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Lori C.
English/Literature/Speech/Professional Writing professor for over 20 years
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Writing
TutorMe
Question:

When do you use the phrase "due to the fact that"?

Lori C.
Answer:

You don't.

English
TutorMe
Question:

How do you use a blasted semi-colon?

Lori C.
Answer:

The semi-colon. How does one use that thing, you may ask? We all know how to use the period, right? One period ends a sentence and fifty show a meaningful pause in a gin-soaked text message, yes? The comma. A few divvy up that tedious list of programming languages you've put on your resume and fifty marks an even drunker text message because you think you're tapping the period when you're not. The exclamation mark. It’s used sparingly, if ever, in papers to show strong emotion but is used frequently and repetitively in text messages to show an inordinate, caffeine-fueled euphoria about every word that comes flying off our fingertips! Yes! We know how to use virtually every punctuation mark. But the semi-colon? It's that mystery punctuation mark that we are never fully sure about. Now, I must tell you that, in spite of the fact that I will explain how to use the semi-colon, I really don’t WANT to. Why? Because before, where I saw nary a semi-colon in any student paper whatsoever, afterward, I find them littered everywhere! Students can't get enough! Semi-colons become rabbits, mating and multiplying and covering the face of the earth and your papers. So I'm warning you. No more than two in a paper. For the love of God, control yourselves. Red marks are the least you have to fear from me for the wanton use of semi-colons! I will come over to your house and make you pay! I will throw things at your stucco that won't come off without sandblasting! First, my opinion of the semi-colon. I hate it. It is the most butt-ugly punctuation mark we have. It looks like a decapitated seahorse. But never mind. Somebody thought it was a good idea, so here we are. Here is my simple semi-colon hack: Where the period is like a stop sign, the semi-colon is like a yield sign. It is a softer period, dividing independent clauses softly, if you will, instead of in that jack-booted way periods do. Does that make sense? All-righty then. The semi-colon has other uses but, for now, let's move on.

Communication
TutorMe
Question:

We live in a fast-paced digital world with instant access to a stream of entertainment and mountains of information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In spite of perpetual access to the means of communication and plenty to talk about, why are we getting worse at expressing ourselves coherently and intelligently?

Lori C.
Answer:

We do not turn anything off. The television, radio, computer, cell phone, mobile device, and head phones create a constant background of white noise, a cacophony of facts, figures, laugh tracks, and selling points designed to subconsciously craft our view of the world and influence our choices. We cannot be quiet with ourselves. We rarely spend time thinking deeply on any one subject at all. We don't question ourselves and reflect on our choices. We move around our tiny digitally-anesthetized worlds like amoeba in a petri dish. We respond to stimuli. We move toward pleasure and away from pain. We don't learn to talk, and never really learn to listen. Surrounded by instant access to hoards of people all over the world, we marvel that we feel so alone.

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