Archive for category R


The comment “Rough” oftentimes refers to the transitions between paragraphs.

What happens when you drive a car down a nice paved road? The ride is pleasant. It is easy. The trip in the car is endurable. However, what happens when you stumble onto a bumpy road with pebbles and rocks and potholes? You are not happy. You become discontented, annoyed, and frustrated. You see no end in sight. If you had your way, you would turn the car around just to get back to that paved, smooth road.

As your professor reads your paper, he notices that everything from the introduction to a couple of paragraphs in the body of your paper is smooth. The read is pleasant. Your professor is eager to continue. However, when you abruptly change roads by changing ideas, without signaling or warning that you are about to do so, then your transitions between paragraphs appear rough and unpleasant for the reader. As a solution, always prepare the reader for when you are about to change lanes, when you are leaving one thought to the next.

For example, by law, you are required to turn on your signal before changing lanes. The same is true for writing the academic paper. According to the standards of academic writing, it is important that you tell the reader when you are moving to the next idea. Otherwise you will leave the professor without a warning signal and he will endure a bumpy road trying to understand your paper.

We call this rule of law “Using Transitions,” which means that you must use transitional phrasing before moving on to the next thought; and you must also use it to signify connections between ideas housed within a paragraph. Always stop at stop signs. Yield when the yellow light is on. Go when the green light flashes. When you need to change lanes, turn on the signal.

In other words, finish one thought before going on to the next; and use transitional words such as “in addition” and “in contrast” to signal to the reader when you are continuing a thought or making a change.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


Leave a comment


For an explanation of “Revise,” see the comments “Clarify,” “Inaccurate,” “Incomplete,” and “Lacks Clarity.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment


Most people who repeat themselves don’t know they are operating in fear that the other person isn’t receiving what they have to say. It has become so natural to continue just repeating a certain instruction. However, in actuality, it is not natural. We adopt this type of fear because we don’t think people are listening to us. We always feel misunderstood; so as a defense, to make sure that people hear us, we repeat. We even get loud as we repeat key phrases, phrases that we believe are crucial to the other person’s hearing and memory. Otherwise, we believe that the person won’t remember the vital thing we are trying to convey.

In our papers, we repeat. On a personal level, we repeat because we don’t really think the professor is smart enough to catch on to the ideas we have outlined in the paper. We believe that the professor needs just a little more help from us. Therefore, we repeat to make sure that the professor hears us as he reads our papers. We do this also to make sure that the professor doesn’t misinterpret our ideas.

On an academic level, the most central reason why we use repetition as a tool within our papers is because we are at a loss for words. We have not allowed sufficient time to conduct research on the topic and on the literary work. In essence, if we knew the topic well and read the work thoroughly, we would have sufficient tools to create the analysis of our papers. We wouldn’t have to grasp for words or ideas, because the topic and the author’s work is doubly rich in content.

The best solution for revising repetitious wording is to locate those areas where you repeat phrases, statements, and ideas. Remove the repetition or rephrase the sentence. If your rephrased sentence provides the same ideas as the sentence that precedes it, then remove the rephrased sentence altogether. In addition, always trust that your professor has understood your points. When your professor writes “repetition,” she is saying to you that the repetition is distracting and redundant.

For extended explanations, see also the comments “Analyze This,” “Clarify,” “Discuss/Discuss This,” and “Redundant/Redundant Phrasing.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Rephrase (Not Clear)

Never forget your audience. There is nothing wrong with bringing to memory for the reader “who” a character is and his or her relation to the story and to other characters. When you navigate through your paper, moving from one thought to the next, sometimes it is easy to forget to tell the reader what you are doing, why you are doing the thing, and for whom you are doing something.

The comment “Rephrase (Not Clear)” is one that instructs you, albeit implicitly, to remember your audience. Although the reader may remember a certain character, he or she will not always remember a certain action the character makes, the motivation behind the action, and how the action has affected someone else in the story.

Therefore, correct areas of your paper that require clarification. Don’t take for granted and assume that your audience is aware of all the events within the literary work. In the sample excerpt, the student inserts terms and applies contemporary thinking to words that potentially have a different meaning within another context. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

It can be said that even though “The Wyf of Bathe” has presented such extreme confidence, there still seems to be a gap in her character and her thinking. That is the funny thing about philosophy, because it leaves one susceptible to contradiction even in an unaware state and it follows that even though there is a goal for independence, it’s only acquired through dependence and opposition in disguise.

Figure 54: Essay Excerpt on “The Wyf of Bathe”


The student doesn’t provide definitions/details about particular terms she uses within the context of both the essay and the literary work.


