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Grammar Tips: Adverbs

4 May

We know that a verb is often the main part of a sentence, and that our verb signals an action, an occurrence, or a state of being. So how do adverbs come into play? What, exactly, are adverbs? Let’s find out!

As we can see in this Schoolhouse Rock video, an adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Wait, that’s confusing. Let’s break it down. Adverbs usually answer how, when, where, why, or to what extent (how much or how often). 

Adverbs Modifying Verbs 

When an adverb modifies a verb, it tells us how, how often, when, or where something was done. In this case, the adverb is placed after the verb it modifies.

  • The car drove slowly.
  • The teacher spoke quickly. 
  • The boy ran fast.

Adverbs Modifying Adjectives

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives to make the adjective stronger or weaker. In this case, the adverb is placed before the adjective.

  • He was extremely exhausted.
  • She was very persistent.
  • The paint was slightly dry.

Adverbs Modifying Other Adverbs 

When an adverb modifies another adverb, it changes their degree or precision. In this case, the modifying adverb is placed before the other adverb.

  • You’re singing too loudly.
  • She performed extremely well.
  • The car drove unusually fast.

There are a lot of different adverbs to choose from! Use these adverbs to add additional clarity and precision to your writing!


Are you ready to test your knowledge of adverbs? Try your hand at this quiz! Do you need help with your writing or grammar? Schedule an appointment in the Writing Center today!

© Alyssa Ryan 


Staying Motivated!

14 Apr

The end of the semester is approaching and finals are nearing. While there is no way to avoid it, there are a number of things that you can do to stay motivated, prevent stress, and successfully complete all of the tests, papers, and projects by their deadlines. Well, what can you do to stay motivated and maintain your sanity? First, let’s see what Denzel Washington has to say:

As Denzel Washington says in this video, “Goals… cannot be achieved without discipline and consistency.” While it is important to remain disciplined and consistent as you work on those final projects, revise those final drafts, and study for those final exams, there are a few things that you can do to stay motivated.

  1. Eat well and stay hydrated. Take advantage of the snacks provided during exams week. Carry a bottle of water with you and make sure to stay hydrated. Maintaining your physical health in this time of stress is crucial to success. Also, crunchy snacks are great for keeping you awake!
  2. Get enough sleep. Although it can feel like you need to cram as much information as possible into your mind, making sure to take breaks and rest is important too! There is a point at which sleeping and allowing your body to rest is actually more beneficial for test taking than cramming an additional 6 hours of studying into your schedule.
  3. Create a study plan. Take a look at your upcoming assignments and tests and establish a course of action. Make sure to give yourself enough time to review the necessary material and emphasize any areas where you feel uncertain. Try to also plan in study breaks; remember, eating and sleeping are important!
  4. Actually take study breaks. While it can be tempting to try to cram as much studying in as your schedule allows, you have a better chance of retaining the information if you take study breaks. Utilize study breaks as an opportunity to move away from the material for a little while. When you come back from your study break, you can easily see what information you retained and what needs further review.
  5. Study with friends. Create a clear study plan and work on it together. The same concept can apply to writing papers. If you and your friends all have a paper to write, sit in the same room. Keep each other motivated. Help each other proofread. You will need to make sure that you stay focused, but working with others can help you to stay motivated!
  6. Set checkpoints. When you establish your study plan, set checkpoints for yourself. Establish goals and plan out a time by which you want to meet them. This is a great strategy for turning larger tasks (like studying for a comprehensive final!) into smaller, more manageable tasks. Setting checkpoints can also help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you move toward your larger goal.
  7. Get off social media. While Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can be entertaining, they are a great way to waste precious time. Turn off your phone, disconnect from your wi-fi, and focus on meeting the goals that you have set for yourself. Social media will be there when you get back (and you really won’t miss much).
  8. Set working hours and rewards. When you create your study plan, establish a schedule of your working hours. This can help you to focus more closely on studying and doing your schoolwork during that time. When the time is over and you have completed your tasks and met your checkpoints, reward yourself!
  9. Find rewards that work for you, and use them! When I was in college and I needed to read a large chunk of material or study for an upcoming exam, I established a reward system. I am a big food person, so every time I reached the end of a chapter, I allowed myself a small reward – a piece of candy, a few M&Ms, or some pretzels. Find a reward that works for you and use it!

While these are just a few ways to stay motivated and survive finals week, it is important to understand what works for you. Please don’t forget that there are numerous resources available to you in the form of classmates, instructors, handouts, and tutoring services! If you need assistance with a writing project, please come and see us in the Writing Center! And don’t forget, you can also visit the Skills Lab or Nursing Tutoring Center for help with your nursing fundamentals!

