Issue For August 28, 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!
When writing thoughts, should they be put in quotation marks? What about changing verb tenses in quotes? Can they be different from the rest of the prose? For example:
I promised them I would call. Once I left, however, I wasn't sure. "What should I do," I thought, "I don't want to disappoint them." I stared at the phone for a long time.
If you are referring to a thought that is not taking place at that moment, then it can change tense. And it depends on the style of the writer whether he/she puts quotations marks when referring to thoughts. According to a creative writer in our lab, it is not necessary to put quotations around personal thoughts.--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.
I read environmental reports, and it is not uncommon to see the words higher/larger and lower/smaller interchanged for describing a change in the concentration of a substance. For example, "The higher (larger) phosphate concentration resulted in weeds." Which is correct, higher or larger? And would it make a difference if the word "level" is used instead of "concentration"?--Leonard Schantz
I would say that 'higher' is correct since the context of the sentence suggests an increase in the strength of phosphate; if this is so, 'higher' rather than 'larger' would be more appropriate to use.--Esther Yates, Esa Communications, Bangalore, India
The words higher or lower are used when describing quantities that can be absoultely measured. In the example given, phosphate concentration is quantifiable: it can be measured. On the other hand, adjectives such as larger or smaller are often used in situations where one may not be able to obtain an actual physical measurement for the quantity. One situation is objective (higher/lower) while the other is more subjective (smaller/larger). Scientific writing would normally be found in an environmental report, and it would make a big difference to use "level" rather than "concentration." The latter is a specific measurable quantity and a scientific report would be describing the result of measurements of phosphate concentration. Level is a general term that could refer to anything: level of noise, level of stability and so on. This would not do in a scientific report, which must be precise and concise. --John Mussington, Antigua and Barbuda, Marine Biologist
Next Week's Questions
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What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...OWL in the News Purdue's College of Liberal Arts recently ran a story about the Online Writing Lab at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/ 2006/060814.T.Bergmann.writing.html.
- OWL Eye On...OWL Usage. We often get requests from readers wondering how often the Purdue OWL gets used. You can see for yourself at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/usage/, which shows our site server statistics.
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...ESL Conversation Groups. Conversation groups are held daily in the Writing Lab to help international students improve their English speaking skills. Learn more at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/writinglab/topic/conversationgroups/. The Fall 2006 ESL Conversation group schedule is:
- Mondays, 9:30-10:30
- Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30
- Wednesdays, 3:00-4:00
- Thursdays, 2:00-3:00
- Fridays, 11:30-12:30
- OWL Eye On...Writing Lab Fall Hours and Locations The Writing Lab's Fall 2006 hours of operation for Heavilon Hall are Monday through Thursday, 9:00-6:00 and Friday, 9:00-1:00. Writing consultants will be available in the Hicks Undergraduate Library/DLC on Monday from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and in Meredith Hall on Wednesday from 7:00-10:00 pm.
- OWL Eye On...Writing Lab Tours The Writing Lab will offer Lab Tours during the first two weeks of the fall semester. Instructors are encouraged to call 494-3723 to schedule a tour for their classes. Tours last approximately 20 minutes.
This week's OWL News was edited by Karl Stolley, OWL Webmaster.