1) What can be said? What is the it?

2) What is the gap in her character? Does the “gap” relate somehow to her “ironic” behavior?

3) What is an “unaware” state?

4) Who sets the goal for independence?

5) How is dependence and opposition both disquises?

 Revision Considerations

As you read the excerpt and review the questions, you can see that the student doesn’t provide a complete analysis of the work. Some of the keywords the student uses require definitions. With this in mind, insert, define, and develop terms. What this means is try to insert the terms the author uses within the literary work. By using the author’s terms, you will ensure that you maintain the integrity of the text.

For example, the word “gap” may have a different meaning and context within a certain time period. Its meaning today may be substantially different from its use during the literary Medieval Period. Therefore, define the term within the context of the work. You may have to review some historical data concerning the period and use the data to prove some parts of your argument. After you define it, fully explore the term. Based upon the evidence you have found, develop it.

In other words, examine its sides. As a potential exercise, use the familiar brainstorming technique. Place the term in the middle of the page. Draw multiple lines to examples, details, definitions, characters, and other related information. Figure 55: Developing Terms Brainstorming Diagram is a great example of how to take a term and develop it within your analysis. The diagram is useful for helping you think about the many facets of a particular term you want to use within your discussion.

For this reason, you must adopt this objective during the revision process: Develop the analysis to its full potential. This includes developing terms, examples, and quotes you will use within your analysis. Only then will your professor know that you have a full understanding of the literary text.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment


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.

Leave a comment


The word “relevance” has a similar meaning to the word “relate.” For example, what is the relation between a Gala apple and a Granny Smith apple? They are first and foremost apples.  They grow from the ground. They are edible. We pick them for the purpose of eating.  They contribute to the physical sustaining of our earthly bodies. The list goes on and on.

Let’s examine this within a literary context. What is the relation between Faulkner’s novels and Toni Morrison’s poetry? Within their writings are examples of how the Negro negotiates life in the south amongst whites and blacks. Again, the list goes on and on.

Now substitute the word “relation” in place of “relevance” and ask, “What relevance does Faulkner’s novel have to Toni Morrison’s poetry?” This question implies the following: 1) If we place Faulkner’s novel side by side with one of Toni Morrison’s poems, then what will we find? 2) What is the connection between the two? 3) What is the one thing that links the two of them together?

When you examine a work for an assignment, you will always have to provide an answer for how one literary work connects to another. For example, What is the larger connection the novel has to present-day society? is a typical test question for an essay exam. Although the teacher will change a few words and incorporate other elements into the question, the essence of the question is still “relevant” to your understanding of how to make connections, how to show the relevance of some thing to another thing.

For such a task of demonstrating “relevance,” you are always comparing, not necessarily contrasting. However, within the one thing you are using to compare with another thing, you can point out obvious differences (contrasting). In the example of the apples, the Gala and the Granny Smith are still both apples. This is an independent variable that never changes. This is comparing. However, their differences in color and taste, and the way farmers grow them, represent dependent variables; they change and you can point this out as difference. This is contrasting.

For the most part, when you are examining the relevance of one thing to another, compare the two things. Outline the first thing; and outline the second thing. Determine how each thing measures up to the other. What is the connection between the two things? What relevance, or connection, do both things have to other things (i.e., other types of apples or “fruit”)? By answering these questions, you will find how useful comparing is to the process of revising your essay and demonstrating relevance.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Redundant/Redundant Phrasing

Denny’s restaurant serves $3.99 and $4.99 deals where you can get about three pancakes, two scrambled eggs, a hash brown, and your choice of two types of meats, typically bacon and sausage. These meals are great. They taste great. They smell great. They look great on the plate. No one debates this. People just eat to their heart’s content.

However, the two meats don’t make much sense. Why is it necessary to have two servings each from the same pork meat group? Why not have bacon and another type of meat? It seems a little unnecessary to have both bacon and sausage. You can get the same experience eating the bacon as you can the sausage, because they are both pork.

Denny’s, along with other restaurants, place the two meats together just as a marketing tool. There is nothing wrong with their marketing strategy. People mostly look at the meat and the number of pancakes before they even think about the eggs. The pancakes and the meat are the selling points and the meat itself catches the eye of customers more than anything else on the plate. However, what happens when you take away just one of the meats? Will the customer not want to buy the special? No. They will still buy the special.

It doesn’t matter one way or another to the customer if Denny’s takes away one of the meats. The customer might be mad if the restaurant removed both meats from the menu. The point I am trying to make about the two meats is that both have the same value. One just looks and cooks differently from the other, but they both come from the same family group of meats. However, you only need one of the types to sustain you, to meet your overall meat intake. You don’t really need that much protein in one sitting. Just eating the bacon alone is enough sustenance. Anyway, too much of a thing, especially the parts from the pig, is not a good thing.

The same line of thought applies to the excerpt below. In reference to “primarily” and “in part,” you only need one of the words. They both offer the same value in meaning. You only need one to sustain the overall function (in meaning) of the sentence. Because they are both the same, it is “redundant,” or unnecessary, to place them together in one sentence. In this case, placing both of these phrases together, side by side in the sentence, is similar to placing two verbs of the same tense together: Sarah walks talks today.

Let’s read the excerpt.

Figure 52: Essay Excerpt for Redundant Phrasing

Answering the question of whether or not we should comply with or resist the signification of Christmas as “nigger,” deals primarily in part with Faulkner’s representation of Burch.

Revision Considerations

Choose one word. Choose either “primarily” or choose “in part.” They both evoke the same meaning.

With this in mind, develop revision objectives that include references to removing unnecessary phrasing. To your professor, your sentence appears too wordy and you also appear calculating, almost to the point of trying too hard. As a result, your paper results in a less than genuine effort.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Phony (Wordy).”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Right/On the Right Path

It is one thing to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and misrepresenting the meanings; and it is another to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and actually be right about the meanings. Always be careful not to project onto a text meanings that have nothing to do with the overall scheme of a work.

When you take the time to examine the contexts within the immediate text, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself going beyond its boundaries.  When you receive “Right” or “On the Right Path” from your professor, then this means that you have not wandered off the path and direction of your thesis.

There are cases in which you may be on the right path, but lack sufficient supporting evidence to determine your full understanding of the work. For example, in the first sample excerpt, the student maintains the path of her topic sentence. The student’s analysis represents a good understanding of the ideas housed within the author’s work.

On the other hand, although the student is “on the right path” in the second sample excerpt, she fails to provide answers for some of the implied questions. The student makes a connection between the fence Elisa creates for the flowers and the fence Henry creates for Elisa. However, she doesn’t provide enough substantial information to close the gaps in her analysis.

Let’s begin with the first excerpt.

First Sample Excerpt

The thought of the mass man being more clever only serves to keep him from using this capacity.  He possesses the most exact and circumstantial ideas on everything in the universe; but he has lost all of the ability to listen and hear.  Why should he?  He has all of the answers.  He knows everything.  He understands everything.  The only thing he does now is pass judgments and issue proclamations regarding his opinions and ideas to the contrary.

Figure 49: Essay Excerpt on the “Mass-Man,” Ortega Y. Gasset

The student’s analysis reflects the sentiments outlined within the author’s work.


A professor uses this comment to highlight areas within your analysis that are in agreement with the ideas and perspectives of the author. The bolded sentence represents the student’s thoughtful and careful analysis about Gasset’s views of the mass-man.


Continue to develop an analysis that best reflects your understanding of the author’s work. Therefore, read the work in its entirety. Don’t let your analysis conflict with the author’s ideas.

Second Sample

In terms of the second sample excerpt, examine the questions. In just about every comment you read throughout this glossary, you will see that the student writer fails to analyze her essays fully, or at least parts of them. When questions remain, gaps exist. In other words, if there is a gap, this means that you could say much more in an area of your essay.

In the case of the comment “Right/On the Right Path,” the questions we use here represent methods to help the student bring clarity to the analysis. The student starts well, but needs a better finish. In providing answers for these questions, the student will learn how to develop the analysis further and offer insight necessary for understanding the work more fully.


It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.  It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders.  Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.  No one could get close or converse with Elisa.

Figure 50: Essay Excerpt on Elisa, “Chrysanthemums”


1) What does the “fence” represent, figuratively?

2) We don’t just use fences for protection. We also use them to separate two things or people.

Revision Considerations

1) If Elisa protects her flowers in the same way as her husband protects her, then what does this signify?

2) Why are both Elisa and Henry motivated to protect?


Just remember that questions are not condemnatory assessments of your lack of attention to “analysis.” 

Instead, questions represent critical thinking and provide an opportunity for you to elaborate further on the ideas you express within your analysis. In this instance, both the second sample excerpt and the questions that follow represent the continued development of the analysis.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Elaborate.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment


This is another affirmative reply that signifies agreement. Your professor is in agreement with the point you make and support you use.

See also the comment “Right/On the Right Path” for further explanation.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

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


There is too much repetition of a certain syllable.

Revision Consideration

Selden’s presence interrupts Lily’s balance.


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.

Leave a comment