Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are college students studying less than earlier generations?

Here's an interesting tidbit of an article from the New York Times asking for readers' opinions about the state of higher education today. It talks about recent studies that have shown college students today are studying less than previous generations have and that they are not being as challenged by college course workloads.

Here's the article where you can weigh with your opinion:

You can leave your opinion here, on this blog, as well. I'll look forward to your comments.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Despite what you might have been told, commas are still necessary

I frequently rail about comma usage, and this post will be a continuation of that particular obsession of mine. But, don't stop reading! I have a great example.

I am currently reading a law journal article about legal education before 1860, and I came across this sentence:

"By the time of the Revolution English law had come to be generally well regarded and each colony had a bar of trained, able, and respected professionals..." 

That is punctuated exactly as I found it. But one of the most important goals in writing, is to make sure that whatever you put down on paper does not cause the reader to stumble. You always want to avoid having the reader go through your sentence and say, "huh?" But that's exactly what I did when I read "Revolution English law." What on earth is that, I wondered. Then I realized that the writer and copy editor neglected to place an important comma. 

By now, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. The opening part of the sentence should have been:

"By the time of the Revolution, English law had come..." 

This is why I'm always harping to students to put a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. That's where--if you were speaking--you would have taken a pause. So, because we read pretty much the way we're used to hearing our language spoken, we need that comma. Otherwise, we wind up with a sentence that sounds as if it's talking about "Revolution English law."