Grammar & Writing

A Road Map

Writing Argumentative Essays
(based on A Rulebook for Arguments, page 59-65)
  1. Be Concrete
  2. Be Concise
  3. Launch straight into your topic
  4. Be specific
  5. Begin by stating your claim or purpose simply
  6. Know your subject (explain what aspect of it you’re discussing)
  7. Summarize your argument, give the “big picture,” a clear overview
  8. Use examples always
  9. Explain each point or premise in turn
  10. Remind reader of the role each point or premise plays in the whole and/or where they are in the process of arriving at your conclusion.
  11. Be consistent, use consistent terms and parallel sentences and phrases
  12. Acknowledge objections and respond to them
  13. Bring all your writing to a conclusion, arrive at your destination.

Course Style Guides

by Diana Hacker

Rules for Writers

Writers Reference

Pre-Writing: Clustering

Developed by Gabriele Rico in "Writing the Natural Way"
Clustering is a non-linear brainstorming process that makes the mind’s invisible associations visible on a page. Clustering becomes a self-organizing process as words and phrases are spilled onto the page around a center. The Sign mind begins to see pattern and meaning, and the writing flows naturally into a vignette. Here is an example of a five-minute writing activity (for both clustering and the writing of the vignette). The writer’s first language in this case is German; even that did not stop her from writing fluently.
Turn, Turn, Turn,
Yes, I will return. My face will be new. There will be new faces. To return home without fear, without anger, is a turning point in life. Maybe I will turn my back on all that happened in earlier years lately, late, last lesson learned through the turn--and the return. Who is it that I turn to, that I return to?. -- GL

external image TurnGRwbReduced.jpg

Writing Argumentative Essays

Picking Your Topic

Mind Mapping

Complex Sentences

Writing an Introduction

Students Should Know

Commas.jpgAbout the Comma

This link has useful information about how and WHY commas are important. Please click and read.

Note the difference!

Let's eat Grandma.

Let's eat, Grandma.

From the Grammar Girl

While it might be stylish in certain quarters to ignore the rules of standard usage, grammar matters elsewhere. It matters a lot.
Getting a Job
It matters, for example, when you're applying for a job. In one survey of hiring managers, 75 percent said it was worse for an applicant to have a spelling or grammar error on his application than for him to show up late or—get this—swear during an interview. Holy bleep.
Keeping a Job
It continues to matter when you've landed that job. Remember the fictional TV lawyer Ed? He lost his job in a Manhattan law firm because of a misplaced comma in a contract. Just in case you think this sort of thing only happens on TV, think again. A utility company in Canada had to pay an extra $2.13 million in 2006 to lease power poles because someone stuck a comma in the wrong spot.
Staying Out of Jail
Grammar matters even if you have an illegal job. A bank robber once got nabbed, in part, because he spelled "money" M-U-N-Y. The bank teller realized the man was such an idiot, he could be tricked into robbing the bank across the street—where police summoned by the teller were waiting. And get this: A woman who killed her husband and then wrote notes to the police was caught in part because of her tendency to misuse dashes and quotation marks. All police had to do was compare her regular correspondence to the anonymous taunts sent to the police and they had a powerful piece of evidence against her.
Finding Love
Grammar also matters if you're looking for love. Raise your hand if you'd want to go out with someone whose personal ad contains spelling and grammar errors. That's right. It's a turnoff. It's the equivalent of having spinach in your teeth, or having the zipper on your jeans undone.
Understanding Appropriateness
Speaking of jeans, grammar and clothing have a lot in common. Let's say you see a man in a Speedo. Are you at the beach? Let's hope so. If he's wearing a Speedo on public transportation, the man's probably a lunatic. At the very least, you don't want to sit next to him on the bus. In just the same way, using the wrong kind of language in the wrong place can send some pretty nutty messages. Let's say you sent your company president e-mail and you used the number 2 as shorthand for "to." Essentially, you're saying, "I don't need that raise this year after all. In fact, I might not really even need this job."
That doesn't mean you can never use shortcuts like this. Even though people who love grammar are less likely to do so, it's fine to save your thumbs when you're texting. It's all about context. You don't wear a Speedo or other super-abbreviated forms of pants on the bus. Likewise, you don’t use really abbreviated language where it doesn't belong. Of course, you know this already, you with your pants carefully zipped, you with your shirt covering your navel.
Getting and Giving Respect
You know that being grammatical isn't just about following the rules like some sort of robot. It's about paying attention to context. It's using language that's most likely to be understood. It's about sending a message that will be met with respect, just as it shows respect.

