Issue For January 15, 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!
I'm really stuck. Could you please help me with the following question? I am writing a book and use a lot of dialog quotations ending with a question mark. Example, "how do you know?" Carl asked. Is it "how do you know," Carl asked; or, "how do you know?", Carl asked; or "how do you know?," Carl asked. How would I write this correctly?
Thank you for your inquiry. The structure would look like this:
"How do you know?" Carl asked.
You always place the question marks and exclamation marks inside the quotes. In these cases, no commas are necessary.
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.
Where would I use "certainly" and "in fact" in the following sentence? At certain moments, we are told, athletes have feelings of floating and weightlessness. Sometimes, ________, they even have out of body experiences. ____________ , athletes have reported their subjective feelings that they were floating that they were floating or outside themselves. --Zahida, Lahore, Pakistan
First of all, make sure you write "in fact" as two words. "In fact" is a prepositional phrase.
Second, I advise you to use "in fact" and "certainly" only when they really add something to your writing. In many cases, they are unnecessary and will only make your prose wordy.
In this case, I assume you are working on an exercise and have been asked to place them correctly. It will help if you understand the meaning of each. "Certainly" means "without doubt." "In fact" means "according to the facts."
I would use "in fact" for the first blank and "certainly" for the second if you have to fill in both blanks.
However, if I were writing this myself, I would switch the second and third sentences and edit as follows:
At certain moments, we are told, athletes experience feelings of floating and weightlessness. In these cases, they have reported subjective feelings that they were floating or outside themselves. Sometimes they even claim to have out-of-body experiences.
I think it's a stretch to claim either "certainly" or "in fact" that athletes are having out-of-body experiences, at least until you give more evidence. Out-of-body experiences are not universally accepted, and you have not yet made a strong enough case for their existence. You can definitely make the argument that they CLAIM to have these experiences, though. --Aaron Minnick, Columbus, OH
What are the differences among Abbreviation, Reduction and Acronym? When and where (situations) these should be used? --Irfan Ahmed, Faisalabad (Pakistan)
An abbreviation is an accepted shortening of one or more words, often (but not always) using periods to represent the letters that are left out. Some examples include:
- Jan. for January
- i.e. for id est ("in other words")
- p. for page
- l for liter
- mb for megabyte
Acronyms are created using the initial letters of phrases. They usually do not have periods and are usually written in all capitals:
- NATO for North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- PC for personal computer
- ATM for automated teller machine
- scuba for self contained underwater breathing apparatus
- AA for administrative assistant
- FAQ for frequently asked questions
Reductions are colloquial (non-standard English) and should never be a part of business or academic writing. However, authors of fiction use them to create authentic-sounding dialog, and journalists and essayists sometimes use them to create an informal tone.
- coulda for could have
- lemme for let me
- whazzat? for "What's that?"
--Aaron Minnick, Columbus, OH
I am having great difficulties with my General Paper for English. My teacher suggests that I am having difficulty in expressing myself. Can you please give me some suggestions about being more expressive? Regards, AQ. --Abdul Qadir Lakhani, Karachi, Pakistan / The Lyceum School
I suggest writing in multiple drafts, especially when you are writing in a non-native language. In the first draft, try to capture all your thoughts--don't worry about getting your grammar and vocabulary right. If you don't know a specific English word (or even if you don't know how to write an entire sentence in English), write it in your native language and look it up later.
In the second and subsequent drafts, go back through your writing and edit it. Keep your dictionary handy to verify word meanings and spelling, or to look up English words you don't know.--Aaron Minnick, Columbus, OH
Next Week's Questions
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What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...Design Updates Coming. OWL Webmaster Karl Stolley is working on visual design improvements to the OWL based on usability testing and user feedback. Watch for these changes in the coming week.
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 accommodating 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 language 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 Karl Stolley, OWL Webmaster.