Tutor profile: Benjamin W.
What is the most effective way to begin a formal essay?
You've probably been taught to start with a "hook," something to grab attention. I'm going to say, "yes, but..." A hook is good, but it has to be direct and provocative. No grand cosmic openings like "Since the beginning of time..." or "Americans have always..." That's too vague and uninteresting. Start as specifically as you can, with something that directly opens up your topic/argument. A quote or detail from a piece of literature you are going to talk about is good. A statistic can work too. But that hook needs to be the common ground you have with your reader. Tell them something they should understand and not contest. Then you build to your thesis, which does say something more difficult or controversial. That's the point of an introduction--announce topic that the reader has some connection to and then say something interesting about it.
In Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 18 "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?," why does he say his beloved won't die?
The key is in line 12, when it says "When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:" Shakespeare is playing with words, as he loves to. The play is on the word "lines," which has multiple meanings. First, it could mean lines of age, like wrinkles, meaning the beloved will always be beautiful. But that's not good enough. It could mean family lines, meaning the genes of beauty (not that Shakespeare knew what genes were), will be passed down from generation to generation. That make sense because he is urging procreation in a lot of sonnets. But the best meaning is lines of poetry--beauty is preserved eternally because the poem will live forever. Of course, the irony is that Shakespeare never says what his beloved looks like! I guess, nothing can preserve beauty forever!
When should I use "whom" instead of "who"?
First, think about your audience. If you are talking on the phone, writing a casual email, or anything informal, don't use "whom." It is a formal vestige of the language. But, if you are writing a formal paper or letter, using "whom" correctly will make a good impression. So, basic answer is use it as an object, not a subject. But that can be hard to tell sometimes, so there is a good test. Let's say you write something and just use "who." When you proofread, look for where "whom" is better. Start with prepositions--words like "to" and "for" and "of." If you have a "who" immediately after one of these words, chage it to "whom"! Then look at questions. Try to answer each question that has "who" with either "he" or "him"--use the one that sounds correct to you. If the answer uses "he," stick with "who." But if it uses "him," change it to "Whom." For example, if you said "Who did she give the evidence?" Try to answer: "She gave it to he"? No! "She gave it to him" Yes! So change your question to "Whom did she give the evidence?"
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