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Tutor profile: Alex M.

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Alex M.
English Tutor for 15+ years
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Questions

Subject: Writing

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Question:

How do you write a strong thesis statement?

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Alex M.
Answer:

A strong thesis statement must express a contestable point or one that is open to further discussion. After all, there would be no need to write an entire essay about an obvious fact. In addition, a compelling thesis must be focused. For example, instead of writing about your perspective on "the US Civil War" in the abstract, it would be better to write about a specific aspect of the war. Perhaps you could argue that the Civil War was primarily a war to preserve the union rather than to abolish slavery or vise versa. Third, a cogent thesis statement should be concise. Usually, you can express a good thesis in a single sentence of the form "X is true because of Y" or "Since Y is true, X must follow." Do not forget to make your thesis original by taking the road less traveled.

Subject: English as a Second Language

TutorMe
Question:

What is the difference between the simple past and the present perfect?

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Alex M.
Answer:

The simple past describes a completed action that occurred at a specific time in the past. It happened, it is ended, and that is all there is to it. On the other hand, the present perfect describes a past event from the speaker's present perspective. For example, if I say, "I have been to the mountain top and I have seen the promised land," I am not merely recounting a past journey. The important point is that my past travels have affected my current perspective on life. So, the present perfect often stresses the enduring consequences of a past action. We also use it in reference to past actions that occurred at nonspecific times. We cannot use this tense if we DO know the exact time when the action occurred. For instance, it is permissible to say "I have lost my keys," but not "I have lost my keys yesterday." Finally, we sometimes use the present perfect to describe a past action that occurred in the time "around now." For instance, at 11 AM, your coworker might ask, "have you seen our supervisor this morning?" Since the morning has not ended yet, the present perfect is the proper tense in this case.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Why is revision critical to the writing process, and which issues should you prioritize as you revise?

Inactive
Alex M.
Answer:

Writing is indeed a process. Professional writers revise their work many times before completing a final draft. E.B. White, for instance, used to rewrite his essays and books over ten times before submitting them to an editor. One reason why revision is often needed is that, as an essay develops, the writer's position on the topic at hand may evolve. Therefore, a tentative thesis may not reflect the writer's conclusion. Additionally, first drafts often paint a picture of the central topic in broad strokes. But in academic writing, it's often the details that count. So, it is often necessary to cite additional sources to flesh out the raw material. Once writers have addressed major conceptual issues such as these, it is important to edit for mechanics and grammar. They must ensure that they have used the most precise words to convey meaning and expressed their ideas directly and concisely. They must continually ask themselves whether the material would be clear to someone encountering it for the first time. If not, they must ruthlessly clarify ambiguous sections. Likewise, if they have padded their writing with extraneous words, they must weed out all jargon and needless adronments. Finally, proofreading for typographical and spelling errors is of the essence. The same applies to formatting. In the academic world especially, a pattern of minor errors can detract from a writer's credibility. It also makes it more difficult for readers to focus on what the writer is saying rather than on how he or she is saying it. In short, revising, editing, and proofreading can make a critical difference.

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