Author Archives: Kathleen McGunagle

Grammar Boot Camp Part V: Affect or Effect? Commonly Confused Words

Snarky_affecteffectWhat’s the difference between “affect” and “effect?” Should it be “illicit” or “elicit?” Today’s grammar boot camp session will focus on such ‘almost’ homophones, words that sound quite similar phonetically yet have very different uses. We all get these words easily confused–so pay attention! Make sure your next essay uses the proper forms of the following commonly confused terms.

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Grammar Boot Camp Part IV: Absolutes, Gerunds, and Infinitives

InfinitivespokLast week I discussed the first three of six important phrases in English grammar: participial, appositive, and prepositional phrases. (Need a refresher? Check out “Phrasing it Up”). Today we’ll be looking at three others: absolutes, gerunds, and infinitives. Having a solid knowledge of these six phrases will benefit you on upcoming college entrance exams (especially the ACT or SAT), which is largely the point of my current blog series, Grammar Boot Camp. Additionally, having on hand a variety of phrases will add spice to the sentence structures of your academic essays–always a plus!

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Grammar Boot Camp Part III: Phrasing it Up

keep-calm-and-use-correct-grammar-2-resized-600Apostrophes, clauses, and phrases–oh my! Even though there are actually six types of grammatical phrases, don’t be alarmed. Getting a firm grasp on the differences between appositive, prepositional, gerund, infinitive, participial, and absolute phrases will ensure crisp, original essay writing and higher verbal scores on SAT and ACT exams. That’s right: phrases are all the rage nowadays. For good reason! Today we’ll focus on three of these phrases.

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Grammar Boot Camp Part II: Clauses 101

clausesToday we return to the essential building blocks of writing: those groups of words that, when arranged in a certain way, become “phrases,” “clauses,” and “sentences.” Doubtless you have heard these terms in English class, and most likely have seen them in test-prep books for the SAT and ACT. This blog post will give you the skinny–and more–on the basics of these peculiar word groups.

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Grammar Boot Camp Part 1: Apostrophes

apostrophes-for-saleThis blog post is the first of a new series called “Grammar Boot Camp.” Don’t look so intimidated! My boot camps are certainly rigorous but by the end of it, you will feel primed for the writing sections on the ACT and SAT, essay assignments in English class, and AP English exams.

Let’s get started with one of the basics, those little buggers that hang out at the ends of words and sentences in a world of their own: apostrophes. Believe it or not, these guys have rules, too.

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Writing Academically (Part VIII): Wrapping Things Up

thatsawrapYour conclusion is the easiest aspect of your essay, right? Simply throw a few sentences on the end, summarize some of your main points, and that’s it.

Think again.  While the introduction to an academic essay gives a hefty “first impression” to your reader—and is thus very important—your conclusion gives the “last.” What would you like your reader to take away from your essay? A few wilted sentences that merely take up space in a fifth paragraph? Of course not! Your conclusion should be the place where you remind your reader of your argument up until this point (that’s right: your thesis), summarize the main aspects of this argument, and address that tricky question: what’s the point? Continue reading

“Hello, my name is Essay:” Writing a Gripping Introduction

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know? The introduction to your academic essay might just be the most important paragraph. Not only does it house the road-map of your essay (the thesis statement) along with its motivator (the motive); but it also constitutes the starting point for your reader, who is, in the end, your most valued customer! You definitely do not want to bore your reader from the first sentence, even if you feel like you may be talking about the most boring subject on the face of the planet (trust me, I’ve been there!). Whatever your subject, you should be able to introduce it with pizzazz, in such a way that your reader has to keep reading.

Here are some tricks.

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A Writing Vocabulary: Academic Writing Part VI

vocabularyIt’s time to stock up on words! Now that you’ve become more familiar with the mechanics of academic writing (check out my recent blog posts on Sources, Citations, and Structure), we’re going to focus on the most basic aspect of the essay: the words themselves.

How exactly can you make your academic essay sound ‘intellectual?’ Believe it or not, by trading out a few of those boring verbs and adjectives, avoiding some common mistakes, and boosting your overall vocabulary, you can be sure to end up with a polished, professional, and truly academic –sounding essay!

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Citation 101: Writing Academically Part V

citation-neededAs promised, today we are going to break down the basics of citations in preparation for that research paper you have hopefully (cough, cough) been diligently working on since last we spoke. Last time we discussed the different types of sources you might encounter in your research project. These include primary sources and secondary sources. If you need a refresher, look over Sorting your Sources before proceeding.

Today we’ll unpack methods on how exactly to “cite” those sources that you use in the body of your paper. Today, meet MLA and Chicago.

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Sorting your Sources: Writing Academically Part IV

research-paper-writingHave a research paper looming on the horizon? No problem! In continuation of my series on academic writing, I’m here to make the prospect of that research paper a little less daunting. Once you understand the “research mechanics” of a research paper, this will be easier than you think.

Let’s talk sources.

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