting the “national interest” as an ideal: a one true guide to the formulation of   the public policy of states in this dangerous international system; failure to accept the national interest, or reason of state, is a prescription for natural disaster, an increase in global violence, and an irresponsible act that places private ideas or interests above public needs. (Doyle 19)

Figure 39: Essay Excerpt for MLA Exercise

Problem

The student incorporates a quote from a reference source, sets it off within the body paragraph according to MLA standards, but doesn’t structure the sentence and the quote so that they both represent one grammatical unit.

Critique

Even though you are incorporating a quote and setting it off within your paper, the set off quote must still represent a sentence.

For any quote you incorporate into your own sentence, the sentence as a whole must still reflect a complete thought.

Revision Considerations

Below is an excerpt (represented as a quote) from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers:

If a quotation runs to more than four lines in your paper, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch (or ten spaces if you are using a typewriter) from the left margin, and typing it double-spaced, without adding quotation marks. A colon generally introduces a quote displayed in this way, though sometimes the context may require a different mark of punctuation or none at all. (110)

Typically, you will double-space every paragraph of your paper. This is the general rule. If you have the same error within your paper, as illustrated in the sample excerpt, perform the following steps:

  1. Remove the colon after “ideal.”
  2. Add a period after “ideal.”
  3. Apply the following phrase: The concept represents

Here is a sample revision of the excerpt:

Although Realists often portray themselves as being free of idealism, they still embrace the concept of accepting the “national interest” as an ideal. The concept represents

a one true guide to the formulation of the public policy of states in this dangerous international system; failure to accept the national interest, or reason of state, is a prescription for natural disaster, an increase in global violence, and an irresponsible act that places private ideas or interests above public needs. (Doyle 19)

Always remember that every sentence you incorporate within your papers, whether your own or from a reference source, must represent a standard grammatical unit, with subject and verb and other corresponding parts. In addition, when incorporating a quote, and using your own sentence as an introductory statement, be certain that both elements collectively represent a complete thought.

Refer to your MLA handbook for more information on how to change elements in a quote by using brackets and other marks.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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