Tutor profile: Christine C.
When do I use preterite, and when do I use imperfect?
Preterite and imperfect are different ways of expressing the past tense in Spanish. The preterite is used for talking about actions that have already been completed, while the imperfect tense is for talking about actions that happened over a period of time, or happened repeatedly in the past. For example, to say "Yesterday I went to the store," you would use the preterite form: "Ayer yo fui a la tienda." You only went once to the store, and the action has been completed. However, if you need to say "Every day last week, I went to the store," you would use the imperfect: "Cada día en la semana pasada, yo iba a la tienda." In this example, the action happened repeatedly over a period of time, meaning that the imperfect is appropriate.
How do I know if a source is good for my essay?
Above all, a good source needs to be both reliable and relevant. Reliable sources come from trusted publishers and are written by authors who are qualified in the subject. Relevance means that the source has information that pertains to what you are writing about. To ensure that your source is reliable, pay attention to where it comes from: who wrote it, and who is distributing it? A personal blog post in which the author describes their political position will not be as reliable a source as an article in a history journal. Make sure that the author is qualified to talk about their subject. This would mean checking for degrees (especially advanced degrees) in their particular subject, membership in an organization that specializes in the subject, or years of experience in a certain profession. The publisher or publishing method is also important to check when choosing a source, especially when finding sources through a search engine like Google. Peer-reviewed journals, newspapers, and books from reputable publishers are highly reliable sources, since they have been fact-checked and cleared for bias. Bias is something else to look out for when checking a source for reliability, since someone's opinion may color the facts in a way that makes it untruthful. Sources from highly political organizations or religious groups may allow their strong beliefs to twist the truth, making information from them highly suspect. Tabloid publications are far more interested in publishing sensational articles than making sure what is in them is true. Always ask what someone may have to gain from presenting information in a certain way, and why they would want to publish this information. Once you've determined that a source is reliable, it is time to decide if it is relevant to your essay. When checking a source for relevance, you need to keep your thesis statement in mind. Does the information in the source contribute to your argument? Does it argue against it? Either of these can be useful in an essay, especially if you can use a counter-argument to disprove an opposing piece of evidence. Check if the source has the scope that you need; if you need specific details, a general information article would not have the information that you need, and vice-versa. Another important piece of relevance is checking for how recent the information is. An article from 20 years ago may already be disproved, or there may be more recent articles with clearer information in them. Alternatively, in a history paper it would be foolish to use a source from the wrong time frame.
Why do Emily Dickinson's poems use unusual punctuation?
Dickinson's poetry is characterized by the frequent use of the en dash (–) non-standard capitalization, and unusual comma placement. When her poems were originally published, they were edited to make them more standard to how published poetry was written at the time. Unfortunately, this completely changed the way that many of her poems were read. Dickinson crafted her poetry with a specific rhythm in mind; that is, a certain pattern in how the words are spoken. Part of this rhythm is created from how we naturally emphasize words, but another part is indicated through punctuation. Punctuation provides clues on how to read a sentence, particularly when to take pauses and when to change inflection. For example, a comma indicates a short pause, an en dash indicates a longer pause, and a question mark indicates that your voice should rise at the end. Emily Dickinson used all of these to create unusual rhythms in her poetry. Rhythm has many uses in poetry, but Dickinson most often uses it to set a specific tone or mood in her writing. By "tone," I mean the attitude that the speaker has in the poem, and by "mood" I mean the general emotion that the audience feels while reading. Let's take a look at the poem "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" to get an example of how she creates tone and mood through her rhythm, largely by controlling punctuation. In the PDF here (https://www.ctriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Fig-1-Handout.pdf), we can see two versions of the poem. The top poem is the way that Dickinson originally wrote the poem, while the bottom is an older version that edited her punctuation heavily. Read through each out loud to get a feel for how each sounds. In the first version, the liberal use of the exclamation point brings a sense of building excitement in the first verse, while her use of the en dash creates a more conversational tone, making it seem like the speaker is surprised to find another "Nobody." Moreover, the en dash sets apart certain words and phrases both visually and audibly, drawing attention to them. It makes the speaker sound like she's struggling for exactly the right words to describe her disgust with the need to be "Somebody." On the other hand, the second version smooths out the poem's punctuation, changing some of the lines around in the process. It disrupts the conversational tone and removes much of the mood that the original version created. Although it largely contains the same words, it feels almost like a completely different poem.
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