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English 10: Class Notes  July 11, 2001

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In today's class, we wrote an assignment entitled "On Being Specific." Two teacher paragraphs follow: "Summertime is Hammock Time" and "Summertime Sleeping". Student examples: Morning; Afternoon.

Summertime is Hammock Time

     Summer in the city is hammock time, the best way I know to experience the heat in a comfortable way. At the back of my yard, under a sweet cherry tree, my Mexican hammock swings gently in the breeze. To climb in, I sit, then swing my legs around. I push off the tree with one foot and sway back and forth. Now, the fun begins! The spruce tree nearby fills the air with a strong, hot scent. Above, high in its branches, birds rustle about in their nest. My dog runs about underneath, her nose up, sniffing the air, reacting to each tiny sound. I love to watch her, my little sentinel, as she defends the space around my swinging perch. Often, I eat a cold gala apple or sip a fruit juice while resting in my hammock. With each push of my foot against the tree, I relax more and more. On a city summer day, a good hammock is as essential to me as the shade of a neighbour’s tree that falls across my house in the late afternoon. (Teacher: Written for morning class)

Summertime Sleeping

    If you are like me, hot summer nights can make it difficult to sleep. Really, I prefer a cold room with lots of blankets on top of me. On sultry nights, however, I cover myself with only a sheet, making me feel a bit uncomfortable. Since all the windows are open and a fan runs in my room, it is noisy as well. But not noisy enough to hide the sound of cats howling in my backyard, a popular summer pastime for the tomcats in my neighbourhood. Some nights, I welcome the sound of an approaching thunderstorm, knowing that after the rain the sweet cool smells of the earth will soon enter my room. In all, I often have trouble sleeping in the summer and look forward to the cooler weather of the fall and winter.

Student Examples for Exercise “On Being Specific” (Morning)

In summertime, we can find a specific phenomenon on many streets: bubble black tea stands or shops. 
The phrase “many corners or sidewalks of streets” is a bit wordy. This could be reduced to “many streets.” Using the colon to introduce the answer to what you have suggested or a list of things is very useful. This sentence was reduced from 29 to 17 words, but still contains all the essential information.

Every summer month is different in Vladivostok. 
June is usually cool and wet with mist and rain. Avoid “there is” or “there are” constructions. Instead, begin with your true subject.

Most of the time the weather is so hot that, because of the heavy clothing women wear, most do not go out during the day. 
Do not use “so” as “very” in writing. If you use “so” then follow with “that.”

Student Examples for Exercise “On Being Specific” (Afternoon)

I lie on my lawn chair (chaise lounge; lounger) behind my blackberry bush where there is shade but I can still feel the heat. 
Find out words for back yard activities such as, “lawn chair.” Perhaps check the Canadian Tire catalogue during the summer. Patio.

I love the sun—period. I like when the sun hits my body; it immediately relaxes me. 
A dash is used in pairs to separate words in a sentence that do not follow its grammar (for example a side comment which may be also in parenthesis) In this case, Sarah has used the dash for a kind of emphasis. This is much more common in stories and novels than other places. Do not use the dash to substitute for semicolons or colons or commas if not necessary. In the above sentences we left one dash and substituted a semicolon for the other. Another definition is a “super comma”

 

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