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Tutor profile: Jamira R.

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Jamira R.
Award-Winning Writer and Editor with Four Years of Tutoring Experience
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

How do I know when I've written a sentence fragment or a run-on sentence?

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Jamira R.
Answer:

Before you can properly identify a sentence fragment or a run-on sentence, you need to understand what constitutes a complete sentence. A complete sentence requires two components: a subject and a predicate. The subject is the central focus of the sentence—usually a person or thing—while the predicate is the information the sentence provides about the subject, such as the action they perform in a given moment. To identify the subject of a sentence, you simply need to find the verb and ask yourself who or what is performing the action connected to said verb. To identify the predicate, you need to omit the subject of the sentence and ask yourself what the sentence is trying to say about this subject. In other words, it might be helpful to remember the subject as all of the information leading up to the verb and the predicate as all of the information following the subject, beginning with the verb. Once you have a solid understanding of these components, it should be easier for you to identify both sentence fragments and run-on sentences. It's important to remember that a short sentence is not necessarily a sentence fragment, nor is a long one necessarily a run-on sentence. Usually, a sentence fragment is a group of words punctuated as a complete sentence but cannot stand alone because it lacks a subject or a verb. However, a sentence fragment can also be a dependent clause—a group of words that cannot stand alone despite containing both a subject and a verb (e.g. "because I studied hard for the test"). In these cases, the best way to edit the fragment is to either omit the subordinating conjunction (e.g. "I studied hard for the test") or combine it with the preceding sentence to provide the necessary context (e.g. "I got an A because I studied hard for the test"). A run-on sentence, on the other hand, combines two or more complete sentences (i.e. independent clauses) without proper punctuation. This usually occurs in the form of a comma splice, a grammatical term referring to the separation of two independent clauses using only a comma, though it can occur without punctuation as well. Regardless of its form, a run-on sentence should always contain at least two different subjects, each with their own separate predicate. The best way to edit a run-on sentence is to separate the two independent clauses with a semicolon or a period, but you can also incorporate a coordinating conjunction (e.g. and, or, but) or a subordinating conjunction (e.g. because, although, since) for a more complex sentence. As long as you remind yourself of the two components that constitute a complete sentence, you should be able to identify and rectify both sentence fragments and run-on sentences.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

How do I know which critical theory I should use to analyze a work of literature?

Inactive
Jamira R.
Answer:

If your instructor does not assign you a specific theory to use for your analysis, you should either revisit some of the theories introduced to you in class (if applicable) or conduct some research on contemporary schools of literary criticism. These include New Criticism, reader-response criticism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, and deconstruction, among others. Unlike other contemporary schools of criticism, New Criticism omits extrinsic features such as author, era, and environment from literary analysis, turning instead to intrinsic features such as form and imagery to better understand a text. With its fundamental assumption that the key to understanding a text lies within the text itself, New Criticism requires you to treat a literary work as a self-contained artifact rather than a product of social, cultural, or historical forces. In contrast, reader-response criticism considers reader interpretation an essential aspect of understanding a text’s meaning. In fact, this theory posits that readers play an active role in creating the meaning of a text rather than passively consuming the “objective” meaning a text presents to them. Due to its subjective focus on reader interpretation, reader-response criticism is easily paired with theories like Marxist and feminist criticism, which makes it one of the most popular theories among students who are not familiar with literary criticism. Marxist criticism also diverges from New Criticism in that it perceives every work of literature as a product of our socioeconomic system (i.e. capitalism), as well as the class conflict fostered by said system. In other words, this theory concerns itself with literary depictions of upper class privilege and working class oppression, namely the portrayal of characters who represent different socioeconomic classes and the interactions between these characters. Like Marxist criticism, feminist criticism stems from the fundamental assumption that every work of literature is a product of a complex system—the patriarchy. With the ultimate goal of promoting gender equality, feminist criticism aims to expose the explicit and implicit ways in which literature reinforces or undermines the social, political, economic, and psychological oppression of women. However, one of the most complex literary theories to understand and execute is deconstruction, which seeks to break down the hierarchical binary “oppositions” in a text (e.g. “men/women” with the first term in the binary presented as superior to the other) and reveal the contradictions within them. In doing so, this theory simultaneously undermines traditional modes of thought and acknowledges the ways in which these traditional modes of thought shape reader interpretation. Apart from the theories mentioned above, there are several others that you can potentially use for your analysis, including queer theory, ecocriticism, New Historicism, and post-colonial criticism. After conducting some additional research about these contemporary schools of literary criticism and narrowing down the literary elements that stood out most to you during your initial reading of the text, you should be able to determine which critical theory would work best for your analysis.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

How do I format my paper using MLA?

Inactive
Jamira R.
Answer:

Unlike APA or Chicago, MLA does not usually require a separate cover page. Instead, it requires a double-spaced heading on the upper left side of the first page. This heading usually contains your first and last name, your instructor's first and last name, your course name and number, and your paper's due date, written in the following format: day, month (unabbreviated), year. In the upper right corner of each page should be your last name followed by the page number, which you can format using the Page Number section in the Insert tab of Microsoft Word. Just like the heading, the entire paper should be double-spaced and written in an easily legible 12-point font such as Times New Roman—including the title, which should be centered beneath your heading. At the end of your paper, you should have a separate page entitled Works Cited, where you alphabetically list every source you used for your paper in MLA format. The format will slightly change depending on the source, as well as factors such as multiple authors, but the most common sources usually adhere to the following formats: Physical Book: Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title of Book in Italics. Publisher, Year of Publication. E-Book: Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title of Book in Italics. E-book, Publisher, Year of Publication. Scholarly Journal Article (Online Database): Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal in Italics, Volume Number (written as "vol. ___"), Issue Number (written as "no. ___"), Year of Publication, Page Numbers (written as "p. ___" if a single page or "pp. ___ - ___" for a page range). Name of Database in Italics, DOI or URL. Date of Access (written as "Accessed ________" with date in day, month, year format). Webpage: Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Webpage." Name of Website in Italics, Date of Publication (written in day, month, year format), DOI or URL. Date of Access (written as "Accessed ________" with date in day, month, year format). In addition to the Works Cited page, MLA also requires parenthetical citations for every source referenced within the paper, whether through direct quotation or paraphrasing. At the end of every sentence or paragraph that refers to information from an individual source, you should include the author's last name and the page number(s) containing the information in parentheses. The only exception is when you use the author's last name within the sentence containing the citation. In that case, you would only include the page number(s) containing the information in the parentheses. As long as you follow these guidelines, you will accurately format your paper using MLA.

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