Issue For January 10, 2007
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!
Hello OWL Tutors,
Is Wikipedia generally accepted as a source for a research paper? I am reluctant to allow my students to use the site as a main source; however, I want to remain open minded. My junior and senior AP students are beginning their research projects, and the question of wikis has come up. Thanks for your insight.
Thank you for your inquiry. Many of my colleagues and I encourage students to use wikipedia only as starting point for their research, while requiring that several other sources be used as well (to make sure that wikipedia information is accurate).
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.
Is it proper protocol to put telephone numbers on business letters nowadays? --Andrea Campbell
I certainly recommend including the recipient's phone number immediately after the inside address. It makes things simpler for the staff person, in case the letter is sent via FedEx or other express service that requires it. Also, when you are following up with the letter recipient it is very convenient to have the phone number readily available.
--LaDawn Edwards, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA
The object of a business letter is more about doing business than following correct protocol. Towards this end, it may be important to ensure that the addressee is able to contact the sender quickly. I always put my extension number and mobile number under the signature block.
Every year I have a lot of trouble getting my developmental English students to understand the difference in use of the words there, their and they're. I've about run out of ideas. I would appreciate any workable suggestions. Please respond. --Robert E. Hancock, Western Kentucky University
Your developmental English students are not the only ones who seem to have difficulty with these words as I see mistakes in professional communication all too often. I have always told my students the following:
There gives location that is why the word here is in the word t-here.
Their has the pronouns he and i in the word t-he-i-r and is used as a possessive pronoun.
They're has a letter missing - the apostrophe takes its place. They're means that they are ...
If students can grasp two out of three concepts in the there-their-they're struggle, they can master the usage.
--Marsha Wilson, Clarian Health Sciences Education
When I taught this concept to second graders, I would write the word 'there' on the board, then cover the letter t; showing them the resulting word 'here'. Covering and uncovering the t I would saying something like,
The link between the words here and there helped students to identify these words as words of location and distinguish them from the words 'their' and 'they're.'
I've tried showing them that "they're" is a contraction for they are. If they want to say "there are," say it and simply avoid the contraction altogether. This leaves only two problem words, 'there' and 'their.' If they can remember that the one which has to do with direction is almost the same as the question "Where?" "There", then they know that the one for showing possession is all that is left. It takes some thinking.
--Dr. Maureen Maguire, Western Conn. State Univ.
This is a particularly difficult concept for students to comprehend. I have found that if I break down there to "here" with a "t" in front and telling them use "there"in a place where they would use "here," they have success. For "they're" I always have them break it down into "they are". The students must use it in a sentence to to make sure it sounds correct. And for "their", well, if they've gotten the other two down, this one can be broken down to "heir," a person who owns something, and adding the t in front also means that, people who own something.
It's just a matter of practice, sounding out and attempting to place the correct there, they're, and their in a sentence.
I hope my devices help. It is my guess that you've probably used them already.
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What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...More revisions! Our OWL content editors have been working hard on revisions to our old workshops, powerpoints, and professional writing handouts. Look for these new materials in the upcoming weeks!
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...Writing Lab Spring 2007 Schedule. The Writing Lab is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During this time, students are invited to use our computers, ask for a handout, read or study in the lab, or use any self-instruction materials that are available. Tutors are available for appointments during the following times: Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For most (but not all) of the times listed for tutorial appointment, there is also drop-in tutorial help available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To make an appointment or to see whether there is a wait for drop-ins, call us at 494-3723.
- OWL Eye On...Evening Locations We have the following evening locations and hours: Digital Learning Collaboratory (in the Hicks Undergraduate Library) - Monday 7:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m. and in Meredith Hall - Wednesday 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Drop in for free writing consultations on assignments, cover letters, and more! No appointment is necessary.
- OWL Eye On...Class Lab Tours The Writing Lab is accomodating lab tours for ENGL 106 and other courses for the first two weeks of the semester. Instructors are welcome to sign up for an appointment to provide students with a tour. One-on-one tutorials are still available during this time.
- OWL Eye On...ESL Conversation Groups If English is not your native langauge and you need listening and speaking practice in English in an informal atmosphere, you are welcome to join an ESL conversation group in the Writing Lab at any or all of the scheduled times listed. There is no need to apply or register--just drop in! Conversation groups run: Monday 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; Wednesday 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Thursday 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.; and Friday 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
This week's OWL News was edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll.