Issue For July 24, 2006
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
I'm studying english as second languange. In english we know negative words: not, no, none, non, I want to ask differences of using them? I need your help, please explain me. Regards and Thanks, Zamroni
Thanks for writing. These are all used in different contexts; they are different parts of speech, although 'non' is not a word by itself.
- 'Non' can only be used as a prefix for another word, such as in the example 'non-flammable,' meaning the material is 'not flammable.'
- 'No' can denote a negative answer (as an opposite to 'yes') or can function as an adjective, as in "There were no apples left."
- 'Not' is generally an adverb as in the following sentence: 'Jane will not do her homework.'
- 'None' is a noun that denotes 'zero.' For example, 'When I asked if she had work to finish, she said she had none.'
You can gain a more in-depth explanation of these words in the following book:
Maclin, Alice. Reference Guide to English: A Handbook of English for Speakers of Other Languages. 1999.
Good luck, OWL Tutor
The OWL Help Nest
Each week we publish Purdue OWL News readers' requests for advice or information and the responses from other Purdue OWL News readers.
When I am writing essays, my biggest difficulty is that I seem to drift away from my thesis. I do actually write my thesis but for some odd reason, as I write out my outline, it appears that I drift away from the main point. Can anyone suggest ways to help me stay focused on my thesis?--Crystal R., University of Phoenix, AZ
That you seem to recognize what you are doing evidences that you're not really experiencing too great of a problem. I say, "GOOD FOR YOU!" I think all writers have faced the same situation, but many fail to recognize it before submitting their work as final copy.
In my earlier experience, it was often necessary for me to recognize unnecessary augmentation early enough to avoid missing some or another deadline. Years of writing later, and no longer under a schedule, I am now learning to let myself go. Although the outline is still before me, allowing myself to write off-topic helps me to clear lots of clutter from my head.
Somewhere, amid the driftwood, one occasionally finds an accidental twist of phrase that may be too good to toss away. You must remain willing to carry out disciplined, drastic and therapeutic edits. Very often, though, that delicate snippet you found can zero in on your topic more aptly through serendipity than focused writing could provide.--Donn Coon, Oxnard, California
You are forgetting what it is you are writing about; that's why you drift. Ideas are probably popping nto your head as you write, and that's why you forget what thesis topic.
Put a note next to your space for writing to remind you about your subject, something such as, "Remember my subject: (insert subject here)." Periodically stop and ask yourself, "Am I staying on the subject?" You'll form this good habit after a few times.--Keith R. Starkey
One suggestion is to write your thesis on an index card and tape it to the wall above your desk; tape it to a place where it will keep catching your eye while you are working. Also, it may be that you should do more prewriting and brainstorming before you begin an essay. If an essay topic is too broad, it is very easy to stray. By firmly establishing your purpose for writing the essay at the beginning, it becomes much easier to eliminate unnecessary tangents later. Example working thesis: Legislators should make it illegal for drivers to talk on cell phones because 6000 Americans are killed, directly or indirectly, by this negligent activity.
This very specific thesis helps the writer focus their support. It is important to note that your thesis, outline, or entire direction of your paper may change at any point, depending on where your voice takes you. Good luck and thanks for asking this question.--Kimberly English, Ivy Tech State College/English Instructor
What is the proper form for abbreviating two-digit decades? I was taught to put the apostrophe at the front, to replace the missing digits, so the 1970s would become the '70s. --Jan Brownell, New York
I was taught to use '70s and I believe it is the proper form of usage both by media and writers.--Nneka, Los Angeles, California
This has become a frequently asked question of our OWL Tutors. With that in mind, the OWL Staff and I will be working on a new OWL handout for date and time formatting according to different style guides, which anyone should seek when trying to answer questions like 1970s vs 1970's vs 70s vs '70s. No one form is absolutely correct; it just depends on the style guide or manual a given writer must follow.--Karl Stolley, OWL Webmaster
Next Week's Questions
What's Your Question?
If you have a question you'd like to ask our readers, please send it via our simple Web form.
What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...OWL Resource on Searching the World Wide Web. The OWL's new coordinator, Dana Driscoll, has updated and expanded our handout for searching the Web. Check it out at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/558/01/
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...In-Class Workshops. Writing Lab tutors recently facilitated in-class workshops on topics such as "Proofreading Strategies," "Tips for Writing a Good Book Review" and "Organizing your Argument." Tutors can prepare customized workshops on general or discipline-specific writing concerns for any course at Purdue University. Workshops are available by request to any Purdue instructor. Please see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/writinglab/topic/classroomworkshops/ or call 494-3723 for more information.
- OWL Eye On...Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair. Writing Lab Tutors will provide resume consultations to Purdue Liberal Arts alumni at the Indiana State Fair on August 16, from 4-7 pm. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Chris Sharp, Alumni Relations Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- OWL Eye On...Summer Hours and Operation. The Writing Lab will offer tutoring and ESL conversation groups throughout the summer. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Friday, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Conversation groups for ESL students are held on Monday and Tuesday, from 3:00pm to 4:00 pm, and on Wednesday and Thursday, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Workshops on writing-related topics are offered by request. Please call 494-3723 for more information about workshops, tutorials, and conversation groups.
This week's OWL News was edited by Karl Stolley, OWL Webmaster.