Writing Argument

University of Chicago: Argument: A Key Feature of College Writing
Now by "argument" we do not mean a dispute over a loud stereo. In college, an argument is something less contentious and more systematic: It is a set of statements coherently arranged to offer three things that experienced readers expect in essays that they judge to be thoughtful:
  1. They expect to see a claim that would encourage them to say, "That's interesting. I'd like to know more."
  2. They expect to see evidence, reasons for your claim, evidence that would encourage them to agree with your claim, or at least to think it plausible.
  3. They expect to see that you've thought about limits and objections to your claim. Almost by definition, an interesting claim is one that can be reasonably challenged. Readers look for answers to questions like "But what about . . . ?" and "Have you considered . . . ?"

This kind of argument is less like disagreeable wrangling, more like an amiable and lively conversation with someone whom you respect and who respects you; someone who is interested in what you have to say, but will not agree with your claims just because you state them; someone who wants to hear your reasons for believing your claims and also wants to hear answers to their questions.

At this point, some students ask why they should be required to convince anyone of anything. "After all," they say, "we are all entitled to our opinions, so all we should have to do is express them clearly. Here's my opinion. Take it or leave it." This point of view both misunderstands the nature of argument and ignores its greatest value.

It is true that we are all entitled to our opinions and that we have no duty to defend them. But universities hold as their highest value not just the pursuit of new knowledge and better understanding, but the sharing of that knowledge. We write not only to state what we have think but also to show why others might agree with it and why it matters. We also know that whatever it is we think, it is never the entire truth. Our conclusions are partial, incomplete, and always subject to challenge. So we write in a way that allows others to test our reasoning: we present our best thinking as a series of claims, reasons, and responses to imagined challenges, so that readers can see not only what we think, but whether they ought to agree.

And that's all an argument is—not wrangling, but a serious and focused conversation among people who are intensely interested in getting to the bottom of things cooperatively.

Those values are also an integral part of your education in college. For four years, you are asked to read, do research, gather data, analyze it, think about it, and then communicate it to readers in a form in which enables them to asses it and use it. You are asked to do this not because we expect you all to become professional scholars, but because in just about any profession you pursue, you will do research, think about what you find, make decisions about complex matters, and then explain those decisions—usually in writing—to others who have a stake in your decisions being sound ones. In an Age of Information, what most professionals do is research, think, and make arguments. (And part of the value of doing your own thinking and writing is that it makes you much better at evaluating the thinking and writing of others.) nonprofit with no government affiliations of any kind. Their purpose is to provide resources for Critical Thinking and to educate without bias. They do not express opinions. Their mission is to promote critical thinking, education and informed citizenship by presenting controversial and important issues in a balanced and comprehensive way.

Writing for a 4 Year College

New undergraduate students entering the California State University are required to take the English Placement Test (EPT)—except those who qualify for an exemption. If you are not exempt, you must take the EPT and provide scores to the university prior to beginning your first semester of enrollment. Failure to take the EPT prior to registering for your first semester will result in your not being allowed to enroll at CSU. The test requires an essay on an assigned topic that you have 45 minutes to write.
Transfer applicants filing period: October 1 - November 30.
60 transferable semester units. 30 must be general education. Of those 30 units of general education, you must have completed the following:
  • Oral Communication (Speech)
  • Written Communication (English Composition)
  • Critical Thinking
  • General Education Math
Lower Division Eligibility Index SAT/ACT

Additional Resources

National Punctuation Day, Commas
Sentence Structure
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Academic Writing Guide
University of Illinois Grammar Handbook
University of Chicago, Grammar Resources
Roane Community College/Writing Argumentative Essays