 © Alyssa Ryan 

APA Style: What if something is missing?

24 Mar

Citing sources in APA Style can be tricky. Between locating all of the necessary information and placing it in the right order, it can be quite the headache. But what if you are missing information? What if your online source has no author? Or the publication you are looking at has no date? What do you do?


The APA Style Blog is here to help! In her post, Missing Pieces: How to Write an APA Style Reference Even Without All the Information, Chelsea Lee offers tips and tricks for citing a source in proper APA Style – even if you are missing some of the necessary components. Available as a PDF download, this infosheet highlights Lee’s suggestions, making it very easy to cite any source, anytime, anywhere.

Do you need help with your APA citations? Schedule an appointment with the Writing Center today! We’re always happy to help!

© Alyssa Ryan

Utilizing the Writing Center

14 Mar

What is the Writing Center? 

The Christ College Writing Center assists students and faculty/staff with academic and professional papers and projects (writing assignments, resumes, speech outlines, etc.). Writing Center consultants will work collaboratively with clients to empower them and help them better understand and use the writing process. At the end of a consultation session, clients should have acquired knowledge and skills that can be used on future papers and projects.

Where is the Writing Center located? 

The Writing Center is located on campus in B17-A, which is the room next to the student lounge. Check out the bulletin board outside of the Writing Center to participate in our college-wide crossword puzzle!

When can I visit the Writing Center? 

The Writing Center offers face-to-face and online consultations. Face-to-face consultations are offered Monday-Thursday from 10AM-4PM for the Spring 2016 semester. Online consultations are offered Monday-Thursday from 10AM-4PM and Friday by appointment. Consultations can be scheduled by visiting our online scheduler.

Do I really need to schedule an appointment? 

Yes! Scheduling an appointment is both beneficial and necessary for a number of reasons. First, by scheduling an appointment, you have a guaranteed day and time to work with a tutor. As the semester progresses and more writing assignments are due, Writing Center appointments will fill up quickly, making it impossible to receive assistance if you do not have an appointment.

Additionally, scheduling an appointment in the Writing Center in advance of your assignment’s due date can help you make sure that you complete the assignment in a timely manner. A number of students prefer to schedule an appointment for a week before an assignment is due as this ensures they will complete the assignment ahead of time. This offers you the best chance to perfect your assignment before submitting it!

Any questions? Feel free to send us an email!

© Alyssa Ryan

Resources for Getting Started

1 Mar

Beginning a writing assignment can be challenging. Over the last few years, we have discussed brainstorming, drafting, and revising essays, covering everything from thesis statements to APA Style. Today, we will revisit these posts as we compile some resources for getting started.




APA Resources:


Please keep these blog posts in mind as you begin working on your writing assignments! Brainstorming a strong topic or idea, crafting an outline that considers your structure, audience, and focus, and polishing your essay so that all points are communicated clearly and correctly are all important in ensuring your success. As always, if you have questions or need assistance, please come and see us in the Writing Center!

© Alyssa Ryan

Grammar Tips: Prepositions

16 Feb

One important component of improving your writing involves understanding the different elements that make up a sentence and how to use them appropriately and effectively. We’ve already discussed adjectives, conjunctions, nouns, verbs, and adverbs, and pronouns, but what about prepositions? What is a preposition? Well, let’s find out!

A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a sentence. Typically, prepositions are used as locators in time and place, and they are nearly always combined other words to form prepositional phrases. While prepositional phrases can consist of a variety of different words, they tend to have the same construction: a preposition + a determiner + an adjective (or two!) + a noun or pronoun. Whew, that sounds complicated! Let’s break it down.

First, there are many different prepositions, including words like:

  • About, Above, Across, After, Against, Around, At
  • Before, Behind, Below, Beneath, Beside, Besides, Between, Beyond, By
  • Down, During, Except, For, From, In, Inside, Into
  • Like, Near, Of, Off, On, Out, Outside, Over
  • Since, Through, Throughout, Till, To, Toward
  • Under, Until, Up, Upon, With, Without
  • According to, Because of, By way of
  • In addition to, In front of, In place of, In regard to, In spite of
  • On account of, Out of

As we can see, all of these words are used to establish a relationship between the words in a sentence, and many of them directly establish time or place. Now, let’s see an example:

Students can sit before the desk (or in front of the desk). The professor can sit on the desk (when they’re being informal) or behind the desk, and then their feet are under the desk or beneath the desk. They can stand beside the desk (meaning next to the desk), between the desk and the students, or even on the desk (if they are really strange). They might bump into the desk, or try to walk through the desk, or knock stuff off of the desk. Passing their hands over the desk, they may look across the desk or speak of the desk or concerning the desk as if there was nothing else like the desk. Because they think of nothing except the desk, sometimes students wonder about the desk, what’s in the desk, what they paid for the desk, and if they could live without the desk. Students can walk toward the desk, to the desk, around the desk, by the desk, and even past the desk while the professor sits at the desk or leans against the desk.

