Thoughts About Writing

What is the difference between these two sentences: He was writing a letter when someone knocked on the door and He wrote a letter when someone knocked on the door. Something’s just not quite right about the second sentence, but what exactly and why? Here’s where we can demonstrate the practical application of a little grammatical analysis and understand the difference between two very common verb forms. The first thing to remember about revising is that you can’t be in a hurry. Our habit is to jump at some one word and hold it up to the light of our
As an exercise in freewriting, a student of mine recently wrote this droll little sentence about two birds she imagined sitting, for quite some time as it happens, on the branch of a tall oak tree: After fifteen minutes of waiting for Marty to start building a nest Clare took it upon herself to gather lint from the neighbors dryer, loose dry grass on the baseball field, mud from the small puddle at the base of the tree, and piled them all close to Marty, so he could at least begin to build. Freewriting is a technique to help writers
Here’s a pop quiz. Read the following passage and determine whether the tenses in the third sentence are correct—and why (what’s a quiz without the question why): I went to Chicago for a week’s vacation last year. The weather was just outstanding—sun and blue sky every day. If I traveled the week before, I would not have been so lucky. It rained for three days straight. It’s not a trick question, but it’s not easy, either. The third sentence begins with the word if, a subordinating conjunction that signals what is called a conditional sentence. A basic conditional sentence has

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