Every human being on the planet wants understanding and acceptance. Each person deals with emotional, psychological, and physical problems daily. People get on the phone to call a girl friend or lover so they can vent. They don’t want the other person’s criticism. They just want the person to listen to their story and take their side, even if they are wrong. They want another person to understand, sympathize, listen, and consider. Just understand me. Listen. Have compassion. I’m in pain. are four of the many statements people use to garner acceptance from others.

Your teacher wants to understand your work, of course not emotionally, but from the standpoint of observing how you synthesize and turn learning and knowledge into application. You never have to ask your professor to understand you, because she automatically approaches the grading of your paper without bias, without discontent. There is no personal bias toward your paper in the sense that she likes yours more than another student’s paper.

Prior to the grading of your paper your professor doesn’t say, “Boy, I know this paper is going to be horrible. I already know John’s paper will be better.” Before your professor even reads the paper, you have an “A” for understanding. She approaches the paper with the purpose of believing you. It’s innate. However, when you incorporate phrases that don’t match, phrases that don’t have relevance, phrases that you know you could word better, and phrases that take the form of convoluted sense, then you have just bumped yourself down on the understanding scale.

The following excerpt represents an example of how the student fails to define key terms or how she will use them within the essay. In addition, the student also doesn’t provide examples in relation to the phrases she uses.

Sample Excerpt

The inequality of nature, whether racial, gender-based, certain beliefs or religious, has held up to personal opinions as well as professional.  The most popular form of inconsistency of humanity falls under social class and/or rank.  There will always be one class that will feel that they possess or that they hold precedence when it comes to intellect and the will for progress.

Figure 53: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset


The student doesn’t define terms and phrases within the context of both the analysis and the author’s work.


1) What are “certain beliefs”?

2) What connection do they have to the “inequality of nature”?

3) How is humanity “inconsistent”? In what way?

4) What “one class” feels this? What is the precedence? How does the one class use this precedence?

5) What is the connection between “precedence” and “progress”?


It is always important to define what you mean. Define terms. To do this, examine the term you are using and determine first if it has any relevance to what you are discussing. If yes, then try to define it in terms of constructing a definition. Before moving forward, check to determine if the definition is a match to the dictionary meaning. After this, check to see if your definition has any connection, correlation, or match to your topic sentence or to whatever you are discussing in a particular paragraph.

The purpose of this exercise is to make certain that anything you put in the body paragraphs of your paper supports the ideas you express within your thesis. In other words, always remember your thesis. Every element of your paper that comes after the thesis must conform to the thesis. Therefore, take a quick look at your thesis to see if your definition is appropriate to the overall subject of your paper (and the author’s work). If you have done this, and you are fine with your results, move on to the next word or group of words.

In essence, when you don’t explain yourself through your writing your professor doesn’t “understand” you. When you establish an objective to “rephrase” a word or group of words or a whole sentence, you function with one goal: to make your professor understand the ideas you express within your paper.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Rephrase (Not Clear).”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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