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Tutor profile: Jillian B.

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Jillian B.
Excellent customer service in reference with a strong foundation in digital services.
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Questions

Subject: Spanish

TutorMe
Question:

How do I tell which nouns in Spanish are masculine and which are feminine?

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Jillian B.
Answer:

This is commonly asked question and the answer typically given is that the student simply needs to memorize the gender of each word they learn, but there are predictable patterns which will often let you know what the gender of a Spanish word is likely to be. Feminine words typically end in -a, -z, -eza, -ción, -ía, -sión, -dad, -tad, -tud, -umbre, -ie, -nza, -cia, -sis, and -itis. Masculine words typically end in -o, -ma, -aje, -or, -án, -ambre, or a stressed vowel (example, “el rubí). There are a whole range of other factors which may determine a word’s gender, including the following: Words that refer to humans, professions, or animals will generally be the same gender as the human or animal being referred to. Names of rivers, mountains, oceans, lakes, and seas are typically masculine, as are months and days of the week (example: el lunes). Colors are masculine (el azul: blue, blueness). The names of trees are typically masculine (el peral: pear tree) while the names of their fruits are usually feminine (la pera: pear). The names of countries and regions are usually feminine (la España: Spain), as are the names of cities and towns (la Roma: Rome). There are exceptions to these rules, but generally they will hold true. A much more thorough explanation of masculine/feminine designations in Spanish can be found in Butt and Benjamin’s A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish, ISBN: 0-658-00873-0. A good cheat sheet for remembering gender rules can be found at: https://www.dummies.com/languages/spanish/spanish-grammar-for-dummies-cheat-sheet/.

Subject: Shakespeare

TutorMe
Question:

I have to read such-and-such a Shakespeare play and I have no idea what the heck is being said. I’m completely lost.

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Jillian B.
Answer:

Shakespeare is one of the most challenging, yet (in my opinion) also one of the most rewarding playwrights to read. Many of his words and grammatical structures are not in common use anymore, many of the words he uses look the same as words we use today but had different meanings in his time (example: “avoid” used to mean “go away, leave”). Writing often in iambic pentameter, he had to sometimes twist grammatical structures to fit the meter, making some sentences seem unnatural. In addition, Shakespeare was a master of puns (some of which no longer make sense in modern English), double and triple meanings, and frequently used Latin, Spanish, and French in his plays (one scene in Henry V is entirely in French). There are several resources available to make understanding Shakespeare worlds easier. One of the best resources is the Folger Shakespeare Library (https://www.folger.edu). This library publishes copies of Shakespeare’s plays and poems that have the text of the play on the right side of the page with an explanation in modern English of difficult words and references on the opposite page. Folger copies of the plays also include maps to illustrate the locations of places referred to in the text. The full text of all of Shakespeare’s plays is available at the Folger Shakespeare Library website, but to get the immensely helpful notes, one will have to buy the print versions, which are available at most bookstores, online, and through the Folger site itself. Warning: E-book formats of these books typically do not have the notes included either. Your best solution is to obtain a print version. Another good resource is David Crystal and Ben Crystal’s Shakespeare’s Words: A Glossary & Language Companion, ISBN: 9780140291179. The contents of this weighty book are also available through the app Shakespeare Pro ($9.99, unfortunately the glossary is not included in the free version of the app). For anyone who wants a good, accessible explanation of the references to mythology or historical events found in the plays, Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Works of Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov (ISBN: 0517268256) is an excellent choice. Each play has its own chapter, meaning there’s no need to wade through large amounts of information not relevant to the play you’re reading. Play synopses and additional information about each play (such as the sources Shakespeare used) are available at the Shakespeare Resource Center (http://www.bardweb.net/index.html).

Subject: Library and Information Science

TutorMe
Question:

I need help evaluating some online sources I’m using for a paper.

Inactive
Jillian B.
Answer:

The Internet is an excellent forum for research. Unfortunately, much information presented without quality controls can be false, exaggerated, or unverified. Here’s a checklist of criteria to help you evaluate data in the online environment. Accuracy: What do you already know about the subject? Does what you know agree with the information on the website? How does the site compare to other sites or print sources in content? Is the information on this site wildly different from that on other sites? If so, it may not be credible. Author: Is the author named on the site? Does the publication or site have an “About the Author” section? If you cannot find the “About the Author” section, try truncating the URL. Delete the characters on the end of the URL until you reach a slash (/), and hit enter (do not delete the slash). If this does not get you the information you are looking for, continue truncating by deleting from the end of the URL to the new last slash. The URL between the http:// and the first slash (for example, www.britannica.com/) indicates the site’s publisher. A credible author should provide enough personal information or contact information for readers to assess their credentials. An email address with no personal information is not enough. If a name is available, try a Google or Wikipedia search on the author. What are the author’s credentials? “Credentials” refers to university degrees they have earned, the institution they work with, their experience in the field, and their past publications. Do they have credentials from respected institutions? Is the author respected in their field? Find this out by consulting a citation index to see how many times others have considered that author credible enough to cite. Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) is an easily accessible citation index, just enter the name of the author and the number of times that author has been cited will appear below their name in the results. Objectivity: Is the author presenting the information fairly and objectively? What is their opinion? Pay attention to positive and negative word connotations. Does the author refer to one person as “stubborn” and another as “determined”? Is the site trying to sell you a product? Is the site sponsored by an institution that subscribes to certain ideas? Primary vs. Secondary Sources: Does the information presented draw from primary or secondary sources? Primary sources are firsthand accounts or evidence of an event. Examples of primary sources are diaries, memoirs, photographs, or newspaper accounts. Secondary sources evaluate primary sources and include biographies or analyses. Relying on a primary source rather than the secondary source is preferable since it removes an extra layer of interpretation (by the author of the secondary source) that could contain shades of bias or misinterpretation. Publication Date: Are you working with a topic that requires the most up-to-date information or is older information adequate? When was the information published? How often is the site updated? Undated statistics or facts should not be used unless they are confirmed by another credible source. Do all the links on the page still work? Do they lead to credible websites that are current themselves? Publisher Credibility: Visit the publisher’s homepage. Does the publisher subject their publications to peer review? Articles retrieved from a database are likely to be credible, but the publishing source should still be considered, especially if the system you retrieved the information from aggregates materials from many different sources. The URL: The URL can provide a lot of information about a site. First, the URL can tell you if you are looking at somebody’s personal page. If you see a name following a tilde (~) or a percent sign (%), you may be on a personal page. URLs containing the words “users”, “members”, or “people” are likely to be personal pages. Personal pages can contain useful information, but are not likely to be more useful than a government or university site. The URL also tells you the site’s domain. URL endings like .mil, .gov, .edu, .org, and .com indicate the domain. Government sites end in .mil or .gov; educational sites use .edu. URLs ending with .com are commercial sites and should be treated with skepticism. The ending .org often indicates the site is run by a nonprofit, but this is not always the case. There is no restriction on the .org domain name and anyone can register a site under it, even if it is a commercial site. References: Did the author cite their references? Are the cited references credible sources? It is easy to create false references on the Internet, so look up some of the references to ensure they are real. Are there footnotes? Are references cited in a way that makes information easy to verify or did the author cite a fantastic fact from a 1000-page book without giving a page number? Is there a bibliography? Mechanics and organization: Are words misspelled? Are there grammar mistakes? Is the site well organized? Is the information logically presented? Does the background contain designs that make reading difficult? Inattention to mechanical errors and site organization increases the likelihood that the author displays similar inattention to the quality of their publication’s information.

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