Tutor profile: Amber T.
I don't understand when to use commas in my writing. Can you help me?
Gladly. So, this is actually a very common struggle for students. I find that using acronyms can often be very helpful. So, for commas, you can use the acronyms LUCI. LUCI will be your best friend when working with commas. The L stands for lists. Whenever you list three or more items, you should put a comma between each item. For example - I like apples, oranges, and bananas. I enjoy reading books, watching movies, and playing games. The U stands for unnecessary information. Can you cup your hands like commas? Imagine putting a comma on both sides of the phrase and lifting it out of the sentence because you don't HAVE to keep it there. It's just extra information, but not necessary. Here's an example: The man, knowing he was late, rushed to work. The phrase (knowing he was late) is extra information. It's good information, but it's not necessary. If you lifted it out of the sentence, it would still make sense. See: The man rushed to work. It's still a complete thought, right? Exactly. So you put commas around the phrase to show that. The C stands for compound sentences. So, first, it's important to know that a sentence must have a subject, verb, and complete thought. For example, Mom drove to the store. The subject is mom. The verb, or action, is drove. And it's a complete thought. So, whenever you have two complete sentences joined together, you want to use a comma and a conjunction between them. Here's an example: Mom drove to the store, but she forgot her purse. In this example, you have two complete sentences (Mom drove to the store) and (She forgot her purse). Since you have two sentences joined together, you add a comma. Now, many people often get confused by sentences like this: Mom drove to the store and bought milk. It looks like a compound sentence because it has that conjunction (and). However, a compound sentence must contain two separate subject and verb pairs. In this example, we only have one subject (mom). Mom completed both actions (Mom drove) and (Mom bought). Here, you have a compound verb (drove and bought), but since you only have one subject, it is not a compound sentence. The I stands for introductory information. When you have information that comes before the meat of your sentence, you want to add a comma. Here's an example: When Mike saw the check, he spit water all over his date. The sentence, the part that can stand alone, is (he spit water all over his date). The clause (When Mike saw the check) is introducing when he spit the water. The clause can't stand alone. It's an introduction to the main thought. Since it's introducing, you add a comma. For example this sentence is missing a comma. Can you find where the comma should go? Now, this acronym is not an exhaustive list of comma rules. However, these are the four main categories. If you can remember these four rules, you'll be able to catch the vast majority of situations that require commas. Do you have any questions about these four rules? Okay, great. Why don't we look at an example of you writing and try to spot the missing commas?
Subject: Study Skills
I'm having trouble studying for this test. I just can't seem to sit down and focus. Can you help me find some good study strategies to try?
Sure. My pleasure. So, what's your test about? Aha. What study strategies have you already tried? How did that work for you? I see. I think it may be helpful to brainstorm a little and find out what your learning style is. We all learn in different ways. Some people learn best by listening. Some learn best by seeing. Others learn best by doing. Personally, I learn best by reading and writing. So, can you think of a time when you felt really prepared? Tell me about that. What did you do? Okay, so you were actually holding it in your hands and working with it. Do you often enjoy your classes more and feel like you learn more when you are doing something active? Right. It sounds like you may be what's called a kinesthetic learner, which means you're more of a hands-on learner. There are a variety of study strategies that work well for kinesthetic learners. The main thing is to incorporate some type of movement. Highlighting text, making notes in the margin, or even drawing pictures as you read can be surprisingly effective because you're incorporating movement of the hand. Making flashcards and flipping them over as you quiz yourself is another good option. You can create other learning tools too such as charts or models. One strategy I really like is using different colored post-it notes and sticking them to the wall to create a flowchart. It's helpful because you are performing an action and creating a visual representation of the information. And of course, you can even try combining your study sessions with other activities you enjoy. For example, you can listen to an audio recording while you run. What are some activities you really enjoy? How do you think you could blend studying into that activity? Great idea. I love that. So, I have a handout that lists a variety of study strategies for kinesthetic learners. I'll share that with you now. Which one of these study strategies sound most interesting to you? Yes, that's a great one. Why don't we try that one now with the material for your upcoming test? Excellent work. How did that study strategy feel to you? Great to hear. So, as you continue to study on your own, it might be helpful to try out several of these different learning activities. That will help you find out what works well for you. Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions or want to walk through some of these other strategies together. Good luck on your test! You can do it :)
Can you help me analyze this passage?
Sure. I'll be happy to help. Let's start by reading the passage out loud. It often helps to hear the words audibly spoken. Okay, great. So, it's usually best to begin by thinking about the author's overall purpose. What do you think his main point is? I agree. Good thinking. The next thing you might want to consider is how the passage is structured. What stands out to you about the organization? Hmm.. that is interesting. Why do you think the author chose to begin with that comparison? That could definitely be part of it. What other possibilities can you think of? This a great start. Excellent work. So, after you've looked at the big picture, you can begin thinking about some of the smaller details like the stylistic choices the author made. What words or passages sound particularly interesting to you? Oh, I like that. What kind of effect does that have on you as a reader? Yes, I felt the same way. That's a great detail to include in your analysis. So, how are you feeling about the process of analyzing a passage? Do you feel like you could apply these steps to another text? Excellent. Why don't you walk me through it this time?
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