Tutor profile: Luis N.
What's the difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence?
A compound sentence has more than one independent clause. You basically take two or more simple sentences (two or more independent clauses), and combine them into one sentence, either by using a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, for, but, etc.), or a semicolon. Look at this sentence: "I went to the store, and I bought some apples." You can turn these into separate, simple sentences, get rid of "and" and the comma ("I went to the store." "I bought some apples."), and they would still be grammatically correct while stand-alone. Meanwhile, in a complex sentence, you are taking a simple sentence and throwing a dependent clause, in order to provide more details. The dependent clause is not considered a complete (simple) sentence if it were separated from the independent clause. Look at this sentence: "Although I was sleepy, I went to the store." The portion, "Although I was sleepy," is an incomplete sentence by itself due to the presence of "although." It is dependent on "I went to the store."
What is the best way to introduce a recurring theme or idea from a piece of literature in an essay?
Normally, you want to discuss what the literature is about before you introduce themes. Teachers typically ask you to talk about the plot, the setting and characters (you are basically spoiling parts of the literature for the first paragraph or two), and then to bring up recurring themes which you will then elaborate upon. Sometimes though, because you are not explaining these themes right away (you instead will do it in your body paragraphs), your readers might become confused. There are two ways to help with this. The first is to connect the themes with specific moments of the literature, in the thesis statement. When you write your thesis, do not just write "this story is about diligence." It's not specific enough. You should instead write "this story is about how diligence strengthened the camaraderie between the team members." The second way is to provide historical context. Before actually writing about the themes, you can write a paragraph contextualizing what was happening in the world when the literature was first written, and how the themes of your story were prevalent or popular at the time. Ask your teacher if it's fine for you to spend writing space, basically writing about history, before you proceed with writing about the literature.
How do you organize an introductory paragraph in an argumentative essay?
You always want to start with general information about your topic. You do not want to bring up your argument in the first sentence; you should first provide context and background information, so your readers do not get lost. In a typical essay, you start with basic information (you answer questions such as "what?", "when?", "where?", etc.) and slowly narrow it down to specific points. Then, after you have provided context, you write about a specific issue which you will argue about throughout the rest of your essay. Lastly, you write your thesis statement, in which you make your stance on the issue clear, and you preview the specific talking points that you will explain further in your body paragraphs. In some cases, your professors will ask you to write a "hook," a way to grab readers' attention, as your first sentence. What makes a good or catchy hook depends on the type of essay you are writing (narrative, descriptive, etc.). Argumentative essays are usually formal and do not require catchy first sentences. You should not have troubles if you just begin with context for your main topic, but you may nonetheless ask your teacher to clarify and make sure you're on the right track (this doesn't mean, of course, that you should ask if what you actually wrote is correct!).
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