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Tutor profile: Jeffrey G.

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Jeffrey G.
English Tutor and Creative Writer
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Can you use the subject-verb-object order for all of your sentences?

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Jeffrey G.
Answer:

It's a good idea to mix up your syntax when writing either fiction or non-fiction. It can become very tedious to read the same format of sentence over and over again--it might even make your reader sleepy. This is because we as readers instinctively look for patterns. We want to puzzle out what comes next, what is the order of things. To have identical syntax from sentence to sentence makes those patterns predictable, and leads to a reader losing interest in what we're saying because of the way we're saying it. Therefore, the bare minimum we have to do to avoid losing the reader's interest is to say things in a dynamic way. It would help, naturally, to have something interesting to say as well!

Subject: English as a Second Language

TutorMe
Question:

Why do we say "less sand" but "fewer waves"?

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Jeffrey G.
Answer:

In English, there are two kinds of nouns: countable and uncountable. Words that take an "s" on the end of them are countable--waves, beaches, umbrellas. Some countable words make a plural form not by adding an "s", but instead by changing the ending, like "child" and "children." But other words, the uncountable words, like "sand," are plural already. Other words like this are "water" and "milk." These words usually do not use a plural form, except when referring to kinds of "sand" or "water" or "milk." In English, we have an uncountable form of saying "not as many." That is, "less." We also have a word for countable nouns: "fewer." That's why we say "less sand" (uncountable) and "fewer waves" (countable).

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

When ascertaining the quality of a work of fiction--prose, or drama, or poetry--should we take into account the life and character of the author of that work?

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Jeffrey G.
Answer:

Although certainly there is an abundance of art created by historical writers whose values and behavior do not violate our current norms, and while there certainly has been lost troves of worthy literature which were not allowed publishing because of the identity of the author, neither of these facts means that we should throw away art which has stood the test of time. We do no one any good dismissing what has long been considered good art--art that enriches a medium or enhances a form. Even art that simply moves people should not be cast aside in the name of our contemporary values. Rather, we should leave the evaluation of quality on one side, while simultaneously contextualizing bad behavior within its time, not to excuse that behavior, but simply to let it inform the art which many people have long enjoyed.

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