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Tutor profile: Bill T.

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Bill T.
Experienced tutor in English essay writing and grammar
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Since the advent of the internet, a number of abbreviations have come into frequent use, abbreviations such as LOL (laughing out loud) the letter u for ‘you,’ and ICYMI (in case you missed it). Are such deviations from standard usage ever appropriate? If not, why not? If so, for which audiences and writing forms can they be used, and for which never used?

Inactive
Bill T.
Answer:

Since these abbreviations began as a way to get as many characters as needed into text messages, the “genre” of the text message would be an appropriate one in which to use these abbreviations, particularly since the text would likely be a personal message to a friend or family member. In any formal communication, though, to an audience in an official capacity, they should never be used. And, of course, they should never be used in formal academic writing.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

“The Road Not Taken” is a poem about making a decision. At the start of the poem’s last stanza, the poet ways “I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence." How do you read the feeling of this sigh? Do you experience it as wistful or sad, or perhaps as a sigh of contentment? What difference does how you read the sigh make to the tone of the poem? Is there anything to indicate which reading the poet intended?

Inactive
Bill T.
Answer:

If I read the sign as wistful or sad, I experience the poem as melancholy, perhaps regretful that the speaker didn’t take the other path. If I read the sigh as one of contentment, the tone is one of satisfaction, perhaps relief, at the decision the poet made. The one line I think may indicate the sigh is one of regret rather than contentment is “Oh, I kept the first for another day!” perhaps indicating that the poet wishes he’d taken the other path. It seems to me that the melancholy ending is better since a sigh of relief or contentment can merge into self satisfaction, which seems an ending unworthy of the poet’s powers.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

One of the two following sentences needs commas, and one doesn’t. Which of the two sentences needs commas and why would you add them? Mrs. Borger who lived next door always liked to talk. The woman who lived next door always liked to talk.

Inactive
Bill T.
Answer:

. I’d add commas to the first sentence after “Borger” and “door,” as in Mrs. Borger, who lived next door, always liked to talk. The reason is that since Mrs. Borger is identified by her name, that she lived next door is just additional information. The sentence doesn’t need that information to be a complete thought. In the second sentence, since the woman is not identified by name, we need ‘who lived next door’ to distinguish her from any other woman. Therefore, in this sentence, the clause “who lived next door” is essential to the sentence’s meaning. It therefore must not be set off with commas.

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