Ms. Gokturk



Common Errors in Essay Writing


·        Quoting: Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.


Piggy says, “I like conchs.”                   NOT                Piggy says, “I like conchs”.


REASON: "In the days when printing used raised bits of metal, "." and "," were the most delicate, and were in danger of damage (the face of the piece of type might break off from the body, or be bent or dented from above) if they had a '"' on one side and a blank space on the other. Hence the convention arose of always using '."' and ',"' rather than '".' and '",', regardless of logic." This seems to be an argument to return to something more logical, but there is little impetus to do so within the United States.


·        If a page number is being used, the page number becomes part of the sentence and the punctuation goes after.


Piggy says, “I like conchs” (11).  [No p. or page is necessary]


·        Question marks, exclamation marks: Use logic!

For example, if a statement ends in a quoted question, allow the question mark within the quotation marks suffice to end the sentence.


Malcolm X had the courage to ask the younger generation of American blacks, "What did we do, who preceded you?"


On the other hand, if a question ends with a quoted statement that is not a question, the question mark will go outside the closing quotation mark.


Who said, "Fame means when your computer modem is broken, the repair guy comes out to your house a little faster"?


·        In the United States, we use single quotation marks [ ‘ ’ ] to enclose quoted material (or the titles of poems, stories, articles) within other quoted material:


"'Design' is my favorite poem," he said.

"Did she ask, 'What's going on?'"


·        Titles: Underline or put in quotes? Underline or italicize LONG_____ works; put short works in quotes (cute bunny ears):





“Short Stories”

Newspapers and Magazines



FYI: Back in the old days, a handwritten or typed manuscript was given tot he printer. In order to designate what should be ITALICIZED, the author would underline. Therefore, today with the joy of the computer, you may underline OR italicize, not both.

·        Always write a clever title for your essay. Titles draw your reader in right away.


·        When writing about literature, ALWAYS use the present tense.


PAST TENSE                                            PRESENT TENSE

History: It already happened                       Literature: The writing is always in front of you


During WW11, many children were                  In LOF, the school evacuates the children

evacuated to other countries                  to Australia.

for safekeeping.


·        Voice: Always use the active voice:


PASSIVE                                                 ACTIVE

The dog was biting Hugo    .                       The dog bit Hugo.


·        Refer to the author by their last name after stating their full name once.

i.e., Golding shows how the boys devolve.


·        Paragraphs. A good paragraph is like a mini-essay:


1.      Has a solid topic sentence

2.      Provides adequate supporting points, evidence, examples that illustrate topic sentence

3.      Does not digress onto points not related to topic sentence

4.      Has a conclusion and/or transition sentence


Please review the packet you were given on paragraphs and essay construction.