CHARIS FOR WRITING LESSON 63: THESIS WRITER I

                   An Introduction: Long essay, Thesis or Dissertation?

Like we promised you, this week begins our series of lessons that would help you write that academic paper better. You are welcome and thank you for sticking with us.

Some, if not all, tertiary institutions demand that their students present one of these: long essay, dissertation or thesis depending on the level and course one is offering.

People usually interchange the terms long essay, dissertation and thesis in the world of research. So to avoid this confusion, some schools simply refer to it as ‘project work’ or ‘term paper’ or ‘research paper’. Even though the definitions or use depends on the school you find yourself in, we will briefly look at the general differences between them.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the long essay is “To find out by making a test. To attempt or endeavor especially by tentative methods or by appraising, probing, or seeking expedient”. Simply put, to write a long essay is to conduct a research.

A dissertation is “a substantial paper that is submitted to the faculty of a university by a candidate for an advanced degree that is typically based on independent research and that if acceptable usually gives evidence of the candidate’s mastery both of his own subject and of scholarly method”. Simply put, to write a dissertation is to conduct a research.

Thesis refers to “a position or proposition that a person (as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and maintains or offers to maintain by argument.” Simply put, to write a thesis to prove a point or support a research in writing.

Well, you can see from the definitions that there is almost no difference between them but per those we have had the privilege to edit, we make the following conclusions:

  1. The long essay is done by undergraduates; thesis by master’s students and the dissertation by PhD candidates.
  2. The dissertation is longer and more detailed than the others.
  3. The long essay and thesis seek to expound a particular subject of your interest whiles the dissertation rides on existing research to prove a new idea or research.

But don’t forget, stick to what your school calls it and what is demanded of you. Also note that even though they may be different, they have similar content. However, for the sake of our discussions we will refer to our project work as ‘thesis’ since that is what is commonly used.

In the next few weeks, we will be bringing you down to earth write-ups on some issues related to writing a thesis from the selection of the topic to the submission of the final document.

Share your thoughts on what you think the differences are and some issues with research you would like us to touch on in our series.

We hope this lesson was useful. Catch us next week and let’s keep sharing. Did you miss last week’s lesson? It’s here https://charismataediting.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/charis-for-writing-lesson-62-proofreading-american-and-british-spelling-ii/

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Charis for writing Lesson 62: Proofreading American and British spelling II

Americo-Brito spelling confusion: To New York or to London?

We continue our proofreading lesson on the differences between British and American spelling from our previous lesson. Last week, we established that the differences being talked about here do not deal with different words referring to the same item such as pants (American) vs trousers (British) and we looked at differences in spelling of words with re or er, ou or u and sation or zation. If you missed out on that lesson, you can get it here: https://charismataediting.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/lesson-61-proofreading-american-or-british-spelling/

We would like to finish that lesson this week with some more spelling differences which can cause confusion in writing.

Confusion No. 4: “g” or “gue”

American English writes g (it’s much simpler) and British writes gue. For example

  • dialog       –                   dialogue
  • catalog       –                   catalogue
  • Monolog       –                    monologue

Confusion No. 5: “l” or “ll”

American English uses l where the British use ll. For example:

  • Traveled/traveling    –              travelled/ travelling
  • canceled           –              cancelled
  • jewelry       –            jewellery

Confusion No. 6: “eor “oe/ae”

Americans use the e (that is what is heard) and British the oe/ae. For example:

  • Gynecologist    –                 gynaecologist
  • Diarrhea       –                  diarrhoea
  • fetus    –                             foetus
  • Cesarean –               caesarean

Which one is the standard? There is nothing like a universal standard; everything depends on where you find yourself. The purpose of these lessons is not to give you the standard; it is to teach you to be consistent. Once you are sure of which spelling is preferred by your organisation or institution, you can always come back here to crosscheck.

Of course, there are many other spelling differences but these are the common ones. Do you know of any others? Why not share with all our readers and followers?

We hope you enjoyed these lessons. Next week, we start an entirely different series on thesis writing. This is one we are excited about as we have a guest writer coming on board. So stick with us and keep sharing.

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Lesson 61 Proofreading: American or British spelling?

To New York or to London?

Happy New Year! This is our first lesson of the year and we are excited to be returning with more exciting lessons this year. Keep your fingers crossed as we continue our journey to language perfection this year. You are warmly welcome.

It’s been a while since we shared some proofreading tips with you and since that is the main work we do, we will be sharing one today. Today, we look at the differences between British and American spellings (though they are both English).

Is it important at all? Have you ever written a letter that you thought was perfect only to have your spellchecker underline certain words? You check their suggestions only to realize they are only giving you similar spellings of the same word. Fear not, you could be suffering from Americo-Brito spelling confusion (That’s an expression I coined myself)! You cannot imagine the number of words underlined as being incorrect by my spellchecker while preparing this lesson- all my examples.

Knowing the difference is especially important for academic work and even non-academic work since you are not always able to predict your audience or their impression after reading your document. Whether you choose British or American spelling style, it may not really matter. Consistency is the key.

So what is the difference? Note here that we are not talking about different words referring to the same thing such as boot and trunk. We are talking about very similar spellings of the same word. The general rule to remember is that Americans prefer simple spellings and tend to write what they hear.

Confusion No. 1: “re” or “er”

American English writes er (that is what is heard) and British writes re. For example

  • Meager –                   meagre
  • Center –                   centre
  • Meter –                    metre

Confusion No. 2: “o” or “ou”

American English uses o where the British use ou. For example:

  • Color             –              colour
  • Neighbor –              neighbour
  • Favor      –             favour

Confusion No. 3: “…zation” or “sation”

Americans use the z and British the s. For example:

  • Organization –                 organisation
  • Marginalization    –                  marginalisation
  • Stigmatization –               stigmatisation

Find out from your organization which spelling type they expect you to use. I know that in Ghana, for example, the British spelling is recommended in academic circles. Send us more of your examples with some of the differences.

We hope this lesson was useful. Catch us next week for another interesting lesson. Kindly contact us to do any proofreading or editorial work for you. If you have plans of publishing a book, we could help you out too. We also do designs and draft proposals and business plans. That’s us!!!

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Lesson 60 Problem Prepositions IV: REQUEST FOR and SEEK FOR

The party representatives requested for hard copies of the pink sheets before accepting the results.

And this sentence is …incorrect! In today’s lesson, we explain why to request for and to seek for are grammatically incorrect! Welcome to the fourth and final lesson in the series of problem prepositions. Previous lessons looked at impact on, comprise of and emphasize on. This is also our 60th lesson and we are proud of ourselves. As part of the 60th lesson celebrations, we will look at two words instead of one today.

REQUEST FOR: Request, like impact, can be a noun or a verb. That means you can say a request or to request. According to the dictionary, request means to ask for something politely or something that is being asked for politely.

To request for (as in the example above) is incorrect because the verb to request = to ask for and already has for in it, making the added for an unnecessary repetition. Let’s use  substitution to explain this one more time.

  • Sentence 1: He (asked for) a short break during the meeting
  • Sentence 2: He (requested) a short break during the meeting
  • Sentence 3: He (requested) for a short break during the meeting
  • Sentence 4: He (asked for) for a short break during the meeting.

Obviously, Sentence 4 is incorrect meaning sentence 3 is equally bad English.

However, you can make/ place/ file a request for etc. That means that when request is used as noun, expressions with for are correct. You can also say to request something for someone but you cannot say to request for something! For example,

  • He made a request for more salt to be added to his soup.
  • He requested a nice love song for his crush.

SEEK FOR: The explanation for the incorrectness of seek for is similar to to request for. Synonyms for seek for include to search/look for, to try to achieve or get.

Let’s resort to the famous substitution method to prove our point.

  • Sentence 1: The current president was (looking for) a second consecutive term in office
  • Sentence 2: The current president was (seeking) a second consecutive term in office
  • Sentence 3: The current president was (seeking) for a second consecutive term in office
  • Sentence 4: The current president was (looking for) for a second consecutive term in office.

There is no need to convince you that the final sentence is invalid, thereby negating the validity of the Sentence 3.

You are however allowed to use seek after, seek to etc but definitely not seek for.

“Whatever you are seeking in life, do well to seek to improve your English” (Quote by Charismata)

We hope you have enjoyed our series on problem prepositions. Look out for a summary soon. Meanwhile, let’s have some feedback and keep sharing. More lessons available at charismataediting.wordpress.com

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Lesson 59 Problem Prepositions III: EMPHASISE/ EMPHASISE ON

EMPHASIS ON EMPHASISE

Welcome to our third lesson in the series of Problem Prepositions. Our focus today is to look at the combination of emphasise (verb) with on (preposition) and why it could be problematic.

Now, everyone knows this word and you have probably used it a billion times already in your lifetime. And so, what new thing could you learn from the lesson? It is exactly the abuse of the word that has resulted in its improper use. And for those already bashing me in their heads because of my spelling of the word, it may interest you to know that emphasise is British and emphasize is American.

To emphasise means to give attention to something. Synonyms include stress, highlight and accentuate. Remember substitution in mathematics? We are going to use it to drum home the appropriate use of this word. We will use the meaning to give attention to something.

  1. You must (give attention to) the issue of peace during the elections
  2. You must (emphasise) the issue of peace during the elections
  3. You must (emphasise) on the issue of peace during the elections
  4. You must (give attention to) on the issue of peace during the elections.

Clearly, Sentence no. 4 is incorrect. For that reason, sentence 3 is also incorrect. It is therefore incorrect to say: to emphasise ON something. Eg. Could you empahsise on that? (No please, we won’t do that because we can’t say that!)

However, we can have EMPHASIS with ON. (No ‘e’ at the end and it is a noun not a verb). For this to be correct, we need to use it with a verb such as put, place, establish, is etc.

  • I don’t understand why he is putting more emphasis on the one mistake she made than all the other things she did right that day.
  • Instead of listening to a person’s words, most people place emphasis on the appearance of the person.
  • The school has for a long time had its emphasis on sports.

We hope this lesson was useful. Our next lesson will be on request for. Thank you all for your feedback. Let us also know how these lessons are helping you improve your English and recommend it to a friend. Let’s keep sharing.

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Charis for Writing Lesson 58: COMPRISE/ COMPRISE OF

This lesson is dubbed Problem Preposition II because our last lesson ‘IMPACT or IMPACT ON’ is now considered as our first in the series of problem prepositions. Our next lesson shall be on EMPHASISE ON. You are warmly welcome.  We will also like to thank all our readers for the likes and the comments. We are much encouraged and honoured to be part of making your “English lives’ better!

Today, we are looking at the combination of the word ‘comprise’ with the preposition ‘of’ and why it could be highly problematic. As usual, let’s begin with a dictionary definition.

Comprise: to be made up of something, to include something or to make up or form.

The synonym is ‘consist of’. But unlike ‘consist’ which usually goes with ‘of’‘; comprise’ already has the preposition ‘of’ embedded in it and so does not need it to be repeated. So for example:

This test consists of reading, speaking and grammar exercises.   CORRECT 

This test comprises reading, speaking and grammar exercises.    CORRECT

This test comprises of reading, speaking and grammar exercises.    INCORRECT

If we were to add ‘of’ again to comprises, it would look like:

*This test consists of of reading, speaking and grammar exercises.*

Now you see how weird and incorrect that is. So, to say something comprises of something is incorrect. However, it may be correct to say something is comprised of something.

About 10% of Ghana’s Parliament is comprised of women.  (Women comprise about 10 percent)

But this of is only accepted in this structure: To be (is/am/were/was/will be) + comprised + of

Even this second form is not accepted by some who prefer synonyms like “composed of”. I believe this is the source of confusion with this verb. But from today, you are free from such errors.

We hope this lesson was useful. Catch us next week for another interesting lesson. Kindly contact us to do any proofreading or editorial work for you. If you have plans of publishing a book, we could help you out too. We also do designs and draft proposals and business plans. That’s us!!!

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