Common Stupid Mistakes. Custom Essay Writin


I, Me, Mine; I, Me, Mine; I, Me, Mine

Ms. Snigglebottom undoubtedly taught you never to use "I" but always to be objective. It is necessary at the high school level to pry students away from the endless contemplation of self and to get them to think about the world outside themselves. Adolescent writing can be painfully narcissistic. Hence, high school teachers forbid the use of "I" in order to control the excesses of adolescence. Once students have made it to college, however, things forbidden to them when they were children become real possibilities, even sometimes necessities.

The purpose of your writing a paper on Jonathan Edwards is to show the world what Jonathan Edwards looks like from your unique perspective as a human being. Each one of us is different; some are white, some black, some male, some female, some Asian, some gay, most in fact a unique mixture of some of the above and more. Your paper is the expression of your unique viewpoint. What you then need is a balance of subjective opinion and objective fact. In high school, you were told to leave the "I" out and merely be objective. Now you need to bring the subjective "I" back into your analysis. You can do this without ever actually using the word "I" if that word becomes too bothersome. After writing "I believe that George Will is a pompous ass," edit out the "I believe that." We know the rest of the sentence is your opinion. Your subjective point of view is clearly present. Hence, you get the best of both worlds, subjective color and energy with objective language, logic, and fact. Even George Will would approve.

Subjunctive Dreams

The subjunctive is what grammarians call a "mood." It is an uncertain state of mind. Hence this form almost always follows a word like "if." If it were raining yesterday, would you have gotten wet? "Were" here is the subjunctive form. When my friend Meg proposed to her German boyfriend somewhat hesitantly, she asked him, "If I were to ask you to marry me, what would you say?" Her question was in the subjunctive; his answer was not. So she shifted from the subjunctive to future time and asked, "Okay, will you?" In the present tense, they are Herr and her.

The political extremist Lyndon LaRouche, who knows for certain that Henry Kissinger and the Queen of England are engaged in narcotics trafficking, insists on using the subjunctive even though he never had a doubt in his life. I once pointed out this peculiar inconsistency in a news column, and I was rewarded with a free copy of his writings from prison. The very first line says, "It were an ill wind which had not sent some Plato dialogues into my cell." It were too much for me.


This problem should not even be listed here, except that I see it so often I must include it. The plural of words ending in "y" is "ies": my family but our families. The word most often so abused is "societies." If you want to make a possessive out of it, the singular is "society's" and the plural is "societies'." If a society has problems, then it is "society's problems." If many societies have problems, then write "societies' problems."

Speaking of plural societies, here is a good example of why words matter. Is the name of our country a singular or a plural noun? Is the United States a country, or are the United States separate parts of a country? Be careful how you answer this. The last time this issue was raised, half a million kids died horrible deaths.

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