Guide to the Teacher’s Comments on Your Papers

Sometimes on your paper, you will see a number with a circle around it. This refers to one of the Grammar Review Topics that are posted on the Moodle Website. Go to the handout with that number to review the grammar that you need to know to correct your mistake.

If a word or phrase is circled or put in bold face with no comment, it means that the teacher thinks you should be able to correct the mistake without her help. Usually it is a singular/plural problem, or a problem of subject/verb agreement, or a problem that the teacher has already marked earlier in the paper.

Vocabulary that the teacher often uses in her comments:

redundant = repeating. In college-level writing, you should not repeat the exact thing using the same or similar words in more than one part of your paper.

irrelevant = not connected to what you are talking about

obvious = everybody knows this, so you don’t need to say it.

transition:  Often students change the subject in their writing without telling the reader that they are now going to talk about something new. If the teacher writes the word “transition,” that means that you need to tell the reader that you are now going on to a new topic. Look at Grammar Handout #4 for ideas about how to do this.

inconsistent =  saying two things that cannot both be true. In most cases, you need to explain the apparent consistency. How can both of these things be true? Is one thing true under some circumstances, and the other thing true under other circumstances?

pronoun referent = What or who does this pronoun refer to? Often students use pronouns in situations where the reader cannot tell what they refer to; instead, you need to state specifically who or what you are talking about.

???? = the teacher can’t understand what you are trying to say. Talk to her to explain, so she can help you.

A “comma splice” = cs is combining two sentences using only a comma. We do not do this in formal academic English, although it is fine in informal writing and speech. If the teacher notes a comma splice, you must repair it by either making two different sentences or (probably better) by studying Grammar Review Topic 04 to find a way to connect the two sentences correctly. You can also replace the comma with a semi-colon (;) to connect two sentences that are somehow related to each other.

Often students use words or phrases that are too informal for academic writing; when you are writing in a new language, it is hard to know that something you have often heard people say is informal, and not used in a school paper. If the teacher notes “informal,” go to the list of informal words and phrases on the Moodle site to find a more formal equivalent.

If you see  *  on your paper, that means that the teacher wrote you a note at the end of the paper because there was no room in the place where the problem is.  Find the * at the bottom of the page or at the end of the paper to see what she has to tell you. If she does this more than one time, the comments may be labeled  *2 or *3.

Note Means
# problem with plural or singular
???? I can’t understand what you are trying to say, usually because the grammar of the sentence is too confusing.
bf base form of the verb (= the dictionary form)
cap capitalize, see the link about Rules for Capitalization.
circled number refers to that Number the link  Grammar Topics.
cn count noun
cs Comma splice; do not use a comma to connect two sentences. You can use either a semi-colon [;] or a connecting word. Refer to Grammar Handout #4 on Connecting Words for ideas about how to do this.
g gerund
inform too informal. See the Moodle link about Formal and Informal Language.
infin infinitive (= to + base form of the verb)
ncn non-count noun
neg con This word has a negative connotation (= bad feeling), and you want to use a word with positive connotation (good feeling).
pref? pronoun: What does this pronoun refer to? Instead of using the pronoun, use the specific noun for what you mean, because it is not clear in the context of this sentence.
pos possessive: for example, singular possessive: “her husband’s orders”; plural possessive: “their husbands’ orders”
+ con This word has a positive connotation (= good feeling), and you want to use a word with negative connotation (bad feeling).
ps You are using the wrong part of speech;  for example, “ps adj.” = you need to use the adjective. “ps verb” = you need to use the verb. Use a good dictionary to find the correct part of speech.
qualify You need to qualify this statement: See the  link about Qualifying Your Statements.
sp spelling
sv subject-verb agreement
tc typing mistake. See the  link about Typing Conventions.
vt verb tense
ww wrong word


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