In our above example, all of the bolded words are prepositions. While some prepositions do things other than locate space and time, nearly all of them modify in some way. It is also possible for a preposition to act as a noun – During class is not the time to gossip with friends – but this is seldom appropriate in academic or formal writing. While it is debatable whether we can end a sentence with a preposition, we do want to avoid unnecessary prepositions. Remember, our preposition should further describe the relationship between the words in our sentence.

Are you confident in your preposition skills? Take this quiz to practice selecting the correct preposition for the sentence, or try this quiz to test your skills at identifying the preposition in the sentence. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to send us an email or schedule an appointment in the Writing Center!

© Alyssa Ryan

Breaking It Down: Sarah Palin’s English

4 Feb

As we move closer to identifying and electing the next president of the United States of America, the media is aflutter with speeches from the various candidates and their supporters. One of the most discussed speeches in the last month was Sarah Palin’s endorsement speech for presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

While Palin’s style of public speaking has been fervently discussed, with reporters and media personalities frequently commenting on her often puzzling phrasings, a close look at this recent speech reveals that Palin’s speaking style is a bit more complicated than it may seem. As New York Times opinion blogger Anna North notes in her recent piece, Sarah Palin’s English, Palin frequently uses two different grammatical elements – dependent clauses and participial phrases – albeit in unique ways.

Well, what does that mean? Let’s break it down.

A dependent clause is a clause that provides an independent clause with additional information, but which cannot stand alone as a sentence. It can either modify an independent clause with additional information or serve as a component of it. It cannot stand alone as a complete sentence because it does not express a complete thought.

  • For example: The students completed the worksheet, which was found in their textbook. 

In this example, the bolded phrase “which was found in the textbook” is our dependent clause. The first part of our sentence, “The students completed the worksheet“, could stand on its own as a complete sentence. It is our independent clause. The dependent clause, “which was found in our textbook“, provides additional information about the worksheet the students completed, but, because it is not a complete thought, it cannot stand on its own as a complete sentence.

Now, what about Palin? In her speech endorsing Donald Trump, she states: “He is one who would know how to negotiate, our own G.O.P. machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape.” In this case, Palin’s independent clause is “He is one who would know how to negotiate,” and it could stand alone as its own sentence. The rest of the sentence, “our own G.O.P machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape“, is a dependent clause, as it provides additional information about those Trump would know how to negotiate with, but it could not stand alone as a complete sentence because it is not a complete thought.

Palin also frequently uses participial phrases. A participial phrase is a word group consisting of a present participle (-ing form) or a past participle (-en form) plus any modifiers, objects, and complements. A participial phrase commonly functions as an adjective, and we know that adjectives are used to describe things.

  • For example: Quickly checking his answers, the student submitted his exam

In this example, we see a present participial phrase. “Quickly checking his answers” functions as an adjective within this sentence, as it describes the student’s actions as he submitted his exam. Similar to our dependent clauses, this present participial phrase cannot stand on its own and requires the rest of the sentence in order to be understood, whereas “the student submitted his exam” could function as a complete sentence.

And in Palin’s speech? She uses participial phrases frequently, but in different ways. In her speech endorsing Trump, Palin also uses a present participial phrase when she notes “And the blank check too, making no sense because it’s led us to things like… to pay the bills…In this case, “making no sense because it’s led us to things like…  to pay the bills” is our present participial phrase. It functions as an adjective describing the blank check that Palin is discussing, and while the sentence “And the blank check too” could stand on its own, this present participial phrase cannot.

Different grammatical constructions and their anomalies are all around us. As you watch TV, read articles on the internet, or explore various social media and news outlets, I encourage you to keep an ear (or an eye) out for these different grammatical constructions. While some speeches, like Sarah Palin’s, will be analyzed, discussed, and deconstructed, it is only with an understanding of the different elements of grammar that we can effectively understand these messages, their meaning, and their criticism.

Are you confident in your knowledge of dependent clauses and participial phrases? Try this dependent or subordinate clause quiz, or this participial phrase quiz and find out! Do you have a grammatical question or other writing concern? Do you need help with a writing task or assignment? Send us an email or schedule an appointment in the Writing Center! We are always happy to help!

© Alyssa Ryan